How to dress like a journalist: Dowdy is the keyword, says Spotlight's costume director video

The stellar cast of Spotlight – Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffallo and Rachel McAdams – have definitely seen ...

The stellar cast of Spotlight – Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffallo and Rachel McAdams – have definitely seen more stylish days on set.

A common complaint about Hollywood is that they tend to make everything too glamorous. 

Would that struggling singer-songwriter who just moved to the big city really have an apartment that nice? Would that poor student really drive a Range Rover?

You couldn't say anything like that about Spotlight, which tells the true story of the Boston Globe's investigation into child abuse in the Catholic Church. Here, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton were costumed to look a bit rubbish. 

Spotlight opens in New Zealand cinemas on January 28

That's intentional, costume director Wendy Chuck said

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"You want to break stuff in – essentially stonewash the whole wardrobe," Chuck told the Guardian

"With shirts, you need to pick something in a cheerless colour – light blue or khaki green – then pop a bit of cascade in the wash, maybe a little bleach, and that takes the colour out.

"Or you put a tennis ball into the washing machine, which breaks down the fibres and makes them look old." 

Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian D'Arcy James dressed up – or rather, down – in "cheerless colours".
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Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian D'Arcy James dressed up – or rather, down – in "cheerless colours".

The characters needed to look like they frequented second-hand shops, and didn't put that much effort into their clothing. 

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From all of us here at Stuff Life & Style, ouch.

"If they looked unstylish, ie authentic, I ... consider that a success. Every film is about telling a story, of course, but it was important that characters were treated with the utmost dignity considering the subject matter, which is why they had to look as real as they do," Chuck told the Guardian.

"Everyone had their uniform, but in their own bland, non-fashion way."

Chuck had the added consideration that all her characters were based on real people, and bore their names. 

That meant de-glamming McAdams until she could convincingly be reporter Sacha Pfeiffer, who described herself as "anti-fashion".

Sometimes, Chuck said, it was as simple as putting an actor in the same shirt two days in a row. 

"These reporters were desk sergeants. There wasn't a culture of dressing up," she told the Guardian. 

While we've got slightly hurt feelings, there's one other thing to consider. In the Stuff newsroom, the most outlandish element of Spotlight was having six months to work on a single story. 

A lofty dream, but in the meantime, we'll be wearing clean clothes. 

 - Stuff

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