Costume Design with Carlos Rosario of ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story’

ATM: How vital is the imagination of a costume designer in the film industry?
Carlos: Costume design is really what creates the character. It is a considerable contribution to the movie and the creative process that helps everyone involved in the film. Creating the costume helps to create the personality of the character.  It supports the story-line and amplifies the essence of the character. And Most of the time helps the actors define who they need to be within the story-line. It is a massive contribution to the movie.

ATM: What were you trying to allow the audience to get out of the personality of the lead character?

Carlos: Director Fede Álvarez had his own vision for this project. This is an entirely different version then “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. It is like comparing oranges to apples. The last one was very serious, contrived and character driven. This is one is very entertaining and action-packed. It’s a much more Hollywood Commercial version. Actually this is a film for a completely different audience. It keeps the darkness and the grittiness of the first one but with a completely different perspective. It is the fourth book of the series. Stieg Larsson wrote the first three. David Lagercrantz wrote the fourth. So the intention for the lead character is very different than the other movies.

The costumes for Claire Foy were initiated by iconic Costume Designer Ellen Mirojnick. She took the lead and I took it from there. The purpose was to pull back from the Gothic and punk vibe and go more into a motorcycle concept. After all, Lisbeth Salander is spending most of her time on a motorbike. She is also not the kind of girl who spends her time anymore at the bar or sleeping with a different girl every night. It is not about the piercings or her style. She’s a much more mature Lisbeth Salander. It is about Lisbeth establishing balance, about fighting for the oppressed and vulnerable women. We didn’t want the audience to focus too much on her style or be distracted by anything regarding Costume, Hair and Make up.. It was important to create a character that people could somehow relate to. We wanted to make sure that her style wouldn’t stand between the audience and her. She is much more approachable. This is more about her mission not as much on how she looks like.

ATM: Express the difference in the costume making aspect for this character.

Carlos: It was about making her costumes way simpler and much more functional because of all the action she has to perform. The costumes needed to be operational and in a way that limited the design. It was about creating pieces and elements that made sense and were logical. Actually Claire works in a very logical way. You have to tell her the story of the costume before you design it and explain what you are going to show her before you show it to her. If it makes sense, then she is open to it. Everything needed to have a reason. This process helped creating depth with the character because it is not just about the aesthetic. To me this new Lisbeth Salander spends less time thinking about what she looks like and spends more time focusing on what she wants to achieve as a human being.

ATM: What does this say about their character? How deep is the costume design in relation to who the actor portrays?

Carlos: Costume design and who the actor portrays are completely linked. We both have to respect and follow the script and story-line. There are certain factors you have to take in consideration. Like where it happens, what the circumstances are, who the actor is. The costume designer needs to make sure whatever he designs will fit the character and their persona. Within that process, it is important not only to collaborate with the actor but also with the studio, producers and obviously the director. The costume designer takes all the information in order to design the right costume. I always see the costume as being an extension of the character or an envelope that represents the spirit of the character. This is not as easy as it seems. It is not always about looks and it needs to fit the role.

ATM: How do you implement the elements of texture and color?

Carlos: The colors are mostly depending on the vibe that the director wants to give to the movie. I usually work in collaboration with the director of photography and with the production designer. There is a color palette that gets established and we all work around that. Sometimes you work on projects where the costume needs to blend with the sets and the lighting and other times it needs to stand out. The texture is equally as important as the color because it is what gives depths to the costume.