10 Fascinating Facts About Phantom Thread
Auteur Paul Thomas Anderson turned his eye toward fashion—and, for the first time in his career, away from California—in Phantom Thread, the Oscar-nominated film that stars Daniel Day-Lewis (in his reportedly final role) as a fastidious 1950s fashion designer who finds himself locked in a battle of wills—and mushrooms—with a new paramour (Vicky Krieps). Buckle in for these 10 decidedly not chic facts about Phantom Thread.
1. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS CAME UP WITH HIS CHARACTER’S NAME.
It was Daniel Day-Lewis who came up with the name “Reynolds Woodcock”—and yes, it is supposed to be a penis joke. Before Day-Lewis’s stroke of brilliance, Paul Thomas Anderson was using the decidedly less anatomical-sounding moniker “Arthur Dapple, Jr." as a placeholder.
2. IT WAS (IN A SMALL WAY) INSPIRED BY PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON AND MAYA RUDOLPH’S RELATIONSHIP.
Inspiration for the integral subplot where Alma (Vicky Krieps) must nurse Reynolds through a debilitating illness comes in part from an occurrence in Anderson’s own life. The director came down with something, and his wife (actress/comedian Maya Rudolph) took care of him. “My imagination just took over at some point, where I had this thought: 'Oh, she is looking at me with such care and tenderness ... wouldn't it suit her to keep me sick in this state?'" Anderson recalled. "[That moment] gave me an idea that such a thing could be served up with some spark of mischievousness and humor that might, in a larger picture, lend itself to what it means to be in a long-term relationship, you know. And the balance of power that can happen in that.”
3. DAY-LEWIS CONTRIBUTED TO THE COSTUME DESIGN.
Day-Lewis was involved in the design of Reynolds Woodcock’s clothes—both those he wore and those he designed. For the gowns, Day-Lewis would sometimes choose color or fabric swatches for costume designer Mark Bridges. Woodcock’s own outfits were assembled in the normal, everyday manner of real people: An assortment of clothes was purchased and, per Bridges, Day-Lewis would select from it outfits that matched what he “was feeling at that given time for the scene.” (The blazer-over-lavender-PJs look is a Day-Lewis original.)
4. ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IS A BASED ON A REAL WOMAN WITH A TRAGIC STORY.
The character of Barbara Rose (Harriet Sansom Harris)—the drunken customer whose dress Reynolds and Alma steal off her body in one memorable scene—is based on real-life Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. The recipient of a $50 million inheritance on her 21st birthday, Hutton married seven times (once to Cary Grant). The marriage depicted in Phantom Thread, to playboy Porfirio Rubirosa, lasted two months.
5. IT’S DEDICATED TO JONATHAN DEMME.
Phantom Thread is dedicated to late director Jonathan Demme, friend and mentor to Anderson. Demme died on April 26, 2017, which also happened to be the last day of shooting on Phantom’s Thread.
6. VICKY KRIEPS DIDN’T REALIZE WHO SHE WAS AUDITIONING FOR.
Anderson discovered actress Vicky Krieps when he rented a German movie she’d been in on iTunes. (“I couldn’t believe anyone saw it,” Krieps said. “It was on iTunes for one week. But he clicked on it!”) Failing to read an email from her agent properly, Krieps thought it was a student director who was interested in working with her—not Paul Thomas Anderson. She didn't realize the error until after she’d already sent in her audition tape.
7. YOU CAN DRESS LIKE REYNOLDS AND CYRIL WOODCOCK—IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY.
Reynolds Woodcock’s suits come from Anderson & Sheppard, a Savile Row clothing house that has dressed Prince Charles, Cary Grant, and Day-Lewis’s father, former UK poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, during its 112-year history. Woodcock’s magenta socks come from Rome-based designer Gammarelli, which is famed for dressing bishops and popes. The socks retail for about $25 a pair. Those who want to dress like his sister Cyril Woodcock can pay a visit to London tailor/designer Thomas von Nordheim.
8. DAY-LEWIS RECREATED A BALENCIAGA DRESS TO PREPARE FOR HIS ROLE.
Day-Lewis, famous for his Method acting zeal, prepared to play Woodcock by studying archival footage of mid-century fashion shows, learning to sew, and recreating a Balenciaga sheath dress from scratch. Day-Lewis’s wife, director Rebecca Miller, “has worn the dress,” he said. “It’s very pretty.”
9. THE FILM TOOK ITS FASHION VERY SERIOUSLY.
Some of the seamstresses who work for Woodcock are played by real seamstresses. One of the dresses they work on, the wedding dress Woodcock designed for Princess Mona Braganza (Lujza Richter), was actually made to the actress’s measurements, even though she’s never filmed wearing it.
10. YOU CAN BUY REYNOLDS WOODCOCK’S HOUSE.
The scenes in Woodcock’s London townhouse were filmed in a house in Fitzroy Square that was designed by famed neoclassical architect Robert Adam. Any Paul Thomas Anderson superfans with a hefty bit of cash to spare are in luck: As of January, the five-story, seven-bedroom house was on the market for just over $20 million.