As 2011 comes to a close, EW.com wanted to honor some of the hardworking names and faces from behind the scenes for their outstanding achievements. Hired to design costumes for Green Lantern, one of 2011’s most anticipated blockbusters, Oscar winner Ngila Dickson (The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King) found herself in an interesting position. She had to abandon age-old techniques and design Ryan Reynolds’ pivotal superhero suit entirely in CGI. Read on to see how Dickson rose to the challenge. For more behind the scenes access to the year’s best TV and movie scenes, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2011: Behind the Scenes coverage.
As told by: Ngila Dickson
Originally, [Reynolds’ costume] was going to be built [the old-fashioned way]. Then it was decided that the costume should be done CGI. As a costume designer, somebody used to building things, that was quite a challenge. We were just trying to find a new way into the idea of a superhero. There was a part in the script when the Hal Jordan goes to the planet Ryut and his body was inspected. I thought, “What about a costume that comes from the body inside out?” It was [inspired by this idea of] bringing the life force to the outside of his body.
At that point, I really decided to understand how you would build something like that in 3-D. My first encounter was with Lord of the Rings, working with Weta [Digital (co-founded by Peter Jackson)], working out movement for cloaks and pieces like that. Of course I was incredibly aware of it and what the possibilities were, and also very conscious of where the film is branching into real film, real build, and now this very strong visual effects world. I was incredibly curious about my role as a costume designer in that.
I worked with some great illustrators, and we were literally doing like what you would sculpt in a studio, but we were doing it with a computer. In many respects, we were following all the same principals, but you never got the tangible result that you get from the build you do in a costume house. I found that whole process very exciting, and I feel like I’m not done with it yet.
It’s the first time I’ve taken it to that level. I love doing those big films. I love how complicated they are. More recently, I just finished Mr. Pip, an independent film directed by Andrew Adamson [The Chronicles of Narnia] in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. I wanted to go back to doing a small movie, to remind myself about the build. Some costume designers have a genre, I want to be incredibly open. You’re going to bring something from one of those areas to the table and hopefully give it a different view.
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