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Interview: Mayes C. Rubeo Breaks Down the Key Costumes in Thor: Ragnarok

Mayes C. Rubeo is no stranger to creating costumes for imagined worlds and new world clothing. Her body of work includes designing costumes for Apocalypto, Total Recall, Avatar and Dragonball: Evolution to name a few. Rubeo and I caught up briefly to discuss designing for the Marvel universe and creating new costumes for Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and Cate Blanchett’s villain, Hela.

Rubeo says once she knew Goldblum had been cast as Grandmaster, making that bright yellow tunic more suave seemed the perfect fit. She also talks about making subtle changes to existing costumes such as Loki’s cape and the yellow stripe she added when he meets with Grandmaster (We’re not spoiling anything …).

Read our interview below and check out some of her work in Thor: Ragnarok which opens tomorrow.

We already know many of these characters, so what was it like coming into Thor: Ragnarok?

It was different but fantastic. Usually, when you come into a movie the whole group doesn’t know anything about this new world. My body of work is known for creating new and remote worlds. It’s almost something I’ve done in every big movie that I’ve worked on.

With this one, it was a whole universe of Marvel. When you walk into the Marvel offices, everyone actually knows about the universe which is a huge plus because someone is explaining it to you.  They have a great pre-visualisation team led by Andy Park. All the executives are very knowledgeable and creative when it comes to the characters in question. Add in a director like Taika Waititi who is super and such an artistic person, nothing can go wrong. You have all the elements to make it work and it was such a privilege to work for Marvel and work on a film.

We have two new characters, Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, and Cate Blanchett as Hela. Talk about how you brought Grandmaster’s look to life.

It was so fantastic because in the first image I was given with Grandmaster, he was wearing this long bright yellow tunic with huge shoulders and super blue hair. Little by little I started proposing a few things and once I knew it was Jeff Goldblum, we made that tunic more loungewear. He’s so relaxed even though he’s a tyrant and a dictator. It was easy to make that look work.

What about with Hela and her helmet with the moving antlers?

Hela’s headpiece was one of the most important pieces of the costume that we made. We made it so that it fit the character. We tested the headpiece a few times, the animation was all done in post-production because it moves depending on her body and how that moved. So, that was left to the visual effects team.

Did you make any subtle changes with the costumes on the characters we’re already familiar with?

With Loki, we did change him a bit. We added a bright yellow to his cape. Then he reverts back to his regular costume with the helmet, and that momentary change was reflected in what he was doing on screen with Grandmaster.

How many costumes did you make for the whole movie?

We made between 1700 costumes between the cast and the crowd of extras. That’s why it was important for me to do the costumes in one place.

What was the hardest costume to make for you in terms of sourcing material?

Probably Valkyrie’s second costume, the one that’s made of light grey and Hela’s costume. Both used modern technology and we had to make sure they fit flawlessly on these bodies.

What was the most fun to make?

The Grandmaster was the most fun to create without a doubt.