Hand of God

Ron Perlman as Pernell Harris on “Hand of God.” Photo credits: Amazon Studios.

Hand of God

Dana Delany as Pernell’s wife, Crystal, and Perlman.

“Hand of God”

September 11, 2015

Valli Herman

In the pilot for the Amazon Studios original series “Hand of God,” director Marc Forster and writer Ben Watkins explore the fine, blurry line between genuine spiritual connection and madness.

Ron Perlman stars as Pernell Harris, a powerful, morally corrupt judge who suffers a mental breakdown that puts him on the path of vigilante justice. His wife, Crystal (Dana Delany) is as protective of her husband as she is their social position.

“With Ron, we wanted to give him an idea of old money and elegance,” said Costume Designer Caroline Eselin, who created the wardrobe for the pilot. Eselin chose a double-breasted suit for several key scenes.

“That provided a kind of formal stature for him,” Eselin said. “It’s a more specific choice. It’s elegant and it’s a strong silhouette.”

Yet on an actor with the powerful stage presence of Perlman, the silhouette didn’t overwhelm.

“We didn’t want the double-breasted suit to be old and staid and old man-like. We wanted it to be fresher and newer,” Eselin said. She put him in Brooks Brothers shirt and often skipped the tie. “There is this confidence, that you don’t have to wear a tie to be put together. He has that confidence.”

Yet in this era of T-shirts and track pants, classic double-breasted suits aren’t so easy to find.

“We called all over town,” Eselin said. “We found a not-big brand name in downtown Los Angeles. Then we would just tailor the ever-living crap out of it to make it look better. With a good tailor, we could make things look more expensive than they were.”

That classic silhouette and all that it stands for start to dissolve as the story progresses, however. When Costume Designer Johanna Argan picked up the nine-episode series, she subtly telegraphed the judge’s changing mental state. The formal suit silhouette went away as the character–and the actor–transformed.

“When he’s the judge, he’s very formal and put-together. As he begins to unravel we go from blues to grays as he’s getting lost. We strip him of his suiting to his button-down shirt and his slacks. We strip away any sort of stability he has. You see that as the story and he start to unravel. You’re questioning the whole time, ‘Is god speaking to him or is he really losing his mind?’ He’s really a lost man.”

Losing your suit means losing your power, prestige, and in the case of Judge Harris, perhaps his sanity.

“Hand of God” streams on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

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