Going into this awards season, costume designer Jacqueline Durran had four career Oscar nominations, winning in 2013 for Anna Karenina. Last week she added to that tally with two more Best Achievement in Costume Design noms on the strength of Beauty and the Beast (Disney) and Darkest Hour (Focus Features).
While the two films are distinctly different from each other, carrying costuming propositions that are worlds apart, Darkest Hour and Beauty and the Beast still share a common bond, according to Durran.
“Both are dealing with iconic and totally loved figures,” she observed. “There’s a lot to live up to. Going into Beauty and the Beast, I knew the original animated film was popular but I didn’t fully realize how much people held it in their hearts. People loved it so much. The treatment and reinterpretation of these characters have to be done with great subtlety and care. Picture a child seeing the animated Beauty and the Beast 25 years ago, with the memories of the Beast and Belle still vivid in her mind. Now as an adult, she revisits the characters in our live-action film. Your audience grew up with Belle and the Beast. You can’t disappoint them. The dress had to be what they remembered, what they imagined and a little bit more. Your audience has to be pleased with and accept the reinterpretation of Belle and the Beast today. It’s an interpretation that cannot jump out at the viewer--otherwise, the movie won’t suspend their disbelief.”
Similarly, people have an image in their mind relative to Winston Churchill, a famous historical figure. “When dealing with someone viewers feel they know, you have to honor what you’re doing with this precious character whom they love and admire,” related Durran. “You never go into a story like Darkest Hour and try to stylize it. People know what Churchill looked and sounded like. He means everything to Britain, the U.S., the entire free world. We made a major effort to be painstakingly accurate historically in terms of clothing, in terms of every fine detail.”
Leap of faith
Beauty and the Beast marked Durran’s first collaboration with director Bill Condon. By contrast, Darkest Hour is the latest in a number of notable features for Durran with director Joe Wright, including four Best Costume Design Oscar-nominated films, the first three being Pride & Prejudice in 2006, Atonement in 2008, and Academy Award winner Anna Karenina in 2013.
Durran credited Condon with “taking a leap of faith” by working with her for the first time on a feature as ambitious as Beauty and the Beast. “Sometimes you don’t know why you got a job. What did I say? But I’m grateful Bill gave me the chance to work on Beauty and the Beast, which is a costume designer’s dream.”
Meanwhile, regarding director Wright, Durran affirmed, “I love working with Joe. If you’re in the visual department--or any department for that matter--Joe uses whatever good things you give him. Sometimes directors pre-plan to such an extent that if what you have to offer doesn’t fit in with what they envisioned or want at that moment, they don’t notice. But Joe is open to what you can provide. In fact, he maximizes it.”
As for picking up two Oscar nominations in one year, Durran described the feeling as “slightly overwhelming. I’m still partly in shock. I don’t think you ever get used to being nominated for an Oscar. It’s still the biggest honor you can get.”
In addition to her aforementioned Oscar nominations on Beauty and the Beast and the four Wright-helmed films, Durran earned an additional Best Achievement in Costume Design nod back in 2015 for writer/director Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner.
This is the 12th of a multi-part series with future installments of The Road To Oscar slated to run in the weekly SHOOT>e.dition, The SHOOT Dailies and on SHOOTonline.com, with select installments also in print issues. The series will appear weekly through the Academy Awards gala ceremony. The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.Category: Road To Oscar Annual Series