July 19, 2013
The buddy-cop film concept gets a supernatural makeover in the newly released Universal Pictures comedy “R.I.P.D.” (based on the graphic novel “Rest In Peace Department” by Peter M. Lenkov). Actors Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds star as Roycephus “Roy” Pulsifer and Nick Walker, a deceased pair in the employment of the “Rest in Peace Department”—a supernatural law enforcement agency concerned with protecting and serving humans from malicious souls who’ve “escaped the afterlife.” Roy (Bridges) is a seasoned R.I.P.D. sheriff and Nick (Reynolds) is a recently killed-in-the-line-of-duty, former Boston PD cop recruited to be his partner.
Costume Designer Susan Lyall collaborated extensively with director Robert Schwentke to strategize “R.I.P.D.” costumes, as well as Bridges—who she deems “a fantastic costume collaborator”—while designing Roy’s look.
“It was challenging because his character is based on a character in the graphic novel, and while the novel informed the look, I did not really copy it,” Lyall explains. “The costume was invented and made to look like a classic cop, using dark fabrics and sharp uniform-like lines but still had the aura of the 1870s silhouette. We also can’t pretend Jeff hadn’t been in ‘True Grit’ and has been widely seen in a Western look.”
Roy’s basic outfit (with the exception of accessories like a pair of sunglasses and a tie) endures throughout the movie, as Lyall designed on the notion that R.I.P.D. personnel remain in their deathbed clothes. In addition to old American West elements, Roy’s look was inspired by 70s and early 80s music acts like The Band and The Clash, as well as the Fonda family—Henry in “The Searchers” and Peter in “Easy Rider.” Particularly treasured items in Roy’s wardrobe are his Steston cowboy hat and his boots, which Lyall found in a vintage clothing store in New York City. “These items were particularly important to Jeff, as with many actors, as it helps establish their movements and gestures,” Lyall says. Ever an interplay between the designer and the actor, Lyall took a nod from Bridges to showcase the boots.
“A significant contribution from Jeff was the length of his pants,” she says. “The pants are hemmed at a very short length to emphasize the boots and astonishingly, Jeff said it was a tribute to ‘our friend Michael Jackson’.”
“R.I.P.D.” is playing now in theaters nationwide.