Michael Kaplan Interview: ‘The Alienist’ costume designer
Costume designer Michael Kaplan‘s interest in “The Alienist” stretches back to when Caleb Carr‘s original novel was first published in 1994. “I just loved so many elements of it,” he recalls. “It seemed like a designer’s dream to be able to illuminate everything that was going on in 1896.” Produced by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“True Detective”), this TNT limited series focuses on a newspaper illustrator (Luke Evans) who teams up with a criminal psychologist (Daniel Brühl) and a headstrong NYPD secretary (Dakota Fanning) to investigate a serial killer in 19th century New York City. Kaplan kept a close watch on the project’s development for 24 years before finally landing the job. Watch our exclusive video interview with Kaplan above.
“I always loved the contrast between the various levels of the society,” Kaplan explains. “The Alienist” takes place during New York’s Gilded Age, an era of vast economic growth but also extreme poverty for immigrants. To capture this disparity, Kaplan wanted to base his designs “in reality, as opposed to doing something very stylized, which seems to be the trend right now with a lot of period movies around the turn of the century.” So instead of being trendy he took “the viewers back in time.”
Kaplan previously won a BAFTA award for his work on “Blade Runner” (1982). He has also competed at the Costume Designers Guild Awards six times: three for Best Contemporary Costumes (“Fight Club” in 1999, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in 2005, and “Burlesque” in 2010) and three for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Costumes (“Star Trek” in 2009, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 2017). His work can also be seen in such films as “Flashdance” (1983), “Clue” (1985), “Se7en” (1995), “Pearl Harbor” (2001), and “Matchstick Men” (2003).