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About The Design
Production designer Sharon Seymour worked with George Clooney on The Men Who Stare at Goats, which Heslov directed; The Ides of March marks her first collaboration with Clooney in the director's chair. It's also – she points out – the first contemporary film he's directed.

When she first read the script, she was "really happy and surprised to read something that was intellectually interesting, politically interesting and current,” Seymour explains. "It was the kind of film I like to do and that I like to go see.”

While Clooney recommended that Seymour watch a number of campaign documentaries for research and preparation, that said, "we talked in the beginning about not having an unstructured documentary look to the film,” she says. "The design had to be realistic, but it was also going to have the visual integrity and smoothness of a feature film.”

Seymour was pleased that "we were actually going to shoot the movie where it was written for – in Ohio,” she says. "It was great for the people in my department to start the shoot there because we all came to understand the flavor of Cincinnati and the state. We took that with us when we got to Detroit.”

Almost all locations were practical – the two that required the most construction were Pullman and Morris headquarters, which were created in spaces for lease in downtown Detroit. The lack of lavish set pieces and design elements didn't stifle Seymour. "That's the goal of the design – you take these potentially pedestrian environments, and you find a way to make them interesting. As a filmmaker, you find the beauty in the ordinary.”

Political consultants from both Ohio and Washington served as valuable resources for Seymour. They gave her an inside look at the machinations of contemporary political campaigns. "Everybody wants their candidate to look the best,” she says. "There really is a whole one-upsmanship about the placement of your candidate – who gets to speak first, the height of the podiums. All the things that you think are impromptu typically are not. It's very orchestrated.”

Campaign posters are just one of these highly orchestrated elements, and as much thought and planning went into Morris' paraphernalia as a genuine candidate's. "We wanted some feeling of difference between the two candidates,” says Seymour. "Morris is the underdog. He's very much the ‘free thinker' candidate – the man of the people. He's not the tried and true choice, but he's got a groundswell behind him, and he's now ahead in the polls by the time we pick him up in the movie.”

As a result, Morris' campaign posters have a look that's hipper than Pullman's have. "Morris' graphics are more of the look that Obama brought to politics, which is a much more contemporary, graphic look,” she says. "Not as photographic. More stylized and less structured.”

Like Seymour, costume designer Louise Frogley strove for a classic, timeless look for the film. "It's about framing the actors, giving them support. You're not making a statement,” says Frogley about her role in the production. "It's not a stylish film from the point of view of the clothes. You'll never notice the clothes in this film.”

The thinking behind many of the costumes was pure practicality, taking into account the demands of campaign life. "What can you pack in a suitcase for a week's trip?” asks Frogley. "Two suits, two shirts – it's very minimal.”

Frogley's decisions were often influenced by the actors themselves. "Marisa Tomei wanted to look like Patti Smith – then she made it her own, taking it away from that look a bit,” says Frogley. "Ryan had a lot more opinions about the clothes than a lot of the actors – he's very interesting, and he's interested in clothes.”

Mimicking his rise within the campaign ranks, Stephen's clothing definitely gets an upgrade by the last scene in the film, in which he wears a Gucci suit. By contrast, Paul Zara's suits look more rumpled over the duration of the film. The suit Clooney wore as Governor Mike Morris was custom made – "We were finding that there's a certain classic look of present day politicians like Obama, and I wasn't able to find it off the rack,” says Frogley. Clooney wanted Molly to dress very "preppy, young and correct,” she says, while Cindy Morris, the governor's wife, should be dressed in "cashmere and pearls – very soft.”

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