‘Phantom Thread’ Costume Designer Mark Bridges Didn’t Keep The Jet Ski

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Phantom Thread is many things: an Oscar-nominated film, a reunion between director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis, and a fascinating portrait of a complex man and the woman who learns how to manage him. While it’s difficult to find a truly surprising film these days, Phantom Thread manages to undermine audience expectations with a mix of strange humor and a subtly alarming twist.

That’s to say nothing of the gowns. While they may have been the creations of the fastidious Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) on screen, off screen they’re the result of the hard work of costume designer Mark Bridges. A veteran in the industry, Bridges won his second Oscar for Phantom Thread, having won his first for The Artist in 2012. Bridges was kind enough to talk to us about his victory, the changes modernity brings to his profession, and that damn jet ski from Oscar night.

So, first of all, congratulations!

Thank you!

And secondly, I wanted to ask what did you do with the jet ski.

Oh, how did I know that was gonna be the first question you were gonna ask me. How did I know?

It’s a fair question!

“She’s gonna talk about the Oscar win, and probably as long we’re on that, you’re gonna talk about that stupid jet ski.” But here we go. Well, I gave it to Motion Picture Television Fund, which is an organization in the film industry that helps people in the industry. I felt that because it was an industry event, I won it on the Oscars, on television, it should be right that they should get the proceeds from it. They’re free to auction it for whatever iconic value it has and be able to do the good work that they’ve been doing for almost 100 years. So, that’s what I did with the jet ski.

Well, that’s a much better answer than taking a literal victory lap up the coast with it, so you probably did the right thing.

For me, that was the right thing, absolutely. It’s very funny, after the win, someone asked me, “Do you have any experience with jet skis?” And my answer was “none good.” So yeah, needed to turn that lemon into lemonade there.

Probably smart. You don’t wanna go out inexperienced on a jet ski. That’s just a recipe for disaster.

Absolutely. But it was a hilarious gag! I certainly had no intention of getting it. I don’t know if anyone timed my last acceptance speech in 2012, but it was probably about that long as well. You know nobody wants to listen to the costume designer yammer on. So I just kept it brief and did what I felt was most important, which of course was thanking my wonderful director and actors and my crew. So yeah, that was it.

So you’ve won two Oscars now. Do you just go back to work the next day? I’ve always been curious about how people follow up such a win.

I absolutely did. I had to be to work at 7:30 the next morning. I had probably 4 hours of sleep. I did what I had to do. I was establishing a look on somebody. I’m there for my director and we’re making a film and I just went in at 7:30, we got shooting, and then I went home for a couple-hour nap and then came back to work.

It’s easy to get distracted and caught up in it and lose sight of what you’re really doing. I was hired to do a job. I was fortunate enough to work with amazing directors and it’s kind of grounding and keeps me focused to be working while all this stuff is going on.

Does that kind of win give you extra confidence for your next project or does it bring on an anxiety to top it?

I think it’s more confidence. Also, at this point in my career, you have a lot to look back on and remember when things seemed really difficult or impossible, and you got through that and you prevailed, so that’s the way I approach things now. Just this week I had something on my job where I was just like, “Okay here we are. We don’t have this, we don’t have that for this week, we don’t have this,” and I was like “You know what, today’s another day,” and by the end of that day we had solved most of the problems. And I just know from experience that it’s gonna happen and you just keep showing up and trying your best and it’s all gonna work out.

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I have two Oscars now, for a guy from Niagara Falls who dreamed of ever having one as a kid. And now there’s two. It’s kind of mind-blowing, not to mention the second BAFTA as well. It’s like, I’ll touch on it in my mind and be like “Do you believe this?” and then I’ll have to deal with something at work. So maybe — I’m almost done with this film — once I just go home and the dust settles and everything, I’ll just really be able to take it all in and appreciate it. But it’s been a wonderful whirlwind ride and I feel very lucky.

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