Did y'all know the other Capote biopic was shot in Texas?
Austin-based hair-makeup designer Troy Breeding takes us behind the scenes of 'Infamous'
BY DANIEL KUSNER
Comparisons between “Capote” and “Infamous” are inevitable. But the design and “look” of the biopics couldn’t be more dissimilar.
While “Capote” was painted in muted tones, “Infamous” bursts with colors.
For a film that’s set in Kansas and Manhattan, “Infamous” was actually shot in Texas.
In January 2005, the 42-day production schedule began shooting around Lone Star towns like Taylor, Elgin, Lockhart and Austin.
Writer-director Douglas McGrath had quite a cast on his hands: Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver, Hope Davis, Isabella Rossellini, Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig. Not to mention Truman Capote doppelganger Toby Jones.
As head of the makeup department, Troy Breeding helped bring long-necked socialites like Babe Paley (Weaver) and Diana Vreeland (Juliet Stevenson) to life — as well as Nelle Harper Lee (Bullock).
With a truckload of screen and TV credits (“Spy Kids,” “The Alamo,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”), Breeding is a sought-after Texas talent.
Currently working on the NBC series “Friday Night Lights,” we caught up with him about re-creating the milieu of that dastardly little genius who wrote “In Cold Blood” and then summarily pissed off New York’s upper crust.
What does a makeup department head do?
First, you research the makeup for each character in the film. Doug McGrath, the director, wanted everything as historically accurate as possible.
Not only was I in charge of small nuances — like Sigourney Weaver having a little bump on her nose. I handled much more involved jobs, like making facial prosthetics for Daniel Craig so he’d resemble Perry Smith.
All of this work and research goes into making the film a work of art.
But then I’d find myself behind the camera holding a tissue that contained some actor’s gum and thinking, This is my career?
What inspired you during the creative process?
We all knew that “Capote” was being shot at the same time, and we wanted ours to be the best.
But the most unexpected inspiration came from the most glamorous of them all — Isabella Rossellini. She grew up with most of the film’s characters.
Of course, she was very young, but she’s got a sharp memory.
One time, we were designing Diana Vreeland’s makeup and hair, and Isabella said, “Ah, no. I knew her. And she did wear that much blush. That was her style.”
And so we deferred to Isabella.
As the film travels from Capote’s success of “In Cold Blood” to being banished from New York society, does his appearance change, deteriorate?
Truman’s transition from young sassy writer to bitter old drunk was about 90 percent Toby Jones, and 10 percent hair, makeup and lighting.
His performance is so strong that we didn’t have to do much.
I’d add capillaries to his nose and cheeks, and I darkened creases around his eyes and mouth.
I also took it upon myself to drag Toby out for drinks every night to help him “prepare” for the part.
But by the end of the shoot, I started looking like the older version of Truman myself.
In this film, the relationship between Truman and Perry really goes the distance. During the scenes where the men connect, were their appearances softened, made to look more romantic?
Daniel and Toby are both masters of their craft. So I left it up to them to create the magic.
I remember during The Big Kiss Scene, Daniel leaned over and asked in his charming British accent, “Did it look okay?”
Who’d he think I was — the Gay Technical Advisor?
I said, “It looked pretty gay to me, Mary.”
Meanwhile, Toby was asking for some lotion to soothe his newly acquired razor burn. I told Toby, “If I had a nickel …”
Overseeing the look of “the swans” of society must have been quite an undertaking.
It was challenging and exciting.
First of all, you have all these fabulous characters you’re depicting. And then you have all these super-famous actresses portraying them.
But I have advice for anyone hiring an actress older than 45: If they want to bring in their own people — for the love of God, let them.
What work did you do on the men?
The research was fascinating, and it felt like a treasure hunt. Perry Smith and Dick Hickock’s tattoos had to be replicated as accurately as possible.
I found some pictures of them and their tattoos in an old issue of Life magazine. And I hired an artist to design transfers from the pictures.
But the first day I met Daniel Craig was like that scene from “Broadcast News.” But I was Joan Cusack, and Daniel was the tape we had to get on-air.
He showed up with blonde hair, blue eyes and fair-skin.
And in 24 hours, we died his hair, his eyebrows, given him brown contacts and tanned his skin. It was kind of crazy, but I think the result speaks for itself.
Was shooting the film in Texas a process of camouflage miracles? Or was making “Infamous” in the Lone Star State a creative blessing?
I don’t know about a “blessing.”
And honestly, I don’t think Texas was anybody’s first choice.
But I think the producers were pleasantly surprised by the professionalism and attention to detail our crews brought to the table.
When you look at pictures of Truman Capote, what do you see?
I see Toby Jones.
He really looks so much like him.
I told Toby to sign me up for “Truman Capote: The Later Years” — after the facelift, all the pills and booze, and totally tragic. Now that’s my kind of movie.
Is there anything you pulled from your own past that helped you bring these characters to life onscreen?
I’ve always appreciated this period — when people took more time to get ready to go out. When they didn’t know drinking and smoking were bad for your health.
I think all my years playing dress-up helped me bring this one home.
What’s one thing you hope people notice when they’re watching “Infamous”?
How seamless the movie is.
But I really hope no one notices that Apple had wiped off Gwyneth Paltrow’s mole in between takes.
THE GAY INTERLOPERS: Filmmaking duo Glatzer-Westmoreland discover inspiration right around the block
By Daniel A. Kusner
When it comes to selecting themes, the Glazter-Westmoreland track record is unpredictable — especially now with “Quinceañera.” A wholesome, almost old-fashioned film, it’s a story that’s steeped in Los Angeles’ Latino culture and centers on a Chicana celebrating her 15th birthday.
Richard Glatzer wrote and directed the 1994 gay musical “Grief.” He’s also produced six seasons of “America’s Next Top Model.”
In 2001, Glazter and partner Wash Westmoreland first collaborated on “The Fluffer,” a steamy Hitchcockian love-story set in the gay porn world. “The Fluffer” was Westmoreland’s calling card as an indie filmmaker — he had already poised himself as gay porn’s brightest director, working under the name Wash West.
In 2004, Westmoreland made his impressive foray into documentaries with “Gay Republicans,” an insightful look at the seemingly oxymoronic Log Cabin queers.
“Quinceañera” was a hot property almost from the get-go. When it premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, it won both the grand jury prize and the narrative audience award.
Although “Quinceañera” features a gay couple, they’re hardly principal players. If this film has a target audience, it’s probably Mexican-American filmgoers — the crowd that Texas director Robert Rodriguez has masterfully cultivated.
In April, Glazter stopped in Dallas for a screening of “Quinceañera” at the USA Film Festival. At the time, Westmoreland was in Los Angeles cutting trailers for the film.
Are the trailers and marketing campaign being specifically tailored for Mexican-Americans?
“I don’t think it will be that calculated,” Glazter says. “Maybe we’ll just market it to people who happen like good movies.”
How did such two gay-centric filmmakers become so immersed in Latino culture? Apparently, it was right outside their front door. Glazter and Westmoreland share a home in Echo Park, the transitional Los Angeles neighborhood in which “Quinceañera” is set. In fact, the gay couple’s apartment is the filmmaker’s actual home.
“We’ve seen a lot of these stories happen on our own block. This film is like a neighborhood affair for us,” he explains. “We photographed our next-door-neighbor’s quinceañera in a nearby church. Her dad is the pastor of that church, and they got booted out of their house after 28 years when the house they were renting went condo. All this stuff was just coming at us.”
With two Golden Globe wins and both Oscar and Grammy noms, it’s comforting to know that Karen Black keeps plugging away — just like everybody else.
A gorgeous star with a haunting pair of uneven eyes, Black made an astonishing impact in the early ’70s with films like "Five Easy Pieces," "Easy Rider," "The Great Gatsby" and "Day of the Locust." However, as that decade came to a close, she settled into the role of being a wife and mom, and the high-profile offers petered out.
With more than 130 films under her belt, she’s maintained a reputation for being a hard worker who probably dove into too many indie films without checking to see if the water was too shallow.
“For a while, I would just take a lot of bad movies. I don’t remember why. I guess I didn’t pay much attention to career building,” Black says on a phone interview from her Austin hotel room. “But now, I feel that everything has to be better than it used to.”
Black was recently in the Lone Star State working on "America Brown," a family drama set in West Texas. The film focuses on how the obsession of football can harm families. Black threw herself into intense preparation and can now nail a twangy accent like she was from Tuna, Tex.
While singling out a particular role from her illustrious career, most gay men probably point to her remarkable turn as a transsexual who returns to her dust-bowl roots near Big Bend in "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean."
“And I hope to never do it again. Because it was terribly difficult. My character was disappointed with her change. I cried a lot while making that because it was so painful,” she explains.
Black immersed herself in that role and was coached by a post-op transsexual who monitored her behavior: sitting, crossing her legs and smoking cigarettes.
“At a cast party, she was there — dancing with an extraordinarily wealthy producer. She was wearing this diaphanous thing thrown over her shoulder, and it would fall. And her incredibly lovely left breast would be exposed. And everyone would laugh and she would giggle coyly,” Black remembers of her trainer. “That night, she went home with the gentleman, and he never knew the difference.”
Gay men are often fascinated by tragic goddesses swirling in chaos and self-destruction (Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor). But don’t add Karen Black’s name to that list.
Black insists that she doesn’t fly into demanding fits of rage and that she’s a very down-to-earth woman. In fact, there’s a gory rock band called The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and Karen has attended their gigs and even introduced the band at groovy Manhattan venues .
“I think that my life has had a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had the opposite of a diva career — of a ‘God knows what she’s going to do next?’ But I’ve been kicked around. I’ve had my fair share of pain,” she explains. “I feel that a lot of gay men have had their fare share of troubles and pain as well. I think gay men recognize when they see a person who has struggled. I think they know it’s hard to do what I do. That it’s sometimes difficult to be what you are.”
You can catch the 57-year-old in the recent video release of "The House of 1,000 Corpses" and an armload of films already in production.
So is there any chance of Black slowing down or retiring?
“Maybe on my deathbed,” she says.
The straight story
Tom Cruise, Cameron Crowe make Dallas stop on promotional tour for Vanilla Sky
By DANIEL KUSNER | Dec. 14, 2001
It’s not such a big deal to be in the same room with Tom Cruise.
At least he makes it seem that way.
Last Friday, the staunch hetero actor, accompanied by director Cameron Crowe, stopped in Dallas to hold a press conference for their new film, Vanilla Sky, a remake of the 1997 Spanish romantic thriller, Abre Los Ojos.
Cruise does not make the gaydar needle bounce off the charts — even while wearing a rather fetching, lavender ribbed-turtleneck.
And he’s not the midget everyone says he is. When he stands, he’s almost 5’10”
In the looks department, Cruise is attractive enough.
But he’s such a recognizable and photographed cultural figure that — in person — the surprise element of his physical presence has practically evaporated. With all the tabloid covers and billboards dedicated to Tom Cruise, he appears as common as stop signs.
He does leave one strong impression, though. His beefy laugh — that rear- molar-sparkling laugh that Ben Stiller lampoons so well. He lets one of those rip every five minutes. Though forced, the laugh makes him appear jovial and pleasant. Which detracts from the fact that he’s one of Hollywood’s most powerful actors.
In Vanilla Sky, Cruise plays David Aames, a studly Manhattan publishing exec whose life takes a horrible turn after he falls for an innocent, exotic babe (Penelope Cruz) while trying to cool things off with his“fuck buddy”(played by Cameron Diaz).
It’s a complex story that twists and turns in so many different directions that dissecting the plot too much could spoil the film. [See Vanilla Sky review.]
Vanilla Sky is hardly a gay film.
But there are a couple of queer elements that Cruise and Crowe didn’t mind talking about. And the “whole gay thing” with Cruise sort of sprung up from there.
Openly gay artist and native Texan Robert Rauschenberg has a meaningful but small part in the film. He assumes the role of David Aames’ deceased father — a tycoon who left his publishing empire to his son.
“There are no gay connotations to casting Rauschenberg in the film,” Crowe explains inside a ballroom at the Hotel Crescent Court. “I saw a picture of him in W magazine. And he’s really photogenic. The picture was a closeup shot of [Rauschenberg] smiling, which I felt so comfortable while looking at it. I also felt... What if this guy was one of the most legendary sharks of the New York business world? Wouldn’t it make it more effective as a tough businessman if he was that disarming?”
According to Crowe, when Rauschenberg heard about the project, his response was, “I get to be Tom Cruise’s father? I’m in.”
There’s also a bar scene in Vanilla Sky, where a peculiar-looking chap (the talented Noah Taylor from Shine) tries to strike up a conversation with David Aames. Not that the matter really needed clearing up... But David tells the mysterious fellow, “Sorry, buddy. But I’m straight. Okay?”
Cameron Crowe admits that this scene knowingly pokes fun at Cruise’s response to the gay rumors about his personal life.
“Somebody asked me what I was trying to say there. Because at a recent screening, there was a half-second lag — where nobody knew whether it was okay to laugh,” says Crowe. “The movie plays with pop culture and images. To me, Tom is pop culture. So the fact that Tom is playing a part in a movie that’s commenting on pop culture, well... It gives me a wide-open opportunity to play with the pop culture of Tom. There was a debate about that in our editing room. Like, does that take you out of the movie? Does it make you think about Tom, as opposed to David Aames? But in this movie, I think it belongs there.”
For Cruise, the gay rumors haven’t always been a source of amusement.
He slapped a $100 million lawsuit against gay porno “wrestler” Kyle Bradford after a French magazine spread the story that Cruise and Bradford had an affair, which reportedly led to Cruise’s divorce from actress Nicole Kidman. [Update: Cruise won $10 million in that action.]
He then filed yet another $100 million lawsuit against a man who claimed he had a videotape supposedly proving Cruise engaged in gay sex.
Although it might be a sore subject, Cruise says he’s not annoyed by the attention he receives from his gay fans.
“Let me tell you something, I’m not annoyed. I’m a heterosexual. And I have nothing against homosexuality at all. But when someone says that they have mud-wrestled with me — and they’re going off creating lies and telling everyone — I find that offensive,” Cruise says. “If someone said they had videotape of me mud-wrestling, and they’re trying to gain a name for themselves and capitalize on a situation when they know it’s a lie... I think whether you’re straight or gay — if people are out there saying things that are disparaging. Or they’ve got videos of you in sex scenes and stuff like that... I, personally... I’ve got a family to protect. And it’s untrue.”
Does he find it difficult to acknowledge his gay fans while making it absolutely clear that he is not one of them?
“I don’t feel that way at all. I’m a heterosexual. And that is the truth. I don’t feel anything in terms of not acknowledging or isolating or being prejudiced towards anybody," he says. “To me, whatever anyone — whether it’s religion, their sexual preference — it’s their choice. It’s personal. It’s their right. I don’t have any reason to judge that at all.”
When this line of questioning finally petered out, the press conference concluded.
While shaking hands with everyone at the end,I asked Cruise if he had any problems with being referred to as “gay-friendly.”
With that, he broke out his famed boisterous laugh and said, ”Absolutely not. You go right ahead.”
Charles Ealy, assistant features editor for books, movies and the arts at the Austin American-Statesman, worked with Wuntch as film editor at The News.
“He was a sweet and funny man and he loved movies more than anything else except for Mimi,” Ealy said. “I remember when he was going to interview Tom Cruise. There were all these restrictions about what you could or couldn’t ask, so Philip started out his interview with ‘So let me ask you all about your private life.’ He was always being funny with people.”
— Michael Granberry.
"Philip Wuntch, longtime film critic of the News, dies at 70."
The Dallas Morning News, October 13, 2015.
By DANIEL KUSNER | May 7, 2004
Scottish beauty Tilda Swinton has less than 10 minutes to chitchat.
Maybe it’s her maternal tenderness. Because Swinton’s dreamy presence inside Dallas’ Angelika lobby makes this writer forget that crushing deadlines are steadily ticking away.
That’s no surprise.
When it comes to acting, Swinton’s a master at saying things without words.
The superstar recently visited Dallas to promote “Young Adam,” a fine-art drama, costarring Ewan McGregor.
In “Young Adam,” Swinton plays Ella — a married, Glasgow river-barge owner who hires a sexy, boyish drifter (McGregor).
The discovery of a floating, naked corpse complicates their adulterous romance.
The tale’s a sensual thriller that — because of a tame flash of full-frontal nudity — received an NC-17 rating.
But Swinton’s been at the forefront of daring, graphic and intellectual filmmaking ever since her debut, “Caravaggio” (1986).
That kinky biopic began her collaboration with the late Derek Jarman, the visionary British filmmaker who fathered the New Queer Cinema movement.
Swinton was Jarman’s leading lady for “The Garden” (1990), “Edward II” (1991), “Wittgenstein” (1993) and Jarman’s sawn song, “Blue” (1993).
Also in ’93, Swinton portrayed the immortal, gender-switching nobleman in “Orlando.”
And who could forget her American-film debut as the devoted mom of a gay son in 2001’s nail-biter “The Deep End?”
Swinton is tall: 5’11”.
And in person, she’s so supernaturally beautiful, she’s like an alien-terrestrial who secretly inhabits Earth.
“But I am,” she says while widening her emerald eyes. “I’ve always felt a close connection to David Bowie on those grounds.”
As the mom of son-and-daughter twins, Swinton was stopped in her tracks by a Mother’s Day question — about parents accepting their children’s sexuality.
“A child’s sexuality is none of anybody’s business — not even the mother’s,” she says firmly. “There are bank managers who can’t bear the idea that their sons are going to be bad at math. And there are amateur dramatic mothers who can’t stand the idea of the children not being performers.”
“Of course, I joke that my children will end up being Nazis. Because one’s worst fear is that you won’t be able to take part in your child’s life. And that’s a selfish fear,” she continues.
For moms challenged by their kids’ sexuality, Swinton suggests they read the “On Children” chapter of Lebanese-American philosopher Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet.”
“It talks about the parent being like an archer. You simply draw your arm back and you let your arrow go. The arrow will go further than you could ever travel. It’s not for you to follow the arrow. And you should never skew the arrow so that it will land close to the bow,” Swinton explains. “It’s such a privilege to have children. And on children go. In a way, they come from you. But you can’t go where they’re going."
“Young Adam” opens May 4, 2004, at Dallas’ Angelika-Mockingbird Film Center.
POST SCRIPT: BIG D’S COSMETICS INSPIRE SWINTON
Androgynous scene-stealer Tilda Swinton is George Clooney’s villainess in the corporate thriller “Michael Clayton.”
In a 2007 Entertainment Weekly interview, the Scottish actress dropped hints about the “physical awkwardness” of her immoral exec-lawyer role, Karen Crowder.
“I had this enjoyable fantasy about Karen having chosen her makeup on a trip to Dallas, Texas, years ago to visit her sister,” Swinton told EW reporter Karen Valby.
That sounds familiar...
In 2004, Swinton visited Mockingbird Lane’s Angelika Film Center while promoting “Young Adam” — where I witnessed one of Swinton’s Big D cosmetology sessions.
Her Lone Star-beauty fantasy must’ve been magical and inspiring.
Because Swinton’s nuanced, Oscar-winning turn as an unscrupulous agrochemical attorney in “Michael Clayton” is mesmerizing.