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CLOSER

Dressing London
An additional element in Closer is its take on contemporary London and how the four central characters behave in that milieu. "London is such a fascinating, multifaceted city that there's always something new to explore in a filmic sense and we've done that with Closer,” says producer Brokaw. "It shows a real contemporary London, not the romanticized city people of think of, but rather the city people who live here know in all its different colors and textures.” 

Mike Nichols sought out award winning theatrical production designer Tim Hatley to design Closer. Despite the fact that Hatley was relatively new to film design Nichols was so impressed with his theatrical work on recent productions of "Private Lives” and "The Crucible” that he had no qualms about bringing him aboard. 

Hatley in turn hired Mark Raggett to be his Supervising Art Director, an artist with a long, impressive film resume behind him. Hatley read the play 15 times before he began to plan his design scheme and found "the answer to all my questions about the characters was right there in the text.” 

The look and feel of the film is the heart of present-day London. "The heart of the story is about four people in London, not the touristy, picture postcard city, but a London for real people like these people,” says Hatley. 

Hatley, Raggett and Set Decorator John Bush noted that every scene in Closer is rife with tension and the sets should reflect the intensity of the dialogue and the interactions. "The characters' relationships are quite claustrophobic,” says Raggett, "The sets we created and the locations we used all reinforce that feeling.” 

For Dan, a poor journalist and unsuccessful novelist, Hatley designed a worn, cramped London flat, which is situated near a market with bookshops and a café.

Anna's photo studio is also her home, and it changes as the story progresses. The loft-style apartment is rundown at the start of the film, but as Anna becomes more successful, it is transformed — from an eclectic, bohemian photo studio into an elegant workspace and home. 

Both Hatley and Raggett say their biggest challenge was creating the lap dance club. Hatley conferred with Nichols, who didn't want a typically seedy strip joint, but something a little more upscale. He and Raggett researched several London gentlemen's clubs, and took their cue from The Reform Club with its heavy, detailed moldings, building it from scratch. "Tim created this surreal environment with a staircase of mirrors and translucent walls,” says Raggett. "It perfectly captures the reflective mood of the scene.” 

Hatley also conferred with veteran costume designer Ann Roth, with whom Nichols has collaborated since the Broadway smash hit "The Odd Couple” in the 1960s. Traveling from London to New York with huge metal trunks stuffed with models, photographs and sketches, Hatley "laid out the models during the first script read-through, and Ann and I compared colors. It was amazing to work with such an extraordinary seasoned talent.” 

Following her last, rather detailed, costuming job on Nichols' six-hour production of "Angels in America” for HBO, Roth saw this project as a relatively simple four- character piece. "The most interesting character was Dan, played by Jude Law. He was so poor and his clothes were very ratty, dreary and cheap,” says Roth. "They looked it. Yet, at the same time, Dan is a very sexy man, so that was part of the challenge of dressing him.” 

Roth understood that, as a journalist, Dan usually had to appear in a shirt, tie and suit — though the clothing had to be inexpensive. "The job was to make him look good in a rotten suit and somehow we did that, fitting him in a mid ‘60s look.” 

For Portman's character Alice, Roth imagined her as a backpacker who traveled and<

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