Interview by Rafy Mediavilla, with costume designer, Graham Churchyard, for “Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness”. Where we spoke about working with director Sam Raimi, and his darker side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and bring America Chavez from the comics to the movie.
What did you kept (from the previous movies and WandaVision) and what did you brought in that was that you felt needed to change with them with the movie?
Okay there’s so many different parts of that and yeah, of course, it was amazing to suddenly be working for Sam Raimi, as you know, legendary director and not just of horror, but the Spider-Map. I mean such an opportunity and he’s such a gentleman is such a collaborator. Really amazing guy I just love working with him and the whole Marvel team because they’re quite a big family, you know.
In Dr Strange. it was a kind of very peaceful kind of seat of learning or people reading books and drinking tea yeah and it was the Environment was this kind of slightly chilled sports were mates Far East and kind of robes and then, when we got the script and Kamar-Taj was under threat from Scarlet Witch. Sam said we want some ideas to make them look like they were battle ready, so we literally built like over 100 background costumes and he wanted it very much like a sort of regimented. They were generals that were organizing artillery with those big cannons and archers on the roof in and that. You know, they were the different blocks of color with very important to him to so the audience wouldn’t lose sight of you know, the archers in the blue and the shield bearers you know, in all the disorder different colors and yeah I mean I was just thrilled how that worked out that we created a new look that was slightly went into the amazing world that Scott and Alex created on Dr Strange with it sort of Far East and sort of fusion of ideas, but we took it and made them more sort of battle ready and then there was upgrading one who had been the kind of library and then we’re sort of do an upgrade because he’d won that costume incorrect number of movies, you know mean, he was saying costume in Shang-Chi that he wore in Dr Strange and, and so we had a lot of fun upgrading him to now play part of the kind of comic banter, as it were, the script kind of did between him being the sorcerer supreme and Dr Strange still not sorcerer supreme and you know Marvel Movies always have that kind of tongue in cheek kind of humor about and don’t there, there is always a light hearted sort of side to all of their stories and Sam Raimi you know he traveled somewhere between you know horror and camp, because he has this amazing you know background, he you know massive fan of slapstick comedy. You know, which is his friend Bruce Campbell did that great little performance of the pizza seller in the world, so yeah I mean just the whole there’s so many things you know to grab on to there but.
Let’s talk about bring America Chavez to live. What were you able to adapt from the comics and bring into the movie?
Yeah oh here’s the I mean we were probably working on some ideas that she was a little bit older were before we got casting and then we want you know when we got Xochitl we had to sort of dial that back because she was 14 when I saw her at the premiere she was then 16 you know and a different person, you know kids grow fast 14, 16, 18 but we had to preserve some kind of modesty compared to where the comics were sort of throwing us into that world of kind of very suggestive costumes that America ends up kind of kickboxing sort of later on, but you know she’s a witch and she’s traveled through many different universes and so keeping her in the same costume seem to be the sort of continuity, the star on the back of the coat there were lots of other ideas of different emblems that went on the back. But when the visual effects guys were We then had to sort of have many meetings like kind of what shape of the portals you know, are they yeah. And so we ended up with this The Star and you know that kind of work so well with the American flag and the stars and stripes and she creates these sort of star portals. And so yeah the star on the back, was the thing that when you see her in the cold opening you see this girl with a star her back. And then the audience know that when Dr Strange sees her and 616 he’s seen that coat before but they I think the idea is that it sort of launches her in you know, in a subtle way into the MCU you and the important thing for Sam was the star on the jacket. And I’d wanted to build in more detail than that, so I created this thing that I probably did in my youth where it’s all customized jackets and wrote slogan, you know just put slogans on with a sharpie or put pins on yourself that we’re supposed to be expressing yourself, so the idea was that the jacket was her expressing her time and her past and her two moms and where she been in the multiverse so that’s all Spanish poetry and slogans that are in that jacket, so if there’s some day of the dead references and there are some Portuguese witchcraft references but it’s all very subtle hopefully on the Blu-Ray 4K people will be able to pause and zoom’s ease of that, for if they weren’t lucky enough to see a lot of those themes in the costume display that was at the premiere.
Would you consider what’s the most challenging part of trying to keep the essence of Marvel while also with Sam in what he wants to present as his vision for this movie?
Yeah I mean I he was so responsive and such a delight to work for, but he it was just very clear about everything, so you got you got the there was no kind of like I wonder how Dark is going to be you knew where his limits where he was going to put the lid on things you know, so that you could you could then advance to that without overstepping the mark, because you know he’s such a collaborator and such a amazing person to work for and then relying on John Matheson for their incredible work and the lighting and the fact of you know, had to say to them on several occasions, thank you for making me look so good. You know there’s a moment when Wong gets pushed off the one that girl cliff he and he ends up on a ledge. And you see so much detail in his costume the hand tooled leather belt that he wears you can then just, go oh my God, you know because he worked on so many films where things are a bit dark or undefined and you go. You know, it would have been great to see all the detail that we put into those costumes but you can’t see them, so this was just such an amazing result of everything, showing the all the detail that I packed into things being able to be portrayed in that way there’s a great moment when Dr Strangers in the judgment Chamber kind of box and he’s without cloak so we knew there were moments when you know quite often you make a superhero costume you think it doesn’t matter you’ll never see the back is fine, because he never takes the cloak off and then this is the time, the cloak comes off and does its thing, and so the detail in the back of the costume was as important as everything else.
“Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness” available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD from July 26.