Jeffrey Kurland is the renowned costume designer who brought the futuristic styles of Disney's Tomorrowland - out on DVD October 13th - to life.
To say the man has had a decorated career is an understatement and he as funny and friendly as you would hope. Over his career Kurland has worked on 15 films for Woody Allen as well as created designs for many of Hollywood's leading men.
We talked with Kurland about the inspiration process for the futuristic designs of Tomorrowland, he shares some secrets in creating the character's looks and tells us what he would be doing if he wasn't a costume designer.
Livingly: Do you read the script entirely before beginning the designs?
JK: Absolutely, I read the script 3 or 4 times and make notes to myself and thats how my process begins.
How much direction are you given and how much creative independence are you given on a project like this?
I would say a great deal of direction and a grew deal of independence. With Brad, we sat down, we talked, visually a sense of what he wanted it to look like and then I went into designing, and more drawings and more drawings until he got to a place where he liked where we were. The ideas were on a verbal level and we talked in the beginning about how this place should look and what these people are.
Did you have any specific inspiration for the futuristic costumes in the film or did it all just come out of your head one day?
I used a great deal of inspiration and researching the past and the present and into what might come in the future. I used a lot of the past, and on my own, rethink what we've seen in our history and build it up to something that would be on the borderline of futuristic.
We never wanted it to be a futuristic movie, its a dimension within the future and the present. I needed to reach a place that was not a reality, because it's in a 4th or 5th dimension - what are these people wearing, what is their idea of apparel, what would it be? They brought it with them from whatever decade they’ve come from, so those ideas built into what did they become. I did a lot of research around the world, India, the Asian countries, to bring those flavors, styles, and lines and put them into what the people of Tomorrowland become.
I loved Nix’s blazer, where did the inspiration for the metal plates along the arms and the high collar come from?
It came from the necessities of the script and from what the character was. I wanted him to look like a statesmen, futuristic and I also wanted it to be somehow protective because when you read the script you see what he becomes, he becomes - for better or for worse - a dictator. And I thought of something that would protect him or that he could fight in if necessary and it just evolved out of my thought process as being the articulation of it and then I had to deal with the movement of the arms. And it still had to articulate, so all that came kind of out of my head.
The vintage red NASA cap Casey wears, did you go find that or was it specifically made for the film? Does the hat have a history?
Well, you’re right. It is a vintage one, it’s from way back because it was the father’s. So I had it made, the patches and everything was made, and I had to make them in so many multiples because it has gone through so much because of all the stunts so there were a good 15-20 hats. And the brim was shorter due to the lighting - we didn’t want to hide her face. So it was customized vintage.
Well it looked super vintage to me, I thought you were going to say you found it in a thrift store somewhere.
I give that credit to a great dyer, she did a wonderful job aging all the pieces. Casey’s jacket was made to look like a vintage jacket from the '50s - that was all brand new and then aged and made to look like the real thing from the ‘50s. Hunting down that actual fabric is a big deal.
As far as George Clooney’s transformation, at the beginning he was kind of a mess and then he looks so clean and crisp in Tomorrowland. Do you take the actor into account or only the character they’re playing when transforming an overall look?
I didn’t want to change his personality, his character is still his character but his outlook has slightly changed. His clothing, as far as his taste level, that didn’t change but it's uplifting to a certain degree. He is more forgiving of the world and you want to see that in the lines of what he’s wearing and such. And also, what he is wearing is a product of Tomorrowland so you want to get that feeling too but I wanted it still to have the flavor of an old jacket but also a mix of Tomorrowland.
Livingly had a few off-topic questions for Kurland as well...
What is your favorite Disney movie of all time?
Gosh, there are a lot. But I’m going to say Hidalgo because I designed it.
If you weren’t a costume designer, what would you be?
Omg that’s such a funny question. Probably a dentist, that’s what I should have been in the first place.
At Livingly, we 'Live Life Beautifully.' What makes a woman beautiful?
Oh, now that’s a ringer question. Her soul makes her beautiful, with a good measure of her mind. That really does it.
Be sure to check out all of Jeffrey Kurland's designs in Disney's Tomorrowland, out on Blue-Ray and DVD October 13th!