Diane Lederman interview: ‘Russian Doll’ production designer

Production designer Diane Lederman faced all kinds of pressure in shaping the look of “Russian Doll’s” second season. Not only did she have to take over for Michael Bricker, who won an Emmy for his Season 1 work, but she also had to find locations and design Season 2’s various time periods, including 1940s Budapest, 1960s East Berlin and 1980s New York. “In Budapest, we were shooting two and three locations a day,” says Lederman in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby, discussing the many challenges she faced. “Our whole time schedule was very compacted.” Watch the full video chat above.

Time travel was the main device for the season, with Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) and Alan (Charlie Barnett) having the ability to literally step into the shoes of their ancestors. Nadia spends much of her time in the ’80s in the body of her mother, Lenora (Chloë Sevigny), and Lederman was tasked with transforming modern-day New York into 1982 New York, with its phone booths and piles of garbage bags. “We… didn’t want to go overly kitsch, but we did want to understand where we were and when we were,” the designer notes. For Lenora’s apartment, the designer took inspiration from the 1986 film “Blue Velvet,” with pink walls and dark green molding, while also hoping to reflect the character’s “erratic” behavior by decorating it with art that hasn’t been hung up yet.

One of Lederman’s most impressive feats of design involved Nadia looking into a mirror and seeing her mother looking back at her. While this could have been accomplished through visual effects, she chose to have it all be done practically, building a double set where Lyonne and Sevigny could act opposite each other. “We customized a lot of the elements down to a piece of artwork that I designed and then we printed backward for the mirror side of the set,” the designer explains. “It was very freaky walking into that set before we shot it and not being able to see yourself through the hole where a mirror ought to be.”

Lederman’s work is on full display throughout the season, from finding a Brutalist building that was about to be demolished to use for the East Berlin scenes to securing the use of a cistern in Budapest for the “Void” in the finale. Despite the many difficult tasks she was faced with, the designer was ultimately gratified by the experience. “With all the many challenges it was probably one of the more satisfying projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on.”

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UPLOADED Jun 17, 2022 2:56 pm