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Local man dresses Hollywood for Disney's "Secretariat"

By KBell
Oct. 6, 2010 at 5:06 a.m.

LEFT: Michael Boyd goes through the pages of the "Secretariat" working script Wednesday., which he starts building early in the planning of the movie with samples and historic documentation to base the costumes that will be used for the movie.

Michael Boyd flipped through a red binder he'd labeled "Secretariat Bible."

He compared the plastic-protected photos of races in which the famous Secretariat racehorse had competed to photos of the modern day characters whose outfits he created for the new Disney film named after the horse.

"I like to be as authentic as possible when I do a period piece," Boyd said.

Indeed, the photos of actors like John Malkovich and True Blood's Nelsan Ellis were near exact replicas of their 1970s character counterparts.

In July 2009, when Boyd was approached by the film's director, Randall Wallace (whom he calls "Randy" after having worked with him on the film, "We Were Soldiers"), the costume director had only nine weeks to research, create costumes and film.

"It was a whirlwind," he said.

Researching for the film proved time-consuming, but that's the 20-year veteran's specialty.

A former history and theater teacher at St. Joseph High School, Boyd was instrumental in starting Goliad's annual Massacre Reenactment and most enjoys Civil War or Western settings.

The "Bible" of photos Boyd had researched to guide his wardrobe designs proved beneficial to the whole crew. Wallace made 25 extra copies to hand out.

"When you've done your homework, and they know you know what you're talking about, they'll go with it," Boyd said, adding that for the most part, the crew didn't interfere with his wardrobe decisions. "If you don't know what you're talking about, you will be like blood to sharks in the water."

This, Boyd knows after working his way up the Hollywood ladder, starting as an actor and finding his niche in wardrobe, especially period clothing.

"I've been very blessed, very lucky," he said of his work that occasionally takes him away from his wife, Wanda, and their hometown of 35 years. "It's the industry. But I don't want to be gone all the time."

For "Secretariat," Boyd was in Los Angeles, Kentucky and Louisiana from late July until December. He was in charge of dressing everyone from Diane Lane's main character to the stadium full of extras they filmed in Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held.

Boyd was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about his wardrobe designs for Malkovich's character - the "super fly" and "flashy" Lucien Laurin. The script called for him to wear "a shirt you could see from the moon."

"So that was my cue," Boyd said. "I did sketches, went to the fabric shop, made the idea of it and approached Randy."

In a last-minute script change, Wallace asked Boyd to perform in the final scene in which Malkovich wears that "see-from-the-moon" shirt.

So he jumped into one of his own costumes and, pending final editing, could be making a cameo.

"We'll see what it does Friday night," said Boyd, who plans on watching the film in Victoria with his wife. "It will be fun. I think it's going to be a good one."



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