CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thandie Newton Preferred Nudity to Wearing Westworld Costume

The Mary Sue: Of all the fascinating elements of HBO’s Westworld–the narrative complexities, the ethical quandaries–the show’s costumes ranked high. The amount of detail that went into the characters’ clothes was immense. Not only did the costume designer go through the trouble of recreating intricate vintage fabrics through 3D printing, but the clothing choices played an important role narratively. If you weren’t paying attention to the costumes, you definitely missed some of the clues leading us through the show’s twists. Oh, and on top of all that, obviously, they were just plain stunning.

7 comments:

Kelly Simons said...

I have started watching “West World” again and I’m constantly blown away by the costumes. The entire show is so expertly crafted in all its aspects, and the costume design really ties the bow on the entire show. I can understand any actor’s nervousness in their historical costumes. While I agree with Thandie Newton’s statement “I was more comfortable naked because the costume was the most potent objectification of a woman, with the boobs pushed right up, the tiny waist. It’s an invitation for sex.
The fishnet tights, the little heels with the laces… It’s all about sensuality. It’s about eroticism. It’s about “Look, but don’t touch.” It’s all there to make the invitation for sex as provocative as possible and then the promise of satisfaction is practically just there.” I still think the costume designer should remain true to their vision as well as the historical fashions of the time.

Julian Goldman said...

The thing that I found most concerning about this is the fact that people were treating her disrespectfully while she was in the corseted costume. I understand why she is less comfortable in the costume than just being naked. The corset costume is created to draw sexual attention, and there is a lot of history tied to garments of that style. I think it is important to respect how costumes affect actors, not just in terms of the physical effects due to the way the costume fits/ the weight of the costume, but also the psychological effects of the costume. I don’t think having costumes that make actors uncomfortable should necessarily be avoided in all situations, for example, in this case I do understand why the costume is designed the way it is. That being said, there is no reason why Newton should feel more uncomfortable in it than necessary, and the fact that people on set are responding to the costume in a way that makes her feel more uncomfortable is completely unacceptable.

Helena Hewitt said...

Just over break, I’ve started watching Westworld and the use of nudity in the show was something that interested me. Because it was simply a fact of the world that when the hosts were out of the park and being built or serviced or whatnot, they would be naked. When such a large portion of the cast is naked or when there are naked bodies onscreen so often it takes away the sensationalism of nudity. It reminded me of what happens to people when drawing nude figures from live models. After a few initial moments of awkwardness, even the most self-conscious artists stop seeing the people in front of them as a naked person but rather a collection of shapes that comes together to make the beautiful thing that is the human body. It is the way our society treats nudity, with shame and embarrassment, that makes someone being naked such a big deal. However, when it is stripped of that, which is it in a way in Westworld, I am not surprised that actors like Newton are able to find empowerment in that environment. But her statement that she feels safer and less sexualised naked than in her costume, while saying something positive about the environment surrounding nudity, says something highly negative about the way we allow cultural connotations of sexuality, such as the cinched waist and lifted bosom of the corset, to affect the way we treat another person. Perhaps when the certain cultural markers of sexuality as such nudity are stripped of their power, others become even stronger.

Taylor Steck said...

I feel that a major issue here in the film, TV, and even theatre industry is that while there are safety precautions and rules with relations try to be enforced whenever there is a nude scene in any sort of production, most of the time I feel that there is a lack of that same type of respect whenever it comes to scenes where the clothing itself is provocative, as was the case for this actress in West World. Perhaps this is because when the sexual implications are associated with the connotations held with the garment itself it is easier to disassociate from the actress or actor themselves in comparison to full nudity, the power is then given to the person themselves, making it on their own terms. While societal and cultural upbringing is a factor to blame for the case of West World considering the way our media over sexualizes things, especially nearly anything relating to the female body, however I can't help but wonder what precautions could've been set by the production team itself could've taken to ensure the comfort and safety of the actress on set.

Sarah Battaglia said...

I was watching a really interesting hbo special about female actresses in Drama's on tv, and one of the questions that they were asked was about nudity, and if they were comfortable with it, and how much was too much, or not enough. What was interesting was that some of the women talked about how much they hated nudity, and nude scenes, and some of them discussed how empowering it was to be nude on film, and to expose themselves like that. It fed into a larger discussion about female nudity and how people respond to it changes based on the person. For example JLo talked about how she doesn't like being nude on film even though she performs in tiny outfits. When asked why she was just nervous about being nude she said it was the vulnerability that freaked her out but other women said it made them feel powerful. Thats the most important part of the conversation is that it doesn't really matter what one person feels unless their wishes are being ignored because everyone is different, and that fine. If one woman loves being naked, cool, if one wants to wear a parka thats cool too, it never matters. Women should never be told what is or isn't appropriate to wear.

Megan Jones said...

I think a lot of people tend to associate female nudity with shame and over-sexualization, which is something that I hope changes soon. Performing nude scenes can make some people feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, which is completely understandable. However, some women find nudity empowering and both of these beliefs are totally okay. What isn't okay is that Newton was made uncomfortable while wearing provocative clothing by the environment that she was working in. It seems as if when a nude scene is being filmed people on set are much more respectful towards the actress than they typically would be, as it is understood that they could be feeling extremely vulnerable. This behavior should carry over to every other type of scene being filmed, whether the actress is dressed proactively or not. No matter what a woman is wearing is it still not okay to objectify her and make her feel uncomfortable.

Galen shila said...

It is an interesting thought that the clothing offered a more sexualized image of a woman during that time period. With things that physically change your appearance such as corsets and bustles and such, it creates this idealized image of a woman for the time period. This is exactly what the costume designer was going for though. Prostitutes historically represented that idealized and sexualized image because they where trying to attract their customers. Now it concerns me that not enough respect was given to the actress while she was clothed in these compromising clothes. The garments not only are revealing but they carry the symbol of sex work behind them. Not only that but they are physically restraining her body and changing it. There is a certain amount of respect warranted for someone portraying this character and having to literally walk in their shoes. Clothes can be powerful in portraying who we are.