'Killing Eve,' 'Will & Grace' Production Designers on Making Sets "Both Real and Extraordinary"

8:00 AM 6/19/2018

by Carolyn Giardina

The apartments in the two contemporary shows are filled with specific details that bring the spaces to life, from an elevated set to an antique secretary desk.

Emily Berl

  • 'Killing Eve'

    BBC America

    Courtesy of BBC America

    Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, lives in an apartment (below) in Paris between the trips around the globe she takes when she's been assigned to murder someone. "She's a complicated and glamorous person who also happens to be a psychopathic killer," explains production designer Kristian Milsted. "We wanted to create a space for her that was both real and extraordinary — a crumbling and neglected but grandiose space. We wanted to allude to a dark and rootless disposition in her personality." Milsted adds that the set in London was inspired by a typical Parisian apartment. "We used a lot of original fixtures, wallpaper and real materials."

    Plus, they elevated the set four feet off the ground in order to be able to "see a grand view of Paris and to make it possible to have stairs leading to a hallway," he says. In contrast, the sets for Eve's (Sandra Oh) house and workplace were much more ordinary and real. Says Milsted, "We did this to create a tension between our two protagonists."

  • 'Will & Grace'

    NBC

    Emily Berl

    Production designer Glenda Rovello, who also worked on the original series more than a decade ago, began the reboot by meeting with series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan. "They wanted the same but just elevated," she says, adding that they started with the original set. "Everything is still in the same place. We remodeled it, just as the character Will Truman would have done it in these 11 years that we hadn’t seen them."

    Rovello describes Will’s taste as "tailored and urban and classic. In a way, it’s transitional that we have antiques and contemporary pieces, always skewing toward tailored and sophistication."

    So they have a remodeled kitchen, new Maya Romanoff wall covering and Kelly Wearstler tile. A few pieces were from the original set, including an antique secretary desk. Many others were new, like an "extraordinary" Rose Tarlow coffee table (round, like the original) and Pippa mother bench from Hermes.

    "Our pieces are classic that skew to a very current aesthetic," she says. "And we referenced the original set to the inch. We were very sentimental and faithful to that set."

  • 'Atlanta'

    FX

    Guy D'Alema/FX

    The "Teddy Perkins" episode of Atlanta was set in a mansion that "needed to be its own character with a certain weight and vibe," says production designer Timothy O'Brien, who used an Italian Renaissance-style home known as Villa Lamar, built in Atlanta in 1911 by architect George O. Totten Jr. He adds: "Though it seemed like Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) had driven hours and felt very far removed from the rest of the world, the home is just a mile from the governor's mansion. The challenge of shooting in such a historic home was taking great care in making the modifications needed to transform this beautifully built home into our haunted house of horrors."

  • 'The Deuce'

    HBO

    Paul Schiraldi Photography

    To re-create New York's 42nd Street, circa 1972, "the first step was to find a location with the scale and character of Times Square: wide streets, commercial storefronts and enough of the leftover grit of old New York that we could transform it into 1972," says art director Scott Dougan. They studied photographs, maps and films and "went storefront by storefront to create a different identity for each business, from the old Selwyn Theater to the sex shops and restaurants that dotted the block between Seventh and Eighth avenues." They even added period trash along the sidewalk, and cars rolled down the block, says Dougan, to "add one last energetic touch to the scene."

    This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.