Designing stormtroopers, then and now

Vanity Fair’s Bruce Handy talks to costume designer Michael Kaplan about his experience with costume design, and how things have changed since his original stint with Blade Runner:

I think I was the only one who read the script and felt that it should have an old Sam Spade, old gumshoe kind of feeling. When I said that, it kind of hit a note and I got the job.

I learned from Ridley how great it is to re-use things and make new things out of things that already exist in a way, where you’re kind of not even recognizing the object that you started with. I like digging around in thrift shops and I don’t know if that’s a signature but it’s something that I’ve done a lot in my work.


I went up to George Lucas’s archives—huge building—and just spent a day going through sketches and looking just to get the tone of the movie, you know, in my guts and veins so that when I went to London I felt equipped and inspired, which I certainly did.

But the old stormtroopers uniforms would not be usable. Audiences of today have become so sophisticated that a lot of things you could get away with in the past, you can’t anymore. So the new uniforms are much heavier. Also, the action in the film required them to not be “VacuFormed” [like the old uniforms] as those all broke and cracked. These new ones are much more heavy-duty, but they are redesigned, too, they’re not the same stormtroopers.

I love that sort of behind the scenes insight.