Alumni Profile
By Keith Testa
Edward Hanley ’83
Courtesy Ed Hanley
Dressing the Part(s)

dward Hanley ’83 has costumed Larry Bird, strapped shoulder pads to Mark Wahlberg, had his honeymoon paid for by actor Robert Conrad and walked sets alongside the likes of Chadwick Boseman, Matt Damon, Will Smith and Brad Pitt.

Not bad for a guy who initially moved to Los Angeles to work at a restaurant his friend was managing.

That restaurant gig proved to be short-lived – six months after arriving in L.A., Hanley earned himself a job on the crew of “First and 10,” one of HBO’s first original series in the early 1980s. The show, based on a fictional professional football team, aligned with Hanley’s passion for sports – a lifelong sports fan, he’d completed an internship in the WBZ sports department and called hockey and football games on the radio – and he quickly earned the role of football coordinator, hiring the players and managing all details of the football uniforms.

He soon discovered that there was a niche in Hollywood costume departments for someone with his sports acumen and eye for detail. He parlayed the “First and 10” gig into other similar roles, went on to join the union and ultimately launched a career that has earned him credits on some of the most popular movies of the last 30 years.

“You always think it’s only going to last one movie. So I never could have guessed that my career would look like this,” Hanley, whose work has taken him to Hong Kong, Morocco, Paris, Berlin, Mexico and virtually every major city in the U.S., says. “It’s been quite a journey.”

And it all started because his passion for sports made him particularly well-suited for costume departments that often didn’t include anyone with such a background. Hanley got his first union job on “Rudy,” and the rest quickly became history.

The list of hit sports movies he’s been part of is lengthy. Following “Rudy,” he worked on “Space Jam” – where he dressed Bird – “Jerry Maguire,” “Any Given Sunday,”“Invincible,” “The Longest Yard,” “Moneyball,” the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” and “Draft Day.”

“For me, sports and films were two things that I loved, and to be able to be on movie sets for both has been incredible,” Hanley says.

Hanley is hardly being typecast these days, though. His work in the sports realm earned him enough acclaim that he has grown to become one of the more respected costume supervisors in Hollywood, working on blockbusters across all genres, from comedies (“Austin Powers in Goldmember,” “Anger Management”) to action flicks (“The Dark Knight Rises,” two “Hunger Games” films, “Bad Boys for Life,” “The Fate of the Furious”) to a flurry of Marvel movies, including “Spider Man” 2 and 3, “Ant-Man” and “Thor.”

Edward Hanley ’83 on the set of 42 with Chadwick Boseman
Courtesy Ed Hanley
Hanley, second from left, with Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson on the set of “42.”

His resume also includes several best picture nominees, including “Traffic,” “Ford vs. Ferrari” and the aforementioned “Moneyball.” He just wrapped up nearly 10 months on set in Australia as the costumer supervisor in Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

“After a while I started getting jobs that had nothing to do with sports,” Hanley says. “And here I am 35 years later.”

Hanley worked his way up the ladder from costumer to key costumer to costume supervisor, his role on the current “Thor” movie that includes coordinating all aspects of costuming, including hiring the crew, managing the budget, mapping out a schedule and acting as a liaison to the director.

The key to success in Hanley’s business is attention to detail – all of them. In “Moneyball,” which flashed between actual Major League Baseball footage and actors portraying real players, Hanley had to make sure his uniforms matched the footage perfectly, down to color and placement of wrist bands and brand names on batting gloves. He also has to make sure action movie costumes don’t just look good but also function in scenes, like when an actor is in a harness performing a stunt.

He often has to operate on a colossal scale, too – the movie “42,” for instance, required 350 custom-made period baseball uniforms.

The job has opened the door to some truly memorable opportunities. He shared a golf course with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and an improvising Bill Murray for “Space Jam”; he played hockey with the crew in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies while filming “Mystery, Alaska,” using equipment he’d hunted down for the film; and he was part of a skeleton crew assembled by director Steven Soderbergh that surreptitiously walked the streets of Mexico in pursuit of authentic scenes during the making of “Traffic.”

But the job can be taxing, too, both in terms of long hours each day and the duration of a stay away from family on location, which is part of the reason Hanley can envision winding down soon (he’s been married to his wife, Michelle, for 32 years, and the pair has two children). But he’s not quite ready for his final scene just yet.

“It’s been a crazy run, but it’s not over,” Hanley says. “I keep talking about retirement, but I still have a few years left.”