B. C. NOM­I­NEE: Dr. Par­nas­sus cos­tume de­signer Monique Prud­homme pre­pares for the big day

Vancouver Sun - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY JOHN MACKIE [email protected]­cou­ver­sun.com

Monique Prud­homme has been to Los An­ge­les so many times over the last cou­ple of months she must feel like it’s a sec­ond home.

On Dec. 20, the Van­cou­verite saun­tered into the In­tercon­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel in Cen­tury City to pick up a Satel­lite Award from the In­ter­na­tional Press Academy for her cos­tume de­sign on the Terry Gil­liam film The Imag­i­nar­ium of Doc­tor Par­nas­sus.

On Feb. 25, her work on Doc­tor Par­nas­sus earned her a trip to the Bev­erly Hills Hil­ton, where she won the award for Ex­cel­lence in Fan­tasy Film at the 12th an­nual Cos­tume De­sign­ers Guild Awards.

Now she’s jet­ting south to try and make it a tri­fecta at the Ko­dak The­atre in Hol­ly­wood, where she is nom­i­nated for an Academy Award.

On Sun­day night Prud­homme’s work in Doc­tor Par­nas­sus goes up against the cos­tume de­sign­ers for The Young Vic­to­ria, Nine, Coco Be­fore Chanel, and Bright Star.

“ It feels pretty good,” she said of be­ing nom­i­nated.

“ It’s the luck of the draw. This year there were a lot of beau­ti­fully made movies. The most spec­tac­u­lar ones are pe­riod, and we are the dark horse. Doc­tor Par­nas­sus is a mix of ev­ery­thing, a shame­less mix of pe­ri­ods and coun­tries. It’s a great hon­our to be nom­i­nated by my peers, by the film in­dus­try.”

The Os­car nom­i­na­tion caps a three-decade long ca­reer in film, in­clud­ing cos­tume de­sign in movies like Juno and Best in Show.

Prud­homme got into film in her na­tive Montreal. She set out to be an art teacher, “ hated it with a pas­sion,” and took a job as an in­tern on a Jean Beaudin movie called Cordelia.

“ From there peo­ple asked me if I could do this or do that,” she re­counts.

“ I learned my trade do­ing it, in the trenches. [ Then] I was hired to work on a French movie they were shoot­ing in the Rock­ies. There was a crew from Que­bec, a crew from France and a crew from Van­cou­ver, and I fell in love with a guy from Van­cou­ver who of­fered me the moon: ‘ Come and live on my sail­boat.’

“ So I moved to Van­cou­ver, and it was fan­tas­tic. I fell in love with Van­cou­ver, I fell in love with the wa­ter, and we built a house­boat in Lad­ner.”

She’s no longer with the sailor, and left the wa­ter for a lovely arts and crafts house in east Van­cou­ver in the early 1990s. But her film ca­reer grew with the lo­cal in­dus­try. Her re­cent suc­cess has landed her some pretty good gigs: two days af­ter the Os­cars she starts work on A Big Year, a com­edy about bird­watch­ers fea­tur­ing Steve Martin, Owen Wil­son and Jack Black.

Work­ing with the leg­endary Gil­liam on Doc­tor Par­nas­sus “ was fan­tas­tic.” Gil­liam “ is the only mas­ter of his ship,” so she didn’t have to go through a lot of peo­ple to make de­ci­sions. Plus the sub­ject mat­ter was in­ter­est­ing.

“ It is a cos­tume de­signer’s dream to work with him,” she said.

“ He gave me two phrases. First of all Doc­tor Par­nas­sus is an im­mor­tal, he’s trav­elled around the world and he’s done stage all through the ages. So there are big bins in the wagon full of dis­carded pieces of cos­tumes that cover coun­tries, ages and styles.

“ He said ‘ For the stage, in­spire your­self from the 17th-18th cen­tury im­agery, of draw­ings ... beauty, wis­dom, bat­tle, love.’ And of course Greek mythol­ogy with Mer­cury.

“ And then he said, ‘ They live in Lon­don in 2009 and they’re poor, they live the life of Gyp­sies.’ Go with this, bye-bye.”

Her role as a cos­tume de­signer varies from project to project. She had a great time on Christo­pher Guest’s satire of dog shows Best in Show.

“ With Christo­pher Guest it’s all im­pro­vised,” she said.

She finds her cos­tumes all over the place. She likes to use Burn­aby tai­lor Pat Cocco (“ He’s done suits for me for Robin Wil­liams, Don­ald Suther­land, and for Heath [ Ledger] and Johnny [ Depp] for Doc­tor Par­nas­sus.”), but also does a lot of shop­ping. “ It’s kind of a hunt and gather process.

“ You have ideas, you go to Value Vil­lage, you go to Sal­va­tion Army, you go to Holt-Ren­frew, you go to cos­tume houses, you buy fab­ric, you de­sign. It’s com­po­si­tion.”


Monique Prud­homme, pic­tured at her home in Van­cou­ver, is nom­i­nated for an Academy Award for her work as cos­tume de­signer on the Van­cou­ver-shot movie The Imag­i­nar­ium of Dr. Par­nas­sus.

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