‘Greyhound’ Costume Designer Julie Weiss Talks Authenticity of War Uniforms

Jazz Tangcay
·3 min read

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“I’m not here to challenge the accuracy of the costumes,” says costume designer Julie Weiss, whose credits include, “12 Monkeys,” “Frida” and “American Beauty.”

Weiss is talking about the countless uniforms she needed for “Greyhound,” the Aaron Schneider film starring Tom Hanks as Navy Commander Ernest Krause. Streaming on Apple TV Plus from July 10, Krause leads his allied ships across the Atlantic to the frontlines of World War II.

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“What’s interesting about this is it’s an Atlantic film,” Weiss points out. “We are so familiar with Pacific uniforms but [with this battle,] it’s a cold winter.”

To source the uniforms, Weiss combined working with costume houses and making outfits. “They came from American Costume, Western Costume, Palace Costume and the studios,” she explains.

Schneider explains that the story was about the experience of the soldiers, “Tom set out to celebrate the contribution and devotion of the soldiers by putting you through the same hell.” “Greyhound” was not a film about soldiers talking about a girl back home. “This was about everyone’s actions and commitment. You have to imbue these people with a life and that is now a visual job.”

The director goes on to say, “Here, uniforms are designed to make everyone be the same. The skill and the craft are, how do you manipulate the things that you can manipulate? How do you tell a story about each individual person? I thought Julie was such a perfect person for this job is because that’s, that’s her gift.”

Hanks didn’t just write the screenplay to tell the story of these soldiers, he also inspired the outfit for Elizabeth Shue’s cameo in the film. Shue appears as Evelyn, Krause’s girlfriend and before he goes off on his mission, he meets her to propose. “Elisabeth and Tom were getting their hair done and we had two different hats,” says Weiss. “He loved a different hat, and that’s the one we went with.”

Being on set daily was a benefit to Weiss who says, “There was that connection you had with the actors, and we could make adjustments where necessary.”

In addition to Hanks’ uniform, Weiss had to create the outfits for the lower-ranked individuals. She points out that Levi Strauss was making clothes for the armed forces.

“The men on deck wore pieces from World War I. We had jackets where men would write and paint messages on,” Weiss says. “You see that right at the beginning with Shannon’s character.”

Aside from uniforms, service blues and khakis, Weiss also used off-white with some of the men in the U-boats. “Those off-white leather looking outfits were made to order.” She adds, “Those were some of the best uniforms I’ve ever had made.” She says with pride, ” I couldn’t wait to show them to Aaron.”

For all her research and sourcing, Weiss credits Hanks and the actors for helping her tell the story. She says, “The costumes that become the uniform are nothing without the actor. It’s about their stance and how they wear it and how they tuck the shirts in. But they are nothing without the actor.”

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