“The Master,” is set in the transitional 1950s era and focuses on a charismatic intellectual named Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman)

“The Master”

Sept. 21, 2012

An Academy Award winner for his work in the 1927-set silent film The Artist (2011), Costume Designer Mark Bridges is no stranger to designing for period films. His latest feature, “The Master,” is set in the transitional 1950s era and focuses on acharismatic intellectual named Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd creates a faith-based organization in an attempt to provide meaning to his life, and as the organization gains an expanding, fervent following, so does Dodd, who takes on the name “The Master.” In addition to his self-professed accolades as a writer, doctor, nuclear physicist and theoretical philosopher, Dodd assumes the more presumptuous and narcissistic role of spiritual teacher, drawing in an unbalanced World War II Navy veteran (played by Joaquin Phoenix).

Although the film’s first shot of Dodd is from afar, dancing with his wife, Bridges wanted to translate the character’s magnetism and give the audience a dramatic first glimpse. After looking at many swatches, Bridges chose a particular shade of green—one that would be appropriate for the period but also unexpected. The color was intended to immediately set Dodd apart from everyone around him and ensnare the viewer’s curiosity about the character. Bridges also paid close attention to the shape and cut of the suit, selecting a heavy gabardine and focusing on the shoulders and lapels to highlight Hoffman’s slimmed-down physique and red hair. Clearly a statement in itself, Bridges accessorized the suit by pairing it with a simple rayon, cream colored shirt.

“The suit just made sense…it didn’t seem like a costume,” Bridges says. “It’s not obvious why there is something special—but contrasted with the color in the room, the lightshirt, the green suit and how he is wearing it—your eye just goes to him and you want to know more about this character,” says Bridges.

– Costume Designer Mark Bridges

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