Interview with Roger Tait (Costume Cutter, Australia) from The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

By Paul Martin April 27th, 2012, in Official Interviews, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions

Archival interview with Roger Tait from the official Matrix website.

BACKGROUND

MATRIX: How did you come to be involved on THE MATRIX 2 and 3?

ROGER: For the last few years I’ve been working in film and theatre as a costume maker. I’ve also spent a number of years in the fashion industry, and that’s where I trained in cutting garments.

Did you go to college to train?

ROGER: No, I’m self-taught.

MATRIX: Fashion and film are quite different; how has the transition been?

ROGER: Well they are different, but I think I’ve always meant to be in the arts, although it was certainly beneficial learning to cut in the fashion industry.

MATRIX: Do you feel you have more creative freedom in costume than in fashion?

ROGER: Most definitely, it’s a much more interesting sculptural world for me.

MATRIX: Who did you used to cut for when you worked in fashion?

ROGER: I had my own label on a couple of occasions, I did men’s and women’s wear. I had a store in Darlinghurst [Sydney] that sold men’s wear, and I also worked in the mainstream fashion world. Basically, my grounding was in mainstream fashion, and I created clothing under my own name outside of that.

MATRIX: What gave you the push to get into film?

ROGER: There was sort of a long ache in my bones to change over and be more creative. I was a hand-sewer on Moulin Rouge, so that’s kind of how it started. I met people there and ended up working for Sydney Theatre Company on the Olympic Arts Festival show, and then I worked on the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games. I also worked on Scooby-Doo, I’ve done a couple of horror movies, and here I am.

MATRIX: How many people are there in the team in the sewing room?

ROGER: THE MATRIX is a bit of a man’s show, so on the women’s side of it there’s myself cutting, and my stitcher, Kia [Snell] who has made all the costumes. At busy times we’ve had some casuals come in and help sew. Altogether, there are two Costume Cutters and three permanent sewers.

MATRIX: What is the process; how does Kym Barrett, the Costume Designer, convey what she wants to you?

ROGER: We have a great working relationship; it’s full of understanding, its been a collaboration. For instance, the woman at Le Vrai, which was the restaurant scene, I did a silk suit for one of the featured extras, and Kym said to me that she wanted it to be late Dior – if you pricked it with a pin it had to ooze nectar. That was the brief, so we did a couple of thumbnail sketches, and we talked about it, then I made a calico toile [garment for fit and look] and we tweaked that, then we launched into the garment, which was a bit of an overnighter, and she looked fantastic.

MATRIX: How long have you been on this production so far?

ROGER: I started at the end of July 2001, and I’m on until the end of the show, whenever that may be. In a couple of weeks we’re off on our Christmas [2001] break, which we’re all looking forward to, and then I come back probably until May or June, I think.

PERSEPHONE’S COSTUME

MATRIX: What has been one of the most challenging things on the production so far for you?

ROGER: I think the most challenging thing was Monica Belluci’s nude dress, Persephone’s nude dress. Because we didn’t see her until two days before the shoot, we really had to have one ready to go, so we had someone go from London to Paris to measure her up, and send us over the measurements. It was quite an intense experience wondering what she was really like – you’ve got measurements on a flat piece of paper, but what does she really look like, what is her stance like, and how is it all going to work?

MATRIX: In most cases, doesn’t an actor’s agent send measurements out?

ROGER: Cutters always like to take their own measurements because they know where they’re taking them, and how they’re taking them. It’s very important to know how someone is being measured; everyone has their own technique.

MATRIX: Did you have photo reference of Monica as well?

ROGER: I had some digital photographs which proved to be a little inaccurate, I thought, but at the end of the day the zip went up and all was fine. We made three of those latex dresses just in case we had any blowouts. Monica’s dresses were made with the latex without the net behind them, so they were much more fragile. It is very easy to put a nail through it or, if there is a nick in the latex as you’re putting it on, it’ll just grow, and you’ll end up with a great cut across the dress, and there’s no rhyme or reason either, it can end up anywhere. Fortunately we haven’t had too many problems with it, and there aren’t any dresses in the movie that have been fixed, so we covered our bases there.

MATRIX: When I arrived earlier, you were polishing her latex dress with a bit of Eros Personal Lubricant, is that a traditional way of polishing latex wear?

ROGER: Yes it is. There are a couple of different ways, but mainly it’s the personal lubricants that seem to work the best.

MATRIX: Why is there the need to polish latex?

ROGER: I haven’t polished this sleeve, it’s quite dull, but the body I’ve polished, and it has a like a glass-like finish to it. You just put it the lubricant on with a sponge.

MATRIX: Wearing a costume often changes an actor into their character; how does it feel when you’ve made a costume and you see an actor get into it as, say, Monica Bellucci, then turn into Persephone?

ROGER: I feel quite incredible. It’s a great sense of pride that the idea has worked and that the actress is happy, because it’s going to show on film if she’s uncomfortable or unhappy.

THE LAST WORD

MATRIX: What other scenes have there been so far that have had fantastic costumes?

ROGER: I’ve been working quite a lot on some of Carrie-Anne’s [Moss, Trinity] costumes. A lot of her work was already established in the United States, so we’ve been basically duplicating, and doing a couple of new styles.

MATRIX: What kinds of fabrics are you using for Trinity’s costume in the sequels?

ROGER: Her close-up costumes are patent leather, very beautiful, fine patent leather, and her multiples are made in black PVC.

MATRIX: There are a huge number of characters in THE MATRIX sequels, did you find it daunting when you came onto this show at the beginning?

ROGER: Yes I guess I was a bit, and then I met Kym and we got on really well from the start. It’s a really great environment to work in, it’s a great group of people, and when the pressure is on the pressure is on, but at the same time, because of the relationship we’re all having, it’s quite smooth and enjoyable.

MATRIX: How closely do you adhere to the script?

ROGER: It’s important to know the script. I don’t have it by my side or anything like that, but if I need some info, I’ll go up and read the scene, it’s important to understand the context.

MATRIX: Some people find the first film a little difficult to ‘get’, did you have any trouble understanding the scripts to the sequels?

ROGER: I watched the first MATRIX before I came on quite a number of times, and I’ve read both the scripts so I have an understanding of it.

MATRIX: THE MATRIX sequels, do you feel the fans are going to be happy?

ROGER: I think so. Yes, definitely.

MATRIX: Thanks Roger.

Interview by REDPILL

December 2001

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