June 7, 2013
The film, which centers on military general Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his 13-year-old son Kitai (Jaden Smith), takes place 1,000 years after cataclysmic events force humanity to abandon Earth for a new home planet named Nova Prime. After returning from an extended tour of duty, Cypher is reunited with Kitai and begins to make the transition from military leader to father. When an asteroid storm damages their ship, however, a badly injured Cypher and his son are forced to crash-land on Earth. The only way for Kitai to save his father’s life is to find the rescue beacon that was lost when their ship went pummeling through the atmosphere.
In order to save his dying father and return home, Kitai must locate the rescue beacon. He embarks on a perilous journey for help, facing uncharted terrain, highly evolved species that now rule the planet, and a ruthless alien creature—proving that he can live up to his father’s reputation as a legendary soldier.
When it came to designing costumes for the film, Amy Westcott’s greatest challenge was in creating the “Life Suit” worn by Kitai. M. Night Shyamalan had strong feelings about both the suit’s functionality, which included protection, detector of danger, and allowing the character to fly, as well as making sure the suit did not resemble a super hero. The two agreed that the costume shouldn’t be “too sci-fi,” so Westcott “kept her research organic and close to the ground,” deriving much of her inspiration for the design, texture, color and overall look from beetles.
“I learned so much from the creation,” she says. “Did you know some species lose all of their color when they are dying? Hence the yellow-grey suit.”
Fortunately for Westcott, Jaden Smith was completely willing to “go with it,” but of course being a teenager, he wanted to make sure he still “looked cool.”
Another challenge for Westcott was working with the fast-growing 13-year-old star over a five month period. The body-hugging suit, which was fitted based on a body scan, had to be reproduced and adjusted many times to fit Jaden’s growing frame (and his feet). In the end, nearly 15 of the original red suits, including 15 black and 2 yellow, as well as numerous pairs of shoes, were produced.
“After Earth” is now playing in theaters.