|A week after my Life mask was made, I was asked to
return to Leavesden for costume discussion and fittings. Once more,
a car was sent to collect me and I travelled in style through central
London and out onto the road north.
An hour and a half later, we arrived once more at the studios. The drivers are usually very friendly and talkative, and if you wish, they will talk at great length about the filming. Most of these drivers have been in full employment through both Harry Potter films, driving everyone from their homes to the studios on their filming and fitting days and they are very familiar with all the stars and stories about filming. My driver told me that everyone was amazingly friendly and easy to work with, especially the director Chris Columbus who is a great Manchester United football fan!
On arrival, I first had to be seen by the hair designers. Chris Columbus has always insisted that many of the Harry Potter characters should appear reasonably human. He did not want a totally fantasised account of witches and warlocks and evil people. So in order not to appear too obviously hag-like, we tried on many different wigs before finding the right one (see Gallery). This had to be the first decision before the hat, and remaining clothing could be created. While I waited for my fittings, Mark Williams (Mr. Weasley) was patiently reading the newspaper while his hair was being dyed unbelievably red and one of the girls was waiting for Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) to touch up his peroxide blond locks.
A welcome cup of tea was waiting for me in the wardrobe department. I drank it standing up while several people draped various bits of material about me. There was no specific design for the Aged Witch, in order to avoid some historical image - Dickensian, Victorian, The Walt Disney look etc. Although the finished outfit did look like a cross between a Victorian bag-lady and an old hippy still wearing Biba (a designer from the late 1960s for those young ones among you!) The main idea was to use as much texture as possible. I had lace, wool, sackcloth, velvet and netting (such as found in ballerinas tu-tus). I wonder if you can spot them all? Probably not as the witch appears so briefly. My hat was made from black netting. You could see through it
and the netting also meant that the hat would stick up at any angle. I had three or four layers of skirts. Each layer hitched up so that the one beneath could be seen. Taffeta and velvet were dragged in the mud before being sewn into the skirt. The colours were very subtle, dark greens and browns as well as black. The jacket was very fitted at the waist, with tight puffed sleeves and black lace finger pieces which were disintegrating with dirt and age. The jacket had a small peplum which is like the bottom of a normal jacket but shaped so that the back is longer than the front, rather like a Victorian mans frock or tail coat. On top of all of this, I had a heavy wool cloak, which didnt quite fit and added to the dishevelled, ragged appearance. On my feet, I had a pair of light elasticated flat pumps which I wore with black lace tights. Now I know that many of you will be asking why was all this detail so necessary for such a short head and shoulders shot? The point is, that at this stage, no-one, not even the director, knows exactly what shots he will be going for or how the scene will appear when finished and so each character must be fully described with costume and make-up just in case a long-shot or particular close-up is required on the shoot day. Also, from an actors point of view, the more detail added to your character, the more you can become real for yourself and therefore, your audience. It certainly helped me, my skirts were very heavy and the smell of the woollen cloak was disgusting, which all helped to create the feel of the witch.