Aug. 10, 2012
Costume Designer Daniel Orlandi is no stranger to re-creating American politicians on-screen ―to date, he’s helped depict figures including Sarah Palin, John McCain, Richard Nixon and Davy Crockett for film and television.
“With movies based on real people, you need to be true. There’s a pressure, a great responsibility to be accurate…you owe it to the actor, to the viewer, and to the subjects,” Orlandi says.
So designing for Warner Brothers’ comedy “The Campaign,” (opening today), was a fairly liberating task.
Orlandi was instead responsible for outfitting two fictional North Carolina congress contenders: longtime congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and simpleton Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). Cam’s monopoly over the local district seat is finally challenged when billionaire CEO brothers Glenn and Wade Motch (actors John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd), a thinly veiled screen version of real-life campaign-funders David and Charles Koch, position Marty as a puppet opponent.
“When working on a comedy―the writers are so inventive, with the add-ons and improvisation―so inspiration often comes last minute,” Orlandi says. “Your job, as a designer is to ‘pull it out of your hat’.”
In addition to accommodating the creative team, Orlandi was receptive to the cast’s input. Galifianakis’ character, Marty, was heavily influenced by the actor’s popular alias, Seth Galifianakis, (Zach’s fictional twin brother and host of viral ‘Funny or Die’ talk show “Between Two Ferns”).
“Zach had a clear vision of what he wanted his character to be and what he should look like, down to the sweaters and turtlenecks, the 70s, Pierre Cardi belts, the pleated jeans. He insisted on the pleated jeans,” Orlandi says.
Galifiankis’ vintage sweaters were found “by trial and error” and mostly on-location while filming in Louisiana. Orlandi studied photos and footage of former North Carolina Senator John Edwards and Texas Governor Rick Perry as inspiration for Ferrell’s styling and custom-made Zegna suits and shirts. Knowledge acquired while working on HBO’s 2012 McCain-Palin campaign telepic, “Game Change” ―like the prevalence of red and blue ties and flag pins, and the general exclusion of black suits from politicians’ wardrobes―came in handy while designing looks for the rest of the cast, as well. “They’ve actually done studies on the tendency to trust someone wearing a navy suit over [someone wearing] a black one,” Orlandi says. In keeping, look for Marty’s take-no-prisoners, calculating campaign manager, Tim (played by actor Dylan McDermott) sporting sharp black suits throughout the film, and Cam’s wife Rose (actress Katherine LaNasa) in patriotic combos of red, white and blue.