Unsung Heroes: Cold Mountain

A Behind The Scenes Look At This Hollywood Epic

The sprawling epic "Cold Mountain" resurrects the past in all its splendor -- and all its horror.

Two of its big stars, Jude Law and Renee Zellweger, are up for Oscars. But, as Correspondent Susan Spencer reports, it's the not-so-famous faces of the people behind the scenes who helped them get there.

People like set designer Dante Ferretti, who last worked on Martin Scorsese's epic, "Gangs of New York."

"The gorgeous Dante, the Italian Dante," says "Cold Mountain" star Nicole Kidman.

And people like legendary costume designer Ann Roth, who put that famous dress on Jane Fonda in "Klute," the suede fringed jacket on Jon Voight in "Midnight Cowboy," and the big hair and tacky clothes on Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl."

"We all know the most important part of any movie are the costumes," says Roth. "Now we all secretly believe that, but if we ever to breathe that, we'd all be killed."

Last year, Roth even had the nerve to put a fake nose on Nicole Kidman's multi-million dollar face to help transform her into Virginia Woolf for "The Hours."

"With every character, you alter," says Kidman. "You can't be attached to your own identity."

"She's an extremely brave actress," adds Roth, who says that is the key to success – give an actor the right clothes, and you give him his character.

Jude Law, who is up for Best Actor at this year's awards, said: "Through her costume design, she brings you a personality, a quirk, a detail and starts you on your process of discovering this role."

"He is no longer looking at himself in the mirror. He begins to see the character," adds Roth.

"Ann has taught me something, which is, you don't design costumes. You help create character," adds "Cold Mountain" director Anthony Minghella. "So when an actor comes in, it's not about decorating the actor. It's about saying, 'What is the story of these clothes? What are they gonna do to your performance?'"

Working from her own sketches, Roth designed every stitch of clothing in the film.

"We wore the real boots. We wore the real silk stockings with all the fine embroidery," says Kidman. "Everything was authentic. we wore the real boots, the real finery."

Roth also mentions the corset – which was set to a 22-inch waistline. Why is this important?

"It matters because, you know, how do you bend and pick something up? You have to alter the way you do that when you're in a corset," says Kidman.

"It's strange. It's difficult to describe what it's like to put your wood buttoned shirt on in the morning, but it makes a difference, I'm sure of it," says Renee Zellweger, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress. "It's definitely part of the life, a hard life."
While Roth was busy making the actors look their part, production designer Dante Ferretti, back in Rome, was also hard at work.

"Dante Ferretti is every director's fantasy because he never says no," says Minghella. "He doesn't have that in his vocabulary. Everything is 'Yes, possible. We could try that.'"

But this time, Ferretti had to try in the cold mountains of Romania, which was chosen partly because the landscape was so empty and unspoiled. Undaunted, Ferretti hired 60 people and went to work.

"I build everything from scratch, everything for real," he says. "I use real bricks, real wood. It wasn't a set. It was like we built a town."

For the opening scene, he even did research at West Point, studying plans of the Battle of Petersburg, where the Union built a tunnel under the Confederate lines.

"I think what could get missed in this film is his work because it's so believable," says Kidman. "He built every house, the house that I live in. He built the towns. He built the battlefield. Every single thing was his creation."

And he didn't stop there. When Minghella was just about to shoot the movie's climactic scene, he says he suddenly realized there were not enough trees: "I called Dante and I said, 'You know, look, this isn't right. This is one of the most important moments in the film. We've got to do something, so can you make me a few trees?'"

With only two days notice, Ferretti and his crew worked around the clock to make 14 fiberglass trees.

"I defy you to look at the scene and say which of those trees he made and which are the real trees," says Minghella. "These are huge, huge trees. And that, to me, is a kind of magic. It's like he pulls these trees out of a hat somewhere. He's a magician."

"I think if someone said, 'Dante, could you make heaven? You could figure out heaven," says Spencer to Ferretti.

"We are on the heaven because we make movies," says Ferretti. "To make movies, we like to be in the heaven."


















  • Rebecca Leung

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