MISS MILLENIUM: BEYONCE Beyoncé is ready to receive you now. From the chair where she's sitting, in the conference room of her sleek office suite in midtown Manhattan, at a round table elegantly laden with fine china, crisp cloth napkins, and take-out sushi from Nobu, she could toss some edamame over her shoulder and hit her sixteen Grammys, each wall-mounted in its own Plexiglas box. She is luminous, with that perfect smile and smooth coffee skin that shines under a blondish topknot and bangs. Today she's showing none of the bodaciously thick, hush-your-mouth body that's on display onstage, in her videos, and on these pages. This is Business Beyoncé, hypercomposed Beyoncé—fashionable, elegant, in charge. She's wearing the handiwork of no fewer than seven designers, among them Givenchy (the golden pin at her neck), Day Birger et Mikkelsen (her dainty gray-pink petal-collar blouse), Christian Louboutin (her pink five-inch studded heels), and Isabel Marant (her floral pants). She does not get up—a video camera has already been aimed at her face and turned on—so you greet her as you sit down. You have an agreed-upon window of time. Maybe a little more, if she finds you amusing. You're here to talk about her big post-baby comeback (Blue Ivy, her daughter with Jay-Z, is a year old), which Beyoncé is marking in classic Beyoncé fashion: with a Hydra-headed pop-cultural blitzkrieg. This month, two weeks after she headlines the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVII, she will premiere an HBO "documentary"—more like a visual autobiography— about herself and her family that she financed, directed, produced, narrated, and stars in. This is a woman, after all, who's sold 75 million albums, just signed a $50 million endorsement deal with Pepsi (her flawless visage will festoon actual cans of soda), and will soon embark on a world tour to promote her fifth solo album, as yet untitled, due out as early as April. Who wouldn't want to know how she gets the job done? "I worked so hard during my childhood to meet this goal: By the time I was 30 years old, I could do what I want," she says. "I've reached that. I feel very fortunate to be in that position. But I've sacrificed a lot of things, and I've worked harder than probably anyone I know, at least in the music industry. So I just have to remind myself that I deserve it." Anytime she wants to remind herself of all that work—or almost anything else that's ever happened in her life—all she has to do is walk down the hall. There, across from the narrow conference room in which you are interviewing her, is another long, narrow room that contains the official Beyoncé archive, a temperature-controlled digital-storage facility that contains virtually every existing photograph of her, starting with the very first frames taken of Destiny's Child, the
'90s girl group she once fronted; every interview she's ever done; every video of every show she's ever performed; every diary entry she's ever recorded while looking into the unblinking eye of her laptop. "Stop pretending that I have it all together," she tells herself in a particularly revealing video clip, looking straight into the camera. "If I'm scared, be scared, allow it, release it, move on. I think I need to go listen to 'Make Love to Me' and make love to my husband." Beyoncé's inner sanctum also contains thousands of hours of private footage, compiled by a "visual director" Beyoncé employs who has shot practically her every waking moment, up to sixteen hours a day, since 2005. In this footage, Beyoncé wears her hair up, down, with bangs, and without. In full makeup and makeup-free, she can be found shaking her famous ass onstage, lounging in her dressing room, singing Coldplay's "Yellow" to Jay-Z over an intimate dinner, and rolling over sleepy-eyed in bed. This digital database, modeled loosely on NBC's library, is a work in progress—the labeling, date-stamping, and cross-referencing has been under way for two years, and it'll be several months before that process is complete. But already, blinking lights signal that the product that is Beyoncé is safe and sound and ready to be summoned— and monetized—at the push of a button. And this room—she calls it her "crazy archive"—is a key part of that, she will explain, so, "you know, I can always say, 'I want that interview I did for GQ,' and we can find it." And indeed, she will be able to find it, because the room in which you are sitting is rigged with a camera and microphone that is capturing not just her every utterance but yours as well. These are the ground rules: Before you get to see Beyoncé, you must first agree to live forever in her archive, too.
LANA DEL REY In an expansive, gilded suite in the famous H么tel de Paris, Monte-Carlo, Lana Del Rey, dressed in a simple grey hoodie, skinny dark-blue jeans and a crisp white Tshirt, sits down on the floor next to a perfectly vacant couch, lights a cigarette as slim as a Mikado stick and explains how pretty she thinks this part of the world is. "It's just the most beautiful place," she enthuses, breathlessly. "I knew it from the moment I saw it." Funny, I say, as Monaco's reputation for being a tax haven for the world's filthy rich brings with it a certain, well, contention. "Yes," smiles Del Rey, sharply. "But some people don't make any money." I'm not quite sure what to make of this comment. Does she mean those of us who don't make enough cash to become tax refugees in this "exclusif" sunny state should either put up or shut up - or something else? For a split second, I'm thrown. I'm told Del Rey is prone to doing this - cutting unashamedly to the quick, speaking her mind no matter the consequences, not biting her tongue, laying it on the line. Some, like this writer, find it refreshing, others a little too confrontational. This isn't her intention at all; she's as sweet as a peach deep down. Reserved, even. If not a little weird. I don't mean "kooky" weird. Kooky is the wrong word as that makes her sound like the sort of girl who collects Hello Kitty lunchboxes, wears American Apparel body stockings and draws pictures of unicorns all day long - or someone like Lena Dunham from HBO's Girls. No, Del Rey is weird weird. Odd. Eccentric. Remarkable. A proper pop star. Not like you or me. She's also exceptionally beautiful: the cascading, auburn hair, those blownout lips, the thick kohl-dipped lashes. Del Rey is sexy but with a dreamy
apartness, like an old-fashioned movie star whose name you can't quite remember from a film whose title you can't quite place. Forget the Day-Glo cartoonish eroticism of Nicki Minaj, the geisha-cyber-punkiness of Lady Gaga and Rihanna's rude -girl swaggering - Del Rey is a very different sort of modern pop star. Her sex appeal is more refined. Grainier. Vintage-looking. Cloaked in a veneer of prissiness. She's beauty, Instagrammed. Part of Del Rey's charm is how such a projected innocence jars against lyrics that drip with a desire to be corrupted: "I heard you like the bad girls/Honey, is that true?" she sings. For a man, that sort of tease is magnetic. As Del Rey puffs away cross-legged on the expensive hotel carpet, speaking her mind, she seems more content than maybe she has been for some time. It's little wonder she's feeling buoyant considering the news: last night in London she won an Ivor Novello award for her single "Video Games" - an honour artists crave, as it's vindication of their songwriting ability, awarded by their peers - and now she's been crowned GQ's Woman Of The Year. She's genuinely delighted: "Thank you. Just to have someone acknowledge the material I write is incredibly touching. It's an affirmation of sorts. I just didn't think that this was going to happen. Not any of it." Fifteen months ago, the world fell in love with Lana Del Rey, or more accurately, the world fell in love with "Video Games"; a record that is about the minutiae of daily life resonating to mean something far greater, far darker. Throughout the song, Del Rey sings with a sort of resigned, melancholic subservience - "I'm in his favourite sundress/Watching me get undressed/ Take that body downtown" - her sophisticated lyrical ennui wafting in a sombre key against the sound of doomsodden harps and soaring strings. Although Del Rey insists it's about being in love and she's singing about being in the throes of a loving relationship, that's not how it comes across. Not at all. The whole record sounds elegiac - sort of a
mourning song for a certain type of perceived American dream; the perfect fit for Del Rey's aesthetic. "It's a song that I wrote with a boy named Justin Parker, a producer I met in London," she tells me. Del Rey uploaded the song, as is the modern way, on 29 June 2011. The video on her YouTube channel has been viewed more than 40 million times. Del Rey herself made it on her MacBook; composed of clips she found on the internet - vintage-looking Super 8 footage of skaters, pink roses bursting open proactively, Betty Boo cartoons, dappled sunlight over an LA canyon, the Hollywood sign, TMZ video footage of Paz de la Huerta stumbling away from the Chateau Marmont after the Golden Globes, visibly worse for wear. Occasionally Del Rey herself pops up, out of focus with beehive hair and beestung lips looking like a hipster Jackie O. Or an Abercrombie & Fitch model. If you watch the video with the sound off, as I've done, you'd think it a song about the trappings and fragility of fame, a yearning for a more golden, more dignified age of celebrity - knowing Del Rey (someone more aware of her image than perhaps any other pop star working today) such a tone is certainly no accident. "It took me two hours to write," she explains of the track, to be found on her album Born To Die, released in January this year. "It was in the middle of a long writing process where I had moved to London. I was in the Sony Writing Room" - a creative sanctuary provided by the label that acts as a sort of boot camp for wannabe hit makers - "and Justin would write the chords and I would write the words and the melody. We'd written five songs and we took a rest. Then I started to write things that I especially loved, that were just perfectly tailored to me - 'Video Games' was one of them. No one thought much of it at the time; it was just pretty simple with one piano line. But I liked it right away. I knew. I have an instinct about these things. With songs or with people..."
Andrew Garfield Andrew Garfield is in the rapids, and he doesn't want to be in the rapids. I know this because he's just said it. "I'm in the rapids," he says, leaning nervously over a camomile tea in the basement restaurant of Frank Lloyd Wright's twirly-whirly Guggenheim Museum on New York's Upper East Side, "And I don't want to be in the rapids!" By "the rapids", Garfield is referring to fame. For the 28-year-old AngloAmerican (his father is American, his mother's from Essex) who was once known for delivering delicate performances of twitch and ache in TV standouts such as Boy A and Red Riding, and for providing the rapid-fire badinage of The Social Network with a beating heart, is soon to become the face of a billion-dollar mega-brand by starring in the title role of this summer's blockbuster reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. On screen, the Garfield-Spideymatchup is an inspired concoction, with Garfield bringing the kind of busy febrile energy to the role that makes Tobey Maguire's previous incarnation look, frankly, a little stoned. Off screen however, Garfield's formerly anonymous existence has suddenly been hit by "the rapids", and with them a roaring new reality that encompasses everything from paparazzi photos of his downtown lip-locks with Spidey co-star Emma Stone, to the nightly fan floods outside the Broadway theatre where he's currently playing Biff in Death Of A Salesman, to media attention of any kind, to this very interview.
Yes, I have been to therapy. And I'm not ashamed of it. I've always been a little reserved about it, but I've loved it
In fact, we haven't even begun the interview itself for this very reason. We're still in the pre-interview section of the interview. Here, in casual urban camouflage (distressed hoodie, denims, trainers), Garfield hops about restlessly on his seat, his face mostly frozen in the familiar default smile that plays like a wound on celluloid, while his hands are always reaching, always scratching and stroking, as he explains that fame is a corrupting phenomenon and "a scary thing, because there's something addictive about recognition and validation, because that's the currency for all actors". And furthermore, he continues, he was on Google this morning, in his New York apartment, and just about to click on a search for himself when his dog, a mongrel terrier mix, leapt up and put a paw on his clicking hand, as if to say, "No! Don't do it!" "And I looked at him and said, 'All right. You're right.' And I didn't." Later, his Spider-Man director Marc Webb will say, "I think Andrew's a little freaked out by all the attention, and he's very protective of his privacy. But he's a smart guy, and he works hard. He'll be fine."
"I wish I didn't have to engage with it," says Garfield. Meaning fame. Meaning everything that's not acting. Meaning this interview. And then he asks, "You, for instance, do you even like doing these?" Struck by his candor, and by his soft and tremulous little-brother-that-I-never-had-ness, I tell him that, actually, I prefer the oldies - Kirk Douglas, Robert Duvall, Shirley MacLaine - because they generally seemed to know stuff, and have a real world-view, whereas the young ones, well, you know yourself. There's a moment of tension. A little pop at the back of his busy, whizzy, 28-year-old eyeballs. And then suddenly his shoulders drop, and he lets out a huge sigh and says, "I'm so glad you said that! I get it! That's good to know!" I think he means that he's an oldies fan, too, and that it's good that we're both on the same page (his heroes are Robert Redford, Peter Mullan and veteran director Mike Nichols). He says that we can begin the interview itself, but he warns me, with a self-mocking chuckle, that he won't say anything that's in any way personal or revealing about himself, his past, or his present life. "Go for it!" he says, beaming. "Shoot! I'm going to tell you everything! [laughs]"