Rebecca Guzzi interview: ‘Ratched’ costume designer
One of the first things viewers notice about Ryan Murphy‘s “Ratched” is the colors. The costumes and sets of Netflix’s series are bright, lively and full of life, a direct contrast with the film that inspired it, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975). As “Ratched” costume designer Rebecca Guzzi explains to Gold Derby in our TV Costume Designers Panel (watch above), “Ryan from the first meeting was very adamant that he did not want what was featured so prominently in ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ — this really bleached, institutionalized, void of any color palette, both in the costumes and the sets. We are gonna lead up to that, but we don’t want to start there.”
Guzzi and fellow costume designer Lou Eyrich immediately began discussing fresh ideas for the nurse’s scrubs. “We scratched our heads and said, how could a nurse do her job in a non-white-colored dress? It needs to be sterile, it needs to look the part,” she reveals. After doing research and initial renderings, they ultimately decided on the “perfect blue-green that would look great against a lot of different skin tones.” She adds that the colors “also worked well” with production designer Judy Becker‘s look for the interior of the hospital.
Not much is known about the personal backstory of Nurse Mildred Ratched, who was originated in Ken Kesey‘s 1962 novel before being played by Louise Fletcher in the film and now Sarah Paulson in the TV series. “We absolutely re-watched the movie to kind of gets our heads back into it,” Guzzi confirms. “She really was, when we got ahold of her, this mystery. The first time we see her, we don’t know her past, we don’t know where she comes from. That lent itself to us kind of having the ability to play with different silhouettes, as she does present herself differently in sort of a manipulative way to different people based off what her needs are.”
One of the standout characters of “Rached’s” first season was Petunia the monkey. “This was my first time designing for a monkey and working with one,” Guzzi laughs. “Miss Petunia had five changes overall and believe me, if we could have made 100 for her, we would have. We loved even more coordinating what Miss Petunia was gonna wear once we had what Sharon Stone was gonna wear in a scene, so they kind of appear as this mother-daughter dress-up duo.”
Also in our exclusive video interview, Guzzi talks about some of Paulson’s most iconic looks as Nurse Ratched, Edmund Tolleson’s (Finn Wittrock) Marlon Brando-esque white T-shirts, and what she knows about Season 2. Guzzi is an Emmy winner for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and a nominee for “American Horror Story.”