Extracted from Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson
When Jason Isaacs arrived at Leavesden Studios for costume and makeup consultations for his part of Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he was surprised that initial sketches for the character showed a man in a pin-stripe suit with short, dark hair.
‘I panicked slightly,’ Isaacs recalls, ‘because it looked just like me!’
Isaacs didn’t see a physical connection to Tom Felton’s character and spoke with director Chris Columbus, who had already approved the sketches. ‘I thought, as Lucius despises Muggles, he wouldn’t want to dress like one. I thought he’d wear outfits made of velvet and fur, and ornament himself in things that had been in his family for hundreds of years.’
Isaacs asked the costume department to help him show Columbus his ideas, including a provisional white-blonde wig, and the director was slowly persuaded to make the change.
‘“Is there anything else?” he asked me, and I said yes, I wanted a walking cane. And he said, “Why, is there something wrong with your leg?”’
Isaacs explained that he thought it would be an interesting affectation, and that his wand could come out of the cane, unlike other wizards, who kept their wands in pockets. ‘Fortunately, Daniel Radcliffe was there and said that sounded cool. And more fortunately, Chris Columbus is a very open-minded, collaborative sort of man and let the original concept go.’
Associate costume designer Michael O’Connor agreed that Lucius should suggest an establishment-type figure, ‘like bankers, people with a lot of money, and people with a very, very long bloodline or pedigree. He’s from the old school of wizards and doesn’t like those that aren’t pure-bloods. So we started with that.’ The elder Malfoy’s tailoring is sleek and slightly Edwardian, with high-necked long frock coats under an ermine-collared cape that is held together by one of several pieces of serpentine-style silver jewelry. For Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Jany Temime designed a quilted leather armor that Lucius — and other Death Eaters — wear under their hooded robes; Isaacs asserts this makes him feel like ‘a wizard ninja’.
And even though he still sports the cane, Lucius was given a wand holster that incorporates snake heads in its design for battle scenes. For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, after Lucius returns from a stint in Azkaban, his costumes were distressed and his hair is dishevelled as he had been beaten down from his experience.
Isaacs says he found Lucius easy to play and gives much credit to the costume and makeup departments.
‘I have these long, flowing robes, but with no pockets to stick my hands into, so I can’t slouch. The cane also encourages me to stand in a particular way. And in order to keep my lovely, long blonde hair straight, I have to tilt my head back. It means I’m always looking down my nose at someone.’ Another credit he offers is to his inspiration for the development of Lucius’s voice. ‘It drips with entitlement and superiority, like a snotty art critic. It’s unctuousness with a very pinched, strangled sound.’ And the inspiration? ‘Well, when you’re in the same film as Alan Rickman, who has set the bar very high for playing “sinister”, you have to do something extreme!’
Actress Helen McCrory concedes that her character’s name gave her insight into her look. ‘I mean, you just can’t arrive looking like a mess when you’re called Narcissa!’ McCrory and Jany Temime looked at very European ‘aristocratic’ cuts and lines and landed on a style that reflects the tailored couture of the 1950s. ‘Even though she’s in a low period of her life,’ explains Temime, ‘she is still extremely elegant and chic.’
Narcissa’s clothes reflect her own pure-blood status, her Slytherin heritage, and her devotion to her family. ‘The outfits are very tailored,’ says McCrory, ‘and have a lot of detail so that you feel these are clothes that her family has had for a while.’ The hooded and flared coat she wears at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an olive green, shot through with undulating silver lines almost scale-like in design. Temime wanted the clothes to have a very structured look, with ‘built-up shapes’, and even inserted a wood frame into the shoulders of the coat.
Later, on a visit with Draco to Borgin and Burkes, Narcissa wears a grey suit with an A-line skirt and a peplum-waisted short coat that sports cape-like sleeves and back. ‘Her clothes should have some mystery, and some strangeness,’ she says. ‘But are based in reality. At least, her reality.’
For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, Narcissa is hosting Voldemort and his followers in her house. ‘She is very much the lady of the manor,’ says Temime. For ‘receiving,’ as Temime calls it, she fabricated a black velour robe with a beige sheath dress underneath it. The robe has cuffs, pockets, and its front embellished with iridescent beads set in a winding, sinewy design. During the daytime meetings of the Death Eaters, Narcissa wears another short suit with a panelled front and cinched waist in a decidedly scaly fabric. Her long black robe is cloned for outdoor use in a thicker fabric with mink around its neck, silver bindings, and leather enhancements that, as always, curl around her cuffs and neckline.
Narcissa’s hair is what Helen McCrory describes as ‘quite otherly. Helena [Bonham Carter] had filmed Bellatrix with dark hair, and they are sisters, so...’ McCrory is a natural brunette, but the idea was suggested by hair designer Lisa Tomblin that as Narcissa had been with the Malfoys for so long, her hair would reflect both wizarding families.
‘We tried different types of blonde hair, and different configurations, and finally, we came up with this,’ Tomblin says, referring to Narcissa’s mashup of blonde and brunette tresses. But McCrory feels that the hairstyle is a match to Narcissa’s elegant style, and would be ‘recognisably chic in this world of witches and wizards’.