Jared Leto learned what it was like to walk in someone else’s heels thanks to Dallas Buyers Club costume designers Kurt and Bart, who brought to life the film’s mid-’80s-inspired wardrobe. Still, the duo — who are nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award — give full credit to their cast.
“It was fantastic to work with such committed actors,” said Kurt and Bart, who reached out to EW from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay set, where they are currently overseeing the film’s next two installments.
Leto was so committed, in fact, that he remained in character as Rayon — an HIV-positive transgender woman — throughout their time together. “We spoke to Jared once on the phone and then [he stayed in character as] Rayon the entire time from the first fitting out of a suitcase and a plastic bag at his airport hotel room [to] right before his first meeting with [director] Jean-Marc [Vallée].”
Because of this, Kurt and Bart often reference Leto by his character’s name when discussing the costume process. And, according to them, Rayon had one definite opinion when it came to what she wore. “The only thing Rayon was adamant about was she never wanted to wear pants,” they explained, noting that Leto declined to wear a pair of “glam, but also very feminine” high-waisted pink flared trousers that the two had presented. “I know Jared was very into embracing the unfamiliar. He explained it as, ‘I know what it feels like to wear pants.’ I think the vulnerability of a dress or skirt helped him find Rayon, which totally makes sense.”
Kurt and Bart also embraced Matthew McConaughey’s extreme weight loss, though it did pose a unique challenge for the costume designers. The only thing tighter than the film’s budget was its 23-day schedule. “Our shooting schedule didn’t allow for any time to shoot Matthew with a little more weight on him for the ‘healthier’ sequences. We worked really hard to tailor the clothes that he repeated in the film so that they fit differently in different parts of the film. Working with single vintage garments, this was a feat of last-minute tailoring. We made him three different lengths of the same belt to add to the effect,” they said. “We found that if his clothes were more fitted it actually made him look healthier instead of emphasizing how thin he was. We played with oversizing his jeans and shirts a bit when he was sicker to make him look smaller.”
For their hard work, the duo — who have collaborated since 2000 working on everything from music videos (Britney Spears’ “Slave 4 U,” Madonna’s “Me Against the Music”) to television series (How to Make It in America) and films (Stoker with Nicole Kidman) — are up for their first CDG Award. Nominated in the period film category, Kurt and Bart are up against 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, The Great Gatsby, and Saving Mr. Banks. The costume designers couldn’t be more thrilled. “Receiving a nomination from your peers is the best, especially for this film.”
Read on for EW’s exclusive Q&A with Kurt and Bart to learn who made McConaughey’s signature cowboy hats, what it was like working around Leto’s real-life tattoos, and to find out who wore a shirt right off the costume designers’ backs. READ FULL STORY