Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roberta Haze- Costume Designer

I haven’t had the pleasure of working with or even meeting the following costume designer, Roberta Haze, but she was still nice enough to grant me an interview. Ms. Haze is the costume designer for Body of Proof and has extensive experience designing for TV having also designed shows like The New Adventures of Old Christine, Kitchen Confidential and Summerland. Having worked in the casting office of Body of Proof myself, one of the most exhilarating things for me while watching the show now is remembering how some of the actors looked in their auditions and getting to see how Roberta totally transformed them into their characters. In last week’s episode “Society Hill,” for instance, the actress who played the “victim,” Mam Smith, came in wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans with her hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. In the episode, she is decked out in power suits with her hair slicked back, morphing her into the powerful magazine exec that the script called for. A show like Body of Proof, with its revolving door of guest stars with varying personalities and professions, really puts an emphasis on the importance of costuming in establishing characters, especially when you only have a moment to get to know them before they’re gone, and Roberta Haze does so with finesse. I remember one time in particular, in which an actor was cast late on a Monday and was scheduled to start shooting that Wednesday. I couldn’t help but think, “Yikes.” But watching the show, you would never know the tight time constraints she might have had to work under because of how great the show looks. See?

Here is my interview with Roberta:

How did you get started in costume design?

I had been a dancer for twenty-five years, having worked with the best costume designers. I found myself at a crossroads having to earn a living and forty-five was too old in Hollywood to earn. A friend of mine hired me as an assistant on a non-union show because I was very fashion forward & clothes were my obsession. The next season the show went to a union lot and I got in the costumers union 705. I was a set person, a shopper, a supervisor- eventually I designed and got in the guild.

How has your past as a dancer helped you in your current work as a costume designer?

My past as a dancer gives me more understanding of character and the actor’s process.

On IMDb, Carol Ramsey is credited for designing the pilot of Body of Proof. What’s it like coming on to a show after somebody has already established the first episode and making it your own?

I didn't much like how the pilot looked, I discussed my ideas with the producer and Dana and went forward.

Has there ever been an actor to walk through your door who didn’t look at all like what you had expected the character to look like? How do you work around this?

Yes, I adjust and make the character appropriate to the script and their physicality.

Have you ever had to change your design for a character because it didn’t look as good on the actor that was cast as you had hoped?


Television is very fast paced. What amount of time is usually ideal for you to know which actor will be playing a role before they’re scheduled to start filming?

Sometimes I get a day player the night before they work or the morning of.

How did you adjust to working with a different director on each episode?

I’m used to working with a new director every episode, in TV you don't really answer to a director except on a pilot. I do rack approval with Matt Gross, the executive producer.

Having been in the offices in NYC all the time, I’m really curious to know. What was an average day on the set of Body of Proof like?

The experience on Body of Proof was very collaborative, smooth and fun!

Thanks, Roberta!