‘The Revenant’, ‘Interview With a Vampire’, ‘The Patriot’, and More Get Many of Their Props From the Same Place
What do Little Women and Pirates of the Caribbean have in common? Yes, both are historical movies with a distinctive flair due to their costume and prop design. But more surprising is that they hired the same company to make their props called Townsends. The company’s reach doesn’t end there, as they’ve been a fixture in many historical blockbusters over the decades. Yet, Townsends isn’t a Hollywood company. Here is what you need to know about this little-known company.
What is Townsends?
Townsends is headquartered in the tiny town of Pierceton, IN. In charge of this company is Jon Townsend. If anything, Townsend is a historian first and foremost. He lives and breathes on recreating early American life, with a preference for early colonial cuisine.
To study and replicate these historical entrees, Townsend took the time to build replica kitchens and cooking equipment. Like most diehard history buffs, Townsend participates in many historical reenactments. As such, he had to create many period costumes and accessories to get the full historical immersion experience, as documented by The New Yorker. Over the years, Townsend became quite talented with his ability to make replicas from history. Hollywood took notice and decided to hire him.
Big movies that hired Townsend
Townsend has worked on so many movies that listing every one would make for an exceptionally long article. While he is never the chief costume designer nor production designer, his contributions are remarkable. Here is a quick highlight reel of Townsend’s biggest movies:
The Revenant that got Leonardo DiCaprio his long-overdue Oscar. While Leo’s performance is mesmerizing, don’t let that distract you from Townsend’s brilliant props.
The Patriot was the perfect movie for Townsend, given his expertise in early colonial American history. The film received a nomination from the Art Directors Guild for excellence in production design.
Last of the Mohicans was another one Townsend worked on. If you’re too young to know about this movie, watch it right now. This 1992 masterpiece follows Hawkeye and his immediate family, presumably the last members of the Mohican tribe. Many consider this to be the breakout movie for Oscar darling Daniel Day-Lewis. The movie was nominated for a BAFTA award in costume design and production design.
Interview with The Vampire fantasy drama follows a group of vampires. As Vampires don’t die of natural causes, the audience gets to follow the bloodsucking group throughout the centuries. The movie was an Oscar nominee for best art direction.
Little Women was another claimed to be worked on by Townsends, but it’s unclear if he worked on the 1994 version or the 2019 version of this film. Either way, both are remarkable.
Pirates of the Caribbean was another well-known production with Townsend props and design. Where would Johnny Depp and this Disney franchise be without its remarkable costumes and props? This historical fantasy film would have been quite dull without his contributions.
National Treasure Franchise has Townsend’s fingerprint all over the quirky franchise that stars Nicholas Cage.
The Outlander, a Starz original series, follows a 1945 combat nurse who is swept back to 1743. Naturally, the show’s producers hired Townsend for his colonial expertise.
Giving the people what they want
While Townsend probably could have stayed satisfied with his income from Hollywood, he instead shared his love of history with YouTube. His eight-year-old channel has an impressive 1.67 million subscribers. This is a testament to his expertise and welcoming demeanor. Some of his most popular videos involve historical recipes.