Starring as a Starlet, Amanda Seyfried Shines as Marion Davies in ‘Mank’

Mandalit Del Barco
April 13, 2021
All Things Considered (npr)

Citizen Kane is often regarded as the greatest film ever made. The fictionalized story of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst didn’t win a Best Picture Oscar in 1942, but it did win a Best Original Screenplay award. Hollywood still loves a story about itself, and this year, Mank, a film about Citizen Kane‘s screenwriter, Herman Mankiewicz, earned 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. It also received a nomination for Amanda Seyfried for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Marion Davies.

In real life, as in Mank, Davies was a starlet who lived a life of luxury with Hearst. She was born in Brooklyn and went from the Ziegfeld Follies to Hollywood. She became a siren of the silent movies in the 1920s, and ironed out her accent as she moved into talking pictures.

“Marion was a really talented actor, she had incredible range, she was really funny, and she was able to lighten any scene that she was in,” says Seyfried. “She was very unfiltered like I am, and she was very allergic to being dishonest, which I am absolutely. You know, the Brooklynese was kind of, just, at the end of the day, when she took her shoes off and she grabbed her bottle of gin. She was exactly who she was and you know, she had no shame from where she came from.”

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“You Guys Are Geniuses”: ‘THR Presents’ Q&A With ‘Mank’ Star Amanda Seyfried and Artists Who Turned Her Into Marion Davies

Oscar nominees Amanda Seyfried, Trish Summerville, Gigi Williams and Colleen Labaff spoke with THR’s Scott Feinberg.

Scott Feinberg
April 9, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter

“He’s extremely efficient, so the team around him has to be very efficient as well,” says Trish SummervilleMank‘s Oscar-nominated costume designer, as we — along with the film’s best supporting actress nominee Amanda Seyfried, who plays actress Marion Davies, and best makeup and hairstyling nominees Gigi Williams (the makeup department head) and Colleen Labaff (the assistant head hair stylist) — discuss the film’s Oscar-nominated director, David Fincher, during an episode of THR Presents.

Mank, a Netflix film about the alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and the writing of the 1941 classic Citizen Kane, was designed to look and sound as if it was made during the same era as Kane. This required special attention from each of these four women. Seyfried had to adopt a pre-Method style of acting. Williams and Labaff had to recreate the looks of specific famous people from that time. And Summerville had to design or obtain clothing that was not only period-appropriate, but that also looked right in black-and-white.

“You guys are geniuses,” Seyfried says to her three fellow artists, noting that without their contributions she could never have given the career-reinventing performance that she did.

Fincher is famously a perfectionist, sometimes shooting dozens upon dozens of takes, and is also regarded as intimidating by many who don’t know him, as was the case for Seyfried and Labaff prior to Mank. But Summerville had previously collaborated with him on music videos, 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and 2014’s Gone Girl, and says, “Every time I work with him I feel like I become a better filmmaker, I become better at my job.” Adds Williams, who worked with him on Gone Girl and the 2017-2019 TV series Mindhunter, “I just adore him — he has made me a better makeup artist.”

Whatever Fincher does, it clearly brings out the best in those around him, at least on Mank, which landed 10 Oscar nominations, four more than the next-most-nominated film this year, including best picture.

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In Conversation: Behind the Crafts of Mank

Wendy Mitchell
March 3, 2021
Netflix Awards FYC

A conversation with Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, ASC, Production Designer Donald Graham Burt, Set Decorator Jan Pascale, Costume Designer Trish Summerville, and Makeup Department Head Gigi Williams on behalf of Mank. Moderated by Wendy Mitchell.

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The Filmmakers Podcast: The Making of David Fincher’s “Mank”

Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, Make Up Designer Gigi Williams, Production Designer Don Burt & Costume Designer Trish Summerville

Giles Alderson, Andrew Rodger, Phil Hawkins
April 2, 2021
The Filmmakers Podcast

We are delighted to bring to you our SPECIAL bumper episode on the Making of David Fincher’s BAFTA & OSCAR nominated ‘Mank’.

We start with Giles Alderson and Andrew Rodger having a chat with ‘Mank’ Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt about going from Gaffer on Fincher’s Gone Girl to DoP on Mank and how he made the transition to make his debut feature film.

He talks pre-production, how he works with Fincher especially during the repeated takes, what the process was to shooting in black and white and the camera they used.

Co host Phil Hawkins then joins Giles to chat to Make Up designer Gigi Williams about her process, the difference between shooting on digital vs. film. What she works on first how she collaborates with the HOD team and gives some brilliant Make Up tips.

We then chat to Production Designer and Art Director Donald Graham Burt AKA Don Burt about designing the film from preparation through the shooting. He explains why listening is so important in film-making, how he researches a project and how he created the 1930/s & 1940 style and look. And how you don’t have to appease to get ahead.

Finally we chat to Costume Designer Trish Summerville about how she created the look and feel of Mank through her costumes. She talks about working in teams, how to collaborate with actors to help create the characters and how to use colours and patterns to portray certain emotions!

Listen to the podcast:

The Filmmakers Podcast
Apple Podcasts
Spotify

BAFTA Film Sessions: Make Up & Hair

March 23, 2021
BAFTA Guru (BAFTA)

Make Up and Hair design transforms characters, sometimes into new people, this is a fantastic opportunity to hear from this year’s nominees.

Speakers include:

  • Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle, Hillbilly Elegy
  • Gigi Williams, Mank
  • Matiki Anoff, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Larry M. Cherry, Mia Neal, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mark Coulier, Pinocchio

Supported by Lancôme

Oscar-Nominated Makeup Department Head Gigi Williams on “Mank”

Bryan Abrams
March 23, 2021
The Credits (MPA)

David Fincher‘s Mank is the most Oscar-nominated film of the year, amassing ten, thanks to the beauty and brilliance of its black-and-white execution. One of those nominations belongs to makeup department head Gigi Williams, a veteran who picks her work based on her belief in the director. In Fincher, she was collaborating with one of the most precise filmmakers in the business, and in Mank, working off a script from his father Jack Fincher, Williams had caught the director on what was likely his most personal project to date.

“If your makeup is too loud, you take away from the performance and you don’t belong in this artist’s picture, because Mank is a piece of art that everyone has dabbled in,” Williams says. “Everyone has put their piece into it, and everyone flows together so that nobody stands out. My whole career, I don’t like makeup that’s too big, that makes a statement, if you see my makeup, I’ve failed. I want to see the actor, I want to see the essence of the actor. I love the process of acting. I’m there to facilitate that.”

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Scene Stealers with Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfreid

March 4, 2021
Netflix Film Club (YouTube)

Mank actors Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried sit down with casting director Laray Mayfield to discuss their work in David Fincher‘s acclaimed film. Oldman discusses tapping the vulnerability of the eponymous screenwriter and using his actual physicality for the portrayal, while Seyfried speaks to Marion Davies‘s legacy and how it shaded Seyfried’s depiction of her.

Creative Collaborations: Amanda Seyfried with Trish Summerville, Colleen LaBaff and Gigi Williams

March 11, 2021
Netflix Film Club (YouTube)

Mank star Amanda Seyfried sits down with costume designer Trish Summerville, makeup department head Gigi Williams and assistant head hair stylist Colleen LaBaff for a deep-dive discussion of their efforts in bringing Marion Davies to life on the screen for David Fincher‘s black-and-white ode to Hollywood’s Golden Age.

‘Mank’ Makeup and Hair Designers Talk Recreating “Magical Period in Filmdom” and Grappling with the “Vernacular” of David Fincher

Matt Grobar
March 1, 2021
Deadline

When makeup and hair designers Gigi Williams and Kimberly Spiteri were approached for Mank, they jumped at the chance to craft looks for an Old Hollywood drama, set in an era they both loved.

“Hollywood in the ’30s and ’40s was something that we’ll never get to see again. That whole studio system, it’ll never be like that again,” Spiteri says. “So it’s a chance to get a glimpse at what it was like, which I find fascinating.”

Directed by David Fincher, the drama is both a love letter to, and a critique of, Hollywood’s Golden Age, following alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), as he finishes the script for Citizen Kane.

It’s on projects like this, Spiteri says, that “what the hair and makeup department does as a craft matters. Whether you’re trying to emulate a character or just get the period right, you may not notice if it’s right. But you’re going to notice if it’s wrong.”

Certainly, in the case of Mank, every effort was made to make sure that the work was right, though period accuracy was not the only concern. Because the film would be shot in black and white, both Williams and Spiteri had to engage in a lengthy series of camera tests, to make sure that their designs would translate properly, and that Fincher would be satisfied with the looks conceived for every actor.

In years past, Williams had collaborated with Fincher on the 2014 film Gone Girl, as well as the Netflix series Mindhunter, climbing the rungs between those two projects from assistant makeup department head, to the head of her department. Spiteri, though, had never before worked with the revered auteur, so it would take some time to come to grips with his famously particular working style.

Below, the designers reflect on the joys and challenges of tapping into a “magical period in filmdom” for Mank. Additionally, they touch on the idiosyncrasies of Fincher’s “vernacular” as a filmmaker, with regard to makeup and hair, and the way in which Williams guided Spiteri through her first encounter with the filmmaker.

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