LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE
December 31st, 2022 by Kathy Orlando SDSA
Set Decorator Kathy Orlando SDSA, Production Designer Mark Worthington, and their teams created delightful sets that brought to life the beloved book series LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE, providing engaging, layered visual backstories to the background and characters. The Emmy® winning duo moved from the Marvel world of WANDAVISION* to the Big Apple for this live-action fantasy, shooting iconic New York locations and a classic brownstone, before heading back to Atlanta to re-create the brownstone onstage, with its charming living spaces setting the heart of the story.
There is so much depth in each of these spaces, we asked Kathy to focus on them as she
again generously shares set-making details.
We know you will!
From Columbia Pictures:
When the Primm family [Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy, Winslow Fegley] moves to New York City, their young son Josh discovers Lyle – a singing crocodile [Shawn Mendes] who loves baths, caviar and great music – living in the attic of his new home. The two become fast friends, but when Lyle’s existence is threatened by evil neighbor Mr. Grumps [Brett Gelman], the Primms must band together with Lyle’s charismatic owner who used to live in the Primms’s apartment, Hector P. Valenti [Javier Bardem], to show the world that family can come from the most unexpected places and there’s nothing wrong with a big singing crocodile with an even bigger personality.
Primm apartment: “We used a contemporary yellow rounded-back sofa (from Bridge Props) for the Primm’s living room, but everything else was found vintage,” reveals Set Decorator Kathy Orlando SDSA. “During prep, I was able to shop used furniture stores and antique malls in New York and Connecticut, which allowed for some great discoveries!” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
From Set Decorator Kathy Orlando SDSA...
“Adapted from the beloved book THE HOUSE ON 88TH STREET, by Bernard Waber, LYLE LYLE CROCODILE was filmed in New York and Atlanta in 2021. Directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon envisioned a slightly idealized look for New York, as the film is a paean to the city and its neighborhoods, as well as the much-loved story. We wanted the audience to feel they were inside an illustrated children’s book. Lyle is green, of course, and he wears a red scarf. So, Production Designer Mark Worthington chose a palette of rich primary colors that reflected the book’s joyful and witty illustrations. Mixed with the warm neutral wood tones of the floors, window frames and furniture, the bold colors worked surprisingly well, helping mirror the spirit of the book."
"The directors also requested certain aspects be carried through both iterations of the brownstone as a way of showing the passage of time, i.e. the Thonet bentwood dining chairs in the Primm’s apartment, as if left by Valenti. Same with the wallpaper. It was decided that the wall colors would change but the wallpaper would holdover from the past."
Primm apartment: “Thonet chairs were requested by the director. We found these from the 1960s on Chairish.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
Primm apartment: “The wallpaper stayed the same as when Hector Valenti lived there. Primary colored lamp shades, and artwork helped set the mood for the young Primm family.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
"The long narrow Brownstone interior set was built on stage. Based on actual brownstones, Mark decided to add 10 feet to the width to make room for filming the dance numbers. Furniture needed to be arranged so that it could move quickly as part of the dance choreography. The back alley and rooftop were built on stage, VFX set extensions created the NYC skyline beautifully."
"At one point, Lyle is discovered by Mrs. Primm in the bathtub, so we found an extra-long 6’ antique claw foot tub to accommodate his large physique. Lyle was performed by an actor wearing a wire snout. I was more than pleased to finally see the actual CG version of Lyle in the movie! He is irresistible."
"I’m extremely proud of the part I had in bringing this wonderful children’s book to life on film."
Primm apartment, upstairs: The parents’ bedroom was in a relaxing earth-tone palette, emphasizing the woodwork and a quiet naturalness in the midst of the big city. Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
“The bedroom wallpaper was copied from a fabric swatch the director liked. A curved rattan headboard exuded warmth...and for us, slight anxiety! It was ordered online and almost didn’t arrive in time.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
Josh’s bedroom: “The Hudson Bay blanket was an obvious choice. Mark designed the headboard because we had trouble finding just the right one because of supply chain issues...pandemic.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
Primm/Valenti apartment: “Our backstory is that stained glass hanging light fixture (from Omega Cinema Props) and Thonet chairs were left in the house when the Hector moved out and the Primm’s moved in.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
The apartment in Hector’s time: “Hector Valenti’s brownstone was steeped in 1970s design. We imagined this era was his heyday, and that not much in the house had changed since then. We used a Børge Mogensen-style sofa, peacock chairs and Wassily chairs to drive this idea.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
“The L-shaped Herman Miller desk and vintage keyboard took up the dining room space to create a home recording studio.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
“The original vintage painting was found at Belkind Bigi in Tarrytown, New York. Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
The apartment. Through-view of the apartment in Hector’s time. Note the piano anchoring the corner in both iterations of the apartment, and the stairway wallpaper in both. Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
The attic: Kathy notes, “We wanted to show Hector Valenti’s work life in the attic. He practiced dance in front of the mirrors, played music, sewed his own and Lyle’s costumes...” Courtesy of Sony Pictures ©2022
Editor's note: Click on the SHOW MORE PHOTOS button below, for a deeper dive into this ebullient film!