The Prodigy: Interviewing costume designer Catherine Ashton (spoilers)

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Photo credit: Rafy / Orion Pictures – Copyright MGM

Emmy-nominated costume designer of The Prodigy, Catherine Ashton, chatted with me about her work on the horror film and how she helped set the film’s tone.

It’s the slow season for horror films at the cinema but The Prodigy is a surprisingly entertaining February entry. I got the opportunity to talk with the film’s costume designer, Catherine Ashton, about what her process was for creating the tone and feel of the film and how she designed costumes to suit each character.

1428 Elm: When I saw The Prodigy over the weekend, I noticed the movie was very blue. A lot of the film is in cool tones. I was wondering, as the costume designer, what made you decide to go with those colors specifically?

Catherine Ashton: Those colors were to keep an iciness, even though a lot of the characters loved each other and were warm, it still kept that icy feeling. It gave you the chills watching it. And even though it appeared they were all blue, they actually weren’t. There was a lot of green. It might have been changed later on to keep that coolness and to keep it from not being so warm.

1428 Elm: Not only blue, but Sarah (Taylor Schilling) wore pastels and pink which I related to the maternal side of her character.

CA: Absolutely. It was to keep her fresh looking, and also give her a bit of an innocence, to give her that warmth. And those colors always make you feel happy and engaged.

1428 Elm: Especially because she has to be a mother to both her child and to this serial killer, she has to struggle with that journey and try to be the best mother she can while he’s doing all these awful things.

CA: Exactly and no mother wants to think the worst of their child and their main objective, being a mother myself, is you want to help your child. She has that instinct from the beginning. As soon as Miles was born, whether there was a difference in him, she wants to know he’s going to be okay. And keeping her light like that, color-wise, gave that image it was going to be okay. It’s evident even from the necklace she wears, the wishbone, it’s the moral she held throughout.

Photo Credit: Rafy/Orion Pictures – Copyright MGM

1428 Elm: Even though you’re the costume designer, did you and Taylor collaborate on the costumes and talk about what you wanted to convey?

CA: Yes we did. Right from the very beginning, we spoke together about how she should look. She was very instrumental on picking pieces of jewelry, keeping things simple, and the colors. With Jackson, it was about keeping him very looking like a typical All-American boy, nothing too trendy, just plain, American boy.

1428 Elm: Right, because then you have to wonder if Edward was purposely dressing Miles that way to help maintain the innocent demeanor even though he’s really an evil guy.

CA: Absolutely, I think that is exactly what Scarka did, he changed his look. I don’t know if you noticed at the very end, the lion on his shirt. We actually called it the “kill shirt.”