Mary Zophres Q&A: ‘La La Land’ costume designer
“There’s a dress that Judy Garland wears in ‘A Star is Born’ — it’s this beautiful green dress, and that’s the hue we were going for because it was magical in that film,” reflected costume designer Mary Zophres about one of her key inspirations for Emma Stone‘s look in the highly anticipated film “La La Land.” Zophres was part of a “Meet the Experts” panel presented by Gold Derby at the Landmark Theater in L.A. on Nov. 9 to spotlight great achievements in crafts.
“La La Land” is a musical romance about a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Stone). It’s director Damien Chazelle‘s followup to a much different kind of music-driven film, the jazz-teacher-from-hell drama “Whiplash,” which won three Oscars in 2014.
“We followed the director’s vision. He was very convincing, and he was really communicative about what he wanted,” Zophres explained about working with Chazelle, but the filmmaker also gave the production team enough space to develop their own ideas. So Zophres had the opportunity to prepare for four days with production designer David Wasco and set decorator Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, which helped significantly on this high-stakes production because “I knew right off the bat that I had taken copious notes I could share with my department. Then on day four it was like, ‘Are you ready, get set, go!’ because then we had six weeks after that to do it.”
Before “La La Land,” Zophres worked extensively with the Coen Brothers, designing the costumes for “Fargo” (1996) “The Big Lebowski” (1998) “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000) and “No Country for Old Men” (2007) but it was the Coens’ “True Grit” (2010) that finally earned her her first Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. In addition, Zophres has worked on a wide variety of film genres, from screwball comedy (“There’s Something About Mary,” 1998), to period drama (“Gangster Squad,” 2013), to sci-fi (“Interstellar,” 2014).