BAFTAs: ‘Poor Things’ winners on Yorgos Lanthimos emails and Willem Dafoe makeup (2024)

BAFTAs: ‘Poor Things’ winners on Yorgos Lanthimos emails and Willem Dafoe makeup (1)

“Oppenheimer” won big at the BAFTA Awards, taking home seven gongs including Best Picture and Best Director for Christopher Nolan. But Searchlight Pictures’ “Poor Things” was close behind with a total tally of five victories.

The Yorgos Lanthimos movie won Best Actress for Emma Stone, Best Production Design for Zsuzsa Mihalek (who wasn’t present), Shona Heath, and James Price, Best Costume Design for Holly Waddington, Best Makeup and Hair for Nadia Stacey,Mark Coulier, and Josh Weston, and Best Visual Effects for Simon Hughes.

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The first of the below winners to speak to the press was Hughes, who discussed his role in creating the world of “Poor Things.” “That’s where you have to acknowledge Shona Heath and James Price, the two production designers on the film because it’s their vision. And they were very clear with us. And even starting off, we were given a 200 page document showing us what this world was going to be. And they stayed with us all the way through in post and I think that’s where it really pays off and stops it becoming something that gets out of control,” Hughes said.

Indeed, their sets are something to behold. Every door led to another room or another part of the scene, creating an immersive feel that transcended the fact that the entire film was shot on sets rather than on location. “Yorgos had never shot on a set before of any kind,” Price revealed. “So when you’re dealing with a filmmaker who is used to a lot of locations, they’re filming in the real world. So to create an environment, especially one as fantastical as ‘Poor Things,’ we really did need to create that world otherwise it’s hard for the actors to live in that space and feeling and make it as immersive as possible for them.”

Heath echoed: “It wasn’t only important, it was 100% necessary. Yorgos was like ‘what’s behind there? What’s at the end of the street? What’s at the end of the sea? What’s in the sky?’ And he was always interested in what the furthest point was. That was what made our worlds grow bigger and bigger and bigger.”

They spent much of their time at the podium lauding praise on Lanthimos for being “a brilliant person to collaborate with.” Price explained that he spends a lot of time deciding on which designers he wants to work with but once he’s made that decision, he is then “empowering” and “fearless” and trusts his colleagues 100%. “He listens,” Heath said. “He wants a lot of ideas and creativity so for us that was a total joy. Sometimes we pushed it too far and sometimes not enough and he always knew what that line was. Maybe not easy but in hindsight he really got the best out of us.”

While Lanthimos got the best out of Heath and James, costume designer Waddington explained that it was her collaboration with the film’s leading lady that helped both of them get the best out of one another. “I presented Emma Stone quite early on with boards I’d made through different stages of development. I went to meet her in a hotel in Athens because it was during the pandemic. I talked through everything, I had lots of ideas, brought some dressing-up boxes in many suitcases, and we tried loads of things on,” Waddington explained.

“That’s where we got ideas like the little French knickers with a big jacket. We worked it out between the two of us but even down to each morning when she was getting ready for the day. Sometimes I might have plotted an outfit and she’d be like ‘Oh, actually, I think skirt off. I think Bella would not bother with the skirt.'”

Get ready to reevaluate the film, however, and see it in a different light every time you rewatch it, as Waddington revealed an usual (and very Lanthimosian) source of inspiration for the color palette of the costumes in the movie: rotting apples. “Early on, I was describing colors to Yorgos and he said ‘I think you like the colors of rotting apples.’ And when I went away and looked on my phone, the color spectrum that you get when you Google search rotting apples is what we have in the film, actually. I just had boards with rotting apples on and I picked bits out for different parts of the film.” Waddington said.

The third lot of designers to win were the makeup and hair team, who triumphed over expected winner “Maestro.” That movie transformed Bradley Cooper into Leonard Bernstein while prosthetic makeup artist Weston turned Willem Dafoe into the disfigured doctor who created Stone’s Bella Baxter. Weston stated that they got the makeup process down to just two hours and 40 minutes for Dafoe.

“We were looking at the logic of all the experiments that his surgeon father had done to Willem Dafoe’s character as a child. But Yorgos said ‘I don’t want any logic to it. I don’t want it to look logical, I want it to look weird and interesting and beautiful,’ which was great,” Weston said.

“He’s a fantastic performer. You don’t really want to be covering him in too much rubber, you want to keep that animated face coming through. So although the makeup has got some volume to it, we placed it in certain places so you can create volume but leave Willem there as well.”

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BAFTAs: ‘Poor Things’ winners on Yorgos Lanthimos emails and Willem Dafoe makeup (2)

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BAFTAs: ‘Poor Things’ winners on Yorgos Lanthimos emails and Willem Dafoe makeup (2024)
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