“The Son”

April 3, 2017

Anna Wyckoff

As a veteran of productions like Bosch and Desperate Housewives, a turn of the century Western set in southern Texas might seem like an unusual project for English-born Cate Adair. In fact, her background gave her a basis from which to conduct her research. On the advice of Native American artist and musician Doc Tate, Adair’s graduate art school thesis analyzed the mystery cycle of the Hopi.

It became a dream come true for her to apply that experience to The Son, AMC’s Western series based on the book of the same name by Philipp Meyer. The series explores the melting pot of Native, Spanish, Mexican, and American cultures in southern Texas by following several generations of a family beginning with the Comanche raids of the 1800s through the oil boom of the 20th century.

Adair spent months compiling references and materials. She worked closely with another Doc Tate associate, Juanita Pahdopony, whose personal knowledge and access to the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center archives was an invaluable resource. She brought the results to her first meeting with director Tom Harper and showrunner Kevin Murphy. “I think they thought they were only going to be in there a half hour with me,” she chuckles, “but I cornered them for about three and a half hours.”

Adair believes that character is at the heart of Costume Design, and that is where her research came to life. This approach carried through from the principals right down to considering the backstory of extras and dressing them accordingly, so much so that the background of the extras themselves became a resource. “I would ask, ‘What generation Texan are you?'” When one actor showed her a photograph of his grandfather, Adair’s mandate became clear. She told her crew, “Dress him exactly like that.”

The Son premieres on AMC Saturday, April 8 at 9/8 central.

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