And thanks for reading! Since it is the first week of November and we just had Halloween, this week let’s talk about costumes!
Just a reminder here that when I use the term “actor” I mean it to encompass all forms of acting including voice, stage, and screen. What follows applies relatively equally to all of these forms of acting.
Having said that…
This week’s post is aimed mostly at stage and screen acting since we hardly need to get into costume for voice over work. My mom used to tell me I had a face for radio, though, so maybe I should START getting in costume for the mic? Anyway – let’s talk about costumes!
I’m going to confess that this week I:
- Struggled to come up with a topic to write about
- Don’t really feel like writing (see item 3 below)
- Am sitting in my new RV in Dillon South Carolina (Pedro’s campground at South of the Border for all you I-95 corridor people who will surely recognize that place!)
What you are about to read doesn’t feel much like my best work. I apologize up-front. However, it was a lot of fun for me to research some of the characters and what the actors had to go through to get into costume…so there is SOMEthing positive. Even though this is not my favorite post, maybe it will be yours!
As a kid, how much fun is it to throw on a costume, store bought or otherwise, and run around the neighborhood collecting free candy? Costume or not, who doesn’t LOVE free candy? Well, besides us old people with Type II diabetes I guess…can’t have it but do still love it!)
For some reason, Halloween has become a favorite adult holiday here in the US. Adult costumes range from goofy to sultry and everything in between. Personally, I don’t get the popularity of Halloween among adults (I mean, there is no free candy after all), but hey…to each his (or her) own, that’s my philosophy.
Yeah, man…I love a good costume! I’ve had the pleasure of working on some period pieces that required costumes to match the time period and MAN was THAT fun! I got to be a reporter from the 1960’s, a prison guard (for a chain gang) from the 1930’s and most recently an executive from the 1930’s. I also got to play an executive from the 1990’s, but that was just a lot like getting dressed instead of getting dressed up.
Even for auditions
Recent auditions saw me dressed as a bartender from the 1860’s, and a slovenly drunk with my wife’s bathrobe on. Typically, I wear something only suggestive of the character…but since I had the costume I went full bore on the 1860’s vibe. I should have taken a picture!
As actors, any day can be Halloween! Depending on the production, and your role in it, your costume (and make no mistake there is ALWAYS a costume, even if it is just your normal clothes) could be as simple as the clothes you wear every day, to period clothes for authenticity, to elaborate outfits with latex prosthetics (or worse) for far out creatures.
Wardrobe department: Costume designer
The role of costume designer would be a fun, yet sometimes difficult (if not impossible) job to have on a film set. The costume designer is responsible to the producer and director and needs to work closely with both hair and makeup. Ultimately, though, the costume designer’s primary relationship is with the performer themselves. No matter what period or genre, the costume designer needs to make the ACTOR look good!
For me anyway, normally wardrobe, hair and makeup are fun. A chance to cut up a bit with the folks who work in that area and enjoy getting into character. For SOME, wardrobe, hair and makeup can be soul crushing. I’d love to include images for the following, but I’m not a fan of crossing copyright boundaries, so you’ll just have to google them yourself! Imagine some of the following:
Wizard of Oz: Tin Man
Not sure how widely known this is, but Buddy Ebsen, who, if you are old enough, you would recognize as Jed Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies was originally tapped to play the Tin Man. He spent hours each day in makeup ahead of rehearsals and managed to record many of the songs the Tin Man was to sing. Sadly, he became ill from the tin powder used on his skin and was replaced. He complained of respiratory problems for the rest of his life from that makeup.
It’s reported that Jennifer Lawrence the actor who played Mystique in the series of films had to be on set early to get her SIX HOURS of wardrobe/makeup done before filming began. Imagine a 12 hour shooting day preceded by 6 hours in wardrobe, hair and makeup! To top it all off, it is also reported that the costume was quite restrictive not even allowing her to sit…the production team had to get creative to allow her to use the “facilities”.
Game of Thrones: The Hound
You might not think this one was very difficult, but remember that the Hound had his face burned by his brother and he was terribly scarred. Thankfully, the actor who played The Hound, Rory McCann, does not have terrible scars on his face. Consequently, he too spent six hours a day in makeup to have them applied. He also had to keep half his beard shaved, so he got a lot of funny looks in public and ribbing from his friends and family.
Star Wars: C3PO
These days characters like C3PO and R2D2 would be animatronics or perhaps their costumes (or even the entire character) would be added in post. But in the 1970’s computers weren’t what they are today and these characters were played by people in costumes! For C3PO the actor was Anthony Daniels. It’s been reported that once in costume, the actor was unable to sit down so he had to be propped up between takes. Further, he did such a good job, the crew tended to forget he was a real person and treated him like a prop!
Star Wars: R2D2
While it was probably not a nightmare to get into the costume, believe it or not a man named Kenny Baker was INSIDE R2D2 (sometimes, other times it was remote controlled). Baker tells us that if R2’s third leg was extended, or he was rolling, then the actor was not inside. Kenny Baker passed away in 2016 so after that R2 was controlled remotely by puppeteers.
There are surely a LOT more…
I could go on for a long time about some of the legendary (and difficult) costumes worn by actors and other performers (let’s not even touch wardrobe malfunctions! But, alas, as I mentioned earlier I’m not really “into it” this week…mainly because I would like to be outside doing RV things…so since I am definitely approaching my self-imposed 1500 word target here, Instead I’ll go ahead and start wrapping this up! If you have enjoyed any of the wardrobe items above, I challenge you to google “difficult actor costumes” and see what you come up with!
Well, I actually LOVE Halloween because it’s fun to scare the kids then give them copious amounts of sugar laden candy…but I’m not a huge fan of dressing up myself for Halloween. But for a role? I’m in! Being in costume helps me feel like the character, and that helps me become the character. So, while I may ne be heavily into Halloween, I sure do like good costume!
OK, so now I’m gonna go do RV things…have a great week!
Michael Apollo Lira says
What are actors, if not dedicated to their craft?
Thank you for the fun read!