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Geek Chic
Costume designer Nancy Steiner is no stranger to the needs of movies set in the present, though this one did dramatically expand her knowledge of cotton T-shirts. "Graeme and Clive are comic-book geeks, so they don't have a lot of fashion sense,” she says. "But they are aware of what they're wearing. They're very proud of their comic books and sci-fi T-shirts.”

Most of her work for the two characters involved navigating "the hell of clearances” in order to dress the characters in visually arresting tee-tops. One coup was getting permission from Lucasfilm to use Star Wars-themed tees. Her team also received a terrific image from Dan Clowes, creator of the character Eightball and a T-shirt with the image of Ming the Merciless from "Flash Gordon” and Project Superpowers from the graphic novel "Dynamic Forces.”

Steiner was fortunate that most of the dozens of extras for the Comic-Con scenes came prepared with their own costumes (translation: well-worn, awesome nerd shirts, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, various sci-fi and Anime character costumes). She found these more authentic because they were made with love and passion and were quite individual.

Offers Mottola: "When we started I was adamant that what the costumes people wore had to feel real. These had to be a mix of the people who either spent the money to get an expensive Stormtrooper outfit or spent the time to do it right and make their own thing and put a lot of love into it. I didn't want it to feel entirely like rented costumes. Little did I know, the people who go to Comic-Con who live in New Mexico were more than happy to show up in their full array of space gear. We had any number of Anime characters and Star Trek and Star Wars folks from all over the state. Some drove themselves in from neighboring states because they wanted to be part of it.”

Mottola was particularly amazed at the rights his designers were able to secure from enormous franchises. "It was amazing to get Lucasfilm to let us use Star Wars and Paramount Pictures to let us use Star Trek characters, copyrighted images, throughout the film. They were incredibly generous and got the joke of the movie. They were completely on board with the spirit of it.”

Designer Steiner also had the unique assignment of outfitting the CGI character Paul. "He wears shorts and flip-flops, but we had to camera test a number of shorts before we found the right ones to go with the color of his skin. We also got together a little cowboy outfit for him to wear when he's in disguise.”

Though most of the characters in the film wear one or two outfits throughout— very much in keeping with their backgrounds and careers—Ruth undergoes an evolution in the movie and Steiner subtly traces it through her apparel choices. "She's very conservative and not very current in her clothing, but I didn't want to make her buttonedup and clichéd at the start.

When the boys meet (before they accidentally kidnap) Ruth, she's wearing tees with the caption "Evolve this!” and a picture of Jesus ready to attack Darwin. These reflect the extreme of her anti-evolutionary beliefs. But as she changes, so does her look, which becomes a bit looser and a little sexier. "Just a bit,” mentions Steiner. "Not too much. We didn't want her to get too trashy.”


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