Emma Stokes, an up-and-coming costume designer for the Borders display troupe Les Amis d’Onno, has been commissioned to dress the stars on her second Hollywood blockbuster – despite being only 23 and before her graduation next week.
Emma, who with her cousins Jacob and Bethany Martin and their mother Sue form the Jedburgh-based “equine-canine stunt team”, started work last week on the set of Thor 2: an American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Thor – the God of thunder in Norse mythology.
Multi-skilled Emma, who was raised in Suffolk, has designed costumes for the troupe both in France and the Borders for more than eight years, but she has also turned her hand to trick-riding, tight-rope walking, dancing the can-can, and whatever other feats the family business required.
As if that was not enough on anyone’s CV, she will be graduating from the University of Huddersfield next week, with a first-class degree in costume and textiles – one of two distinctions awarded in her year.
Modestly, she describes her first big break, as a trainee maker under costume cutter Gary Page on the 2010 Hollywood film Clash of the Titans, as “a bit flukey”.
Emma was a student working long hours, but her portfolio of costumes for Les Amis d’Onno clearly impressed Mr Page, whose job as a cutter is to make the clothes designed for the cast of movie actors.
Over the next six weeks of filming, Emma found herself creating a toga for Bill Nighy’s character, and a pair of ancient pants for Ralph Fiennes.
She said: “The actors were doing a lot of fast-moving actions with giant fans blasting around, and they couldn’t be seen wearing modern underwear if their clothes blew off -– plus it would be indecent if they were wearing nothing.
“When Gary was asked to do Thor 2, he knew I wanted work, and said: ‘when can you start?’.”
Emma began work on the London film set a week ago, so far making ethnic costumes for the extras, but she hopes to be clothing the central characters when filming starts in August.
The prequel to Thor 2, which was directed by Kenneth Branagh and shown in cinemas in 2011, tells the story of the powerful but arrogant warrior Thor, who is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.
Thor 2 is scheduled to be released next year on 8 November 2013, and again stars Hollywood heart-throb Chris Hemsworth in the title role, Anthony Hopkins as his father Odin, and Natalie Portman as Thor’s love interest on Earth, nurse Jane Foster. Idris Elba, who played Stringer Bell in HBO’s award-winning series The Wire, reprises his role as the warrior Heimdall.
The star cast is matched by an A-list crew, notably the director Alan Taylor, best known for directing episodes of the HBO mobster drama The Sopranos, the writer Stan Lee who co-wrote Iron Man and Spider-Man – and now the costume designer Emma Stokes has also joined the top-drawer team.
Asked which Hollywood star she is most looking forward to meeting, she replied: “I’m not very star-struck. I live a bit under a rock. It’s just like any other job,” she said, “but my heart has been pounding at times.”
“I’ll definitely be back in the Borders,” she said: “I love working for Les Amis d’Onno: I get to design my own costumes, and I’m my own boss!”