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Thérèse DePrez, the well-regarded production designer on such films as Black Swan, Summer of Sam and High Fidelity, has died. She was 52.
DePrez died Tuesday at her home in New York City, Black Swan graphic designer Derrick Kardos, a friend and frequent collaborator, told The Hollywood Reporter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2015, and he set up a GoFundMe page to assist her with expenses.
“I told her to keep her expectations low. I said we’ll get $5,000 or $10,000 if we’re lucky,” Kardos said. “Well, we raised almost $80,000 from hundreds of people. That’s how many people she touched in this life. Incredible.”
DePrez most recently worked on Premium Rush (2012), starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Park Chan-wook’s Stoker (2013), starring Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman; Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace (2013), starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck; and the Brooklyn-set crime drama The Drop (2014), starring Tom Hardy.
DePrez first made a splash on Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion (1995), and she went on to partner with other respected helmers like Todd Solondz on Happiness (1998), Spike Lee on Summer of Sam (1999), Stephen Frears on High Fidelity (2000), Donald Petrie on How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) and Walter Salles on Dark Water (2005).
She crafted the vivid looks of Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol (1996); American Splendor (2003), about comic book legend Harvey Pekar; John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001); and Zach Helm’s Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007).
A native of Rochester, New York, DePrez shared an Art Directors Guild excellence in production design award with four others for their work on the Darren Aronofsky ballet thriller Black Swan (2010), an Oscar nominee for best picture and winner for best actress (Natalie Portman).
She was a “production designer that I always wanted to work with,” Aronofsky said in a Fox Searchlight featurette for the stylish drama. “She turned me down film after film after film. She said it was because of schedules, but I didn’t believe her. Finally, I got a chance to work with her, and it was a great collaboration.”
“As Darren and I started to talk about Swan Lake [the production at the center of Black Swan] and the stage set and how abstract that we wanted it to be and how modern we wanted it to be, it started moving to a very specified, minimal look,” DePrez said.
She went out of her way “to make sure there was a little bit of the Swan Lake set in almost every location,” she added, and filled the movie with mirrors. Her palette for the film consisted of blacks, silvers, grays, greens and pinks.
DePrez’s résumé also included No Looking Back (1998), Arlington Road (1999), Antoine Fuqua’s Brooklyn’s Finest (2009), Dito Montiel’s Fighting (2009) and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Jack Goes Boating (2010).
DePrez attended the Rochester School Without Walls and Parsons School of Design in New York City before nabbing her first movie credit with The Refrigerator (1991). She also did the set design for a David Bowie concert tour.
“Thérèse was an artist, a true artist in a world and a business that can be so cold,” Kardos said. “She was a goddess who never lost her light.”
Survivors include her parents and a brother.
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