It takes a lot of work to make actors look as grungy and real as they do in History’s “Hatfields & McCoys” a miniseries premiering Monday, May 28.
Costume designer Karri Hutchinson and a staff of eight created thousands of authentic-looking costumes for the six-hour, three-night event that spans three decades.
“Back then there were no luxuries,” Hutchinson says. “It’s not a Western. It’s hillbilly loggers and farmers in West Virginia and Kentucky. I was excited to research it.”
“I did a lot of prep, went to libraries, the Internet and through old clippings,” she says. “It was a nine-month project.”
Even once the outfits are finished, they get worked on.
Before a scene, Mare Winningham, playing Sally McCoy, was being sewn into her costume, a plain cotton beige dress with a green print, which looked as if it had endured many harsh washings.
“I kept the McCoys in earth tones, browns and yellows,” Hutchinson says. “The poorer family, the working family, I kept them in tones of browns and yellows, and undershirts have a splash of red, and when they are out farming, a kind of side henley [shirt].
“The Hatfields were in blacks and grays with cream undershirts,” she continues. “Definitely high-waisted pants. The men wore suspenders.”
Kevin Costner, as Devil Anse Hatfield, pays attention to every detail of his character’s look and watches as makeup artist Mario Michisanti deftly removes the beard that makes Costner appear old and grungy.
“This is the best beard I have ever had in my entire history,” he says. “He lays all of these [whiskers] in by hand.”
To become the character, Costner says, “It starts in the mirror. I disappear, and he emerges here, and then the costume goes on, the gun goes on, and the pipe gets lit.”
For the most part, “characters received one coat and a couple of shirts and vests – unless you are Kevin Costner,” Hutchinson says. “He has a bigger closet with bigger changes.”
As Jim Vance, the uncle of Devil Anse Hatfield, Tom Berenger really looks like a mountain man, wearing buckskin.
“I wish they would put a fly in,” he says of his pants.
After a 37-year career, Berenger says, “This wardrobe department is the best I’ve seen.”
Huddling for warmth in a tent in a forest north of Bucharest, where the miniseries is shooting, Hutchinson says, “In Romania it is difficult to find natural fabrics. It was all special order.”
Though material “did have color” during the Reconstruction era, Hutchinson says, “it is hard to see because we see only the black and white.”
Sarah Parish, who plays Levicy Hatfield, Devil Anse’s wife, wears a green outfit.
When the families attend church, Levicy carries a delicate purse that looks straight out of the 1870s, but tucked inside was a very modern iPhone.