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CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR

Costumes Of The Film
The sequences of Charlie Wilson's War Nichols filmed in the Atlas Mountains required up to 900 extras at a time and proved especially challenging for double Oscar®- winning costume designer Albert Wolsky and team. The production prepped and shot in the Muslim country during the holy season of Ramadan, and Wolsky needed to have everything in place in advance of the fasting days. "We hired a costume supervisor just for that portion, and we sent him two months before; at the same time, we had people working in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Wolsky adds that the refugee wardrobe needed to have a certain drab color palette, which required vigilance to maintain until the cameras rolled. "Of course, we couldn't use all real things that people had worn, but our Afghan liaison arranged to work with second-hand clothing vendors in Kabul, and all that was sent to Morocco.” Dyers and agers assisted in coloring, and any new clothes were given a patina appropriate for the era and region.

The costume design and art departments did vast research, but found that creating for Texas and Washington, D.C. in the early '80s was more challenging than might be expected. "Doing a true period piece—and by that I mean 50 years ago or more—you can set it fairly accurately,” Wolsky notes. "But doing something that people have memories of and is so current is very tricky, especially since the '80s fashions have made a bit of a comeback.”

From the shoulder pads for Amy Adams' Bonnie Bach to the high coifs of Charlie's Angels, the design, makeup and hair teams had ample opportunity to revisit the 1980s. For Amy Adams, it was a bona fide introduction to the era. According to designer Wolsky: "Amy Adams came in a modern young woman with hazy ideas about the 1980s. We started experimenting, and she came to love it. By the end of the session, she realized that it was a flattering period; the shoulder pads were for a very good reason—they made the waist look small. The Dynasty version wasn't real life, it was already a costume—an exaggerated interpretation of reality.”

Though plainspoken in life, Wilson's singular style of dressing was anything but simple. Notes Wolsky: "I was pleasantly surprised that I could get very close to the real Charlie Wilson with Tom,” he recalls. "Somehow it worked on him; I even borrowed one of Charlie's shirts as a template. He wore a certain kind of collar, he loved the epaulets, the suspenders—that's all Charlie.” Additionally, it helped Hanks' swagger to walk in the types of cowboy boots Wilson was partial to wearing.

The designer had previously worked with Julia Roberts on Runaway Bride and The Pelican Brief and concocted a wardrobe for her Joanne Herring that was elegant, sophisticated and mostly ebony-hued. Wolsky didn't want her to look as if she were a caricature of a wealthy Houston society woman, and ended up dressing Roberts in elegant tones of black that the designer felt provided glamorous contrast to Herring's trademark blonde hair.

Befitting a woman of Herring's station, Roberts wore some serious, eye-popping diamonds from Cartier North America. During filming, she donned glittery necklaces and bracelets, as well as almost 10-carat diamond earrings retailing for approximately $1.5 million and a 15-carat diamond ring worth approximately $2 million. Naturally, two armed guards appeared on set every time the baubles did.

The effect impressed Roberts. The actor notes, "The first day that we did tests, I was floored with what they could really achieve in making me look significantly different than I had when I came strolling on set with my ponytail and sweatpants.”

Production designer Victor Kempster's team played with the chic, iconic look developed for Roberts by creating a huge full-length portrait of her as Herring, which hung in the ornate mansion set in L

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