Costume Designing “Mank” and “The Prom”

Insights from Trish Summerville and Lou Eyrich into their work, including collaborating with directors David Fincher and Ryan Murphy, respectively.

Robert Goldrich
February 5, 2021

Trish Summerville has thus far been nominated for five Costume Designers Guild Awards in her career–two of the honors coming for David Fincher films, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2012 and Gone Girl in 2015. Summerville won for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and again two years later for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Her other two Costume Designers Guild nods came for Westworld (TV) in 2017 and Red Sparrow in 2019. Westworld also earned Summerville a primetime Emmy nomination in 2017.

Now for this awards season, Summerville reunites with Fincher on Mank (Netflix) which centers on screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (portrayed by Gary Oldman) as he races to finish director Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane on a tight timetable, secluded in a bungalow in a desert town miles removed from Los Angeles as he recuperates from a car accident in 1940. Attending to him are his secretary Rita (Lily Collins) and his German nurse (Monika Grossmann).

In the process, through Mankiewicz’s worldview–marked by his abiding social conscience and wit, at times caustic–we are introduced to not only Hollywood but life in the 1930s, ranging from the struggle of the rank and file during the Great Depression to the grandeur of Hearst Castle and high society. We also become privy to Mankiewicz’s own inner struggles with alcoholism, as well as a professional battle with Welles (played by Tom Burke) over screen credit for what became the classic Citizen Kane. The Mank cast also includes Charles Dance (as William Randolph Hearst), Amanda Seyfried (as Marion Davies, Hearst’s wife), Tuppence Middleton (as Sara Mankiewicz, Herman’s wife), Arliss Howard (as Louis B. Mayer), Sam Troughton (as John Houseman), Tom Pelphrey (as Joe Mankiewicz, Herman’s brother), Toby Leonard Moore (as David O. Selznick) and Ferdinand Kinsley (as Irving Thalberg).

Summerville jumped at the opportunity to again team with Fincher, deeming him “one of my favorite people in the world and also to work with. He has a hilarious sense of humor that a lot of people don’t get at times.” On Mank she collaborated closely with Fincher, cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, ASC and production designer Donald Graham Burt on the overall tone, look, feel and coloring. “The reason David has collaborators who want to work with him is that he himself is a collaborator,” observed Summerville. “He gives you a lot of room. It’s not ‘my way or the highway.’ He always wants you to show him more stuff, what else do you have. He’s open to ideas. There’s a lot of trust and dialogue.”

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