Leaky interviews Harry Potter costume designer Jany Temime

Jan 14, 2020

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

Costumes, Crew Interviews, Exclusives, Film Awards, Interviews, Movies

When I phoned costume designer Jany Temime for our interview, her first words after “hello” were “Why are you calling me?”  Oh, no, I panicked, perhaps wires got crossed and she didn’t have the Leaky interview on her schedule!  But that was not what she meant as she went on to ask teasingly, “Why has it been so long since I have heard from The Leaky Cauldron and why do you want to talk to me now?”  Why, indeed.  That is a good question, for which I had a good answer:  I explained that our readers are fiercely loyal to all Harry Potter alumni, that you see their new films and follow their post-Potter projects avidly, and root for them during awards season.  I congratulated her on our readers’ behalf for her BAFTA nomination for costume design for Judy and she was genuinely touched by your enthusiasm for her:  “Thank you so much.  That means a lot to me.”

Harry Potter fans know Jany Temime as the costume designer for Prisoner of Azkaban through Deathly Hallows.  She joined the franchise for the third film and immediately changed the look and feel of the costumes to suit the darker turn the story was taking.  Temime’s costumes for the Potter films are much beloved by fans, as evidenced by sold out tours when the costumes are displayed in traveling exhibits, and the carefully precise cosplay that attempts to recreate Hermione’s Yule Ball dress or Harry’s Quidditch robes.  House scarves received a stylish update from Temime in Prisoner of Azkaban, and 15 years after the film’s release, one can still spot those iconic narrow-striped house scarves on the street on any brisk day around the globe.  Temime stressed that she loves the unique challenges of every new project, but that the fans of the Potter films made it an unforgettable experience.  The sentiment is mutual.  We love the nuance she brought to each costume, in a strategic way that reflected the character’s personality, situation, and the tenor of the story at that stage.  No matter how flamboyant or dramatic a character might be, the costume never wore them, rather, it carefully enhanced and subconsciously honed the viewer’s impression of that character.

Temime brings that same gift for subtlety, sophistication, and nuance to the costumes for Judy, which she said she enjoyed working on.  “It was a smaller film, smaller budget” but wonderful to work with the cast and crew and storyline, “I admire Judy Garland, she was an emancipated women.  She was the breadwinner of the family, looking after her kids.  That is why I dressed her in trousers!”

The tragic life story of Judy Garland as realised in Judy results from her dehumanisation from a young age by the Hollywood studio system.  In both the flashback scenes to Judy’s childhood and the scenes in 1968 depicting the final months of her life, just prior to her death in 1969 from an accidental overdose of barbiturates, Temime’s costume designs capture the commodification of the child, and then the adult trapped in the tortured life she must lead to support her family.  That comprehensive reflection of a character and their circumstances is the hallmark of Temime’s costuming talent.  “Thank you for noticing that!” is her appreciative response to this observation.

Judy-Zellweger-Garland-comparison-flower-costumeWhat was her biggest challenge in costuming Judy?  “The fact that she is a singer, and one must understand the why and how of movement for singing.  The abdominal muscles are important, so I accentuate the waist.  Every detail, the position of the arm, makes a difference for the singing.”

I asked her about the difference between designing costumes for a one-off film like Judy versus for a series like Harry Potter.  She responded that each Harry Potter film felt like an individual project because there was no guarantee at the time that there would be a next film, “It never had a sequel feeling—we didn’t know there was going to be a sequel!  But I developed a deeper relationship with each actor and character working with them for 10 years.”  It’s been noted previously that Temime had a particularly warm relationship with Emma Watson and has given her fashion advice over the years.

judy-garlandHarry Potter is a fictional, fantasy story based on a book series, which is envisioned differently in each reader’s head; Judy Garland was a real person who lived recently enough to have been extensively photographed and filmed.  There is a photographic record of the clothes she wore in some of the stage appearances depicted in the film.  I asked Temime if she felt constrained by the photographic record, and how she approached costuming a real historic figure as opposed to a fictional one.  I also asked a related question about how she approached costuming the actor versus the character:

“I never forgot that I was not designing costumes for Judy Garland; I was designing for Renee.  I did not feel constrained by photographs.  It was a long time ago, over 50 years now, so people do not remember what Judy Garland wore.  This was not a documentary; it was a film with a script.  I did research, looking at photos of London and LA in that time period, and added my own touch.  I was inspired by what Judy Garland wore, but everything is original.”

For an interview where Temime talks in detail about her inspiration for the costumes for Judy, incorporating designer and vintage pieces, and working with Renee Zellweger, see her interview with CR here.  For more on her Harry Potter costume designs, read this interview with Fashionista, this comprehensive one with US magazine, this one with Cosmopolitan in which she talks about the Yule Ball dress, and, last but not least, this interview for The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits in which she talks about the knitwear designs for the film with Leaky editor Amanda Kirk.

What was your favourite costume?  (I meant in general, but she interpreted it as for Judy, which makes sense.)

mv5bmgnhmzy0ogmtzwu5yy00mwnhlwiwndgtnjm1yjaznda1nze5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkxnjuynqatat-v1-sy1000-sx1500-al-1569357317“The opening suit.”  Again, I asked if she felt constrained by the fact that Judy Garland did wear a sparkly pants suit on her final U.S. tour with her kids, as shown in the film, and she reiterated that she did not feel restricted at all, but liked the idea of a pantsuit because it suited her vision of Judy Garland as an emancipated women of her time.

Also joining the Harry Potter franchise in the third film was actor Michael Gambon, apparating in to replace the deceased Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore.  Gambon plays Bernard Delfont, a Russian-born British actor, in Judy.  What was it like for Temime to work with him again.  “It was wonderful!  I love these reunions.  He is such a great person to work with.”  Throughout our interview, Temime’s warm enthusiasm for the actors she costumes comes across.

Temime’s most recent project is costuming the forthcoming Black Widow (May 1, 2020 release date in the U.S.) with Scarlett Johansson.  She said it was another interesting challenge for her, “Because it is another hero movie, with a strong woman as hero.”  Female characters from the comic book universe are often stereotyped in a hyper sexual way but, as you can see in this teaser trailer, Temime’s designs for Johansson emphasise the practical needs of her job—a KGB assassin’s gotta be able to move fast—but include a bit of cartoonish humour to add an element of fun.

You can follow Jany Temime on Instagram, where she has posted that she has been designing for the Netflix action film Red Notice starring Gal Gadot.

We will definitely check in with Temime more often going forward, and we hope to be able to offer her congratulations on nominations and awards many times in future years!

What are some of your favourite costumes that Jany Temime has designed?  Tell us in the comments.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.