“Poker Face” Costumes Part 8: Creating the Horse for Natasha Lyonne

How Peacock’s costume designer kept Charlie Cale cool during episode 8.

Among other things, this week’s episode of “Poker Face” gave Dungeons & Dragons nerds a great look at what the Nat 1 stealth check looks like in action. (Non-D&D nerds, don’t worry: you’ll still love the episode.) At a special effects company, as one of his cash-strapped odd jobs, Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) dons a partially designed horse costume. Arthur (Nick Nolte) to prove that he was murdered to cover up a decades-old filming accident.

The episode is chock-full of creature heads and alien tentacles from the work of special effects artist Arthur, as well as sequences mimicking 1970s indie film sets and color schemes, bits of stop-motion animation, crime-solving with a Steenbeck machine, and a bravura, spooky horror sequence that’s not sure, that Cherry Jones is going to be Scream Queen, but it’s pretty close.

Lyonne co-wrote and directed the episode with Alice Ju, handling the visual challenges and tonal shifts within “Orpheus Syndrome.” The comedic highlight of the episode is probably Lyonne’s coverage of herself at the 40th anniversary gala, with the horse’s head looking scared and interested as Lyonne spins wildly. But it fell to costume designer Trayce Gigi Field to create the wearable punchline.

Horsehead concept sketch with Charlie Cale for episode 8 "Spider face"

Designing the horse outfit in ‘Poker Face’

Courtesy of Trayce Gigi Field

“(The horse) is probably one of my favorite costumes because it was the episode that Natasha wrote and directed,” Field told IndieWire. “He says, ‘Hey Trayce, you need to build a horse.’ And I’m like, “What? A horse?!’ He was very comfortable in this suit and embraced all the physicality that was inherent in him.”

The physicality comes from the lightweight foam Field sculpted into the shape of a giant horse’s head, with faux fur for the mane and painted palm stripes for the tail, which explains the pleasing bounce of both as Charlie tries to sneak through Laura’s SFX studio. center. The head also had a secret flourish worthy of Arthur’s creature-making expertise: “We installed a working fan in the horse’s head to keep Natasha cool,” Field said. “It’s all movie magic!”

It was a nice change for Field, after limiting Charlie’s wardrobe to what could be certified in his car or thrifted from a Goodwill on his travels down the Interstate. But even the horse head subtly fits the Charlie Cale aesthetic, matching perfectly with the black jeans, black Western shirt, and black cowboy boots that Field and Lyonne gave him for the episode.

“Even if you have to put those uniforms on, there’s still something Charlie about them,” Field said. “He’s just a no-nonsense person who is, and I feel like Charlie is coming through. As a costume designer, you want to make sure you’re helping the sale in any way you can.” The look he chose for Field Charlie is a bit western, classically vintage, but still tailor-made for Lyonne. The suit never swallows you up—even when “Poker Face” turns Charlie Cale into a true dark horse.

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