Prime Video’s “Ricky Stanicky,” the latest comedy from director Peter Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary“), is filled with outrageous moments revolving around John Cena as Rod, a down-on-his-luck performer hired by a group of friends to pose as their nonexistent pal. The undeniable highlights, however, are the moments in which we see the Atlantic City lounge act for which Rod dresses as iconic performers, from Peter Frampton and Britney Spears to Billy Idol and Boy George. The musical numbers walk a fine line, presenting Cena with costumes that immediately summon up associations with their sources while remaining just a bit off in order to show that Rod is not exactly one of Atlantic City’s top acts.

Cena credits the costume and hair and makeup departments with creating a wide variety of hilarious looks — and doing it on a ridiculously compressed schedule. “Not only did they transform me to look like Dee Snider, Billy Idol, the guy from Devo, Britney Spears, you name it, but they did it very fast,” Cena told IndieWire. “We changed costumes about as fast as Rod would for a genuine one-man show.” The speed with which the filmmakers had to work was largely dictated by the availability of the location, which they only had for one day. “I can only relate it to the costume changes on ‘SNL,’” Cena said, “where you have three minutes of commercials to get in your next outfit before you go back out there and do the skit.”

Costume designer Katherine Milne noted that the pressure was constantly high not only due to the need to maximize time on set but also because of the constantly fluctuating list of performers who Cena would be called upon to emulate. “We would start on one costume, they wouldn’t get clearance for that performer, and we would have to ditch it and start another one,” Milne told IndieWire. Adding to the workload was the fact that so many of the costumes had to be custom-built because of Cena’s size. “Even the white snakeskin cowboy boots were a challenge to find in his size. I had 10 pairs in the fitting, and he couldn’t get any of them off.”

‘Ricky Stanicky‘Ben King/Prime

Milne often found the act of transforming Cena to be a surreal experience. “I would be pulling stockings up on John’s thighs for the Britney Spears outfit, and just thinking, ‘How am I going to get these to stay up?’” she said. “And then I’m putting them into a pair of heels, and John has to jump out the window in those heels. So I’m constantly thinking about the practical reality of these costumes. But John really trusts in the process, and he just allowed me to do my work. He trusts the creative people around him and allows you to do your best work while he gets on with finding the character.” Cena in turn has nothing but praise for his collaborators. “All of these costumes, all these songs, you have to get as many shots and as much depth as Peter wants before you move on,” Cena said. “Then it’s literally people just grabbing your stuff and taking off your hair and rubbing your face and then making you up again, and then you come back out. Not only did they do it efficiently, they did it very well.”

‘Ricky Stanicky’Ben King/Prime

Given the hectic experience on set, Milne was grateful that a certain amount of flexibility was built into the premise. “It was useful that you wanted to believe this drunk character would be able to make these costumes himself,” she said, though she added that in some cases, she did have to replicate the original outfits with more rigor. “When we were clearing the costumes, Peter Frampton came back and said he wanted it to be as close as we could possibly get it, so we honored that.”

According to Cena, there were five costumes that didn’t make the final cut, but he has no regrets. “I always trust the person making the final choice,” he said. “That started with putting myself in the hands of Judd Apatow. Just because I’m laughing at something I did doesn’t mean I [have the perspective to] know what would be the most digestible piece of comedy. If something doesn’t make it, I got to live the moment, I got to laugh during the moment. And that’s enough for me.”

Additional reporting by Kate Erbland.

“Ricky Stanicky” is now streaming on Prime Video.

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