When the upcoming “High Fidelity” TV show was nearing the start of production, there was no one in place to head up the costume department. Luckily, series star Zoe Kravitz knew exactly who to call.
“Colleen Atwood is a legend. I had worked with her on ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and we were having a really hard time finding someone to do the costumes and that’s a really important element to the story. I called Colleen asking her if she knew someone who could do it…and she said ‘I love ‘High Fidelity!’ I love you. I’ll do it.’ And we were all shocked,” Kravitz said.
Atwood has had a prolific and acclaimed career working on period pieces and contemporary stories, collaborating with Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Jonathan Demme, and Michael Mann, among others. The demands of “High Fidelity,” which stars Kravitz as Rob, a record store owner dealing with heartbreaks past and present while trying to preserve the integrity of her own corner of the music industry, meant that Rob’s aesthetic was central to the show working.
“It was a dream come true. Me and Colleen would go to all these vintage stores together. I brought a lot of my own stuff. A lot of the band T-shirts were mine, too. Colleen designed this great leather jacket that was kind of an homage to the jacket that [John] Cusack wears in the film,” Kravitz said.
Kravitz was also an active participant in the process of picking songs to help form the series’ soundtrack. “High Fidelity” boasts a full music supervision team in addition to special contributions from Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. With that group of people helping to track down the rights to songs from some of the most famous musicians of the past 50 years, Kravitz said that they were still successful in their pursuit of individual songs.
“Every song that we really wanted, we got. And every song that we didn’t get that was replaced, the song it got replaced with ended up being the perfect song. So we got really lucky and had amazing support. Everyone knew how important it was. Music was a character on the show,” Kravitz said.
The clothing and songs are just two elements of how “High Fidelity” is both paying tribute to Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name and finding a way to reinvent the story for a more current audience. Series co-creators Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka wanted to use the 10-episode season to tackle issues of gentrification, especially with it set in the shifting Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Switching Rob from a man to a woman was also at the center of it.
“I didn’t want to redo ‘High Fidelity’ without making this change. We have so much respect for the book,” West said. “We watch a lot of romantic comedies with female leads, and the problem always seems to be, ‘You can’t find the right man’ or ‘You’re desperate to get married’ or ‘You’re self-destructive in some way.’ When a man gets to lead, the problems are internal. It’s interesting for us to put that in a woman’s point of view and let her issues with romance be about her figuring out how to be herself and not find Mr. Right. There are lots of Mr. Rights in the show, which is part of what makes it so much fun.”
That desire to find more nuanced characters and portrayals extends to the character of Cherise, played in this Hulu series by Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Taking the spirit of the outspoken record store employee played by Jack Black in the 2000 film version, Randolph said that it was thrilling to bring her own energy to it.
“This is the first time that I’ve played my age and I can be a real young-30s African-American woman in an urban society. So it was just so much fun with the wardrobe, all these different nuances, throwbacks and homages,” Randolph said. “It was so dope to be able to not only flip it with females, but two women of color. Two black women who get to tell this story and that you get to see and it’s something to talk about. There’s many different variants within the black culture. It doesn’t have to be just ‘this thing’ or ‘that thing.’ What’s so beautiful is that we got to represent another side of that girl which you haven’t seen. It’s exciting to dig into something that’s real.”
“High Fidelity” premieres February 14 on Hulu.