Hoarder's Paradise: Sets and Costumes
Production designer Frankel created the set that would become Diana's
Florida home inside of an actual house in an Atlanta
neighborhood. "You rarely get to make a set like Diana's
house," explains Frankel. "It was scripted as a hoarder's
paradise, but it's a paradise for someone who is constantly going in
and out of high-end malls. So it's not wooden crates with
dusty old things on them, it's like a mall exploded inside her
house. It was fun to make with lots of interesting things
that you could find at a mallâ€¦like a giant self-portrait of Diana."
Diana herself was quite impressed. "Shepherd did an amazing
job," praises McCarthy. "When I first saw it, I walked around
it many times because it was the most visually alarming thing I had
ever seen. It was sensory overload and was funny and
heartbreaking at the same time because Diana has all this stuff and no
one to share it with."
Frankel took those skills across the production. The
interiors of Sandy and Trish's apartment, as well as Big Chuck's office
and key green-screen scenes, were filmed on stage in a former
Baskin-Robbins distribution facility. Despite the hot Georgia
summer, the cast and crew stayed cool on set.
In downtown Atlanta, the interior of the former Atlanta Archives and
Records Building was transformed into Sandy's workplace at Prominence
Financial in Denver. An Atlanta landmark, the building is
quite unique, as it has no windows in the entire monolithic
structure. Helping to decorate the set were life-size
portraits of the Prominence partners, which included Favreau as
To get the paintings made, whenever a cast member who was playing one
of the partners signed onto the film, Frankel had a local artist paint
a portrait from the cast photo. If you look closely during
the scenes, you can even see a portrait of producer Scott Stuber, who
makes a cameo via his life-size painting. When the scenes
where completed, Frankel transformed the space into an even
larger-than-life Prominence Financial headquarters in St. Louis, where
the original paintings were photographed and blown up approximately
four to five times their original size.
Considering that Gordon has collaborated with Frankel on multiple
occasions, the designer's outstanding work came as no
surprise. "I've never met a production designer as talented
as Shepherd," compliments Gordon. "He runs on an engine
powered by the highest-octane fuel, and after three films now I don't
know how he moves so fast and efficiently. He covered so much
ground, as we're literally all over the state of Georgia. To
create and find more than 90 sets is such a daunting undertaking, even
if you have infinite resources, and we didn't, so I'm in awe of what he
accomplished in the amount of time he had."
Another challenge for the team was the wardrobe design of the
comedy. As with any road trip movie, continuity is an
issue. Considering the amount of action and fighting that
Sandy and Diana see and do as they travel cross-country, costume
designer Carol Ramsey and her team had to work overtime to ensure
everything was seamless.
"Diana has about eight costumes, with her main one being her blue pants
and checkered gingham blouse, which she wears through two-thirds of the
movie," explains Ramsey. "So that hero look had to be
something that's not going to become tiresome to look at, but was also
believable and good for the character. We custom-made all of
Melissa's outfits, and we probably had 15 duplicates of the hero
outfit, because we had to have it in different stages of aging -- from
a pristine to a very dirty one."
The designer continues that her team found inspiration in the oddest of
places: "In developing the look of Diana, we did a lot of online
shopping on some of the worst women's clothing websites you've ever
seen. That gave us a lot of ideas, and we narrowed them down
to a small spectrum of colors and patterns that we liked and were
flattering on Melissa. Then we chose that distinctive blue
color and made narrow pants and a fitted blouse. When we saw
Melissa in it for the screen test, Seth and I looked at each other and
we knew that it was the one. She looked so good in it, and
the color is not too bright that it takes over the scene. I
call it the 'Wisconsin picnic' look."
The director was thrilled with the result. "We spent almost a
month brainstorming what Diana's look might be," recalls
Gordon. "Melissa is a genius and she had so many great ideas
for the look of the character, which was based on people she knew
growing up. She grew up on a farm in rural Illinois, and this
character feels very Midwestern. I feel like it's going to be
an iconic character, and it starts with that wardrobe and continues
with that massive hair and terrible makeup."
With production wrapped after an all-night shoot on an elevated highway
in downtown Atlanta, the cast and filmmakers reflected upon the journey
they had taken together. "We go from A to Z with the
characters in this film," ends McCarthy. "Both Sandy and
Diana change over the course of the movie, and one minute you're
laughing hysterically and then the next you're touched by tender
momentsâ€¦then you're in a crazy car chase. It makes you feel
like you went somewhere with these people, and I hope it's a fun ride
because we sure had a great time making the film."
"IDENTITY THIEF is a good two-hander that has a relevant
concept and subject matter," concludes Bateman. "It's fresh and
unpredictable, but it is also peppered with things that are somewhat
familiar. I'm proud of all the hard work that's gone into
this film, and I think it's funny as hell. Hopefully, people
will laugh the car ride home from the theater as hard as we did in the
car on set every day."
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