Costumes, Stunts, Effects
Costume designer Julie Weiss collaborated with Cate
Blanchett to determine the wardrobe for the character of Annie. "Once we
had a mutual understanding of her character, it really didn't matter exactly
what she wore in a particular scene, because that's not a priority for
Blanchett amazed the crew during shooting with her
chameleon-like ability to look physically different in every shot. "Cate is
very much the person she plays. It was very easy to dress her because Cate's
values and sense of aesthetics were the same as Annie's," says Weiss. With
Annie's priority being her children, "you always know her sons will be the
first to get their coats, not her. It's almost as if she looks beautiful despite
herself. Her clothes are just part of who she is." This is true of all of
the characters, whose personal circumstances were much more important than
"These characters reap a certain beauty that might
appear mundane, but is integral to who they are," Weiss elaborates.
"These are people who depend on decency, and ultimately their decency will
show through no matter what they're wearing."
Stunt coordinator Mark Stefanich had a large task ahead of
him in preparing for the critical scene where Buddy lights his father on fire in
a horrifying act of vengeance. The stunt actor who played Buddy's father had to
meet some exceptional criteria: he had to be convincing as an actor, and
Stefanich and director Sam Raimi had to be comfortable with his past experience
and ability with fire.
"Not just anybody would allow you to tie them to a
chair with no shirt on and light them on fire," says Stefanich.
"Luckily, Sam picked a good friend of mine, Erik Cord, who had done about
30 burn scenes before. That made us all more comfortable."
Raimi and Stefanich wanted the actor to "burn"
for 10 to 15 seconds. "Erik wore various layers of protection: nomex, a
protective stunt gel, long underwear, and a rain mask to keep the gel inside and
keep the outfit from looking wet. Then we put a pair of Levi's over that, and a
pair of pajamas over that," Stefanich explains. As a final precaution,
"his wardrobe had a fire retardant in it, which gave us just a few more
seconds for safety."
Deceptive camera angles and clever positioning of the
actor's chair made the fire appear to actually be on his skin. Stefanich
concludes, "Erik is a great actor, so it is all the more believable."
Such fakery was not used for the suspenseful scene in
which Jessica's lifeless body is pulled from the lake. Initially, a dummy was to
be used for the scene, but it looked too stiff. The other option was
risky-having a stunt double float corpse-like in the chilly, murky water. Enter
stunt coordinator Mark Stefanich, who once again convinced filmmakers the
impossible was possible.
"Everybody's main concern was hypothermia, but we
monitored the stunt double very closely. Her pulse and temperature were taken
immediately before she entered the water and right when she got out." The
double was never in the water for more than five minutes at a time-and never
alone. The result was a flawless stunt in which the double was a dead-ringer for
Wind, fog and rain machines used by the special effects
crew created forceful storms throughout the film. Director Sam Raimi wanted an
enormous wind storm for the exterior scene in which Annie arrives unexpectedly
at District Attorney David Duncan's house. Special effects coordinator Vern Hyde
used three separate wind machines in a somewhat tig
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