An Insider’s Look at HBO’s Highly Anticipated New Show
Set designer Elizabeth Mickle takes us behind-the-scenes of HBO's The Deuce.
Published Sep 10, 2017 5:30 AM
The acclaimed set designer immediately tapped into her more naturalistic, indie-side—and indicative of her work on films including Drive, Collateral Beauty, and Half Nelson—to help guide her in recreating sex in the 70s. And in a believable and fashionable way, at that!
Mickle always begins by a close script-read, and shortly thereafter, she’s onto mood-boarding. To capture what the 70s would look like through The Deuce’s lense, she heavily relied on Klute, Midnight Cowboy, and The Panic in Needle Park to the photography of Jean-Pierre Laffont and just about every early Martin Scorsese film. “It’s a collaboration in the biggest sense,” says Mickle who was behind the concepts of the show’s set designs for roughly eleven months. “From carpet swatches to street-style photographs of street walkers, it’s important to make sure that everyone’s ideas and what they have in mind is first accounted for; only then do we get into fabric swatches and color palettes.”
The overarching goal was to capture an essence, tone, and authenticity of the time—think: Tin Pan Alley, by-the-hour hotel rooms, the apartment of Gyllenhaal’s character Eileen “Candy” Merrell, and of course Times Square—rather than merely outfitting everything, a process that took her just under a year to concept. “I pulled furniture and design elements from the ’30s, ’40s, and even the ’50s,” says Mickle, who sourced most of the show’s harder-to-find seventies-specific needs, like parking meters and storefront signage, from Craigslist, Ebay, and 1st Dibs.
“It was important to create something that was both subtle and layered,” explains Mickle. And that she did.
Next up for Mickle? She’s just moved to upstate New York (an antique-addicts heaven) and she and her fiancee are renovating their new country home.