Working Hollywood: An armory of costumes for 'Wrath of the Titans'
In a Hollywood obsessed with futuristic CG effects, Simon Brindle does things the old-school way — really old school.
As the costume armor supervisor for “Wrath of the Titans,” the sequel to the 2010 Warner Bros. film “Clash of the Titans” due out March 30, Brindle and his team fashioned the suits of armor worn by Sam Worthington and other actors using leather and wooden mallets and other tools and materials employed by the ancient Greeks.
For the 44-year-old Brindle, it wasn’t too long of a journey from his parents’ farm near Liverpool to the mythological Mount Olympus. As a young boy, he took advantage of the ample space and old pieces of leather and wood that surrounded him to develop his skill for hand-crafting goods.
Armed with a passion for sculpture, history and epic films such as 1963’s “Jason and the Argonauts,” Brindle pursued a degree in fine arts sculpture at Manchester Polytechnic. After graduation, he got his first taste of costume design and manufacturing when he landed a job at a theater company that mounted historical productions.
Since then, he’s fashioned armor for films such as 2001’s “A Knight’s Tale,” 2004’s “Alexander,” “Clash of the Titans” and the HBO series “Game of Thrones.”
“I love to create things, and this gives me the opportunity to do that,” he said. “But the best part of it is to see your lead guy or your key actors try their armor on and stand up straight and really get a feel for the characters they’re going to play.”
Greek to him: For “Wrath of the Titans,” Brindle’s 15-person team fabricated armor for the principal actors and prototypes for the armies based on costume designs by Jany Temime, who had recently completed work on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” “A Greek picture requires essentially Greek skill sets, so it’s literally using wooden stakes, wooden forms, hammers and mallets; trimming away with sharp knives; and shaping and forming and so on,” Brindle said. “So the tools are quite basic — hammers and files, sandpaper, nothing too complex. It’s really what you do with them that counts.”
Best chest forward: To lend authenticity, much of the armor was inspired by the Greek muscle cuirass, a type of armor molded to fit and mimic the wearer’s torso, nipples and all. “They’re based on a perfect anatomical model in a piece of beaten bronze,” Brindle said. “They have a wonderful sculpted chest and abs, and they enhance the appearance of the wearer.”
Flax your muscles: As the king of the gods, the character of Zeus, played by Liam Neeson, required special armor. “Zeus is in a woven, soft-bounded leather and a compressed linen, which is another Greek armor technique,” Brindle said. “They compressed dozens of layers of linen together under an awful lot of weight, and it actually became impervious to blades. So Zeus’ armor was layers of linen and felt and woven leather with fine metal bounding running up and down the surface of the armor — just little bright details that catch the light every now and then.”
Fit for a lady: Brindle constructed Andromeda’s armor from a combination of rigid and soft leathers with etched brass metalwork around the neck and waistline. “The etchings were ancient Macedonian warriors in procession from archaeological finds, Greek vase paintings,” he said. “And that was really nice armor to make, because it’s very well tailored and fits well. It’s got a great line and silhouette to it, and it’s lovely deep reds and burgundies. It looks regal like a piece of armor, but it’s still quite feminine.”
Scale model: The character of Perseus, played by Worthington, needed particularly tough armor given his habit of battling sea monsters and gorgons. “Perseus’ armor is a lamellar armor, which is a series of overlapping leather scales that slide across each other,” Brindle said. “They were something like three by two inches, so it was hundreds of overlapping scales meticulously laced together. And lamellar armor was used in Greece, and it was also used in ancient Japanese culture. So it has an almost slightly samurai silhouette to it.”
-- Cristy Lytal
Photos: Left, Simon Brindle, costume armor supervisor for "Wrath of the Titans." Credit: Nicky Jones. Right, Sam Worthington, as Perseus, wears lamellar armor in a scene with Danny Huston playing Poseidon. Credit: Jay Maidment / Warner Bros.