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 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.
CAN TEXAS BRAVE 'BROKEBACK'? Lone Star scribe Larry McMurtry is confident that his gay cowboy movie will change the way Gov Perry and Prop 2 supporters think about queer issues
By Daniel A. Kusner Dec. 12, 2005
A tragedy about lost opportunity, repression, finding love and the importance of never letting it go, “Brokeback Mountain” is a powerful drama. And the momentum behind the film builds on a day-to-day basis.
Critics groups in Boston, Los Angeles and New York recently named the gay cowboy drama as the year’s best film. And on Tuesday, it dominated the Golden Globes with seven nominations, including one for best screenplay, written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana.
A lifelong Texan, McMurtry is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the literary treasure who created “The Last Picture Show,” “Lonesome Dove,” “Hud” and “Terms of Endearment.” A few hours after the Golden Globe nominations were announced, McMurtry conducted phone interviews while in Austin promoting the film.
Based on Annie Proulx’s 1997 near-perfect short story, “Brokeback” is about the doomed romance between two men who fall in love while herding sheep together. It’s also partially set in the Lone Star State.
And just as the film’s marketing campaign was gearing up, Texas was hit with two historical anti-gay blows: the overwhelming victory of a state amendment to ban same-sex marriages and Governor Rick Perry essentially telling gay soldiers returning from Iraq that a more “lenient” state would be a better place to live.
“If the governor wants to say foolish things, I can’t stop him. And it’s too bad about the proposition. But that’s not forever,” McMurtry says. “Five years from now, Governor Perry won’t be there. And we’ll see about the rest.”
When it comes to statements on Western culture and history, McMurtry is perhaps the most qualified authority.
Even Governor Perry seems to agree. In 2003 and 2004, Perry declared May as Texas Writers Month and, fittingly, McMurtry’s image emblazoned the campaign’s commemorative posters for those years.
But in 2005, is Texas’ image shifting toward intolerance and homophobia?
“I don’t see it that way. I’m not pessimistic. I’m from the plains of Texas — the part that connects the Midwest with the Rocky Mountains,” McMurtry says. “I think there’s more decency in the great American middle class than most homophobic legislation would indicate. Sure, right now these are hot-button issues, but these things are not permanent.”
Raised in Wichita Falls, McMurtry became familiar with gay cowboys when he was 8 years old. That’s when he was introduced to his gay cousin’s boyfriend.
Coincidently, McMurtry’s cousin resembles Jack Twist, the fictitious “Brokeback Mountain” character played by Jake Gyllenhaal: Both worked the rodeo circuit and both were from the same area of Texas — near Childress, a small town not far from Wichita Falls.
His cousin came to mind while working on the screenplay.
“I was supposed to say ‘gentleman friend’ when referring to my cousin’s lover,” McMurtry remembers.
McMurtry’s parents encouraged him to be nice to his cousin’s partner.
“We had no reason not to be nice to him. He was a perfectly nice man,” McMurtry says. “There might have been a little awkwardness, maybe. But my parents were never angry about my cousin. Everyone’s lives went on. And they went on for 20 years.”
That’s the attitude that shapes McMurtry’s vision of the acceptance of gays in Texas.
“Many American families, millions, have a gay member — like our vice president,” he says. “I’m not going to give up on the capacity of Texans to deal with controversy in a fair and compassionate way.”
The big challenge for the film is for people like Governor Perry and the folks who voted for Proposition 2 to actually watch “Brokeback Mountain.”
“I absolutely believe the film will challenge their views,” McMurtry says. “If they go see it, it will have to give them pause.”
Even with a truckload of film critics’ awards, McMurtry says the success of “Brokeback Mountain” depends solely on one thing: word of mouth. Already, word of mouth is spreading — and some right-wing critics have blasted the film, saying it should win an Oscar for promoting the “gay agenda.” That type of criticism fuels McMurtry’s ire.
“I know what I’m confident of, and I’m totally confident,” he says. “The right wing will not win on this issue. This movie is stronger than they are.”
Even if “Brokeback Mountain” wins an Oscar for best picture, is it strong enough to play in Crawford, Texas?
“Well, the screening room is actually in the White House,” McMurtry says. “The president and his wife have gay friends. In fact, they have gay friends who stay in the White House. So I’m sure they’ll see it.”
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,” she says. “But now, I feel that everything has to be better than it used to.”
Black was recently in Austin 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 Lone Star 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 Texas roots 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.
STRAIGHT STORY: Tom Cruise, Cameron Crowe stop in Dallas to promote 'Vanilla Sky'
By Daniel A. Kusner
It’s not a big deal to be in the same room as Tom Cruise. At least he’s pretty good at making it seem that way.
Last Friday, the box-office actor and 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."
First of all, Cruise's presence doesn't make the gaydar needle bounce off the charts — even though Cruise was wearing a fetching lavender ribbed-turtleneck. Also, he’s not the dwarf everyone says he is. Cruise stands almost 5’10”.
In the looks department, Cruise is attractive enough. But frankly, 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 billboard ads, Tom Cruise appears as common as stop signs.
He did leave one strong impression, though — the beefy laugh that Ben Stiller imitates so well. He lets one of those out every five minutes. It makes him appear jovial and pleasant, which helps detract from the fact that’s he’s essentially the most powerful actor in Hollywood.
In "Vanilla Sky," Cruise plays David Ames, a studly Manhattan publishing executive whose life takes a horrible turn after he falls for an innocent exotic babe (Penelope Cruz) while trying to cool things down with his “fuck buddy” (played by Cameron Diaz). It’s a complex story that twists and turns in many different directions, and dissecting the plot too much might spoil the film for ticket holders.
"Vanilla Sky" is hardly a gay film. But there are a couple queer elements that Cruise and Crowe didn’t mind talking about. And of course, the “whole gay thing” with Cruise sort-of sprung up from there.
Gay artist and native Texan Robert Rauschenberg has a meaningful part in the film. He assumes the role of David Ames’ deceased father, a tycoon who left his publishing empire to his son.
“I don’t think there aren’t any gay connotations to using Rauschenberg in the film,” says Crowe. “I saw a picture of him in W magazine, and he’s really photogenic. The picture was a close-up shot of him smiling, which I felt so comfortable looking at. 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 even 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 a bar scene in "Vanilla Sky," where a gawky chap (Noah Taylor, from the film "Shine") tries to strike up a conversation with David Ames. Not that the matter really needed to be cleared up, but David tells the guy, “Sorry, buddy. But I’m straight, okay?”
Cameron Crowe admits that this scene knowingly pokes fun at Cruise's response to the gay rumors in 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,” Crowe explains. “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. And, 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. Does that take you out of the movie? Does it make you think about Tom, as opposed to David Ames? But in this movie, I think it belongs there.”
For Cruise, the gay rumors haven’t always been a source of amusement.
He slapped an unheard-of $100 million lawsuit against gay porno “wrestler” Kyle Bradford. The suit was prompted after the French magazine Actustar reported on a story that Cruise and Bradford had an affair, which led to Cruise’s divorce with actress Nicole Kidman.
Cruise then filed yet another $100 million lawsuit against a man who allegedly claimed he had a videotape supposedly proving Cruise is homosexual.
Although it might be a sore subject, Cruise makes it clear that 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 were 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?
“Not at all. 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 anything. I don’t care,” he says. “To me, whatever anyone — whether it’s religion, they’re sexual preference — it’s their choice. It’s personal. It’s their right. I don’t have anything to judge that at all.”
When this line of questioning petered out, the press conference was 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 boisterous laugh and said, “Absolutely not. You go right ahead.”
Friday, December 14, 2001.
MY QUESTION QUOTED IN THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS.
Scottish actress Tilda Swinton has less than 10 minutes to chitchat.
Maybe it’s her inherent maternal instincts. Because her graceful-and-inviting demeanor makes this writer forget that crushing deadlines are steadily ticking away.
That’s no surprise.
When it comes to acting, Swinton is a master at saying things without words. Swinton recently visited Dallas to promote her new film, “Young Adam,” which she costars with Ewan McGregor.
In the film, Swinton plays Ella, a river-barge owner who hires a young drifter (McGregor). Things get complicated when a corpse is found drifting in the water.
The tale is a sensual thriller that — because it contains the tamest flash of full-frontal nudity — has been rated NC-17.
But Swinton has been at the forefront of daring, intellectual and graphic filmmaking ever since her debut, “Caravaggio” (1986). That film started a collaboration with the late Derek Jarman, the visionary British filmmaker who’s credited for fathering 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 1993, Swinton starred as the immortal, gender-switching nobleman in “Orlando.” And who could forget her performance as the fiercely devoted mother of a gay son in 2001’s “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 green eyes. “I’ve always felt a close connection to David Bowie on those grounds.”
As a mother of twins — a boy and a girl — 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 mothers who are having any difficulty accepting their child’s sexuality, Swinton suggests they read the parenthood section of Lebanese 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,” she 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.
May 4, 2004: “Young Adam” opens today exclusively at the Angelika Film Center.
*POST SCRIPT — TILDA GETS STYLED IN BIG D
Androgynous cinema goddess Tilda Swinton appears in the new George Clooney thiller “Michael Clayton.”
In a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, the Scottish actress dropped hints about the “physical awkwardness” of her corporate ball-busting character, 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.”
That sounds familiar.
In 2004, Tilda stopped in the Angelika Film center while promoting “Young Adam.”
She was exceedingly gracious and said it was her second trip to Big D.
Guess she picked up some incredible inspiration while here. Because her “Michael Clayton” performance is breathtaking.