Anthony Powell


Costume Designer

About

Birth Place
Chortlon-Cum-Hardy, England, GB
Born
June 02, 1935

Biography

Three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Anthony Powell began his professional career as a teenager touring with his handmade marionettes. After graduating from London's Central School of Art and Design, he apprenticed as an assistant to other designers including Cecil Beaton. Simultaneously, Powell served as a lecturer at his alma mater. His costume designs for John Gielgud's productio...

Notes

"I start from the raw material of the actor. I assess the personality and character. What I always want to accomplish is to bring the actor and the needs of the character together. Also, I try to give each actor a style of his own, yet balance them against each other," --Anthony Powell, quoted in PR for Polanski's "Pirates"

When Anthony Powell dressed Bette Davis for "Death on the Nile", he politely listened to her list of "horrific ideas," but when she insited on wearing a wig that made her look like a cross between Mary Pickford and Shirley Temple, he had to do something.As they sat in front of a mirror, Powell recalls, he combed the hideous wig and said, "'Now what you're looking at is one of the most famous faces in the world: these wonderful eyes, this marvelous cheekbone, this amazing mouth, this terrific jawline. And at the moment, I can't see any of those things.' She said to her assistant, 'This kid knows what he's doing--why don't we just leave the whole thing to him?' From then on, if I told her to shave all her hair off, paint herself blue, and come in stark naked on her hands and knees 'cause it was right for the character, she would have done it." --Anthony Powell in PREMIERE, February 1992

Biography

Three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Anthony Powell began his professional career as a teenager touring with his handmade marionettes. After graduating from London's Central School of Art and Design, he apprenticed as an assistant to other designers including Cecil Beaton. Simultaneously, Powell served as a lecturer at his alma mater. His costume designs for John Gielgud's production of "The School for Scandal" (1963) earned him a Tony Award and he also received a second nomination for his scenic design. Powell made his first Hollywood connection with director Irving Lerner who chose him to design the costumes for "The Royal Hunt of the Sun" (1969), which required styling both the Spanish conquistadors as well as the native Americans. His first Oscar came for his outlandish designs for Maggie Smith's Augusta in George Cukor's "Travels with My Aunt" (1972). The Academy honored him with back-to-back Oscars for his glamorous 30s designs for "Death on the Nile" (1978), particularly the women's outfits worn in the film by such luminaries as Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Bette Davis and Maggie Smith, and his 19th Century attire for "Tess" (1979). The latter began a three-film collaboration with director Roman Polanski that included the lavish "Pirates" (1986) and the contemporary "Frantic" (1988). Additionally, Powell created the costumes and sets for the French stage production of "Amadeus," in which Polanski starred as well as directed.

Powell also forged a collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, creating the period-appropriate costumes for both "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989). In 1991, he designed the fantastic clothing for "Hook," some of which recalled his earlier work on "Pirates." Returning to the stage, he re-interpreted Edith Head's designs for the 1950 film, fashioning the lavish and luxuriant clothes of Norma Desmond in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Sunset Boulevard" (1993 in London; 1994 in the USA). Glenn Close headed the American production and Powell got to create the over-the-top costumes for her Cruella DeVil in the live action remake of "101 Dalmatians" (1996). More recently, he reinterpreted 60s mod fashions for the film version of "The Avengers" (1998).

Life Events

1958

Costume designer and lecturer on theater design at his alma mater, Central School of Art and Design

1963

Won Tony Award for Best Costume Design for John Gielgud's production of "The School for Scandal"; also nominated for Best Scene Design

1969

Began his film career with "Royal Hunt of the Sun"

1972

Received first of three Oscars as costume designer for George Cukor's "Travels with My Aunt", starring Maggie Smith

1975

Returned to Broadway as set designer for revival of Noel Coward's "Private Lives", starring Maggie Smith

1978

Won second Oscar for "Death on the Nile"; featured in the cast were Bette Davis and Maggie Smith

1979

Initial collaboration with director Roman Polanski, "Tess", earned him his third Oscar

1984

First affiliation with director Steven Spielberg, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"

1986

Second film with Polanski, "Pirates"; received Oscar nomination

1988

Final film (to date) with Polanski, "Frantic"

1989

Reteamed with Spielberg for "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"

1991

Earned another Oscar nomination for Spielberg's "Hook", starring Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams and Maggie Smith

1993

Designed the costumes for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Sunset Boulevard"; show opened in London before playing L.A. and NYC in 1994; received Tony nomination for Costume Design

1996

Designed costumes for live-action feature, "101 Dalmatians", starring Glenn Close

1998

Was costume designer for "The Avengers", a feature film based on the 1960s TV series

2000

Created costumes for Glenn Close's Cruella de Vil in "102 Dalmatians"; received Best Costume Design Academy Award nomination

Bibliography

Notes

"I start from the raw material of the actor. I assess the personality and character. What I always want to accomplish is to bring the actor and the needs of the character together. Also, I try to give each actor a style of his own, yet balance them against each other," --Anthony Powell, quoted in PR for Polanski's "Pirates"

When Anthony Powell dressed Bette Davis for "Death on the Nile", he politely listened to her list of "horrific ideas," but when she insited on wearing a wig that made her look like a cross between Mary Pickford and Shirley Temple, he had to do something.As they sat in front of a mirror, Powell recalls, he combed the hideous wig and said, "'Now what you're looking at is one of the most famous faces in the world: these wonderful eyes, this marvelous cheekbone, this amazing mouth, this terrific jawline. And at the moment, I can't see any of those things.' She said to her assistant, 'This kid knows what he's doing--why don't we just leave the whole thing to him?' From then on, if I told her to shave all her hair off, paint herself blue, and come in stark naked on her hands and knees 'cause it was right for the character, she would have done it." --Anthony Powell in PREMIERE, February 1992

"In the field of obsessive-compulsives, Anthony leads the pack. I don't know if you can work harder than he works. He gave me the character [of Captain Hook]." --Dustin Hoffman, in PREMIERE, February 1992