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Liam Neeson's good looks were a challenge to work with on Buster Scruggs

Liam Neeson's good looks were a challenge to work with on Buster Scruggs © Cover Media  

Costume designer Mary Zophres was tasked with making "handsome" Liam Neeson have an air of desperation in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

Mary is a longtime collaborator of brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, working with them on some of their most classic works, including No Country for Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and True Grit.

She once again joined forces with them for their Netflix Western anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, made up of six short films, where she had to create costumes for Hollywood stars like Liam, James Franco and Zoe Kazan.

"The specific characters driving Meal Ticket, for instance... there were certain stories where we did know the actor that was attached, so I knew that Liam Neeson was going to be playing that character (of Impresario)," she began to explain to Deadline.

"Liam Neeson is rather handsome and confident, and cuts a beautiful figure, right? So, you can start to imagine: What do you do to make him have that desperation in the character?"

After reading the script, which the Coen Brothers warned might not get the green light, Mary says she thought the same, as some of the stories were so dark and bleak, especially Meal Ticket, where Harry Potter star Harry Melling plays a spoken word artist with no arms or legs, opposite Liam's ruthless Impresario.

However, she jumped at the chance to work on the feature, which has gone on to land three Oscar nods, including in the Best Costume category.

"Immediately, I thought it was a really interesting design project," she smiled.

"You're given the CliffsNotes, hints as to what they want it to look like, but then we could explore it in each of our departments, and manifest what we interpreted. Obviously, we bounced those ideas off of Joel and Ethan, and then it becomes the language of the film as a whole, which is such a fun process." 

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