April 26, 2013
Occasionally, it’s possible for your leading man to look too good.
Such was the case with the infamously chiseled Matthew McConaughey while working with Costume Designer Kari Perkins and Director Jeff Nichols on the Arkansas-set drama “Mud.” The script specified that McConaughey’s titular character, a superstitious drifter living in an old boat perched on a tree along the Mississippi River, wear a lucky shirt with a small wolf’s eye sewn into one sleeve for the duration of the film. After collaborating on a prototype, complete with strategic coloring (darker in aged spots and sun-bleached in others) and an expertly tailored fit to complement the actor’s physique, Perkins says they ran into a roadblock.
“Matthew came to the set early to prep and walked around in it for about a week, then said ‘I look too good!’” Perkins says. “We ended up creating something a little looser that didn’t showcase his body as well—a Rayon, boxy-cut shirt.”
Perkins had 20 multiples produced to account for all of the stunts and action Mud undergoes in the film. Perkins says she envisioned a mummified eye when designing the wolf’s eye emblem, which she sewed in brown thread on a 3-inch pocket on one sleeve. In addition to the eye, “a protective talisman” referenced throughout the film, Perkins explains, Mud also has nail crosses in the heels of his boots for good luck.
The film follows Mud and his encounters with two teenage pals, Ellis (played by Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (played by Jacob Lofland), who befriend him on the river. When Mud informs the boys of his plan to find and reunite with his one true love, Juniper (played by Reese Witherspoon) and then escape a band of bounty hunters on his tail, Ellis and Neckbone resolve to help him. “All of the costumes for all of the characters were worn out and aged down—all had to have a look of being worn-in and loved,” Perkins says.
“Mud” opens today in theaters nationwide.