How Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon became Alex Levy and Bradley Jackson on The Morning Show
Unless you live under a rock — well maybe even then — you know who Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are. Perhaps they were even what drew you in to watch Apple TV+’s The Morning Show in which they play co-hosts Alex Levy and Bradley Jackson, respectively.
For costume designers and stylists to Aniston, Clare and Nina Hallworth, and The Morning Show costume designer, Sophie de Rakoff, the goal was to make sure you watched Aniston and Witherspoon become Alex and Bradley (which clearly worked since both ladies have been nominated for Golden Globes for their performances). Claire and Nina Hallworth have dressed Aniston 15 years. And de Rakoff’s longtime collaboration with Witherspoon you may recognize from the Legally Blonde films and This Means War. With over a decade of professional and personal ties to these actresses, Hallworth and de Rakoff shared with EW what it was like to transform them into broadcast journalists.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s just get right into it. How were you able to turn Jennifer into Alex Levy and Reese into Bradley Jackson? I am shocked at how seamlessly they melted away when I saw their characters on screen.
CLARE HALLWORTH: That’s exactly what Jen was going for and what we were going for. Every decision that we made leaned into the idea that Jen would sort of disappear.
We worked with colors that we wouldn’t normally do with Jen: peanut and camel. We wanted most of her wardrobe to be monochromatic so that you didn’t have any lines breaking up her body, so that as a newscaster, there were no distractions. Instead of putting her in suits, we did trousers and sport coats. We wanted her to be sophisticated, but we also wanted her to be accessible and culturally appropriate.
We also chose a watch that was chronograph that basically is created so that if you need to listen to your watch during a meeting and you don’t want to appear rude, you could basically guess within 30 minutes of what time it was. She was somebody that was constantly aware of time.
When we spoke to Diane Sawyer, she explained to us that she had to be prepared at a moment’s notice to get on a plane. She used the example of being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and that her producers knew how to get ahold of her at all times, and that she would find herself on a plane within an hour, maybe a shorter period of time to go and try to get the interview with a world leader, whether it was a president, a prime minister, or a dictator.
SOPHIE DE RAKOFF: I looked at regional [journalists] and people that came from Virginia. One of my oldest friends was actually a regional journalist. I remember when she was like, ‘Oh, I have to wear makeup, and my hair can’t be longer than a certain length.’ So, I already knew a bunch of that stuff about what the regional female regional journalists’ constrictions were.
Also, there was a guy who was a consultant and we would be like, ‘okay, what would they wear during the fires? We talked to the fire department. We would talk to the special effects. We would talk to the consultant about those specific things.
I love the contrast between Alex and Bradley’s styles. How did the costume team strike the balance between characters working as co-hosts?
HALLWORTH: Alex Levy lives in New York. She lives in an expensive apartment. She’s one of the top network journalists. She’s esteemed and probably the most intelligent person in the room. We wanted her clothes to look strong and precise. So, the tailoring alterations, the length of her shoe the length of her pants, the fit of her trouser. She was impeccably dressed. She was believable as someone at the top of her field.
Phoebe Philo, who had been with Celine for many, many years made the most extraordinary clothes. Everything is so luxurious. Last year when we were prepping this, we knew that Phoebe was retiring. So, we bought duplicates of trousers. We bought heavily the things that were the classic pieces. We bought cashmere coats that are two-ply, no buttons. We bought them in a range of colors for last season and for this season. And we worked with Dior. We loved their jackets.
We worked exclusively was Valextra for [Alex’s] carry-on luggage and work bags. What Hermes is to France, that’s what Valextra is to Italy. It’s so beautifully made. We worked with Chopard for watches, and we worked with Fred Leighton for her jewelry, who we’ve worked with for 20 years. So, when she’s wearing diamonds in the show, she’s really wearing diamonds. This is a company that we’ve had a relationship with for 20 years. Even though we were given a certain budget, we really tried to balloon that budget based on our relationships.
DE RAKOFF: Bradley wears the same little purse the whole way through the show, even when she starts to become more sophisticated and New York. Reese was like, ‘Do you think we should get another bag?’ And I was like, ‘I actually don’t. I think we should stay with this bag all the way through,’ because I feel like it’s a piece of [Bradley] that she carries with her. It became very endearing.
[Bradley’s] living out of a hotel room with a suitcase and then one shopping spree. So, it was also about repeating things over and over and making it believable that she had a finite amount of resources, financial or physical.
EW: Clare, tell me about more about Jen’s red dress moment at the award gala in episode 2. Our office is obsessed with it.
HALLWORTH: There was a level of discomfort with what was happening with Mitch. Her working relationship with him, the fact that they were friends, and that this was all coming to an end and her personal life was becoming public based on her divorce. We wanted to show in this situation that she was a powerful woman and that she was in control, whatever the narrative was in the public domain. That’s the reason she was wearing red and the reason that she was wearing a jumpsuit that had pockets. Most people gravitate towards a beaded gown, and we wanted Alex to be the focus of attention. The minute she walked into that room with all the other journalists that are in the business, she was saying, ‘I’m powerful and the most powerful person here, and this is the beginning of me running the show.’
EW: I really loved it too, because Alex continued to wear that look when she went into the UBA boardroom and she said, “This is my show.” That was such a powerful moment.
HALLWORTH: Yeah. And there were layers. She put the [red] coat on and we made a decision not to fasten the coat so that you’d be able to see all of this movement. Jen’s 5 foot 5, so even though she had heels on, that’s a lot of clothing, that jumpsuit and that coat undone. But once she got dressed, Jen dictated the movement.
She goes almost sliding past that door and she realizes that Bradley’s in the newsroom, and there’s that moment where you’re just not quite sure. For us, was the outfit too overwhelming? And in the end, Nina and I felt like she looked like a samurai. She had the power. Nina and I sat back and watched how Jen brought that outfit to life in the context of that scene.
EW: What has been your favorite on-screen look and what is the memorable story behind it?
DE RAKOFF: That burgundy, rustic suit with the navy blouse in the final scene of episode ten. That’s when we now know who [Bradley] is. This is Bradley Jackson, the news anchor, the truth-teller. We custom made that suit for her in a palette and look that’s all of her own.
Then the inverse of that when she meets Cory for the first time in episode two and she’s got her leather jacket on that she always wears with jeans tucked into boots. It was the Bradley that we met straight out of the gate: Virginia Bradley.
And remember when Corey takes Bradley shopping? She says, ‘Oh, I like pants,’ but yet we see her in dresses and we see her in some color, and then it becomes more muted as the show goes on, as she starts to figure out who she is. Bradley as a character is very independent. She is not part of the status quo.
HALLWORTH: I love the first time you saw Alex Levy behind the desk as a newscaster in episode one [without Mitch]. When you see Alex working with Mitch in the flashbacks, that’s when Alex was wearing skirts and dresses, and that’s when she wore the gray jacket and skirt. She wouldn’t necessarily gravitate towards trousers as much when she was when working with Mitch. And Mitch wore a lot of Navy and blue tones.
The reason that Alex Levy is wearing blue when she’s announcing that he’s being fired is to say, ‘I’m appropriating your wardrobe choice. I’m appropriating your color. I’m taking something from this situation.’