"Sorry to Bother You" Nesting Dolls

Over the last few years, I've created a number of different themed nesting dolls for people, but never made one for myself. After seeing the Boots Riley directed movie "Sorry to Bother You", I decided immediately that I really wanted to make a nesting doll set with characters from that movie.


Chris and I never go to the movies, but made a point to see this one opening weekend and loved it.  The movie is amazing and crazy with an incredible cast of characters.  I was especially struck by the costume design for this movie which was done by Deirdra Govan and one of my main motivations for wanting to make this set. We actually went to the movie twice, partially because we really wanted to see it again and partially so I could take notes on the costumes.


The largest figure in this set is the character of Cassius Green played by Lakeith Stanfield.   What stood out to me most about him was his defeated expression and hunched body language throughout the movie, which is something I tried very hard to capture in this figure. He had some great costumes and I especially loved his sweaters in the earlier part of the movie, but decided to go with the bloody bandage and grey suit outfit.  Originally I was going to paint him with his jacket closed, because the reference photo I was using stopped at his chest.  But after watching the movie a second time, I realized in that particular scene his shirt is untucked and belt undone so I painted it that way. I'm certainly glad I did because it really fits the character and in particular that scene so well. I like to add little props and details to my sets, where I can, so added the cola can at his feet.

Probably my favorite character in the movie is Detroit, played by the fabulous Tessa Thompson. Her costumes were really fun throughout the entire movie and I would have been happy to do any one of them.  I sort of mixed up her costume a bit because I really loved the "Murder, Murder, Murder / Kill, Kill, Kill" earrings but also her outfit with Boot Riley's "Strummer" shirt.  So, even though she never wore those two together, I took the liberty of mashing them up on this piece.  For her prop, I included one of the signs she twirls in the movie.

I was really excited to do Mr. _______ 's (played by Omari Hardwick) outfit because I love painting patterns and boy were his outfits full of them! The pattern on his shirt and jacket took a very small brush and a large amount of time to complete.  The biggest issue I had with this figure was the bowler hat. Although I am painting on a 3-dimensional object, it is still a flat painting. So, while the crown of the hat followed the shape of the doll itself quite nicely, the brim is still flat, so the result doesn't quite look as much like a bowler hat from far away.  The character had apples through most of the movie, so I included one as his prop.  In addition to his patterned outfits, Mr. _______'s awesome mustache and eye patch made him a joy to paint.

For some reason the Armie Hammer character of Steve Lift was the hardest for me to do.  For this project I had a limited number of reference photos to work with, as there are not a ton of movie stills available.  So, for many of the characters, I had to also look at photos of them unrelated to the movie.  Armie Hammer seemed to look a bit different in every photo I saw of him and it was tough for me to get a good likeness. I painted the face out on this piece multiple times until I got something I was happy with.  For this figure, I also included the "Mr. Bobo" plate from the movie as an additional prop.

The union organizer character of Squeeze was played by Steven Yeun and there was no doubt that I was going to paint him in the "Shut 'em down" t-shirt.  

The next character was Langston the Regal View telemarketer, played by none other than Danny Glover.  I loved his western-style outfits, especially his bolo ties but was afraid that with such a small figure, I wouldn't be able to show much of the bolo tie at all. I also really like the "I got the S#*@ Kicked Out of Me" shirt he has in one scene, so decided to do that one instead.  The figure itself is only about two inches tall, so the text is a bit difficult to read, but hopefully it's clear enough to know what it is.  The "Sorry to Bother You" merch store was actually a huge help for both this t-shirt and a few of the other props, as they provided good reference photos for the text.

The smallest figure is Salvador played by Jermaine Fowler. This figure is tiny so I wasn't able to add too much detail.  This character's hair sticks up quite a bit, but like the bowler hat, it was hard to get this across as a flat painting.  As a result, his hair is a lot flatter looking than it actually is.

I had fun making this set and wish I could have done more of the characters, but I am always  limited by the number of pieces available.