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03.08.14

‘I’d like to play a man’ Marion Cotillard on obsession, saving tigers, and losing herself in a role

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Late-summer fashion Witness to a hanging Holly and Kelly Willoughby


Photograph Dominique Issermann

‘Before my family, everything was dedicated to the character’ When Marion Cotillard took on Edith Piaf she lived the part, willing herself into the role of a tortured genius. Such commitment is harder now that she has a toddler. But, as Stephanie Rafanelli discovers, that doesn’t stop her trying

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n a hotel suite in Paris, Marion Cotillard is behaving like a monster. We are about to start our interview when her three-year-old sprints in with his nanny, and before I have a chance to ask my first question, Cotillard has leapt on all fours and is skidding across the carpet letting out strangled roars. There’s a chase in which she plays Godzilla (upright, with claws), and Marcel, her son with French actor and director Guillaume Canet, squeals with delight. Finally she resumes her position on the sofa with Marcel still chuckling impishly under one arm. “He’ll get bored soon,” she reassures me. Cross-legged and clad in tweed hot pants, she looks like a particularly soignée teenaged mother: her face has never lost its adolescent curves and her body barely looks 20 years old (she’s in fact 38). When Cotillard bent herself into the prematurely aged Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, a morphine-addicted, cancer-ridden


MARION COTILLARD One from the heart: Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf with Gérard Depardieu in La Vie En Rose (2007)

husk of a woman, Trevor Nunn called it “one of the greatest performances on film ever”. Meeting her, you appreciate why. In the seven years since winning the Best Actress Oscar for her role, Cotillard has shown herself to be consistently drawn to complex, tortured women. Her recent work, if less transformative, has been just as unflinching: a double-leg amputee in visceral love story Rust and Bone; a young Polish refugee in New York manipulated into prostitution in The Immigrant. In her latest film Two Days, One Night by Belgian auteurs the Dardenne brothers, she plays Sandra, a factory worker who, after a period of sick leave due to depression, is forced to petition her colleagues to vote for her in a work ballot. They’re faced with a cruel moral dilemma: her job or their annual bonus. It’s a raw, empathic portrait of mental illness. She seems to relate to outsiders, I say. “I’ve always felt an outcast,” Cotillard replies. “There is something strange about me. I don’t ever feel at ease in a group of people. I have to fight hard to overcome my fears.” What are these fears? She smiles. Her eyes are alert, glassy, and look as if they could brim with tears at any moment. I’m left to find meaning in her gaze. It’s all very Mona Lisa. It is this mysterious quality that seems to appeal to directors, from La Vie En Rose’s Olivier Dahan (who wrote the screenplay with Cotillard in mind because he saw something tragic in her eyes) to an imposing list of American filmmakers: Christopher Nolan (Inception and The Dark Knight Rises), Michael Mann (Public Enemies) and Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris). Today she is one of the highest paid non-American actresses in Hollywood, although she has never turned

her back on low-budget French-language film. For the Dardenne brothers, who have only worked with unknown actors throughout their 40-year-long career, casting Cotillard in Two Days, One Night was a risky move, not just because of the Hollywood baggage but because of her fashion status as one of the faces of Christian Dior. The underdog-loving jury at the Cannes Film Festival has already overlooked Cotillard for the Best Actress prize three years in a row. But this year the Dardennes – three-time Palme d’Or winners – also walked away empty-handed. “For me? I really don’t care,” she says, waving a hand in the air. “But the film? Yes. The Dardennes get an award every time they go to Cannes, so I got a little paranoid and thought: ‘Oh my God, maybe it’s my fault.’” Cotillard is a fanatical researcher, so when I ask how she constructed her performance I’m expecting a tale about observing patients in Belgian institutions. “The preparation was very light this time,” she says, shifting into a half-lotus position. “Medical information on panic attacks and the sideeffects of Xanax. I understand depression. I was never super-depressed, but at one point I thought it was coming.” At this point she dispatches Marcel, fidgety and bored, to his nanny. “I’ve had many turning points in my life like that. I’m able to tell when I’m in a bad place or super-sad and move on. When you’re stuck somewhere you need to change something, to shift the energy.” One such time came after filming La Vie En Rose, when Cotillard had let herself be swallowed up by Piaf, shaving her eyebrows and hairline, willing her body to shrink nine inches (Piaf was 4ft 11in) and sitting for five hours a day in make-up. It was less of a performance,

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Cotillard let herself be swallowed up by Piaf. It was less of a performance, more a demonic possession

more a demonic possession. After the shoot wrapped, Cotillard says she continued to be haunted by Piaf, sometimes speaking in her gravelly voice. Piaf stayed with her for a total of eight months. “I tried everything,” Cotillard tells me. “I did exorcisms with salt and fire. I travelled to Bora Bora to escape her. I went to Peru to Machu Picchu and did ancient shamanic ceremonies to cleanse myself after I eventually realised why I couldn’t let her go. She had been abandoned as a child. Her greatest fear was to be alone.” Now that she has Marcel, she says she is unwilling to plunge so deeply into a role, to lose herself in what she calls the “total darkness”. She recently filmed Justin Kurzel’s new adaptation of Macbeth, playing Lady Macbeth opposite Michael Fassbender. “Before my family, everything in my life was dedicated to the character. The more deeply affected I was by her, the closer I felt to her. But I cannot lock myself away in another world any more. I don’t want it to affect my son when I’m in a weird state because I’m ‘depressed’ or ‘killing a king’.” C O T I L L A R D S AY S S H E ’ S always been “sensitive”. As a child she was a shy, melancholic loner riddled with very early-onset teenage angst. “I had existential dilemmas as young as seven, obsessive questions about my place in the world. Where did we come from? Why am I here?” She grew up in Alfortville, a suburb of Paris to French “bobo” parents – bourgeois bohemians. Her mother Monique Theillaud was a mid-level theatre actress, her father Jean-Claude Cotillard a Breton mime artist and theatre director. Together with Cotillard’s younger identical twin brothers, Guillaume and Quentin (a writer and a sculptor), they lived in a flat on the 18th floor of a tower block where they were allowed to draw freely on the walls. But excluded by her brothers’ symbiotic relationship, Cotillard didn’t talk much: “I couldn’t identify with anyone. At school THE OBSERVER | 03.08.14 | MAGAZINE

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MARION COTILLARD I was considered very strange. I didn’t understand the relationships between people.” From an early age she was drawn to imaginary stories. When she saw ET, aged seven, she was so distraught she had to be removed from the cinema. Her father also introduced her to silent films. “I used to pretend I was Louise Brooks or Greta Garbo in my bedroom,” she says mimicking her younger self. “I absorbed a lot from my father. He taught us how to mime at home with games.” When he set up his own theatre company, the family moved to La Beauce, near Orléans. Theillaud began teaching at the Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique d’Orléans, where the teenage Cotillard enrolled to study acting. “I saw it as a way to escape myself,” she tells me. “But it was through acting that I met myself.” On graduation she moved to a rundown flat near Gare du Nord station and appeared in the TV series of Highlander at 18, after which she was never unemployed. In 1998 Cotillard got her first big film break in Luc Besson’s Taxi. She met Canet, then married to Diane Kruger, on the set of Love Me If You Dare six years later, and the friends reconnected after Canet’s divorce from Kruger in 2006. In France the couple are equivalent to Brangelina, but photographs of Cotillard with Canet in public together are rare. Little is known about their life together, although they both separately admit to being guitar geeks (their flat in the Marais is crammed with various models, and until recently Cotillard played bass for Parisian singer

Yodelice as her butch alter-ego Simone). Cotillard agrees that the country’s strict privacy laws allow them breathing space. “Having your picture taken in the street and put in a magazine won’t change your life. But what happened to people in England, hacking phones. It’s vomit. It’s sick. This fucking changes your life.” She almost retches with disgust. “If someone is cheating on their wife in the street and pictures are taken, fine, that’s their risk. I’m not talking about some people... who currently run this country.” This, you presume, is a reference to François Hollande’s extramarital dalliance with actor Julie Gayet. Despite appearing to prefer life on the spiritual plane, she is surprisingly engaged with politics, and when I bring up the Front National’s landslide majority at the European elections, she makes a “Quelle horreur!” expression: “French politics is a circus. The French people like to shake things up a bit, but Marine Le Pen getting into government? This will never happen. Never.” Her real passion, however, is the environment. She’s a locavore (where possible, she eats locally produced food) and has been recycling since the 80s, a habit learned from her Breton grandmother. She’s also an ambassador for Greenpeace: in 2010 she went to the Congo to make a series of films about the destruction of the rainforests by logging companies. The following year she supported Amazonian Indian Chief Raoni in his fight against the construction

SPORTSPHOTO/ALLSTAR

In France the couple are equivalent to Brangelina, but photos of Cotillard and Canet in public together are rare

of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in Para, Brazil. Then last year she caged herself, literally, with other demonstrators outside Paris’s Palais Royal in protest over the detainment of the Arctic 30 in Russia. Her current cause is the endangered Sumatran tiger. “ I ’ M A N A T U R E lover, but I’m a human being lover, too. Nature will survive us. The thing we’re going to fuck up is us – and animals,” she says. “Destroying what makes us live is sick. More people are waking up but it’s super-slow. Why don’t we listen to the wise men in our world?” She reels off a list: Al Gore, FrenchCanadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves and Algerian writer and farmer Pierre Rabhi. She is aware of the paradox of being both an environmentalist and a frequent long-haul-flying actor, plus the muse of Dior, part of the hautefashion conglomerate LVMH. This is the one chink in the Cotillard matrix. “Campaigning and acting aren’t compatible,” she admits. “That’s why Audrey Hepburn gave up acting. That’s why Angelina Jolie will give up. I’m not ready to stop yet.” Still, some things are changing. You get the sense that after Lady Macbeth she is growing a little weary of tragic antiheroines. “The dream,” she says, “is to do comedy.” Her first foray in the genre was a cameo in Anchorman 2 last year. “Comedians I know, like Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, are some of the best human observers. Comedy has deep insights into our human defects that somehow affect the audience more deeply than tragedy.” She pauses while I absorb this, then she shrieks: “Oh! And I’d like to play a man.” Inevitably my mind leaps to Hamlet – the ultimate tortured soul. “Oui! C’est ça!” she cries, slapping her leg when I suggest it. “But on the stage in London, unannounced. So no one knows it’s me… I could totally disappear.” ■

Two Days, One Night is released in cinemas nationwide on 22 August

‘I’ve always felt an outcast’: Cotillard (above) with her actor/director boyfriend Guillaume Canet and, right, as factory-worker Sandra in Two Days, One Night 16

MAGAZINE | 03.08.14 | THE OBSERVER

THE OBSERVER | 03.08.14 | MAGAZINE

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Cate Blanchett has long dazzled with her amazing range of performances – from Elizabeth I to Bob Dylan – and more recently breathed new life into the Sydney Theatre Company. As she prepares to tread the boards in London, she talks to STEPHANIE RAFANELLI about Meryl Streep, Bond villains and dancing on screen

Photographs by ALEXI LUBOMIRSKI Styled by CATHY KASTERINE


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ARMANI LAYERS UP THE GLAMOUR WITH EYE-CATCHING TEXTURED SEQUINS Cate Blanchett wears metal sequin jacket, to order, Giorgio Armani Privé. Previous page: rayon and acetate blazer, £1,305; matching trousers, £520, both Antonio Berardi

ate Blanchett and I are talking about the Sex Pistols. It is, perhaps, the singularly most incongruous topic to float up at 8am from the sixth floor of Hotel Eden in Rome (think ornate novecento grandeur) over latte macchiato and a cerulean widescreen vista of the Trevi Fountain and beyond. This allusion – in front of a cluster of Quixotic-looking waiters – triggers a mini out-of-body experience, though it may equally be the ungodly hour or the gravitas of my breakfast companion who, just flown in from Sydney for the launch of the Maison Louis Vuitton Etoile store is, by contrast, unflinchingly composed. For in this Roman Holiday-esque setting, it feels more apt to tap the spirit of her prudish WASP Meredith in The Talented Mr Ripley or her Proust-reading pregnant journalist in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, both of which she filmed here. But on Blanchett’s imminent return to England – where she resided from 1997 to 2006 (largely her most prolific film decade) – to open the London 2012 Festival with a theatre production at the Barbican, we are free-associating such staunchly British talking points as London butchers (she misses them), the Diamond Jubilee (she is a monarchist, she says, ‘in a Sex Pistols kind of way’ – how the aforementioned subject arises) and the Royal Wedding: ‘I had taken one of my sons to a Justin Bieber concert,’ she recounts in tones half an octave lower than I expect. ‘We were in a box, and the wedding was on television inside. I alternated watching a horrendous singing chipmunk with “our Kate” coming down the aisle in that beautiful dress that Sarah Burton designed. I saw it in snatches in between “Baby Baby” with 10,000 screaming seven-year-old girls.’ The proffering of such a playful anecdote complete with ‘low’ pop-culture reference is rare. Blanchett – the co-artistic director since 2008 of the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) with her husband Andrew Upton – is unabashedly highbrow, a thoroughbred intellectual (Richard Eyre, who directed her in Notes on a Scandal in 2006, calls her ‘one of the most intelligent, if not the most intelligent, actors I have ever worked with. She is very, very clear-headed and very, very well read’). Indeed, over breakfast, she articulately expounds, dipping freely from an infinite expanse of thespian reference, on the joys of a travelling production of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and the nuances of production design for her upcoming Barbican production of Botho Strauss’s Post-Dramatic play Big and Small. Her hands make mini-circles in the air like a Roman in debate, those glacial eyes melting with fervour. It is clear that, alongside Upton, she has dedicated her very being to theatre for the past four years (only acquiescing to smaller ‘on celluloid’ roles – Robin Hood, Hanna and The Hobbit among them). During this time the pair have transformed the STC, with new productions of Ibsen, the Wars of the Roses cycle (she played Richard II) and A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Liv Ullmann, into a profit-making business; and begun an arts regeneration initiative in the vein of London’s Southbank, putting the city on the theatrical map. Blanchett has always been a rare and exotic creature in the Hollywood jungle: the unflinching commitment to theatre, the lofty mind in the body of a Golden Age screen siren, the vocal range of a myna bird and the apparent physical metamorphosis. She can be elfin – today, in a black mandarin-collar shirt and culottes, she is a chic Galadriel, but she can also be regal and androgynous (her


‘Judas’-era Bob Dylan more convincing than the other five male actors who played him). Indeed, the title of that film, I’m Not There (2007), which explores the multiplicities of Dylan, neatly sums up Blanchett. It is something that Geoffrey Rush, who has co-starred with her throughout her career, noted: ‘She has a constant amorphous physicality… that’s why she seems to transform from role to role.’ Her friend, Australian photographer Polly Borland, who first took Blanchett’s portrait in 1999, tells me: ‘Her beauty is enigmatic – like an exotic cat. She’s down-to-earth but ethereal, cerebral but sensual, beautiful but strange-looking, tough but at the same time vulnerable.’ It was for these inner contradictions that in 1997, Shekhar Kapur cast her in what would be her Oscarnominated breakout role in Elizabeth. ‘At the same time, she’s like an old-fashioned circus act,’ Borland adds. ‘What she does is like magic; you don’t see the craft.’ This mystique is partly protected by Blanchett’s non-participation in the celebrity circus – though a formidable power duo, she and Upton are the antithesis of Pitt and Jolie – and her shrewd reticence to impart too many specifics of her personal life or abilities (she describes her acting state as almost trance-like, though ‘I don’t want to get too “oogabooga” about it’) both preserving her performances for the viewer and allowing her to be a tabula rasa for her roles. As a consequence, in some ways, any off-duty encounter is somehow inevitably pale, overshadowed, as she is, by her greatest biographical projections – Dylan, Elizabeth, Katharine Hepburn – so powerful that they have been forever seared into our collective consciousness. Blanchett evidently took the advice of her teacher in drama school: ‘When you are onstage, keep your lights switched on. When you are home, turn them off.’ Her return to the London stage as Lotte in Big and Small promises to be none other than megawattage (her last London turn, in Plenty, was in 1999), hailed by the Australian press – the play debuted in Sydney – as ‘the performance of Blanchett’s career’. It is a dystopian, existential play, set in a nightmarish society, in which Lotte, a woman with emotional Tourettes, ‘both alienated and alienating’, says Blanchett, sets out on a Homeric quest for acceptance only to be repeatedly outcast, reduced, finally, to loitering in a doctors’ surgery for human company. The 10-scene performance is gruelling for Blanchett, and ‘evolved strangely to be extremely physical’: three hours of farcical comedy and wild eruptions of ‘extraordinary dances’ – or, as she calls them, ‘little explosions of hope’. I point out that dancing is the one leitmotif in many of her films, as a critic once wryly noted; I refer her to several key incidences, including her mildly erotic polkas with Joseph Fiennes in Elizabeth and her inebriated post-Sunday-lunch swaying in Notes on a Scandal: ‘I remember saying to Richard Eyre, “Look, I often end up [dancing] in films, can I not this time?” And he said, “No, it’s really important to the scene.” So I said, “OK!”’ An STC production, Big and Small is also creatively shaped by Upton, who Blanchett credits as a guiding force in her career. The couple met, rather aptly, on the set of Thank God He Met Lizzie in 1996, took an instant dislike to each other, and started dating a year later; Upton proposed six weeks into their relationship. As a rule, wherever Blanchett goes, so do Upton and her three children. Fortuitously for Dashiell, 10, Roman, seven, and Ignatius, three, their mother has recently played a number of boy-friendly roles (her plethora of characters are, to them, her ‘secret identities’). So far, they have hung out with ‘Indy’ on the set of Indiana Jones and the

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (‘Dash was very impressed with the man in the hat’) and watched her play a CIA operative in Berlin (Hanna) and shoot burning arrows in Windsor Great Park (Robin Hood), after which she would replace her Maid Marian wig with a hat and drop them off at the local Montessori school. (In Sydney, the couple ‘jobshare’ their full-time commitment to both STC and the boys. ‘An actress once advised me, “Make sure you do your own laundry – it will keep you honest,”’ she says.) ‘They are a very close-knit family,’ says Borland, who lived in Brighton along with Nick Cave in ‘a happy Aussie club’ when Blanchett moved there from Islington in 2003. ‘Cate is very matriarchal, but they are both equal partners. She’s devoted to her family with the same passion with which she throws herself into character. The intensity in her private life counterbalances her work.’ On this trip, Blanchett has unusually left her family in Sydney – the 48-hour dash to Rome too whirlwind to warrant upheaval. Instead, she has made use of the 20-something-hour flying time to micro-manage the family’s timetable for the Big and Small run, a European tour that begins in Paris: ‘It’s a logistical nightmare,’ she says, without a glimmer of fatigue. Yet flying ‘da sola’ can sometimes be anxiety-inducing: ‘I had this thing for years. If someone was going to the supermarket, I would give them this tearful farewell, like they were leaving on the Queen Mary.’ She slices a piece of melon on her fruit plate neatly. ‘When I was a girl, I used to always kiss my father goodbye. But on the day he died, I was playing piano, and he walked past this window at the back of the house, and I didn’t kiss him.’

Perhaps a fun foray as a villainess in ‘Bond 24’, I suggest? Blanchett explodes with enthusiasm. ‘Oh God! Yes! I’d be there in a heartbeat’

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Her father, a Texan US Navy petty officer turned ad executive, died of a heart attack at the age of 40, when Blanchett was 10. ‘Part wallflower, part extrovert’ as a child, she was wildly imaginative, but also a ‘daredevil, often really inappropriate’. One of her muchloved capers involved wandering the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe, in feigned turmoil, searching for her lost imaginary dog. ‘When you’re a teenager, you act things out rather than experience them, so that through a relationship being cataclysmic, you reach some emotional catharsis.’ Her eyes appear almost transparent. ‘I have that through work now, so I don’t need to act it out in my daily life. Not that I think all work is therapy.’ It is perhaps this restless energy that drives her quest for ever-more-challenging characters to inhabit; she will rarely be seduced by a role that – herein lies the jeopardy – does not appear impossible from the outset. According to Kapur, Blanchett maintains an ‘absolute ruthlessness with herself, which is the ruthlessness of her craft’. Her preparation process is akin to an infatuation, which she approaches with compulsive research, a hyper-gifted ear – she has a three-octave range – and questioning intelligence that allows her to surpass mere mimicry by delving into the deeper nuances of a role. ‘Cate finds a little roadmap into a part that makes it her own,’ explains Charles Finch, CEO of Finch & Partners and her close friend and advisor. ‘At the kind of interpretative level of work, she is like an incredible master violinist. Like Meryl Streep, she can pretty much do anything she wants.’ Though Blanchett’s standard sobriquet as ‘the new Meryl Streep’ is reductive – producer Tim Bevan likens her to Daniel Day-Lewis; George Clooney has referenced Spencer CONTINUED ON PAGE 236 April 2012 |

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JASON WU PLAYS THE SEASON’S FIFTIES COUTURE SILHOUETTE TO PERFECTION Ivory beaded top, £2,620; black silk gazar skirt, £4,275, both Jason Wu. Gold-coloured metal necklace, £369; matching cuff, £329, both Hervé Van der Straeten at Harrods. Black leather courts, £440, Manolo Blahnik


‘Her beauty is enigmatic, like an exotic cat. She’s down-to-earth but ethereal, tough but vulnerable’ PHOTOGRAPHER POLLY BORLAND

THIS FLOWING, SHOWSTOPPING ALEXANDER MCQUEEN GOWN CARRIES THE UNDERSEA MOOD OF S/S 12 Lace and pearl embroidered gown, to order, Alexander McQueen. Hair by Nicola Clarke, using John Frieda. Make-up by Mary Greenwell at Premier, using Sisley. Stylist’s assistant: Benjamin Canares. With thanks to St Regis Rome (www.stregis.com/rome)


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‘CATE’

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Tracy (‘She is who she is,’ says Philip Seymour Hoffman. ‘She’s not comparable. She’s utterly unique’) – it is her biographical roles that have defined her career: Elizabeth, her Deer Hunter; Veronica Guerin, her Silkwood. (‘Meryl was – she is – a trailblazer. But Lucille Ball was a huge icon of mine… so were Gregory Peck, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor,’ she says politely, no doubt fatigued by the comparison). Blanchett is all too aware of the daunting prospect of navigating a controversial British ‘icon’, as Streep faced with Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Surely this kind of provocation is irresistible to her, I ask; would she be tempted to take up such a heavy gauntlet again, perhaps – in keeping with our ongoing theme – with a portrayal of Princess Diana? ‘You know, definitely!’ she leaps in, quickly followed by a note of caution on ‘female biopics’. ‘In all the scripts I was sent after Elizabeth, the story was the same: a woman in a man’s world. If you make a film about JFK, the film will be made about that particular period in American politics; it becomes something greater.’ Bevan tells me that, in his view, Blanchett has still not yet reached her full potential. ‘I think Bob Dylan was the biggest stretch. But she needs to find a role and a director that will stretch her to the very limit. I think with Cate, the best is yet to come.’ Whatever, whoever that is, things bode well for Cate: the Golden Age. News that she and Upton are not renewing their tenure at STC after 2013 has celluloid enthusiasts hopeful for Blanchett’s re-embracement of film: ‘There is a film I’d love to direct, but I just don’t know if I’ve got the patience,’ she tells me almost illicitly. ‘In theatre, you can have an idea and get on with it. In film, you hear of people sitting on an idea for eight years, by which time the idea has changed and evolved and become something else.’ In the meantime, there are two Terrence Malick projects due – Lawless and Knight

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at Liberty (020 7734 1234) Joseph (020 7736 2522) Juicy Couture (020 7629 8238) Karen Millen (0845 899 4449) KG Accessories (0845 257 2571) KG by Kurt Geiger (0845 257 2571) Lacoste (www.lacoste.com) Lanvin (020 7491 1839) Laura Ashley (0871 983 5999) Levi’s Made & Crafted at Harvey Nichols (020 7235 5000) Limited Collection at Marks & Spencer (0845 302 1234) Little Hampton Book Services (01903 828503) LK Bennett (0844 581 5881) Lomography (020 7434 1466) Longines (0845 272 6500) Louis Vuitton (020 7399 4050) Louis Vuitton Fine Jewellery (020 7399 4050) Lydia Courteille at CoutureLab (www.couturelab.com)

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of Cups, with Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale, respectively (though their narrative gist is secretively guarded, of course): ‘I can’t guarantee I’ll end up in [the final cut], as is his wont,’ she says matter-of-factly. And as an antidote to Malick, perhaps a fun foray as a villainess in ‘Bond 24’, I suggest, given her adoration of Judi Dench and now ample experience as a CIA operative? I await an arched brow, but Blanchett explodes with unexpected enthusiasm: ‘Oh God! Yes! I’d be there in a heartbeat. I love Lotte Lenya [Rosa Klebb in 1963’s From Russia with Love]. She had a club foot and a limp. I’m not a purist in that way… There’s so much to do, including learning how to use my sewing machine. My husband went through a phase of giving me vacuum cleaners, sewing machines and Mixmasters.’ She exposes the full breadth of her grin. ‘It’s ironic. He is encouraging me to develop a hobby, I think.’ All this talk of Hoovers and world domination reignites a new wave of joviality. ‘Don’t you love the smell of burnt toast?’ she says suddenly, to the horror of the nearby maitre d’. There could be no aroma more British, I tell her, slipping back into patriotic patter. In homage to an Australian stamp series in which she appeared in 2009 with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, I encourage her to ‘commission’ her own set for the British Jubilee. She dutifully indulges me: ‘I’d have Mark Rylance, Simon Russell Beale, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.’ We move on. But by now she is curiously distracted… muttering ‘who else?’ periodically, in between trains of thought. It is only when recounting the ‘delicious’ time spent with Dash, Roman and Iggy on the set of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey that she realises her oversight. ‘Ian McKellen!’ she shrieks, her eyes widening. ‘It’s like being at a wedding and forgetting to thank your parents. He is like God to me. Please put him on a stamp.’ ‘Big and Small’ is at the Barbican (www.barbican.org.uk) from 13 to 29 April. www.harpersbazaar.co.uk


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his forehead. But that ruinously cheeky grin flies at half-mast. The teeth clench, but the Blue Steel flickers on a low wattage, hovering on the paler end of the McGregor colour spectrum, dimmed to a faded cornflower hue. Meanwhile, his strawberry-blond mane stands erect in such a bonkers cockatoo that it looks like he’s been hanging by his feet all night. ‘It’s a mess this morning isn’t it?’ he offers. He has also grown a moustache for his role as a knight, though it’s less Dennis Hopper and more Carry On’s Leslie Phillips, but he gets away with it. He twizzles its corners in a dastardly way. ‘I have wax, but I forgot to put it on this morning. I feel a bit naked.’ He drops two Advil and orders Scottish porridge (it would have been a Guinness and a fry-up back in the day) while I expound, like an awkward film student, my potted three-phase theory of the McGregor oeuvre. Phase one: the Nineties. He is the exultant antihero of British arthouse and independent film, who eschewed Hollywood alpha-male parts to play our very own everyman – see Shallow Grave’s cocksure journalist Alex or Little Voice’s introverted pigeon-keeper Billy – and shunned LA’s ‘Valium Valley’ for Primrose Hill, to fly the flag for Britishness. Phase two: the Star Wars years. George Lucas’ prequel series gives way to a somewhat confusing period of career inconsistency including, despite earlier vehement protestations, leading roles in Hollywood studio productions – from such highs as Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! in 2001 to such lows as 2005’s sci-fi film The Island. Phase three: the Comeback. McGregor reinstates himself firmly as the master of the independent milieu with Polanski’s claustrophobic and sharp-toothed political satire The Ghost, based on Tony Blair’s alleged war crimes during the Iraq war. McGregor delivers suspense fit for classic Hitchcockian noir – and now he is consolidating his regained status with two new independent productions of existentially brooding brilliance: Beginners and Perfect Sense. McGregor fans, rejoice: the man is making good choices again. ²

spring gale rips through the reeds at London Wetland Centre. Otters retreat into the water. Kingfishers ride on the airstream like extreme surfers. Moorhens cluck indignantly as their feathers part to expose naked flesh. But Ewan McGregor’s monumental quiff, jutting out just above the elephant grass, remains monolithically upright. In contrast, at 9am (two hours before this bucolic scene at the Bazaar shoot), I am somewhat crestfallen. I’ve been sharpening my wit in mental preparation for our meeting since dawn. I wait, spring coiled, at his London local in anticipation of the bed hair and banter: the erstwhile leader of the Primrose Hill Brit pack; the magnetic dynamo of Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge! and Down with Love, who recently made his comeback in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost; the man for whom Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Emily Blunt and Hilary Swank have each proffered an effusive paean with only 24 hours’ notice. I am ready. But sadly, McGregor is not. When he appears, swathed in a navy-blue peacoat – collar up – he is more mewling kitten than the swaggering rock star of old. He has been under a rain machine for three days straight for a new film, Jack the Giant Killer, and is in the clammy grip of fever. ‘I’m sick, I’ve been up sweating all night‌ I recently turned 40. I always thought you’re as old as you feel, which today is more like 50,’ he burrs weakly before collapsing into a chair. It’s all there – the trademark Louis XV mole, the Kirk Douglas cleft that traces a vertical line to

COOL AS A BREEZE Ewan McGregor wears wool jumper, ÂŁ320, Bally. Cotton top, ÂŁ23, American Apparel. Cotton chinos, ÂŁ110, Tommy Hilfiger. Rose gold Cellini watch with leather strap, ÂŁ4,280, Rolex at Time2, One Hyde Park. Ring, his own www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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He glares at me with mock outrage throughout the delivery of my thesis, his eyebrows hyperactive like emergency semaphores. ‘It’s just not true.’ He rolls out his Rs for effect. ‘There is only a big film now and then. I really mainly work in independent cinema, with the occasional sojourn into big-budget film. That sounds quite pretentious, doesn’t it? “Sojourn.”’ Cue laughter lines. ‘I like smaller cinema – the studio people will be reading this saying, “Well, fuck him. We won’t have him again” – because I think there is more room to make a statement.’ In Beginners, that statement is a poetic, existential one, which flits between poignancy and black humour: a Freudian analysis of how our childhood weighs heavily on our present, our inability to maintain relationships in the shadow of our parents’ woes, told through the story of Oliver (McGregor), whose father Hal (Christopher Plummer) comes out as gay in his seventies, at the same time as being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hal embraces his homosexuality for the first time with frantic ‘carpe diem’, finding a younger lover and his true self as he slowly dies. Meanwhile, the narrative cuts between Oliver’s posthumous memories of his father’s liberation, his parents’ stifled marriage and his own inability to free himself from the sadness of the past and commit to Anna, a peripatetic French actress. ‘I was just at a screening, and someone introduced it as a dramatic comedy, and I was thinking, “Oh oh oh… it’s not a comedy mate, oh dear.”’ Oliver’s burgeoning relationship with Anna, filled with quirks of abandon and tenderness, is made real by the mesmerising on-screen chemistry between McGregor and Mélanie Laurent, a sexy French Meg Ryan lookalike with whom he was photographed hand-in-hand in Paris last year, leading to speculation about an affair. (He has been married to French production designer Eve Mavrakis for 16 years.) I broach the subject with trepidation. French women. Just what is it about them? I prod. ‘Well, I like French women… [pauses] I also like the way you keep leaving things hanging in the air for me to hang myself on,’ he scolds affably. But he later says of Laurent: ‘We would film in the day and record her album with Damien Rice at night. She was also co-writing a movie. She’s like this creative whirlwind.’ Beginners is also one of a number of his films that deal with homosexuality, a subject seldom touched, let alone revisited, by Hollywood’s alpha brigade. (‘Ewan isn’t a man with a point to prove,’ Emily Blunt, his co-star in the upcoming Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, tells me. ‘There’s no swagger or arrogance or need to identify himself with some part that’s full of machismo.’) For a famously red-blooded male, I say, McGregor is very… ‘Gay?’ he offers. Well, yes, I say. ‘I didn’t do a gay-sex scene in this one, though, or I would have been having sex with my father. That’s more Freudian than Freud himself.’ (He slips into Freud impression). ‘How about having sex with your father? What about it, Freud?,’ he ends on a Colgate grin. McGregor played Jim Carrey’s lover in 2009’s I Love You Phillip Morris, engaging in impassioned clinches with the American actor a decade after declaring: ‘I can’t stomach the man.’ (‘I was very impolite about Jim a long time ago and I was hoping I’d got away with it… Thankfully, I think Jim doesn’t read the English press.’) Then there was his sex scene as Curt Wild – his infamous Kurt Cobain-Iggy Pop hybrid – with Christian Bale in 1998’s Velvet Goldmine, an experience he likes to think of as ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi fucking Batman’, and his portrayal of a bisexual translator in Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book, which he performs almost entirely naked.

At this point, I bite into my croissant. I look down at my shoes. I fiddle with the tablecloth, hum, do anything but look McGregor directly in the eye, because a strange question is lurking in the back of my mind. It’s gaining momentum, hurtling forward like a juggernaut. It’s the elephant in the room. I am outraged, I blurt out, at the number of shameless female journalists who insist on referring to his male appendage. He smirks as my face fills with boiling blood. But he does, I add, take his clothes off frequently in films. ‘But I’ve only been naked pre-, during or post- a sex scene. I don’t just get my cock out for laughs,’ he protests. I beg to differ, I say, bringing up his rock ’n’ roll performance as Wild in which, sweat-drenched, he gyrates wildly, showers himself in glitter and proceeds to expose the full glory of his package to his live audience at Brixton Academy (‘Fucking hell. I forgot about that. You’re dead right’). Though, in both The Ghost and Beginners, McGregor keeps his towel firmly glued to his waist. ‘I have to be careful in films now. Because if people think, “There’s McGregor taking his clothes off again,” it can actually distract people from the movie.’ Yes, Ewan, it is quite distracting.

3

or all his Madonna-like career reinvention, behind his ever-thrusting present lurks the shadow of his own past. So intricately bound is his identity to the iconography of the Nineties – the cult of Trainspotting, the Primrose Hill set, and the dynamic energies of Cool Britannia – that he became not only the living, cocksure embodiment of our nation’s hopes, but also of our subsequent fin-de-siècle disillusionment. Some 15 years later, McGregor is sentimental about that time before the Fall. ‘I had this amazing little flat above the Polish café in Primrose Hill. Jude Law, Jonny Lee Miller and Sean Pertwee were always there.’ His eyes mist over. ‘I don’t see that lot as much as I’d like to any more. I love Jude very much. I was so pleased to hear about Jonny’s success in Frankenstein. I was the first to leave our production company Natural Nylon in 2002, and that broke it up, so I am partly responsible for us not seeing each other as much. But I don’t think there’s any bad blood…’ As charming as he is during breakfast, I feel a certain pang for the erstwhile roar and thunder of McGregor in his unguarded years – the nights drinking with journalists at Soho House, expounding with passion his anti-Hollywood diatribe, exposing the industry for all its emperor’s-new-clothes vanity. But that was when he was drinking (he later confessed to being a functioning alcoholic). ‘I’d be walking home at 6am and I’d kind of come to and think, “Oh no, here I am again.” I’d drink all the time – interviews were fair game. I said unkind things about people. I used to slag off LA, but I didn’t really know anything about it then. I didn’t like the system with the use of actors as A-list, B-list and C-list. But it’s the same here.’ He has been teetotal for almost 10 years now. (‘I’ve fantasies about drinking, but they’re not just about having a glass of wine, they’re about having five bottles. It’s not really a fantasy. It’s a nightmare…’) Ironically, acquiescing to the big-studio system, once so reviled, would lead him into career wilderness. In 1998, he accepted the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new Star Wars prequel trilogy (the cult films, so much a part of the mythology of his childhood in rural Perthshire, proved too hard to resist). Thereafter, the Hollywood offers rolled in – and, with them, the mixed reviews. But he is sanguine about the fact that his instincts have not always paid off. CONTINUED ON PAGE 180

TO THE WATERS AND THE WILD Brown wool jumper, £320, Bally. White cotton top, £23, American Apparel. Rose gold Cellini watch with leather strap, £4,280, Rolex at Time2, One Hyde Park. Ring, his own. See Stockists for details. Grooming by Martina Luisetti

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After all, his career has hitherto been of Teflon made; his potent charisma and versatility are his eternal saving grace. Though, throughout the on-off Hollywood years, he had to devise coping strategies. There were turns on the West End stage (Guys and Dolls in 2005 and Othello in 2007) and the BBC’s Long Way… series, motorbiking around the globe with his friend Charley Boorman. Was this his disaffected-with-Hollywood, dropping-out, beardgrowing, Joaquin Phoenix moment? ‘Yeah, but he was making a film… Er, wait a minute! So was I.’ He chortles. ‘OK. I like what you’re doing there…’ With Advil fully metabolised, McGregor, now bundled into a taxi, is chatting away like a loquacious five-year-old en route to the shoot at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, pointing at pavement life. ‘Oh, look at the lady with the gold hat and purple boa… Look at all the gravel drives. I want one. I don’t have one of those in London or even in LA.’ His wife Eve lived in this area when they first met in 1994, on the set of Kavanagh QC, he tells me, and memories of his 23-year-old self cruising on his motorbike to visit his young French love are flooding back. He could not have imagined, back then, that at 40, he would be ensconced in suburban Los Angeles in Brentwood, Santa Monica, where he moved in 2008. ‘It would bore me to death driving around in this Valium lifestyle. You’d soon lose critical faculty,’ he once said. This irony is not lost on him, but he is surprisingly blasé about the pernicious pressures of LA life on his daughters – though, under his staunchly civilian tutelage, one suspects them to be well-adjusted beings. Esther is 10, the same age as Jamiyan, who the McGregors adopted from Mongolia in 2006 (something he never shouts about), and Clara is 15. That’s a dangerous age, I warn. ‘I’m not worried about boys. I took her to see Juno when she was 13 and said, “See! Just be careful,”’ he riffs. ‘She does go to a school with rich West LA kids. But she’s not crying because she doesn’t have a Prada handbag. Cars are the big thing now. You can get your learner’s permit at 15-and-a-half, and some of her friends are coming to school in new Audi A7s and new fucking Mercedes as starter cars. I worked from the age of 14 as a dishwasher. By the time I was 16, I’d bought myself a second-hand VW Beetle.’ He is equally nonplussed by the A-list tweeting culture (though he doesn’t rant about his recent Twitter imposter or the ripple of allegations that have linked him to superinjunction-gate). ‘I don’t tweet or follow anyone. I’m quite analogue. I can understand it works for a pop star like Lady Gaga, but I think it’s a bit embarrassing to have an account as an actor – it’s like having your own official fansite.’ And it’s hard to believe that McGregor (formerly of the soapbox) is not repulsed by the amount of Botox freezing West Coast epidermises. ‘Well, there’s a certain section of ladies there that look like they are walking into a gale. I was driving to the airport the other day and I saw a woman with her entire face bandaged up. It looked awful. My wife doesn’t use it and nor do I. Someone offered it to me because I’ve got a frown mark and I said, “But I’m an actor, I need to use my face.”’ Whatever lines have set in on his countenance, they have not detracted from his boyish air. Though maturing, he says, has its advantages. ‘Carrying a film like The Ghost is wonderful, but it’s great sometimes to come onto a set, like with Jack and the Giant Killer, and see Nicholas Hoult ( Jack) and I’m like, “OK, you carry the fucker. I’ll be over here playing my knight.”’ But whatever he’d like us to believe, McGregor is not quite ready for his slippers. After Beginners, he releases Perfect Sense, a dark, apocalyptic film directed by David Mackenzie; a new Steven Soderbergh production; and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (he insists on looking up his new salmon-related vocabulary – see ‘salmonoid’ – on his iPhone as we arrive, promising to channel his ‘inner geography teacher’ on the shoot to impress me). ‘I like working. I don’t make very much money on the small films, so I have to do lots of them. I just have to keep working – got a big life to pay for.’ With that, he slides open the van doors, disembarks (with a tiny stoop to safeguard his follicular triumph) and saunters off through the grassy wilderness. ‘Beginners’ is released nationwide on 22 July. www.harpersbazaar.co.uk


KISS FROM A ROSE Salma Hayek wears stretch velvet dress, about £2,170, Zac Posen. Yellow gold, diamond and onyx necklace; yellow gold and peridot ring, both from a selection, Cartier

It may surprise you to know that Salma Hayek hasn’t always been ahead of the curve. Beautiful, intelligent, talented, outspoken, not to mention the wife of one of fashion’s most powerful men, she is clearly a force to be reckoned with. So why does she still feel she is fighting a battle? STEPHANIE RAFANELLI finds out Photographs by PAOLA KUDACKI Styled by GABRIELE HACKWORTHY


AGENT PROVOCATEUR Stretch lamb-skin skirt, £1,190, Jitrois. Leather belt, £845, Alexander McQueen. Polyamide and elastane gloves, £40, Cornelia James. Yellow gold, diamond and onyx necklace, from a selection, Cartier

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adies and gentlemen!’ a small voice declares from behind the tangles of black chiffon, sequined net and feathers of Bazaar’s clothing rail. ‘Please welcome…’ (imaginary drum roll) ‘Mrs Pinault!’ The fiveyear-old ringmaster of this performance emerges from her haute couture den-cumdressing-up box, throwing open her arms to introduce her prize act. Mrs Pinault, better known as Salma Hayek, steps forward on cue: arched brow, crimson pout, hands around her waist, turning like a show pony in a red Elvira-style gown, while the tiny chest of her cherubic mini-me (Valentina, her daughter with fashion conglomerate PPR’s CEO François-Henri Pinault) expands an inch with pride. Then, suddenly, mother and daughter collapse in hysterics that roll into lavish hugs until they are a petite bundle (5’2” and 4’ respectively) of exuberance. Eventually rising, Hayek turns and pads up the spiral staircase in bare feet, dress trailing on the floor behind her, and in front of the camera, the intensity of maternal passion transforms into sexual desire: an expressive, syrupy magnetism. The body is famously and unmistakably Fifties: the exaggerated out-inand-out-again silhouette of Loren, Mansfield, Russell, packaged in a tiny frame. ‘Back then, standards of perceived beauty celebrated what a woman is supposed to look like, with curves,’ proclaims the 46-year-old actor later, with cadences that rise and fall like waves against her hometown beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. ‘But in recent years we have had to fight against our genetic nature to look like something we are not, to look like little boys, to be socially accepted as beautiful,’ she continues, her vocal texture all black velvet. ‘It used to be that a young girl could not wait to grow up and take the shape of a woman. Now our goal is regression, to look younger and like a child. There has not been enough diversity of body shape in fashion. That’s terribly important. Fashion should be an art form that is executed on different canvases.’ By now Hayek is curled up, Sergio Rossi heels kicked off beside her, in a chair in the lobby bar of the Manhattan Mandarin Oriental. She is wearing a string of pearls and a black Stella McCartney fringed mini-dress (her husband owns the brand, as well as Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi,


and Saint Laurent Paris under the new creative directorship of Hedi Slimane. ‘He is a genius, and I have heard from a very good source that what is about to be unveiled is quite extraordinary,’ she teases). ‘Of course, I don’t think that women should let go and say to the designers, “Well, that is your problem, you have to make me look good!” No!’ She dabs her hand on my knee like a kitten extending its paw. ‘But I don’t think you have to be unhealthy and not eat in order to be able to wear a dress.’ She lifts up the fringes of her McCartney creation and grabs her belly voraciously. ‘This dress is amazing because it covers it all up. I also have a problem because I am very short with large breasts – I am a D-cup, a double D sometimes – and a small neck, and if you don’t put on tight clothes underneath it, your boobs, they take over part of your décolleté. So I wear a lot of cleavage [sic]. If you don’t open it up, you look like an Oompa Loompa. They paint you green and you’re part of the Chocolate Factory.’ Such a compactly sensual body (worshipped since her performance in 1996’s Tarantino-scribed From Dusk Till Dawn) has always been a distraction from Hayek’s true sources of power. An Oscar-nominated actor and producer (she single-mindedly fought for eight years, out-foxing both Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, to produce and star in Frida, a biopic of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo); director and Golden Globe-nominated film executive (responsible for the global success of ABC’s Ugly Betty); and human-rights spokeswoman (she has campaigned for Unicef, runs the Salma Hayek Foundation and has testified for the repeal of the Violence Against Women Act in US Congress), in 2008 she was placed 17th in Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Smartest People in TV, and she has been dubbed ‘one of the smartest women I’ve ever met’ by Oprah Winfrey. Indeed, Salma Hayek is a bombshell in a shot glass, a café cortado of a woman: packed with intelligence, passion, directness, sharp wit and sexual power in their most concentrated and potent forms. ‘If Salma had been a man, she would have been as big as Harvey Weinstein,’ her friend and Frida co-star Alfred Molina tells me. ‘I think it’s easy to underestimate anyone who is pretty and petite. But the truth is it is very dangerous to do so. I sometimes think the world is littered with arrogant men who didn’t take Salma seriously and now they are sitting in dark rooms wondering what the hell went wrong.’ Hayek’s own overview of her career is a little more tongue-incheek. ‘It’s a miracle that I am still working,’ she says. ‘I don’t think you can get more to the bottom of the ladder than a Mexican or an Arab – my father is Lebanese – and the worst thing you can be in Hollywood is a woman and over 40. On top of that, I have an accent, am dyslexic, short and chubby. You name it, I have it, but here I am. I must be the luckiest girl in the world to be working.’ And working she most definitely is, most notably in Oliver Stone’s new film Savages, in which she plays Elena, a woman of steel in a blunt-cut Cleopatra wig, who is willing to torture and kidnap to keep control of power. ‘There are certain women who know that they are going to be a part of history and they create a very memorable character. I felt that Elena was one of these women. I think

DUSK TILL DAWN Leather skirt, £1,085, Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière. Bra, £198, Bordelle at the Lingerie Collective. Yellow gold ring, from a selection, Cartier

in order to survive in that world she had to create a character that was outside herself. Cleopatra had that wig that was her trademark; Eva Perón, Frida Kahlo, they all found power in their look.’ In the film, Hayek assumes the ‘character’ (read euphemism for older woman) role, which Stone wrote specifically for her – ‘He was wondering if I could still do it, if motherhood and my new life – I am a very, very happy girl – had softened me’ – while Blake Lively plays the central love interest to Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Taylor Kitsch. But there was no All About Eve-style rivalry. ‘Blake was very strong about not taking all her clothes off for the sex scenes,’ says Hayek. ‘I love her because she stood up for herself. It was a man’s world, but we stuck together on set. We had the girls’ club… and women have a lot more strength when they stick together.’ Green tea, seaweed and dumplings arrive. ‘Blake has the most amazing legs. I look at them and say, “Oh my God, what must life be like with those legs?” Do I envy her? Of course I envy those legs. Do I wish she didn’t have them? Not for a second. That’s the difference between envy and jealousy of other women. It’s admiring.’ She waves her chopsticks in the air like batons. ‘We go, “Wow, look at Angelina Jolie’s mouth, is it real? Wow. What would it be like to have that mouth?” When you look at Madonna… let me tell you she is older than me and I wish I had her body now. Do I envy Madonna’s body? Yes. Do I thank God that she has it? Yes! If you’re fiftysomething and you look like Madonna, and you put a lifetime’s work into the way you look, then flash it to the world!’ Hayek is not interested in bland, tactful statements – she shoots from the hip: a mesmerising quality that has interlocutors tripping off her every word (as she fixes you unflinchingly in the eye, whipping up a sermon, be it in on politics, motherhood or love). It’s fitting that director Roberto Rodriguez cast her as a snake charmer in From Dusk Till Dawn. OK, it was a blatantly male, rather unimaginative interpretation of Hayek’s feminine power, but you don’t have to be in possession of Y chromosomes to find her irresistible. The selfmockery, the feistiness, the strong pro-women stance, the incongruous emotional candour – being around Hayek turns out to be an empowering, feminist experience. Being in her orbit simply reminds you that you are a woman with a capital W. So it won’t surprise you to learn that Hayek is not fainthearted. In the past she has even received death threats, when she drew attention to police negligence with regards to the mass femicide in the city of Juárez in Mexico, where over 700 women were found dead between 1993 and 2007. Savages is far from squeamish in its portrayal of violent crime in Mexico; I ask her if highlighting drugrelated brutality was an imperative when taking on the film. ‘I have to be honest,’ she says carefully. ‘I don’t get calls to work with that many iconic directors. After I did Frida, I thought that things would change for me and that I would start being offered great parts, but I still just got offered the same roles.’ She gives a prolonged shrug. ‘So the fact that Oliver Stone offered me a movie, I was already going to say yes. But on top of that it was something that I don’t think is talked about enough: that not only is there violence in Mexico but that the US is involved in it. The arms are coming from

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‘The worst thing you can be in Hollywood is a woman and over 40. On top of that, I have an accent, am dyslexic, short and chubby. I must be the luckiest girl in the world to be working’


SCARLET FEVER Sculptural rubber dress, £2,120, Lanvin. Patent heels, £395, Christian Louboutin. Yellow gold, onyx and emerald bangle, from a selection, Cartier


the US and so many people have died but America does nothing. They are in Iraq, the Middle East and North Korea, but what about their next-door neighbours?’ Hayek might have another motive for taking the role. The daughter of a Lebanese oil executive, she was kidnapped as a teenager with a fellow student for nine hours. It is perhaps apt that Hayek ended up in a world defined by luxury. ‘My mother and grandmother were very elegant,’ she says. ‘They had these hourglass figures, with full bosoms and tiny waists. My grandmother looked and acted like a Hollywood star.’ Legend has it that as a child Hayek was given a pet tiger as a present. ‘It was an ocelot!’ she counters, popping a dumpling in her mouth. ‘Can you imagine? His name was Rambo and he was the sweetest cat. He was very tame. A cat for protection…’ As a young girl, Hayek wrote and directed plays for her family and friends, and in 1988 she dropped out of university to become an actor. She was soon cast in one of Mexico’s most successful telenovelas (soaps), Teresa, and by the time she was 23, she had become a national obsession. She felt it was time to escape so, at 24, she arrived in LA as an unknown Mexican actor, where she studied with Stella Adler; her fellow pupils included Benicio del Toro (her co-star in Savages). But she was told again and again that no one would cast her – no audience would pay to see an actor, however talented or beautiful, who sounded like their maid. ‘When I saw The Artist, I really related to it,’ she says, raising a brow. ‘That would have been a great part for me. You know, Dolores del Rio was Mexican and a huge star in the late Twenties, and when sound came in no one would hire her because of her accent. She had to go back to Mexico. And since the time of Dolores del Rio, there hadn’t been another Mexican actress who got leading roles, until me.’ Although Hayek’s film career has been, by her own admission, a little patchy – from movies such as Dogma and Timecode to Grown Ups and the role of Kitty Softpaws in Puss in Boots – her very existence in film in the 1990s opened the gateway to Hollywood for other Latin actresses. But being a pioneer has never been easy, despite her inimitable fighting spirit. It was not until she was spotted by another Latin industry figure, director Rodriguez, on a Spanish-language chat show, speaking out in true Hayek style about how Mexican actresses didn’t get work in Hollywood, that she got her first break. ‘She was amazing,’ says Rodriguez. ‘I knew that she was the star. I was looking for Latin actors for a film called Desperado with Antonio Banderas. But the studio wouldn’t take her on because she had never worked in English before, so I had to shoot a whole film [Roadracers, 1994] with her to convince them to let her do a screen test. When it came to From Dusk Till Dawn, Tarantino wrote the part for Madonna, but then I suggested, since it was set in Mexico, that he rewrite it for Salma. Unfortunately, she was completely afraid of snakes, but I said, “If you don’t start touching these snakes, this part will go to Madonna.” She got over the fear pretty quickly.’ Although Hayek’s turns in Rodriguez’s cult Mariachi trilogy made an impact, being cast as a bombshell CONTINUED ON PAGE 235

‘I always wanted to be a mother. But I was clear I shouldn’t go around desperately looking for the father of my children’

A BRILLIANT MIND Stretch velvet dress, about £2,170, Zac Posen. Yellow gold and diamond necklace; yellow gold and peridot ring, both from a selection, Cartier. See Stockists for details. Hair by Chris McMillan at Solo Artists. Make-up by Genevieve Herr at Sally Harlour. Manicure by Donna D at Artists by Timothy Priano

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EVA FOR EVER From Bertolucci to Bond, Eva Green has cast a spell in a string of darkly captivating screen roles. And now, the French bombshell and self-confessed oddball has caught the eye of moody movie maestro Tim Burton. Here, she tells STEPHANIE RAFANELLI about on-screen sex scenes, her strange passion for insects and her obsession with Helena Bonham Carter Photographs by CAMILLA AKRANS. Styled by FRANCK BENHAMOU


TOM FORD’S GORGEOUS GOWN BRINGS SEXY BACK Eva Green wears white stretch-silk-cady dress, about £2,575, Tom Ford. Previous page: white wool jacket, £1,700, Balmain


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gave birth to myself yesterday,’ French actor Eva Green deadpans over the rim of a crimson glass of Bordeaux, her eyes widening like a silent movie star’s, beneath heavy slashes of kohl. ‘I had a body cast. It was like being in a David Lynch film. They cover you with plaster. You have to stay really calm. When they remove the head, the first thing you see is your own face. It was really surreal.’ As she marvels, her hands part in front of her, re-performing the act of her twin’s creation, made for special effects in her upcoming role in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. ‘But because I didn’t shave my legs properly, they had to cut me out of the rest. I gave birth to myself. Then I watched two people carry my body out of the room.’ A demi-bottle down and an hour into our conversation, I am already deeply immersed in le monde according to Eva Green; the existential visions, the impassioned cinephilia, the facial gestures (without which her words lose meaning), the non-sequiturs, the black humour that bursts forth unexpectedly from her softly spoken, sometimes inaudibly uttered sentences. Although her name evokes the lightness of springtime, at just 30, the actor and new star of Channel 4’s Camelot is as dark and intense as vintage Château Lafite. ‘I am a nerd! I live life in this weird bubble, I know… Sometimes I feel so old,’ she declares in immaculately crisp, haute English, with only the occasional over-elongated vowel to hint at her true nationality (though it is entirely unplaceable, like a native accent once lost in the classrooms of Roedean). ‘I feel like I’m dead or something. Like I’m a ghost. Just wandering.’ Green perches next to me on a velvet sofa in the salon de thé at Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris: hair brutally scraped back à la Callas, black boots, black jeans, black sweater, giant cartoon eyes, domed forehead, exquisite pallor; she is Bela Lugosi’s perfect woman, Morticia meets Jessica Rabbit; a Gothic Greta Garbo. It is no surprise that those seduced by her dramatic aesthetic include John Galliano, for whom Green was campaign face and muse at Dior in 2008 (she has also fronted campaigns for Giorgio Armani, and still has a contract with Montblanc); Bernardo Bertolucci, who cast her, aged 22, in her first screen role, The Dreamers; Ridley Scott, who directed her in crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven in 2005; and, of course, James Bond himself, in Casino Royale. The distant, mysterious air and the alternating imperviousness and unrelenting obsession in her performances have proved an irresistible cocktail. ‘She is a very cool customer; she’s got that Caligula look in her eyes,’ Bertolucci once said. It is this quality, along with a certain otherworldliness, that saw Green cast alongside Nicole Kidman, as Serafina the witch, in The Golden Compass (2007); and now as legendary sorceress Morgan le Fey in 10-part series Camelot, which begins in May on Channel 4, co-starring Joseph Fiennes as Merlin and Claire Forlani as Igraine, Arthur’s mother. ‘People think Morgan is the evil sister to Arthur, but throughout the series, you see that she has been really damaged,’ says Green.

GREEN’S HOURGLASS SILHOUETTE GETS THE MOST FROM THIS DECADENT SHOWSTOPPER Silk crepe dress, £2,820, Yves Saint Laurent


‘She’s been kicked out by her father and banished to a nunnery for 15 years – that’s enough to make anyone bitter.’ A wry grin comes out of nowhere, then disappears. ‘The only thing that keeps her alive in the convent is the thought of winning the throne. The throne. The throne. She is denied power because she is a woman. She’s ballsy, like Joan of Arc and Lady Macbeth mixed into one.’ She pauses for thought. ‘I could never be that character, because she is fearless…’ She visibly shrinks for a moment and trails off. Green’s Morgan is defiantly baroque, wimple-clad and ferally sexual – at night, she communes naked with wolves – and one warms to her rather more than legendary ‘good boy’ Merlin and his Mandelson-like political machinations. ‘The beauty of casting Eva as Morgan is that she can play beautiful, powerful and evil, but she is also able to bring seduction and vulnerability to the role to make her human,’ Forlani tells me. ‘She’s very shy, but she has a wonderfully quirky sense of humour, which is quite surprising.’ Green is renowned for her choosiness over screen roles (‘I am so, so picky. I know. Some people think I don’t work enough’) and her obsessive pre-production preparation, which has included the aforementioned complete eradication of her French accent (some linguistic feat). For Camelot, she read ‘a lot of magic books’. She is currently working on an American accent for Burton’s Dark Shadows. ‘My voice coach says I should use my American accent all the time. But I am no Daniel Day-Lewis. I’d sound so pretentious! My American is fucked from learning the English accent. There was pressure for Bond. Sometimes I can sound more French…’ She slips playfully into Franglais. Her characters are always so immaculately spoken. Can she do cockney? ‘Yeah, me love! Don’t know!’ she blurts out in a rather Matt Lucas outburst. ‘I would love to do something to break this dark-lady, fucking-posh-whatever image. Yeah.’ Then, after a while, she adds: ‘Accents change everything in your body. American is like, “Open your legs.” [Brash West Coast accent, uncrossing of thighs.] American is so cool, and I am so uncool.’ Green’s insistent self-representation as a ‘nerd’ and ‘weirdo’ is one of her – albeit quirky – charms, and one that unites her with the Burton ‘outsiders’ camp. Her casting as Angelique, a witch, in Burton’s film remake of Addams Family-style Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, which aired on ABC in the late 1960s, is of course inspired. ‘Burton is a god. My favourite film is Beetlejuice. It was my childhood. This part is like a gift from the heavens,’ she enthuses, slapping my knee for emphasis. ‘I love the fact that he is like a child. He gets excited so quickly. He can have a big head because he is one of the geniuses of his world. He even gave me a book on anthropology [from his MoMA exhibition].’ Green is surely a kindred spirit of the Holy Trinity of Burton, Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. The fourth element. If Winona Ryder was Edward Scissorhands’ great love, then Green could have been his twin sister. The pair share a quality that seems born of another time. ‘In Dark Shadows, Johnny and I are like The Eagle with Two Heads,’ she says, referring to Jean Cocteau’s 1948 masterpiece. ‘In some ways, we are the same creature.’ It is Bonham Carter that Green is most excited to meet,

though. ‘I think I will just pass out. I adore her so much, it’s a joke. I watched A Room With a View so many times when I was sad, and I’d go completely crazy.’ She makes impassioned hand gestures. ‘The Puccini music. La, la, la…’ Embracing challenging roles has been cathartic for Green, a way to exorcise shyness by embracing extremes, though the journey is often a painful one. ‘People don’t realise how shy I am because I exude confidence, which makes me come across as cold. But when I have castings or meetings, I’m constantly thinking, “Oh no, please, not a panic attack.” I hate auditions. You come with it written on your forehead: “PLEASE” [she traces the letters with her finger], and when I’m working I am always worried about disappointing or getting fired.’ She chuckles at herself, as if she feels partly exasperated and partly affectionate about the whole thing. ‘It’s completely paradoxical. Completely masochistic. There’s all this competition and insecurity, and I am completely insecure with some choices and very confident with others. I should lie down with a psychiatrist…’ So why put herself through it all? ‘I feel more centred when I’m prepping a character, which is crazy. Schizophrenic. Maybe I don’t like myself…’ She trails off. ‘I don’t know!’ Whatever the answer, Green is always fearless in her performances – never more so than in her first film role, at 22, in Bertolucci’s controversial film The Dreamers (2003), a tale of incest, cruelty and teenage sexual experimentation, against the background of 1968 Paris student riots (including an extended and graphic deflowering scene). ‘When I first met Eva, it took me barely two minutes to decide to cast her in the role of Isabelle for The Dreamers,’ Bertolucci tells me. ‘I was struck by the mystery within her beauty. At the end of our first meeting, I asked her to cry. She told me to time her, and within seven seconds her eyes welled up with tears. She was extraordinarily selfconfident and had a mastery of technique for one who had never acted before.’ ‘I had an enormous Last Tango in Paris poster in my bedroom,’ says Green, ‘and I saw that film so many times. Then Bertolucci asked to meet me.’ Her blue eyes appear momentarily grey. ‘When you film something, it doesn’t feel controversial. You do a sex scene, and people put you in a box. “Ahh, French, sexy.” I remember seeing the film, and the nudity is violent. It’s rough seeing yourself. I was very self-conscious – it’s like seeing your own guts on the screen.’ Maria Schneider famously complained of her brutal treatment at the hands of Brando and Bertolucci while filming Last Tango in Paris. ‘Maybe he was different on Last Tango…’ says Green. ‘We felt like his children. He invited us to his house every weekend. We ate good food… At first, my mother wasn’t happy when she found out what the story was about… For my parents, it was not a character having sex – it was me! Even now, my father has all my films on DVD. Bond. Tick. The Golden Compass. Tick. Cracks. Tick. But he never bought The Dreamers.’ Green’s parents are no strangers to art-house cinema: her mother is Algerian-born French actor Marlène Jobert – discovered by Jean-Luc Godard, who cast her alongside Brigitte Bardot in Masculin Féminin in 1966 (she is now a children’s writer). Her father Walter Green is a Swedish dentist who Jobert met, rather prosaically, on a routine check-up, though he went on to star

YSL’S TAKE ON THIS SEASON’S WHITE SUIT IS A PICTURE OF REFINED SOPHISTICATION Cotton canvas jacket, £655; suede and gold-lamé belt, £270, both Yves Saint Laurent

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‘People don’t realise how shy I am because I exude confidence, which makes me come across as cold. But when I have castings or meetings, I’m constantly thinking, “Oh no, please, not a panic attack”’


that same year in Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar, a film about a battered donkey. In July 1980, Jobert gave birth to twins, Eva and Joy; by Green’s accounts, the pair were always very different, antithetical (though they get on now; today, Joy breeds horses at her home in Normandy with her husband, an Italian count of the Antinori winegrowing family). At school, Joy was outgoing and social, while her sister was all ‘work, work, work’. ‘Boyfriends? No! I was too obsessed. I reached a point where I was saturated. I hated going to school. So many teachers are not passionate. Like undertakers. Sadists.’ She snaps her fingers. ‘At 16, I transferred to the American school in Paris. And it saved me. Suddenly, I was like this little chick coming out of an egg. It was like a fashion show every day. I dyed my hair from blonde to black, and I felt stronger. I started dressing up, expressing myself. I would wear a purple velvet dress and matching eyeshadow.’ This newly claimed theatricality had its roots in Green’s burgeoning desire to become an actor, despite her mother’s anxieties about the unsuitability of her daughter’s fragile temperament for such a career. Green’s ambition was inspired most notably by seeing, at the age of 14, Isabelle Adjani in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H (1975). At 17, she went on to study drama, including a brief spell at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. It is ironic that, as an adult, Green has so far chosen to act mainly in English. ‘Because my mother was quite famous in France,’ she says. ‘Because I have this complex that things were easier for her.’ She and her mother are very close. When Green is in Paris, her base is still her parental home in the 17th arrondissement (she divides her time between there and a flat in Primrose Hill); and Jobert still accompanies her daughter on all her film shoots. ‘She helps me,’ says Green. ‘At the end of the day, she says, “Are we going to run through your lines?”’

You’re like, “God!” On the night, Tom was going to say everything. He agreed, but then Tom Hardy came into the room and said, “Are you going to say something? Can you utter a word?”’ Another shrug. ‘People think, because you’re an actress, you can… [snaps fingers]. But my legs go wobbly and I feel like I’m going to pass out or scream or something. And no one will ever want to hire me again. You’re completely paranoid.’ Though hailed as a style icon, Green seems to find her sartorial reputation somewhat amusing. ‘The magazines made such a fuss one year, when I wore a kimono [to a Dior event]. I’m now on the blacklist.’ She raises both eyebrows sardonically – perfectly horizontal and pencilled. ‘It’s fun, but it’s taken too seriously. The first question on the red carpet is “Whadda ya wearing?”’ she drawls in immaculate showbiz-reporter-speak. ‘I’m like, “Who gives a fuck? Let’s talk about my movie!”’ When she’s not gowning up for an award ceremony, Green’s daily uniform is head-to-toe black. Today she is sporting a smattering of Topshop (‘I go there once every four months at 9am. It’s got to be 9am. You can only try on six items, so I give up after that’). For special occasions, she visits Alexander McQueen. But she ‘hangs out in jogging bottoms’ in the comfort of her home, to her mother’s consternation (‘She thinks I need to make more effort!’). When in London, Green retires to her Primrose Hill flat, which she bought in 2005. Despite being a virtual neighbour of Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin et el, she professes to having never met any of the scene’s movers and shakers. She is merely professional and polite about Daniel Craig, and says she has yet to bump into Burton and Bonham Carter on Hampstead High Street (‘I don’t hang out with actors. My friends are hairdressers, make-up artists, stylists, journalists, dialect coaches’). It makes you wonder if perhaps Green is right – she is somewhat elusive – even ghostly. ‘I can make myself invisible!’ She extracts a beanie from a tangled jumble at the bottom of her handbag and encircles her eyes, playfully, with her fingers (to represent her shades), resembling a foxy Hunter S Thompson. Disguised thus, she roams freely throughout our metropolis. ‘I love to take the Tube. Here in Paris, people talk less than in London, but it is fascinating to hear what people are saying. Two weeks ago, I was running for the Métro. The train stopped, opened its door and the driver said, “Get in.” He started to explain to me how the guts of Paris work, and he asked if I wanted to drive.’ Very ‘Bond girl’. As is her new fitness craze: ‘Thai boxing! It’s brutal. You feel like Angelina Jolie in Salt. You need to do it to release the shit everyday. You can be like, “Raaaaaaaaa…”’ Then there’s the marvellously Gothic pursuit of collecting insects (‘The Evolution store in New York is amazing, with stuffed animals and framed insects’), though Green’s bug passion has been fading since a plague of moths infested her flat. ‘It’s like a horror movie. You have to get the council to fumigate. I am changing my mind about insects.’ She prefers to spend her time in such pursuits than hang out at Soho House (‘I hate it. I go to the Wolseley when I look fancy. It’s all black and steak tartare’). She is a stalwart of St John Bread & Wine in Spitalfields, and now Trullo in Islington, and ‘lives on Baker & Spice’ though, in general, she CONTINUED ON PAGE 179

‘At 16, I transferred to the American school in Paris. And it saved me. Suddenly, I was like this little chick coming out of an egg. I dyed my hair from blonde to black, and I felt stronger. I would wear a purple velvet dress and After The Dreamers, Green worked, in 2005, matching eyeshadow’ with Ridley Scott on Kingdom of Heaven; and Scott’s wife introduced her to John Galliano. In 2006, after her turn as the smart-talking Bond girl Vesper Lynd, whose betrayal crushes Daniel Craig’s vulnerable 007 (and who gets to utter the memorable, ego-puncturing line ‘I will be keeping my eye on our government’s money and off your perfectly formed arse’), Green was announced as the new face of Dior Beauté; and in 2007, she appeared as a Gothic Cinderella in a short film ad for Midnight Poison, by In the Mood for Love director Wong Kar-Wai. ‘John Galliano is a very nice man, even though he is going through a really terrible time,’ says Green. ‘Very shy. Now, I could say terrible things. I have some Jewish blood, though I am not practising. I don’t want to say anything against him. Under pressure, one can do really weird things. We don’t know what those people said to him to provoke him or piss him off. It’s hard because people fuck up. You need people to support you, and I hope he has good people around him.’ Galliano is not Green’s only haute-fashion admirer. She recently presented a Bafta with Tom Ford (she won her own in 2007, for Casino Royale). ‘He made a dress for me for the night, so we had two or three fittings. Everything is perfect. He is very sexy. The smell!

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TENDER IS THE NIGHT – ELEGANT EVENINGWEAR ENJOYS A DARKLY ROMANTIC MOOD Purple silk dress, £3,800, Dior. See Stockists for details. Hair by Shon at Julian Watson Agency, using L’Oréal Professionnel. Make-up by Wendy Rowe at Caren, using L’Oréal Paris. Manicure by Christina Conrad at Calliste, using MAC Cosmetics


PHOTOGRAPHS: CAMILLA AKRANS, DAVID BAILEY

‘EVA FOR EVER’

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favours places that are ‘not too fashionable! With old grannies in!’ Though, with two new films being released this autumn – Womb, opposite Matt Smith, and Perfect Sense – Green will surely be straying by default into some of London’s chicest locales. She filmed Perfect Sense – an existential, and somewhat nihilistic, love story set against a backdrop of global apocalypse – with former Primrose Hill ringleader Ewan McGregor. It is dark, Threads-level bleak, even by Green’s standards. But the somewhat unbelievable premise (a disease robbing the world population of their senses) and the difficult script are brought to life by some of the most raw and authentic performances given by both actors. Watching Perfect Sense makes one ponder what it is like to be in love with Eva Green. ‘I am very demanding. Very intense. Sometimes I wish I could be…’ (She gyrates her finger, as if dialling on an old-school telephone. Approximate translation: ‘frivolous’.) ‘…do something just for fun. But I cannot!’ She says that she is currently single (she dated French actor/ director Yann Claassen from around 2000 to 2004, and then her Kingdom of Heaven co-star New Zealand actor Marton Csokas – the pair split in 2009). ‘I am a lesbian. A paedophile lesbian,’ she hoots. ‘I am a virgin – a nun, actually. A sexy lesbian, transsexual nun! I am going through a phase. It’s not exactly disillusionment, but…’ She drifts into a thoughtful reverie. ‘I do have a dog. Griffin; he’s a border terrier. He’s rough, very manly. He absorbs all my feelings. He’s living with my sister at the moment. But she’s about to have a baby. Perhaps I need to find Griffin a role in the Tim Burton film!’ She leaps to her feet. It’s past 10pm and she has to email Burton urgently with her thoughts about her look as Angelique. ‘I agreed with his decision yesterday, but then last night I was whirring, whirring, whirring. I just couldn’t sleep.’ Then, in a flurry, she throws her black coat around her like a cloak and shoots me a look – half amused, half defiant – confirming, as she packs up, that she is due to play Maria Callas (‘Though I will have to get a vocal coach to teach me to sing’). With that, she hugs me three times in succession. (For all her reputed aloofness, Green is infectiously warm, wickedly funny, wholly refreshing. One gets the feeling that she is unlike other actors who, though charming, compartmentalise their lives, separating themselves from those of civilians.) Then, like a noir apparition, she is gone. Leaving me alone beneath the elaborate ceilings and chandeliers of the Plaza Athénée to imagine her as ‘La Divina’: red lips in a perfect ‘O’ formation, Cleopatra eyes filled with anguish, heaving breast, the tortured warbles of her bel canto floating up into the late-night Parisian air. ‘Camelot’ airs on Channel 4 in June. ‘Perfect Sense’ and ‘Womb’ will both be released in cinemas nationwide in the autumn.

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and for the past 13 years in the Royal Ballet, he has performed the principal male role in nearly every classical ballet. In 2003, he downsized his role to principal guest artist for the Royal Ballet, to allow him to be freed up for other projects including, in 2007, his own autobiography, No Way Home (which he wrote without a ghost, in a fresh and guileless voice). For a dancer on the cusp of his forties – even one in as good shape as Acosta – choreography is, of course, a natural transition, and this July the London Coliseum sees the return of Acosta’s production Premieres Plus, which features collaborations with dancers and musicians. Then there was 2004’s Tocororo: A Cuban Tale, Acosta’s own ballet based on his life story, in which Yonah Acosta, his nephew and a dancer for the English National Ballet, played the young Carlos. He has even completed a novel, Pata de Puerco, a first-person narrative about a Cuban slave settlement from the 1800s to the present day. ‘I have no idea if it’s any good, but I started it, and I finished it, and I am very proud.’ Having lived such a peripatetic existence, it is hardly surprising that Acosta’s Cuban roots have become the focal point of his personal work. Yet, after several decades of London life – he lives in Islington with his English fiancée – his Latin identity now sits comfortably alongside a British sensibility. ‘When I first arrived, I was very lonely – the Opera House was closed, I had broken up with my girlfriend, I had no friends and no dancing,’ he tells me, passionately. ‘But I never felt like a foreigner. This is one of the best things this country has to offer. The British value talent and embrace the new. It doesn’t matter where you come from.’ But Cuba is still ‘deep within’ him, and it is in his homeland that he plans to found his own dance company in the next five years to ‘build a bridge’ between Cuba and the rest of the world. ‘Dancers keep defecting, and it’s understandable because they have nowhere to grow artistically,’ he says. ‘I don’t want us to be outcasts, marooned. It’s time for me to give back. There are so many versions of me around the world. If we all return, this is how we will reveal our country.’ When he’s old and back in Cuba, rocking on his porch, which of his thousand memories will be most vivid when he closes his eyes? ‘I will remember Romeo & Juliet with Tamara, and the many great moments with Marianela Nuñez in La Fille Mal Gardée. Darcey [Bussell] I will remember for sure, Zenaida Yanowsky and, of course, Sylvie Guillem.’ Melancholy briefly washes over his sunny face. ‘It’s a wonnnderful life. I have been blessed.’ With that, he leaps up, and with a ‘Bueno mamita, ciao,’ and a Cuban-style kiss, he is gone, like a fleeting tropical sunburst in the London rain. ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is at the O2 (0844 856 0202; www.theo2.co.uk) from 17 to 19 June. ‘Premieres Plus’ is at the London Coliseum from 27 to 30 June; for tickets, ring 0871 911 0200, or visit www.eno.org.


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AND PENELOPE God created

With a sex appeal that women love and men worship, Penélope Cruz is the A-list beauty who shuns Hollywood for Europe, stays true to her art-house roots and goes home to Javier Bardem. Stephanie Rafanelli meets her in her hometown of Madrid to talk beauty, babies and the joy of karaoke It’s 10am at Madrid’s Hotel AC Santo Mauro and I’m beetroot-coloured, sweltering hot. This has less to do with Spanish climes – it is a mild autumn morning – than the frantic battle I am waging with my portable hairdryer. The thing is, in less than an hour I am to meet Penélope Cruz (among other things, the perfectly coiffed daughter of a beauty salon owner and Lancôme’s ambassador) and I am suffering from what might be termed Chronic Hair Anxiety. Symptoms include loss of brush control and shortness of breath, triggered by a bizarre dream overnight: I am in church worshipping the Virgin Mary, who turns out to be Penélope Cruz, hair cascading like a fountain. She bends down to touch my own inferior locks and wrinkles her nose. Since 4am, I have been somewhat blow-dry obsessed. I step downstairs to the empty restaurant in the hotel garden to get some air and some sanity. And there it is: the very mane in question, curling seductively like an upside-down question mark down the back

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of a charcoal cashmere shawl. A bearded, scruffy-looking man in a baseball jacket is stroking it protectively. This is Cruz’s husband of three years, Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem. Hyper-alert, he turns and raises a bushy eyebrow at my invasion of their intimate get-together. So I scamper off to wait for Cruz outside the pre-agreed meet location: two adjoining suites, one converted into a crèche for two-year-old Leonardo and his newly born sister, Luna. (Luna was delivered, very aptly, in July 2013 on the same day as our very own Prince George. She and her brother are virtual Spanish royalty, after all.) The occasional gurgle floats through the hotel corridor. Work commitments these days are a full-on Cruz/Bardem family affair. Of course, there are no obvious signs of recent childbirth on Cruz’s body, as photographs of her frolicking in the Corsican waves on holiday, only two months after Luna’s arrival, already bear witness. She strides into the suite with the posture

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ruz could easily be confused with the volatile, passion-crazed Maria Elena – all bed hair and abandon – in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The role marked her (hot, hot, hot) acting reunion with Bardem after a 10-year hiatus, and the beginning of their relationship. Allen once said, ‘Penélope has a quality of a wild animal.’ If so, then she is in feral protective mode in public: professional but cautious, polite but ready to pounce if necessary. Motherhood has been a ‘revolution’ in her life and she guards her family fiercely. Her work commitments have been pared down to only one film a year because, she says, ‘I want to raise my kids myself’, and she and Bardem have recently moved back to Madrid after a three-year stint in Los Angeles to be near their parents. (‘Everyone in LA is always talking about the industry,’ she tells me. ‘You’d think there was nothing else going on in the world.’) ‘I always knew that Penélope would make an amazing mother,’ says Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, Cruz’s mentor and careerlong collaborator. ‘She has no fear of love. You can see that in her work.’ In Almodóvar’s films, Cruz has invariably played maternal figures: at 22, a prostitute who gives birth on a bus (in Live Flesh in 1997); a pregnant nun (in 1999’s All About My Mother); and as ‘the mother of all mothers’, as he puts it, who fights to protect her daughter in Volver, for which she was nominated an Oscar in 2006. But it was not until the Italian film Twice Born – soon to be released on DVD – which Cruz made after the birth of Leonardo, and while she was still breastfeeding, that she could draw on her own instincts as a mother. In the film, she plays an infertile Italian woman, so desperate to have a child that she hires a young Bosnian girl to have a baby for her. ‘It was the first time I had played a mother, being one in real life, and it changed how I approached the role in a way that I cannot even explain. I understood it on a deeper level. Until you have a child, you just don’t know to what degree it can change you. It’s the biggest transformation of your life,’ she says, her nearly-black eyes softening. ‘People ask me whether I think a woman can be happy without a child. I have friends who don’t have that need. They don’t have kids and they are

very content. But the ones who want to have children and can’t, they can’t think about anything else. In the film, the most difficult scene is the one in which my character goes back to Bosnia after 16 years and finds the girl she paid to give her baby away. For a moment, she thinks that she is going to snatch her teenage son back – their bond is so strong. Having to play the fear that you’re going to have your child taken away from you, as a real mother, was the hardest, most emotional thing I have ever had to do in my career.’ She pronounces hardest like ‘heart-est’. Cruz understands a woman’s yearning for children not just through her own maternal urges. In May, her younger sister Monica gave birth, at 36, to a baby girl who she conceived with an anonymous sperm donor. ‘I think Monica is amazing and, yes, brave – I would use that word,’ she says, visibly controlling her emotions. ‘The way that she has decided to share her story with the world is really beautiful and inspiring. I think it had a lot of impact because she is not the kind of person to share her private life. But she wanted to talk about it to open the debate. I really respect and admire her for that.’ The sisters are famously close. When Cruz was filming Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and pregnant with Leo, Monica stepped in as her body double. In 2008, they modelled their own clothing line for Mango together. And last year they designed collections for both Spanish accessories label Loewe and Agent Provocateur. The promotional film for the latter, directed by Penélope, was a Cruz family extravaganza with music composed by brother Eduardo, hair styled by mother Encarna and cameo roles for Bardem and a very pregnant Monica. ‘It’s muy sexy,’ Cruz enthuses. ‘I did the whole thing – directed, wrote the script – and I cast every single woman there. I wanted it to be a celebration of female beauty. For me it was very important to have plus-size models and women of different ages, so some are 19 but some are 47. I was pregnant when I was directing it and I really wanted to include my beautiful sister because pregnant women also buy sexy underwear. I wanted to show that our collection is for everybody. It’s not something that you can only wear if you are a specific age and shape: eight stone, 5’ 10” and 22 years old.’ The resulting raunchy film fantasy caused a bit of a stir. ‘It was even censored on YouTube. Did you know that?’ she asks, with low-level outrage. ‘There are so many violent films on there – and they don’t even check your age or ask for your email address before you watch them. We actually got a lot of hits because people were curious: “How come they banned this video? Is Penélope Cruz perverted?” I don’t mind. I’d rather be called a pervert for that than the violence they allow teenagers to watch.’ Cruz’s bombshell status is powered partly by her nature – she’s a woman’s woman – and in-built hard work ethic. Her upbringing in Alcobendas (a city just outside Madrid), was defined by strong matriarchal energies – not least those in Encarna’s hairdressing salon, where the young Cruz grew up observing a myriad of female customers, and where she learned how to act. ‘My mother is a really strong woman. That’s the way we were raised. The women worked really hard,’ she says, clapping her hands for emphasis. ‘No bullshit. No time for that. You just get on with it.’ Her father owned a hardware store and both parents worked six days a week. Cruz trained in classical ballet from the age of four, but when her parents bought a Betamax player she fell in love with the movies. At 15, she lied about her age to get into the cinema.

‘THAT’S THE WAY WE WERE RAISED... NO BULLSHIT. NO TIME FOR THAT. YOU JUST GET ON WITH IT’

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The film she saw would change her life. It was Almodóvar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! – the story of a sadomasochistic relationship, starring a young Antonio Banderas. ‘From that moment I became obsessed with the idea of working with Pedro. I decided on the spot to try to find an acting agent. He was my reason, my inspiration. I didn’t know anyone in the business. It was like I had decided to go to the moon.’

T MAIN PHOTOGRAPH ALEXI LUBOMIRSKI FOR LANCOME. ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS ALLSTAR, GETTY IMAGES, REX FEATURES

of a classical dancer (she trained as a ballerina): a petite, taut package of hair, maternal bosom and legs in a wool mini-dress. At 39, she is the very incarnation of olive oil-fed, Mediterranean siren. It’s embarrassingly hard not to ‘wow’ in her presence. ‘I hope you’re not going to ask me about what exercise I do,’ she laughs, kicking off her shoes and curling up on the sofa. ‘I eat really healthily but I eat a lot, a lot.’ She reels off a list of Spanish and Italian dishes. ‘I think I’m very lucky that I can breastfeed my children because sometimes even if a woman wants to, she can’t. I breastfed my son for 13 months and I plan to do at least the same with my daughter. That’s an amazing thing for babies, but it’s also really good for the mother because it regulates your body again after pregnancy.’ This comes out more like ‘pregnan-chy’. When Cruz speaks English, she sounds ever so slightly like she is blowing bubbles in water. This is the cherry topping on the whole charming effect.

he young Cruz’s beauty was matched by a steely determination that anything was possible: ‘I used to go to Pedro’s house and wait for him to come out on the balcony to water his plants. He didn’t know he had this crazy person following him around.’ After being turned away three times by her agent, she was finally taken on and, at 17, cast in her first Spanish film, Jamón Jamón. Almodóvar saw it and immediately called her: ‘I was so shocked. They told me Pedro was on the phone. I was drying my hair and wouldn’t come down because I thought it was a joke. I had dreamt and dreamt and it all came true.’ Indeed, Cruz’s life so far has been an exercise in wishfulfilment, or simply, how to ‘make it happen’. She went on to become Almodóvar’s muse (her performance in his films caught the attention of Hollywood) and marry her first leading man, Javier Bardem, her co-star in Bigas Luna’s Jamón Jamón. (Can it be just coincidence that they called their first daughter Luna?) She has even become the face of Lancôme Trésor, her first teenage perfume. Cruz and Bardem’s on-screen chemistry has always been nuclear-level explosive. Her love scenes with past Hollywood co-stars – Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Nicolas Cage – and most recently with Michael Fassbender in Ridley Scott’s The Counsellor just pale in comparison. Bardem also stars in Scott’s film as a brash drug dealer – all spray tan, playboy shades and wind-tunnel hair – though, at the expense of the film, the pair have no scenes together. Her husband is fond of playing bad guys in bad wigs, I point out, thinking of his gruesome performance as the Bond villain in Skyfall. ‘No! But he has also played some of the romantic parts. Did you see The Sea Inside?’ she leaps in, her passion unleashed momentarily on the otherwise taboo subject of her husband. ‘Javier can do anything. His range is incredible. I knew that the first time we met. He was 20 and I was 17. I knew straight away how talented he was. It was mind-blowing.’ She pauses, catching herself. ‘I mean, I’m not saying that just because he is my husband.’ In addition to love and family, there are other passions in Cruz’s life, ones that help her to stay grounded and decompress. She is a worrier, and gets anxious easily, especially on set. ‘I love singing karaoke. When I hear people say that they don’t like it, I just think they are lying. I do it to have a laugh – and to laugh at myself, when I need to. My favourites are Blondie and I also love to rap: Biggie and Eminem.’ She launches into Eminem’s Without Me: ‘Two trailer-park girls go round the outside/round the outside/round the outside…’ She quickly regains her composure, but now I can’t wait to see her next film, La Reina España, a musical comedy. I ask her if she ever dances to de-stress at home: her infamous, athletic cabaret solo from Rob Marshall’s musical Nine, perhaps? ‘Well, I can still remember all of the moves. But I would need a month of rehearsal. It was so hard, four or five hours of training a day. My hands were always bleeding. It was so hard,’ she sighs. ‘But now, of course, I only dance to children’s songs with the kids at home...’ Motherhood

has changed a lot of things: ‘In my twenties, I used to go everywhere in high heels and make-up. But there is no way that I would do that now; I need to be barefoot most of the time so that I can run after the kids.’ It was on the set of Nine that Cruz met one of her role models, Sophia Loren, who is now something of a surrogate mother to her. ‘All she talks about is food and children. “Are you eating enough, Penélope?” Her family is so important to her. She gave me the best advice… Of course, nothing that I could tell you,’ she says with a hint of mischief. I tell her that they sound very similar – they certainly look alike. I ask if she is inspired by Loren to age gracefully. ‘Oh no, no. I don’t look like her. She is a goddess. A goddess! I cannot see her in terms of ageing. She is so sensitive, wise and funny. But older women are so beautiful.’ (Beau-dee-ful.) ‘I remember my grandmothers’ faces, even just before they died, they had so much life, history and experience. Their faces were like beautiful poems.’ As she stands up, barefoot, to check in on her brood next door, I wonder what Cruz’s own face will look like when she and Bardem are grandparents, and Leo and Luna have kids. Few have accomplished their childhood dreams so exactly, or lived them with such passion and symmetry. It will indeed be a beautiful poem.

PENELOPE CRUZ’S BEST THINGS IN LIFE BEST ACTRESS: I think there is nobody

better than Meryl Streep. I watch her movies over and over again – I saw Silkwood again a couple of weeks ago, and it made me just want to kiss her feet. BEST DISH:

My mother cooks very well – I love her Russian salad. And my dad makes a very good paella.

BEST FRIEND:

I love Salma Hayek. Everything she says is so funny.

BEST MEMORY:

The birth of my son, Leonardo (with husband Javier Bardem, left).

BEST SCENT:

Lancôme Trésor was my first perfume. When I saw the campaign with Isabella Rossellini, the one shot by Peter Lindbergh, I fell in love with those images. I asked for it for my 14th birthday, and I still wear it now.

BEST THING IN LIFE: Love

is the thing that moves the world. It’s the thing that brings hope and happiness.

Lancôme Trésor (EDP, £40 for 100ml) is available nationwide

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powerful charisma and clever wit as she opens up to STEPHANIE RAFANELLI about her fraught childhood and love of challenging roles PHOTOGRAPHS BY SOFIA SANCHEZ AND MAURO MONGIELLO

STYLED BY RAQUEL FRANCO ristin Scott Thomas, seated at the bar in China Tang, in the basement of the Dorchester hotel, is rather amused. The cause of this is our current predicament: amalgam of all my characters. They [producers/directors] love to with the dictaphone engaged, we are in the midst of a polite round put me in a tragic film. But I’m so bored to tears of “tragique”. I’m so of early-afternoon dim sum, when a drunk with apparent Tourette’s bored of doing “dignified depressed”. I can’t cope any more.’ She rolls syndrome slumps himself, corpse-like, next to us. Scott Thomas her eyes. ‘I’m never doing that again – shedding a tear discreetly in freezes, chopsticks aloft, like a rabbit catching scent in the wind. Her the corner, looking down and swallowing. It seems that my giant blue eyes widen as our neighbour lurches upright, spewing function on this Earth is to entertain people with tragic stories. forth a diatribe of slurred expletives that grow ever more alarmingly I think it’s my bone structure, it makes me look kind of “secret”…’ But it is not simply the hall-of-mirrors effect of cinema that has obscene. ‘This guy is insane,’ she finally whispers, coughing up a wry laugh (as I battle to suppress a more raucous giggle). Then, with blurred the lines between the real Scott Thomas and the characters perfect drollery, she pops a dumpling in her mouth, all the while she plays. There is a self-restraint and inscrutability to the 52-yearold actress in person that give one the sense of talking to her through remaining entirely composed. It is this unshakable poise that tends to confuse and intimidate a protective veil. Her answers today are punctuated with little techmost of those who meet Scott Thomas. Her reputation precedes her niques of digression: prolonged hums and well-timed deflective jokes. Still, this opaqueness has always intrigued the opposite sex. It like a chill. ‘When I first met her on set, I have to admit, I was really frightened of her,’ says Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed her in was, after all, one of the greatest miscarriages of cinematic justice, Nowhere Boy, the biopic of John Lennon, in 2009. ‘But I realised that and an implausible flaw in Richard Curtis’ Four Weddings and a this was just other people’s misconception of her. She is actually really Funeral script, that Hugh Grant could possibly spurn the steely funny and naughty. But if people misread you so often, it’s inevitable beauty of Fiona, as played by a 33-year-old Scott Thomas, for the that you become a little… self-defensive.’ This notoriety is partly due blandness of Andie MacDowell’s Carrie. The appeal of Scott Thomas’ sangfroid is inflamed by those lanto the brilliance with which Scott Thomas passed through a sliding scale of aristocratic froideur during her early career in the 1980s and guorous, hooded eyes that hint at the passion beneath – just beyond 1990s: playing Brenda Last in A Handful of Dust, Fiona in Four Wedd- reach. (Today, they are a little magnified by a pair of horn-rimmed ings and a Funeral and Katharine in The English Patient (for which she glasses. In a tweed jacket and green cords, she is working ‘intellecwas Oscar- and Bafta-nominated). ‘People think I am somehow an tual preppie’, a prime example of her insouciant ‘style anglaise’.) ‘“The fire under the ice,” as Hitchcock said,’ explains François Ozon, who directed Scott Thomas in the new French film In the House. ‘Kristin is a mixture of Marlene Dietrich’s sensuality and Greta Garbo’s glacial cool.’ And like those Hollywood stars who began their careers in silent films, Scott Thomas never offers herself

HAIR BY JOHNNIE SAPONG AT JED ROOT, USING LEONOR GREYL, ASSISTED BY JOHN BILES. MAKE-UP BY AYAMI NISHIMURA AT JULIAN WATSON AGENCY, USING MAKE. WITH THANKS TO THE DORCHESTER

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has many hidden depths. The actress reveals a

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Beneath her inscrutable poise, Kristin Scott Thomas


up too easily. In a world where ‘over-sharing’ is the norm, her understatement is as confounding as it is rare. Indeed, an encounter with Scott Thomas is a little like an initiation test. You must win her respect before she will (or, more importantly, can) play ball. Taylor-Johnson witnessed this on set: ‘The first week of shooting Nowhere Boy was really difficult, because she challenged every direction I gave her. Then she said, “I have to know whether I can trust you, and if I trust you I will give you the greatest performance. But you have to earn that trust for me to work with you.” It’s only when she trusts you that she can really open up and let go.’ For Scott Thomas, a combination of trust and fear is her most fertile ground. ‘I like being utterly petrified. I constantly need to test myself. If I feel like I’m not learning anything, I think, “What’s the point of this?” Rehashing something is just so dull.’ Over the past 10 years, she has turned away from Hollywood, embracing the more nuanced roles offered to her in French cinema (she is bilingual, having lived in Paris for the past 33 years). Her work with directors such as Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) and Philippe Claudel has received international acclaim; her performance as a woman convicted of infanticide in Claudel’s I’ve Loved You So Long (2008) was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Bafta. More recently, theatre has offered Scott Thomas similar stimulus. ‘If I didn’t like a challenge, I would be stuck in a TV miniseries playing a 1930s aristocrat,’ she says, feigning a sigh. She is currently treading the boards at the Harold Pinter Theatre, in the eponymous playwright’s Old Times – her third collaboration on the London stage with Jerusalem director Ian Rickson, following Chekhov’s The Seagull (for which she won an Olivier Award in 2008) and Pinter’s Betrayal in 2011. In the production, she alternates the roles of Anna and Kate each week, instigated by the random toss of the director’s coin. ‘One distinctive quality of Pinter’s work is this big volcanic yearning underworld beneath the surface, and Kristin is naturally very good at that,’ Rickson tells me. ‘Playing the roles of Kate and Anna, one guarded and one impetuous, allows her to explore different aspects of herself.’ For In the House, on the other hand, Scott Thomas is getting to flex her ‘comic’ muscles (seen in her recent brilliant turn in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), albeit in a dark social satire about a schoolteacher who encourages his pupil, a boy abandoned by his mother and caring for a disabled father, to write a voyeuristic story based on his infiltration into his friend’s ‘normal, nuclear’ family. In it, Ozon ENGLAND’S GLORY explores, among other themes, the impact of tragedy Kristin Scott Thomas wears leather trench-coat, £6,185, on childhood, as well as its potential as a creative catalyst. Valentino. Previous page: ‘One day, we were in a taxi together leaving the set, and coat, as before Kristin opened up to me about the dramas of her childhood and the pain she suffered,’ he confides. ‘It was all related with dignity and contained emotion. At that moment, I suddenly

When her father died, she was ordered not to cry. ‘It was just never mentioned again after that’

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home from boarding school, only to be put back on the train three days later. (With help, her mother scraped together the fees for the Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Leweston school in Sherborne.) ‘It was just never mentioned again after that. I don’t think my childhood dramas would have been dealt with in the same way today. I would have immediately been asked to talk about it. I can’t have dealt with it that well, you know, because after all, I am still talking about it. I mean, why am I talking about it now? But it’s made me who I am.’ She slumps a little in her chair. ‘I bet some children of the military are still told not to cry when their dads don’t come back [from Afghanistan].’ Does she cry at all now, I ask. ‘Nowadays I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry so easily. I cry so much. It’s almost a kind of physical release. I could probably cry now if I needed to… it’s very useful for playing all of these dignified, depressed women.’ It may not be a coincidence that the year her father died, Scott Thomas developed an imaginary friend. ‘Her name was Wendy. Her dad had a Rolls-Royce. She was five, too. I also had an imaginary brother. He was in hospital with a broken leg.’ I point out how many actors have suffered the loss of a parent or a childhood trauma, and speculate on how this helped their imaginative realm take flight at an early age. She begins to scrutinise China Tang’s chequered carpet, humming a little ditty. And I watch as she shuts down in front of me, like a flower in reverse bloom. ‘No, no, I don’t think it is anything to do with that,’ she concludes sharply. Still, I press on: does she feel that she lacked the stability of a male role model as a young girl? ‘I had my grandfather but he was a real authoritarian, very, very frightening… But my two sons have helped me understand men.’ (Scott Thomas has three children by French IVF expert François Olivennes, who she was married to until 2005: Joseph, 21; George, 12; and her 24-year-old daughter Hannah, who has just started working at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. ‘She’s forced me to reappraise journalists, too,’ she adds.) Scott Thomas’ own mother was initially against her becoming an actress. ‘A single mother is going to want you to get a proper job, get a pay cheque every month.’ She nevertheless enrolled in the Central School of Speech & Drama; but at 19, after a cruel comment from her tutor that she would ‘never make it as an actress’, she dropped out, suffering from the first in a series of bouts of depression, and fled to Paris to become an au pair. (The black clouds have slowly dispersed over the years, something that therapy has helped her to control.) It was perhaps no accident that Olivennes, who she met in her early twenties, hailed from a family of psychotherapists. In Paris, Scott Thomas enrolled a second time in drama school, and upon graduation was handpicked out of a line-up of Parisians by Prince to play a French heiress in his musical drama Under the Cherry Moon in 1985. (‘I have always been out of kilter,’ she tells me later. ‘The French always see me as English and the English think I’m so French.’) There followed a string of French films, until she was cast by Charles Sturridge as Brenda Last in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, a role that would cement her firmly in the milieu of British aristocracy in the 1930s – in the minds of casting directors, at least. In a way, the part of Katharine Clifton was an inevitable conclusion. I once read that when Scott Thomas first discovered the

character in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, she thought it was the role of her life. ‘I was misquoted,’ she corrects me now. ‘It was Hana who I felt most like and wanted to play.’ The self-sacrificing nurse (portrayed by Juliette Binoche in Anthony Minghella’s 1996 adaptation) is cursed, as Ralph Fiennes’ Laszlo Ede Almasy puts it, in that ‘everyone she ever loved tends to die on her’. Scott Thomas admits: ‘I am always bracing myself for catastrophe at any moment. I am a terrible pessimist, but as I get older, I feel that I don’t have to save anybody any more, that my general behaviour isn’t going to trigger some disaster.’ She suddenly quips: ‘God, did you feel that earthquake?’ During filming, Scott Thomas was forced to confront her most profound fear by acting out a plane crash. ‘It was such an emotionally draining experience. Ralph and I were bonded for ever, like blood brothers, in that film because the story was so affecting for both of us.’ (Fiennes has just directed her in his new film The Invisible Woman, the story of Dickens’ secret lover, due out later this year.) Despite the psychological challenges thrown up by The English Patient, including channelling her fear of abandonment for her death scene alone in a cave, Scott Thomas relished playing Katharine, ‘an object of desire’, a woman able to give in to her passions, because, she tells me, ‘she is so different from me’. I ask if she is able to let go, be passionate in her own life, away from prying eyes. She sips jasmine tea for rather a long time. ‘What does passion mean?’ she says finally. ‘Being out of control? If so, no – I have myself under quite a tight rein.’ (Although, if the tabloids contain even a modicum of truth, history has not always held this to be entirely true. In 2005, Scott Thomas divorced Olivennes after an alleged affair with Tobias Menzies, an actor 14 years her junior.) ‘There are things more important to me than passion: education, commitment, enthusiasm, interest,’ she adds. All of which continue to thrive in her work as her fifties progress: she has five films in the pipeline, including Only God Forgives, co-starring Ryan Gosling, out later this year. It is never a wise thing to categorise a woman, but if one did, Scott Thomas would surely belong to the group of actresses living in Paris – Rampling, Deneuve, Huppert – who still inhabit the screen (albeit for the most part in French cinema) as enduringly sexual and sentient beings, defying Hollywood’s crushing perceptions of age. I attempt to trigger some kind of rallying treatise on the power of post-menopausal woman, but instead Scott Thomas cries: ‘Oh no! I can’t wait to have a big bloody old facelift. I wonder what Lauren Hutton has had done. I want to look like her or Jane Fonda. I met her once, she was wearing a big fur coat. She smelt delicious and you could hear her jewellery jangle…’ She pushes her face backwards with her hands, but there is barely any movement. ‘Of course, I will have a facelift, just not next week.’ She peers at me intently over her glasses, her exact level of irony entirely unreadable. ‘Or maybe I won’t.’ She arches a magisterial brow. ‘Well, only time will tell.’ ‘In the House’ is released nationwide on 29 March.

‘Nowadays I cry at the drop of a hat. It’s useful for playing all these dıgnıfied, depressed women’

HAIR BY JOHNNIE SAPONG AT JED ROOT, USING LEONOR GREYL, ASSISTED BY JOHN BILES. MAKE-UP BY AYAMI NISHIMURA AT JULIAN WATSON AGENCY, USING MAKE. WITH THANKS TO THE DORCHESTER

understood where her inspiration and force as an actress came from.’ When Kristin Scott Thomas was five years old, her father, Simon Scott Thomas, was killed in a plane crash. Her mother Deborah was a young actress brought up in Hong Kong and Africa, who had fallen in love at 18 with the young Royal Navy pilot, a distant relative of the ill-fated polar explorer Captain Scott. A few years after losing her first husband, Deborah married another Navy pilot, only for him to die in a similar crash when Kristin was 11. ‘I don’t know how she did it,’ says Scott Thomas of her mother. ‘She could have collapsed but she didn’t, she kept going. Imagine: she’s 25, with three little children and pregnant again, and the love of her life is killed. Then she meets someone else who sweeps her off her feet, marries him, and five years later the same thing happens. Except this time you have five children, one born after his father died.’ She covers her eyes with her hands for a moment. ‘When she remarried, she had lost all her financial rights. She only got the pension for the youngest child… We didn’t have a financially secure upbringing, we grew up with a single mum who had to make ends meet, who was hanging on to all these things and trying to hang on to her dignity at the same time. The resilience of it all…’ It is therefore ironic that Scott Thomas has come to represent the quintessential born-with-a-silver-spoon aristocrat, a kind of female Ralph Fiennes. ‘My mother was a Naval wife, but she was also a bit of a hippie in the Seventies and we lived on brown rice and had some macrobiotic diet.’ She groans. ‘Then, when I was 18, she took herself off to art school and trained as a silversmith to support the other kids through school.’ I ask if she is like her mother. She begins to hum to herself, as if practising her musical scales. ‘I look more and more like my father every day. In the pictures I have of him, he looks drop-dead amazing, very fair-haired. But that’s also the little girl in me, because I was five years old, fantasising about my father who was a prince, the most beautiful man in the world. A god.’ When her father died, Scott Thomas was ordered not to cry; and after news arrived of her stepfather’s death, she was summoned

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SEE STOCKISTS FOR DETAILS. HAIR BY PAUL MERRITT AT JED ROOT. MAKE-UP BY NIKKI PALMER AT MANDY COAKLEY, USING DIOR ADDICT AND DIOR HOMME DERMA. MANICURE BY AMANDA BRAGOLI FOR LEIGHTON DENNY EXPERT NAILS. MODEL: AMBER ANDERSON AT TESS MANAGEMENT. WITH THANKS TO SPRING STUDIOS

THE CHEEK OF IT! David Walliams and model Amber Anderson recreating Herb Ritts’ famous 1993 shoot with KD Lang. Amber wears Lycra body, £395, Eres. Leather heels, £1,059, Tabitha Simmons at Selfridges. Metal cuffs, £380 each, Balmain. Gold and pearl ring, £7,000, Solange Azagury-Partridge. Walliams wears wool trousers; matching waistcoat (sold as suit), £2,850, Tom Ford. Silk tie, £120, Dior Homme. Watch, cotton Tom Ford shirt and leather Yves Saint Laurent boots, all his own

KING OF COMEDY David Walliams , joker extraordinaire, acclaimed writer, serious actor, husband to a supermodel, swimming fundraiser and all-round national treasure, tells STEPHANIE RAFANELLI about his love for Wonder Woman, bringing up ‘gay babies’ and dressing as Pippa Middleton Photographs by TRENT MCGINN Styled by PIPPA VOSPER

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avid Walliams is grinning like a Cheshire cat. I note said beam because this is not a mien to which he is naturally predisposed. Though he is prone to triggering outbursts of hysteria in others, merely by the prolonged upkeep of his own curious brand of composure (if there were a visual aid on YouTube to illustrate the word ‘deadpan’, he would surely feature heavily), he is not an actor-comedian in the Cordenian lolloping Labrador or quickfire motormouth moulds. David Walliams is a very serious man. But given his current predicament (one in which he seems not altogether uncomfortable or unaccustomed) – his torso straddled by a one-piece-clad model in some haute-fashion wet shave-cum-lap dance – Walliams is hamming up his best camp Bond, by way of Lurch and Frankie Howerd. This is all part of his wholehearted embracing of Bazaar’s homage to Herb Ritts and his 1993 celebration of sexual ambiguity for Vanity Fair starring KD Lang and Cindy Crawford; Walliams has enthusiastically proffered both his own savvy model suggestions and collection of Tom Ford suits (he is rather obsessed, more on which later). But then Walliams is a man who himself thrives on the frisson of ambivalence – able, since Little Britain took off in 2003, to slip, sans embarrassment, between three-piece suits, fat suits, skirt suits and wetsuits (at one point today, it looks as though a Dolce & Gabbana swimsuit will be added to the list, as he flicks, with a mischievous glint in his eye, through the fashion rails). He revels in the provocation. Or perhaps he just can’t help himself. For instance, when I suggest that he is both overachiever and polymath

I met him at Kate Moss’ wedding. I mean, it was like meeting Mozart,’ he recounts, counterintuitively poker-faced. (For the record, we are eating porridge pre-shoot, a stone’s throw from his Supernova Heights home – the notorious former abode of another friend, Noel Gallagher). ‘Lara suddenly got a job and had to go to New York, so I took my friend James instead. I saw [Paul] before the show and I said, “Sorry Lara couldn’t come, I brought James.” And he said, “Ahh, come on, we all know the real reason, David.”’ I act dumb as to the meaning of it all. ‘He was insinuating that James was my boyfriend,’ Walliams explains. ‘I just thought, “Bloody hell! Macca is making a joke about my sexuality. How did that happen?”’ It’s heartening to know that Walliams can be gracious when the tables are turned. ‘No one should be above having the mickey taken out of them,’ he tells me (except perhaps Tom Ford) – and, he adds, especially not Simon Cowell. Walliams has just returned from Britain’s Got Talent ’s Birmingham auditions: ‘Simon is the king, and I’m the court jester.’ He shows me a picture of the pair on his iPhone, his chin resting on Cowell’s shoulder from behind, like a showbiz version of Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ‘I asked the show’s producers, “Can I make jokes about Simon? About him being camp? About being friends with Sinitta? About his hair?” And they said, “No, no, no.” I feel ready for him to crack into a grin, but his face remains impassive. ‘Then the first act came on and said, “My dream is to perform in front of the Queen”, and I said, “Well, he’s right here – go ahead.”’ Suggestive homoerotic ad-libs and double entendres aside (he must rein himself in for the live part of the show, he says: ‘The innuendo-meter is definitely a problem. I’m going to have to have a second’s delay in my brain’), Walliams is sure to be good cop to Cowell’s bad. ‘I’m the new Cheryl Cole,’ he declares without batting an eyelid. Walliams agrees that he’s swimming in his native habitat on Britain’s Got Talent, which is, after all, the real Little Britain. Early audition candidates Dolly Mix (girl band), Joe Santini (rock guitarist) and Little Mee (puppeteer) are characters that Walliams himself might invent. And although he and Matt Lucas are famed for their grotesque, cartoonish caricatures, Walliams insists there is always a fondness to his lampooning: ‘Humour celebrates people in a way – we are all absurd.’ Walliams as lachrymose bastion of empathy is not an angle I would necessarily buy, had I not read his award-winning children’s novels – including The Boy in the Dress (2008), Mr Stink (2009) and Gangsta Granny (2011) – which showcase such a range of storytelling skills, observational insight and touching sensitivity about the absurdity of our world from the point of view of a child, as to convert any former sceptics. That his tomes are proliferated with toilet gags, irreverent humour and low-brow contemporary references makes his moral messages less turgidly didactic and all the more digestible. Walliams is a natural populist, a man of the people – but an intellectual one, as much in his element referencing Hogarth and Dickens (we are talking Little Britain as social satire) as Strictly Come Dancing. He flips between them like a master juggler, with the kind of shamelessness with which he morphs between his characters Emily Howard (‘I’m a laydee!’), Sebastian Love (‘Bitch!’), Carol Beer (‘Computer says no’) and Melody Baines. Gangsta Granny, the tale of Ben and his secret-diamond-thief grandmother, who plot to steal the crown jewels (subtext: be kind to the elderly and don’t assume they are boring) – its paperback release rather fittingly timed to coincide with CONTINUED ON PAGE 194

– actor-comedian (co-creator of Little Britain and Come Fly With Me), award-winning author (he has written four novels for children that sold more than a million copies, and is working on a TV adaptation of one of them), serious actor (Pinter, Poliakoff, Dickens – he has a role in Mike Newell’s upcoming Great Expectations), endurance swimmer (and subsequently, in the words of his own dear mother, ‘the nation’s sweetheart’) and now a new judge on the sixth series of Britain’s Got Talent alongside Simon Cowell – he blurts out in a faux Freudian slip: ‘I’m definitely a Polly, a poly-something anyway…’ Certainly, Walliams has overachieved in at least one area of his life: l’amour. And I really don’t feel that he would mind me saying this. In May 2010, he married 28-year-old Dutch ‘sex bomb’ Lara Stone (barely a month goes by without a fashion bible’s love letter to her comeliness and the gap between her incisors), simultaneously discombobulating and intriguing most of London, tabloids and celebrity scenesters alike. It’s not that Walliams isn’t attractive – all the traditional ingredients for handsomeness are there: he is tall, dark, wide of jaw. Yet it’s as though his outline had been etched by childish hands: his head disproportionately large, his frame too Hulk-like, his eyes exaggeratedly flinted. Walliams is surprisingly good-natured about such physical shortcomings in relation to his paramour and the nebula of speculation that surrounds them; although when emanating from certain quarters, it is tantamount to flattery. ‘Lara and I had planned to see Paul McCartney in concert. 132 |

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‘I asked the show’s producers, “Can I make jokes about Simon Cowell? About him being camp? About his hair?” They said, “No, no, no”’


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Oozing with seductive Seventies appeal, British actor Rebecca Hall is the toast of Hollywood after her lauded role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But the daughter of theatre legend Peter Hall shatters the film-star mould with her take on fame. On the eve of appearing in Twelfth Night at the National, she talks nudity and ‘playing the babe’ with STEPHANIE RAFANELLI Photographs by ALEXI LUBORMIRSKI. Styled by VANESSA COYLE


R

ebecca Hall is doing an impression of Peter Hall. Stooping her shoulders, chin protruding, she drops her temple into a ponderous frown, then settles into his gait. From a photograph on the wall of the National Portrait Gallery, her father stares back at her, one eyebrow raised like Orson Welles, as if amused at his own reflection. ‘Very good tweed,’ she says, now recomposed as her 28-year-old self, as she scrutinises the veteran director’s image (eyes hooded, gnarled hands regally clasped). She drifts on to a nearby polyptych in oils depicting scenes from his career. ‘This is on the set of Orpheus Descending [1988] with Vanessa Redgrave. And this one’s got the family dog Smudge in it; he’s wearing a “cone of shame”, like he’s just had an operation!’ Despite her spirited playfulness, as a lauded actor in her own right – both in Hollywood and on the stage – Hall doesn’t always relish such focus on her heritage. But, newly returned from America and about to embark on rehearsals for Twelfth Night at the National – under the direction of her father no less – she is today unleashed from self-restraint. And so, together, we wander the parquet floors and marble archways of the gallery, in search of the British greats (some of whose lives are entwined with her own impressive lineage). We saunter past effigies of the distinguished: Diana Athill (‘She really rocks – an amazing role model for women’); a rugged Tom Stoppard, who adapted Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard for the Old Vic’s Bridge Project, in which Hall appeared in 2009 (‘He’s ludicrously charismatic and casually foppish in the most impressive way’); Francis Bacon, resembling a knackered Teddy Boy (‘Have you read his interviews? His dark doubting moments are inspirational. They bring you back from the brink’); and Samuel Beckett (his shock of white hair and wire specs immortalised by Harpers photographer Dmitri Kasterine), whose English-language premiere of Waiting for Godot was directed by a 24-year-old Peter Hall. ‘There’s a cupboard in my dad’s house full of Hasselblad cameras Beckett gave him,’ Hall recalls. ‘I never met him, but I saw my dad’s revival of Waiting for Godot with Ben Kingsley when I was 15: it was one of the most transcendental theatre experiences of my life.’ Despite Hall’s thespian connections and film roles in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Please Give and Ben Affleck’s The Town, the gallery crowds murmur past oblivious, as she roams the corridors wrapped in a masculine camel coat (a present from David Hare’s wife, Nicole Farhi), denim shirt and jodhpurs. In the flesh, she possesses that same calm presence and low-key magnetism that allow her to melt, unassuming, into her roles: the dowdy mammogram technician in Please Give; Woody Allen’s gawky Vicky… Yet Hall is a beauty of equine allure: a loose espresso-coloured mane, a mouthful of teeth and the elongated limbs of a Modigliani muse, softened by a smattering of asymmetric dimples. It’s a look Halston would have adored in his Seventies heyday. ‘I love the silk-shirt-no-bra thing – it was a great time for women,’ she says of the era’s louche fashions. Only in Frost/Nixon (2008), dressed in the designer’s gowns, does Hall show

a rare glimpse of her siren potential. ‘It was a real relief to play the babe for once. I’ve always been attracted to wallflower parts, and I had to get them out of my system… I’m interested in being the girl who subtly reveals herself, rather than wears her beauty externally. I think it was Lou Doillon who said she’d rather be the one on the subway who the guy doesn’t notice at first, but who slowly draws him in.’ Nicole Holofcener, the director of Please Give, in which Hall appears in unbecoming hospital scrubs and a billowing granny’s nightie, emphasises the actor’s rare absence of vanity. ‘She never expresses any discomfort about playing plain. On the first shoot day, the costume department gave her a pair of skinny jeans, which were just too adorable on,’ she says. ‘We panicked and replaced them with an ill-fitting and unstylish pair, but Rebecca was totally game… She has a large mouth that looks incredibly sexy, but also has the potential to be goofy, and crazy dimples in weird places on her face. Her emotions are right there, on the surface of her skin. They trump any glamour that would get in the way of her character.’ ‘She’s always very real, very natural,’ adds Andrew Garfield, her co-star in David Peace’s 2009 film Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974. ‘She’s never showing off in her performances. It’s never about her, or about “look at me”. It’s always about the role. It’s very rare to find an actress who can put aside how beautiful they are, or how charismatic. She just doesn’t follow the obvious Hollywood mould.’ It is such on-screen versatility, coupled with her commitment to the London stage and theatrical inheritance (her mother is American soprano Maria Ewing, her uncle is director Edward Hall), that make her so reminiscent of one of our great British actresses. ‘She is a young Vanessa Redgrave,’ says Hall’s father, who championed Redgrave’s career in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1959. ‘They both take enormous risks because they are true artists. Watching Rebecca’s development has been one of the most exciting events of my life.’ The fading winter light filters through the Covent Garden Hotel’s windows, throwing shadows on Hall’s ivory complexion as we sip tea and discuss Twelfth Night. It is not the first time the actor has been directed by her father on stage. She starred in his productions of Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession in 2002, and As You Like It, the following year. Why did she choose to return from Hollywood to work with him again? ‘It’s my dad’s 80th birthday, and he would have grounded me and sent me to Coventry if I hadn’t,’ she teases, a resemblance to her father flickering across her face. ‘There’s a part of me that’s interested in extreme characters, and then there’s this one that wants to listen to Bach and do Shakespeare. I haven’t worked with my dad for seven years. Back then there was no reason than beyond wanting to prove myself. I was much more pugnacious; a little more “Fuck you world, I’m going to work with my dad.” This time, it feels much more personal and emotional than before.’ With half a decade of independent acclaim behind her, charges of nepotism in Hall’s early career (she once said she might as well embrace it if she was going to be accused of it) now seem anachronistic, as does any notion of her yearning for Oedipal approval. Hall is now nearly the age her father was when he set up the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 – his achievements must weigh heavy. ‘I’m in awe of him. Maybe subconsciously the success of my mother and father has driven me,’ she ponders. ‘But do I compare myself?

I haven’t worked with my dad for seven years. Back then there was no reason than beyond wanting to prove myself. I was much more pugnacious. This time it feels much more personal

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HALL’S STRIKING FEATURES AND TOUSLED HAIR ECHO EFFORTLESS SEVENTIES GLAMOUR This page: white cotton tank top, £79, Boss Black. Previous pages: basket-weave peak-lapel jacket, £2,200; matching trousers, £810; silk crepe de chine shirt, £1,130, all Tom Ford. Crystal pendant with white-gold chain, £2,700, Jordan Askill www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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SMOULDERING LOOKS IN HEAD-TO-TOE BLACK OR WHITE MAKE A DEFINITIVE STATEMENT THIS SEASON This page: embroidered linen and elastic corset, about £925, Dolce & Gabbana. Silver and rhodium necklace, £4,606, Jordan Askill. Opposite: sleeveless leather jacket, £1,880; silk skirt, £945, both Haider Ackermann. Diamond ring, from a selection, Harry Winston

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No! I’m not sure why. By every psychological textbook, I should.’ As the cross-dressing Viola, Hall will follow in the illustrious paces of Peggy Ashcroft (1939), Vivien Leigh (1955), Diana Rigg (1966), Judi Dench (1969) – and, of course, the famous Blackadder spoof. ‘Yes, Bob!’ she cries. ‘I love that sketch, Bob. It’s absolutely one of my favourites.’ Shakespeare’s comedic heroines resonate with Hall as they undergo ‘a kind of rites of passage. They are young women who aren’t quite sure of their identity. Their disguise is a chrysalis, and when they’re de-shelled, they have come to learn who they are’. Though Hall has undoubtedly grown these past seven years, she has always been blessed with a ‘strong sense of self ’, sangfroid and fierce intelligence nurtured by her bohemian background. Her father, the son of a railway worker, founded the RSC and presided over the National Theatre from 1973 to 1988, in its golden era. His first wife Leslie Caron had become Warren Beatty’s lover, and with his second marriage to Jacqueline Taylor over, he met Hall’s mother while directing her at Glyndebourne. Hall’s childhood was ‘culturally spoilt’, filled with the luminaries of the realms of theatre and opera: Peggy Ashcroft read her bedtime stories, Maurice Sendak drew Hall her very own Wild Thing, and her mother took to her on tour to the Met in New York (where, during Tosca, the wardrobe department made Hall mini costumes for her Barbies), La Scala in Rome, to Paris, LA, Chicago and Tokyo. Ewing, who grew up in Detroit and is of Dutch, Scottish, Sioux and AfricanAmerican descent, also sang jazz at Ronnie Scott’s, but was best known for her arrestingly sexual rendition of Salome, for which she stripped naked in the final scene, holding the head of John the Baptist. ‘She played the role from when I was four to 14, so I was used to her singing love songs to a bleeding head, doing the dance of the seven veils before being hacked to death,’ Hall remembers. ‘I just couldn’t understand why she couldn’t go off with the head and live happily ever after.’ Peter Hall and Ewing divorced when she was five (‘The mixture of our two volatile natures and our two careers made for a turbulent life,’ Peter Hall has said), and mother and daughter moved from Chelsea to Sussex, near Glyndebourne. There, Ewing exposed her daughter to the glorious divas of the silver screen: Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck. ‘I was obsessed, and watched All About Eve on a loop every night for years. I could quote entire sections of Margo Channing’s lines. I loved the style, the glamour, but most of all the strength of the women.’ Ewing recalls Hall’s nascent talent for mimicry: ‘We were watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and within minutes she had the lines memorised and was doing the perfect Marilyn Monroe. She was only about seven. It was hilarious.’ When his daughter was eight, Peter Hall was casting the role of 10-year-old Sophy for his TV adaptation of The Camomile Lawn. ‘We had seen about 500 girls for auditions, but none of them was right,’ he says. The project’s producer, captivated by the young Hall, suggested she try out for the role. Cast in the series, she played a character subjected to a ‘flashing’ while running along the Cornish cliffs at full moon as a dare. ‘My stepmother Nicki [Frei] had a talk with me to explain that there would be a little cross on the camera and I had to pretend he was showing off his ding-dong,’ Hall hoots. ‘More to the point, I had to sit on Toby Stephens’ shoulders butt-naked, which makes it a bit awkward when I see Toby today.’

Her spell in TV was brief, her father aware of the perils of child stardom. In any case, it was Hall’s ambition to become a painter and later, at Roedean, she spent afternoons sketching and listening to music. She also appeared in school productions, most notably as the 50-year-old obese American in The Man Who Came to Dinner. (‘I had to put on padding and sit in a wheelchair,’ she says). After a spell as head girl, during which she purveyed radical left-wing politics, she went to Cambridge to study English. Impatient to become an actor, she dropped out after her second year and, soon after, won the Ian Charleson Award in 2003 for Mrs Warren’s Profession. By 2006, with a host of stage and screen roles behind her, Hall had broken into Hollywood. But it was not until 2008 that she would make a mark on the global consciousness in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Woody Allen had always been something of an idol for Hall, who had long coveted Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall role. And after a single brief encounter with the director in New York, it transpired that the admiration was mutual. ‘It was snowing and I met him in an edit suite. I was so nervous and clumsy, accentuated by the physical awkwardness of being wrapped up in layers of clothes, with a huge woolly scarf and hat.’ Allen surely identified with her in that very instant, as he cast her as the uptight, over-analytical anti-type to Scarlett Johansson’s bohemian spontaneity. ‘Vicky is the “Woody” character,’ Hall explains. ‘I wasn’t playing him exactly, but the Woody type that appears in all his movies.’ Allen’s juxtaposition of Johansson and Hall as opposites is a revealing one: it is hard to imagine Johansson surmounting her ‘bombshell’ physical attributes to disappear into a plainer role. Even when Hall plays ‘seductive’, as she did as the traumatised mother of a girl murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper who loses herself in an affair with a journalist in Red Riding, she does so with nuance and subtlety. ‘Rebecca has the confidence and the discipline to be still – and the beauty and the gravitas to convey so much while maintaining that stillness,’ says Jon Hamm, Hall’s recent co-star in The Town. ‘The fact that she is so young is mindblowing to me, because she carries herself with the comportment of a more mature actress – qualities not found in the majority of today’s young actors, who seem to want to prove how much they can act rather than how well.’ Firmly set on the trajectory of fame, post-Allen, Hall abandoned Hollywood in 2009 to act in Sam Mendes’ three-year-long transatlantic Bridge Project, alongside Ethan Hawke and Simon Russell Beale. The double bill of The Winter’s Tale and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard played at the Old Vic in London and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, followed by a world tour. ‘My general rule is one piece of theatre for every three films,’ Hall says, as she orders an orange juice. ‘I think it’s how to preserve one’s mystique. I like disappearing, and I think I’ll always do it. I’ve never been one who gets frightened if I’ve not had my face splashed in magazines. For me, fame is a by-product, not the aim, of what I do.’ Over the course of the year-long production, the cast became close, like one big family. ‘The last night was emotional. We played in front of 30,000 people under the stars at Epidaurus in Greece. I was thinking it’s all much bigger than me. See, I’m a total hippie! Afterwards, we partied and went skinny-dipping. It was dark when we went in the ocean and then the sun came up.’ CONTINUED ON PAGE 162

I was obsessed and watched All About Eve on a loop every night for years. I could quote entire sections of Margo Channing’s lines. I loved the style, the glamour, but most of all the strength of women

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| February 2011

www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

PHOTOGRAPH: XXXXXX

DELICATE SILK IS TOUGHENED UP WITH A STRONG BELT IN THIS DEMURE YET SENSUAL LOOK Black wool-mesh body, £895; black silk floor-length skirt, £1,355, both Lanvin. Black leather and metal belt, £290, Mouton Collet. Diamond ring, from a selection, Harry Winston. See Stockists for details. Hair by Ben Skervin for Bumble and Bumble at the Magnet Agency. Make-up by Stephen Sollitto for Chanel at Starworksartists.com. Manicure by Bernadette Thompson for Bernadettethompson.com at Art Department www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

Month 2010 |

H A R P E R’ S BA Z A A R

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‘MAD ABOUT THE GIRL’

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 98

And what of her relationship with Mendes? The rupture of his marriage to Kate Winslet had been attributed, by the tabloids at least, to his closeness with Hall (‘She totally Sam’s type – a thespian mix of beauty and brains,’ an anonymous ‘friend’ was quoted). Hall freezes for a second, looking disappointed that I have asked the inevitable question. ‘The whole thing was horrid,’ she retorts with aplomb. ‘But I’ve said my piece on this one.’ Certainly, ‘Bridge’ was an epic commitment for Mendes and the cast. When Hall was nominated for a Golden Globe for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, she was unwilling to abandon the production to attend the awards. ‘Many people said it was a big old error, that I wasn’t making the most of the exposure. I haven’t done many award ceremonies… The business generates this fear for actors. You think you’re rational, intelligent and immune to it, but I’ve felt it. Like, “Am I going to enough parties?” “You’d better go out quick, get me some cleavage-enhancing cream.” It’s a dangerous thing to get sucked into.’ For the most part, Hall is immune to the vortex of anxieties that ensnares most actors, and possesses a rare comfort in her own skin. Partly due to the legacy of Ewing’s naked Salome, she is unperturbed by the nude scenes she has played – most recently with Affleck in The Town. ‘Though I’m always slightly disturbed when something gets dropped in the edit. “What? I got my boobs out and you’re not using it?’’’ She laughs. ‘There was this one website that freeze-framed every bit of a nude scene I did. It was shocking. Awful angles. You’re in mid-movement and your boob is kind of up there. And now it’s about for all time on some actors-get-naked site.’ Hall is level-headed about the lunacies of Hollywood, and is in no hurry to migrate to LA’s palm-fringed shores. Instead, she feels an affinity with the East Coast, especially New York. With her recent turn in Affleck’s film, set in working-class Boston, her public persona is evolving from what she once perceived as ‘the bluestocking, intellectual, asexual’. ‘In New York, I’ve been noticed a lot recently by real kind-of dudes on the street with their Hi Tops and massive jackets. They’re like, “Woah, it’s that girl from The Town.’’’ She is keen to explore her own American heritage, in particular, her maternal grandfather’s Sioux and African-American descent. ‘I’m a strong black woman!’ she jokes, revealing a slightly gummy grin. ‘Well, it’s quite complicated. I’ve been to a Native-American reservation in Colorado. But the black part is of completely unknown origin. I’d like to research it when I have time, without going on Who Do You Think You Are? ’ Hall has thrived on her peripatetic existence in recent years. She gave up a rented flat in Tufnell Park three years ago, and is only now house-hunting for a base in North London again. When I ask if she’s single, she shoots me that same dispirited look. Hall is fiercely private about her amorous existence; on the subject she says only that, at five foot 10, she has ‘dated a lot of shorter men; why limit your options? I think I’d be fine playing opposite Tom Cruise’. Her greatest infatuation instead, she confesses, is music. An accomplished pianist, she taught herself jazz piano on a keyboard in her hotel room while making The Town. A soundtrack is the inspiration point for every role. ‘The first thing I do for every character is make them their own playlist.’ Being a ‘muso’ and sketching – she is also an adept portraitist – is her ‘meditative’ refuge from the frenetic world of film. With such polymathic talents, there are no limits to the direction of Hall’s career. Beyond upcoming turns in Everything Must Go with Will Ferrell and a Richard Linklater film, she has ‘done with wallflower parts’ and plans to go ‘all balls-out with a new surprising role’. Is it a Charlize Theron in Monster or a Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist, even? In response, Hall simply smiles impishly; though, she later adds she’d happily undergo a De-Niro-style metamorphosis or don her Rodean-era fat suit again. With diversity as her guiding principle, she would relish a role in a musical or, given her heritage, the chance to direct one day. In whichever – and all – of the paths she chooses, Hall cannot but thrill us. ‘Unhindered by the need to be pretty or famous,’ says Holofcener, ‘she will have a long and varied career.’ Outside the hotel, the London heavens have opened. Hall peers out and sighs with fortitude (triggering an implausibly positioned dimple on her chin); the drowsy onset of flu has descended upon her during our interview, but, ever committed, she ploughs on to the end. ‘It’s a big fat cliché, but the benchmark is Meryl Streep,’ she ponders, as she dons her coat, hugging her collar to freckled cheekbones. ‘She’s juggled film and theatre, been constantly surprising, kept her sense of humour and had three kids. That’s kind of it in a nutshell, isn’t it?’ With that, she plugs in her iPod (switching, I fancy, to the sounds of the Seventies) and strides out into the sodden streets. She’s surely one of the few actors who can hope to attain such a dream. ‘Twelfth Night’ opens at the National (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) on 18 January. To listen to Rebecca Hall’s musical playlist exclusively selected for Bazaar, visit harpersbazaar.co.uk


MEN’S SPECIAL A M E R ICA NA ON T H E CAT WA L K | F R E S H N E W S H A DE S | A DV E N T U R E HOL I DAYS

EXCLUS

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ON CLOUD NINE WITH

JARED LETO

ES Magazine 21.03.2014

PHOTOGRAPHED BY TERRY RICHARDSON

NICK G R I M S H AW FITNESS A DDIC T THE L E A DI NG M A N AT LOUIS VUITTON RICHARD E G R A N T ’S M I DL I F E R E N A I S S A NCE


JARED PULL T OFF Method actor, rock-star lothario or resolute recluse? Jared Leto is a winner whatever mode he’s in. Between filling stadiums and fielding calls from Obama, the man of the moment invites Stephanie Rafanelli to join him on cloud nine a few nights after his Oscars glory

Photographs by

O R S O LYA S Z A B O

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JARED LETO

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‘THE OSCARS WERE PRETTY FANTASTIC. I LOOKED OVER AND MY MOTHER WAS DANCING WITH MADONNA’ producer-director, photographer, painter, businessman and activist. ‘I just follow my gut — as Andy Warhol said, “Labels are for cans not people,” ’ he tells me after the gig. All this makes Leto a very busy man. After partying all night at the Oscars (‘It was pretty f***ing fantastic to see all those Hollywood dreamers letting loose with such abandon. I looked over and my mother was dancing with Madonna’), and taking a hangover hike to Malibu, he flew to Paris for meetings, the Miu Miu fashion show and more fun: his close friend the photographer Terry Richardson was in town and shot him for this magazine before Leto attended an obscure music awards in Finland, his every word and move pounced on by the global media. At 1am, I am finally whisked past a line of deflated-looking fans into his dressing room. They eye me up along the corridor, turning a pale shade of green. ‘I’m starting to come down off the weeklong pink-cloud high now,’ he tells me, dishing me up some of his tomato soup and a vegetable curry (he is vegan). I can confirm that there is no beer backstage. And I’m a little disappointed that he’s come down from jacked-up flirting mode. More business at the front, party at the back. We start sensible: he doesn’t seem the type, I say, to care about Hollywood accolades. ‘I don’t.’ He slumps down on a black leather sofa. ‘But I would never say, “I don’t give a shit about the Oscars,” because it’s not the whole truth. It’s not about the shiny, naked golden man, or the pat on the back, it’s about being able to stand on a world stage for two minutes in front of a billion people and say something that is meaningful, important to you.’ Leto namechecked his older brother, best friend and bandmate, 44-year-old Shannon, his single mum, Aids victims, outsiders in general, and those fighting for their dreams in Venezuela and Ukraine. ‘I could have really taken the piss. But I didn’t want to wing it with this one. I prepared. I wanted to keep it classy.’ By contrast, at the Independent Spirit

Awards, he poked fun at the rumours that constantly trail him: by reputation he is a legendary lothario, recently linked with Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus and his exgirlfriend Scarlett Johansson. So he thanked ‘all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me’ as well as his ‘future ex-wife Lupita’. He tweeted selfies of the pair together in Paris, presumably to cause a stir. It has since been confirmed that they are not in fact dating. At the Golden Globes he shared with Hollywood’s finest that he had waxed his entire body to play Rayon, but stopped short of a Brazilian and had not used prosthetics. What did he do with his male appendage, I ask now — strap it back? ‘A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But, let’s just say, there are times when you’re not as prepared as you’d like to be...’ he answers cryptically, raising an eyebrow. Leto seems to flit between composed, pale blue-eyed earnestness and cheeky provocation. ‘I thought about dragging up for the Oscars, going as Rayon, because I knew that she would have loved to be there,’ he says. ‘It’s so much work for girls to get ready. I was brought up by mum, so I always had an appreciation of women. But now I have more respect for the process. It’s a lot, what women have to do to themselves. But in the end, when you put that final dash of lipstick on and your look all comes together, it really is a glorious reward.’ His sassy, fragile and very human portrayal of Rayon — ‘a hot mess’, as he calls her — and his thoughtful acceptance speech made Leto the true hero of Oscars night. The industry seems to have fallen for a man that, by playing the basic principles of hard-to-get, cannot be fully seduced by it. Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey all approached him with open arms on the night, Stevie Nicks gave him the necklace he is now wearing, Al Pacino has since ‘reached out’ — they are due to meet for coffee — and there have been several calls from the White House. ‘There are some exciting proposals. But I don’t know how much more I’m allowed to say. I probably need to clear it with the CIA first.’ Leto is a vociferous Obama supporter and raised funds for the 2008 re-election campaign. He has protested against California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to overturn same-sex marriage, and raised money for Haitian Relief as well as human rights and environmental charities. I wonder if he is considering another career, in politics. ‘My mum was a teenager when she had us; she used food stamps to feed us,

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lthough I’m trying very hard to resist, Jared Leto is urging me to stage-bomb. His locks flying behind him like Hermes’ wings, he speed-circles the stage over to the discreet corner where I’m standing, grabs my hand and drags me out in front of the baying 13,000-strong audience, singing to me all the while — and, even worse, goading me to join him in a chorus. Needless to say, this is not the polite Academy Awards podium but, six days later, on a grubbier, strobe-lit stage at Helsinki’s Hartwall Areena, where he has rejoined his band Thirty Seconds to Mars for its remaining six-month world tour. Leto has made his entrance tonight in a black hooded coat, wielding a baseball bat; more LA drugs dealer than the politically engaged figure in an oversized bow tie he cut at the Oscars. With suitable drama, he throws off the jacket to expose the full glory of his rock Jesus look — shades, manleggings, tunic skirt, sleeveless T-shirt — whereupon he unleashes his power-vocals on to his fans for two adrenaline-fuelled hours: jumping, grinding, sprinting and simultaneously flirting with what feels like every single member of the crowd. ‘I don’t dive into the mosh pit any more,’ he whispers to me on a break. ‘It’s the fastest way to lose your penis. And I’m proud to say mine is still intact.’ The show is part full-on rock extravaganza, part interactive Leto comedy routine. ‘Hey you,’ he cries into his mic. ‘Great mullet, man. That’s my next haircut. Business at the front. Party at the back.’ This culminates with a stage invasion and a mass selfie, his second of the week: the 42-year-old in a huddle of ecstatic Scandi teens. It is curious, to some, that Hollywood’s man of the moment would disappear off in the vital afterglow of his Best Supporting Actor win to revel so intimately with the global masses. But then Leto doesn’t follow protocol. Six years before his return to film as Rayon, an HIV-positive, pre-operative transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club, he walked away from Hollywood to tour with his band despite consistent critical acclaim for his gritty, transformative roles. Leto has eschewed the blockbuster juggernaut to success in favour of the slow train, via occasional, challenging roles in the likes of Requiem for a Dream, Fight Club and Panic Room. Plus, he has other commitments. He is not only a method actor and singersongwriter, but a video and documentary

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JARED LETO she got helped by social services to go back to school and train as a nurse to try to give her kids some stability. So if I can help or be of service in any way...’ he says. ‘But you know what? I’m too impatient. I’d probably swear in a speech. As George Clooney says, “I’ve f***ed too many chicks and done too many drugs to be in politics.” ’ It’s hard to reconcile Leto the wild front man with the committed method actor who performs extreme feats of self-remoulding in order to morph into his dark, outsider roles. The road to this is more lonely and torturous. During filming for Dallas Buyers Club, Leto only ever appeared on set as Rayon, not ‘meeting’ his co-star Matthew McConaughey or the other actors until after they had wrapped. He even donned lipstick and a pink fluffy jumper and flirted his arse off for his first Skype meeting with director Jean-Marc Vallée. ‘Maybe if I was making romantic comedies, there’d be more immediate silliness, more hanging out in each other’s trailers,’ he tells me. ‘I’ve never really had the kind of joy I experience with the band on set, but then I’m not really looking for that.’ Leto likens his process to ‘being a sculptor’. He lost two stone, lived rough on the streets and abstained from sex with his then girlfriend Cameron Diaz to become the drug-addicted Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream in 2000. He force-fed himself into obesity, putting on five stone to accurately portray John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 in 2007, for which he eventually suffered gout and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair (take that, Shia LaBeouf). In Mr Nobody, he underwent six hours of make-up to play a decrepit 118-yearold. Like his character Angel Face in Fight Club, who is happily freed from the prison of handsomeness when he is beaten to a pulp and permanently disfigured, Leto appears to make an effort to mask the pretty-boy looks for which, in 1994, he was cast in teen series My So-Called Life. But there is more to this, I say, something self-destructive... ‘All my roles are masochistic or...sadistic.’ His eyes flash with naughtiness. ‘Is that going to be your headline? “Jared Leto: masochist or sadist? You decide.” ’ The sexual edges of this theme can be found in his music. The S&M-themed video for ‘Hurricane’, which he directed in 2007, was censored by MTV, and in ‘End of All Days’, on his new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, he sings: ‘I punish you with pleasure, I pleasure you with pain…’ ‘I have very strong self-control. There is something very seductive about it,’ he admits when we discuss his crash, three-stone weight loss for Rayon, during which the slight actor virtually stopped eating. (He used to go to the supermarket just to stare at the food.) ‘I got to understand the mentality of an eating disorder. There are the highs of losing more weight; there’s a rush of endorphins associated with that control. When you have made a severe commitment to losing weight, there is a lot of shame and guilt around eating again. I really suffered that, it’s not a nice feeling...’ But Leto found solace in self-exploration. ‘The process can

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be very monk-like — there is a history of people who have fasted to achieve enlightenment. There is something in that, getting to know who you are. It changed me.’ I ask him if it was easier to get into the feminine headspace because he grew up without his father. Was there already a dash of oestrogen in him? ‘Oestrogen?’ He laughs, a little offended. ‘I guess you haven’t heard all the rumours... No, I became a detective, I met with transgendered people, I asked questions: “What was it like to tell your parents?” “What’s it like to be judged?” ’ He experienced this when he first dragged-up and went into Wholefoods. ‘You don’t have to desire the surgery to have your penis cut off, but you do have to understand it. We all have issues with our identity, or know what it’s like not to belong.’

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eto grew up an outsider. His father left after he was born, and Leto never saw him again. (He committed suicide when Leto was eight.) Leto’s teenage mother and the boys eventually fled Louisiana, where they lived with her Cajun parents in a one-bedroom house, to join the hippie movement. They lived in communes, mixed with artists and musicians, and moved around a lot — from Wyoming to Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Brazil and Haiti — constantly having to make new friends and reinvent themselves. At one point, when we talk about his forefathers, he says that most of his family were probably in prison (though he prefers to keep an apocryphal mystique about his background). Leto grew up wanting to be either a drugs dealer or an artist. At 16, he dropped out of school, before returning to another in Washington. The Leto boys were wild and unruly; they dabbled with drugs, broke into offices and warehouses to steal booze and motorbikes: ‘Other kids went to summer camp; we stole your car.’ Leto steered himself out of the nosedive when he got into college in Philadelphia to study art, and later on to a film course at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The creative focus was his salvation. Meanwhile, Shannon descended further into drug addiction, car-jacking and trouble with the police — the kind of downward spiral that Leto brutally documents in Requiem for a Dream. But when he moved to LA to pursue a career in music (he says acting was merely a day job to pay the rent), Shannon joined him and they formed the band in 1998. ‘Music saved his life. It was either that or prison. It saved both of us really. Shannon started drumming on pots and pans from an early age; I played a broken, second-hand piano.’ Life on the road with his brother is, after all, what Leto grew up with; it satisfies his constant need for adventure, newness, change. (Thirty Seconds to Mars recently set a Guinness World Record for the most tour dates, 309, on one album cycle.) Now in his forties, Leto still looks and acts at least a decade younger. There are no plans to stop touring now that, after years of graft,

Thanks to Finnair, which operates five flights daily from London Heathrow to Helsinki from £109 (0870 241 4411; finnair.com) and the Hilton Helsinki, double rooms from €109 (hilton.com)

‘GROWING UP, OTHER KIDS WENT TO SUMMER CAMP. WE STOLE CARS’

the band has achieved global recognition: Love Lust Faith + Dreams has sold 10m copies and their shows are mainly sold out. ‘We don’t give a shit about our ages. We’re not worrying about that. There are no rules,’ he tells me. And what if he met some girl he wanted to settle down with? ‘Then she’d better have a passport... look at the Rolling Stones, they just keep on going. Maybe me and my brother will be shaking it up there in our sixties. Who knows? Or maybe I’ll just walk away.’ He is even more freewheeling about his future film plans. He’d like to direct a longform narrative, he says. He has already won multiple MTV awards for Thirty Seconds to Mars’ videos, and a People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival for his 2012

documentary Artifact. This charted the creation of the band’s album This Is War and their battle in 2008 with their record label EMI, which sued them for $30m following a dispute over royalties when, after a tour and successful album, the band found themselves millions of dollars in debt. (The case was eventually dropped.) For now, however, Leto’s eye is set firmly on his tour schedule. His devotion to his band is almost religious. Next up is Russia, followed by Ukraine. ‘I read that they censored my speech in Russia. They cut what I said about Ukraine. But I’m fully intending to sing “This Is War” there.’ Leto usually accompanies the song’s lyrics ‘To fight, to fight, to fight!’ with rampant flag-waving and air fist-pumping. ‘Shit could go down. We’ve

already heard some things on the ground that are concerning. Through the band, we are really engaged with young voices all over the world through our social network feeds. I’ve learned so much travelling the world these last six years, it’s changed me. It’s made me a better actor...’ More than anything, Leto is fighting exhaustion now. His eyes are glassy, like marbles, and slowly starting to shut. He only has a few hours to pack and get on a flight to Belarus. He reverts to his humble Academy Awards speech mode, and thanks me for the interview. ‘I’m sorry but I really need to crash,’ he croaks gently. It looks like Jared Leto’s Oscars week has officially come to an end. ES Love Lust Faith + Dreams is out now

DELUXE

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his forehead. But that ruinously cheeky grin flies at half-mast. The teeth clench, but the Blue Steel flickers on a low wattage, hovering on the paler end of the McGregor colour spectrum, dimmed to a faded cornflower hue. Meanwhile, his strawberry-blond mane stands erect in such a bonkers cockatoo that it looks like heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been hanging by his feet all night. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a mess this morning isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; he offers. He has also grown a moustache for his role as a knight, though itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s less Dennis Hopper and more Carry Onâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Leslie Phillips, but he gets away with it. He twizzles its corners in a dastardly way. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I have wax, but I forgot to put it on this morning. I feel a bit naked.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He drops two Advil and orders Scottish porridge (it would have been a Guinness and a fry-up back in the day) while I expound, like an awkward film student, my potted three-phase theory of the McGregor oeuvre. Phase one: the Nineties. He is the exultant antihero of British arthouse and independent film, who eschewed Hollywood alpha-male parts to play our very own everyman â&#x20AC;&#x201C; see Shallow Graveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cocksure journalist Alex or Little Voiceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s introverted pigeon-keeper Billy â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and shunned LAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Valium Valleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; for Primrose Hill, to fly the flag for Britishness. Phase two: the Star Wars years. George Lucasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; prequel series gives way to a somewhat confusing period of career inconsistency including, despite earlier vehement protestations, leading roles in Hollywood studio productions â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from such highs as Baz Luhrmannâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Moulin Rouge! in 2001 to such lows as 2005â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sci-fi film The Island. Phase three: the Comeback. McGregor reinstates himself firmly as the master of the independent milieu with Polanskiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s claustrophobic and sharp-toothed political satire The Ghost, based on Tony Blairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s alleged war crimes during the Iraq war. McGregor delivers suspense fit for classic Hitchcockian noir â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and now he is consolidating his regained status with two new independent productions of existentially brooding brilliance: Beginners and Perfect Sense. McGregor fans, rejoice: the man is making good choices again. ²

spring gale rips through the reeds at London Wetland Centre. Otters retreat into the water. Kingfishers ride on the airstream like extreme surfers. Moorhens cluck indignantly as their feathers part to expose naked flesh. But Ewan McGregorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s monumental quiff, jutting out just above the elephant grass, remains monolithically upright. In contrast, at 9am (two hours before this bucolic scene at the Bazaar shoot), I am somewhat crestfallen. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been sharpening my wit in mental preparation for our meeting since dawn. I wait, spring coiled, at his London local in anticipation of the bed hair and banter: the erstwhile leader of the Primrose Hill Brit pack; the magnetic dynamo of Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge! and Down with Love, who recently made his comeback in Roman Polanskiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s The Ghost; the man for whom Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Emily Blunt and Hilary Swank have each proffered an effusive paean with only 24 hoursâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; notice. I am ready. But sadly, McGregor is not. When he appears, swathed in a navy-blue peacoat â&#x20AC;&#x201C; collar up â&#x20AC;&#x201C; he is more mewling kitten than the swaggering rock star of old. He has been under a rain machine for three days straight for a new film, Jack the Giant Killer, and is in the clammy grip of fever. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sick, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been up sweating all nightâ&#x20AC;Ś I recently turned 40. I always thought youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re as old as you feel, which today is more like 50,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; he burrs weakly before collapsing into a chair. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all there â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the trademark Louis XV mole, the Kirk Douglas cleft that traces a vertical line to

COOL AS A BREEZE Ewan McGregor wears wool jumper, ÂŁ320, Bally. Cotton top, ÂŁ23, American Apparel. Cotton chinos, ÂŁ110, Tommy Hilfiger. Rose gold Cellini watch with leather strap, ÂŁ4,280, Rolex at Time2, One Hyde Park. Ring, his own www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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He glares at me with mock outrage throughout the delivery of my thesis, his eyebrows hyperactive like emergency semaphores. ‘It’s just not true.’ He rolls out his Rs for effect. ‘There is only a big film now and then. I really mainly work in independent cinema, with the occasional sojourn into big-budget film. That sounds quite pretentious, doesn’t it? “Sojourn.”’ Cue laughter lines. ‘I like smaller cinema – the studio people will be reading this saying, “Well, fuck him. We won’t have him again” – because I think there is more room to make a statement.’ In Beginners, that statement is a poetic, existential one, which flits between poignancy and black humour: a Freudian analysis of how our childhood weighs heavily on our present, our inability to maintain relationships in the shadow of our parents’ woes, told through the story of Oliver (McGregor), whose father Hal (Christopher Plummer) comes out as gay in his seventies, at the same time as being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hal embraces his homosexuality for the first time with frantic ‘carpe diem’, finding a younger lover and his true self as he slowly dies. Meanwhile, the narrative cuts between Oliver’s posthumous memories of his father’s liberation, his parents’ stifled marriage and his own inability to free himself from the sadness of the past and commit to Anna, a peripatetic French actress. ‘I was just at a screening, and someone introduced it as a dramatic comedy, and I was thinking, “Oh oh oh… it’s not a comedy mate, oh dear.”’ Oliver’s burgeoning relationship with Anna, filled with quirks of abandon and tenderness, is made real by the mesmerising on-screen chemistry between McGregor and Mélanie Laurent, a sexy French Meg Ryan lookalike with whom he was photographed hand-in-hand in Paris last year, leading to speculation about an affair. (He has been married to French production designer Eve Mavrakis for 16 years.) I broach the subject with trepidation. French women. Just what is it about them? I prod. ‘Well, I like French women… [pauses] I also like the way you keep leaving things hanging in the air for me to hang myself on,’ he scolds affably. But he later says of Laurent: ‘We would film in the day and record her album with Damien Rice at night. She was also co-writing a movie. She’s like this creative whirlwind.’ Beginners is also one of a number of his films that deal with homosexuality, a subject seldom touched, let alone revisited, by Hollywood’s alpha brigade. (‘Ewan isn’t a man with a point to prove,’ Emily Blunt, his co-star in the upcoming Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, tells me. ‘There’s no swagger or arrogance or need to identify himself with some part that’s full of machismo.’) For a famously red-blooded male, I say, McGregor is very… ‘Gay?’ he offers. Well, yes, I say. ‘I didn’t do a gay-sex scene in this one, though, or I would have been having sex with my father. That’s more Freudian than Freud himself.’ (He slips into Freud impression). ‘How about having sex with your father? What about it, Freud?,’ he ends on a Colgate grin. McGregor played Jim Carrey’s lover in 2009’s I Love You Phillip Morris, engaging in impassioned clinches with the American actor a decade after declaring: ‘I can’t stomach the man.’ (‘I was very impolite about Jim a long time ago and I was hoping I’d got away with it… Thankfully, I think Jim doesn’t read the English press.’) Then there was his sex scene as Curt Wild – his infamous Kurt Cobain-Iggy Pop hybrid – with Christian Bale in 1998’s Velvet Goldmine, an experience he likes to think of as ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi fucking Batman’, and his portrayal of a bisexual translator in Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book, which he performs almost entirely naked.

At this point, I bite into my croissant. I look down at my shoes. I fiddle with the tablecloth, hum, do anything but look McGregor directly in the eye, because a strange question is lurking in the back of my mind. It’s gaining momentum, hurtling forward like a juggernaut. It’s the elephant in the room. I am outraged, I blurt out, at the number of shameless female journalists who insist on referring to his male appendage. He smirks as my face fills with boiling blood. But he does, I add, take his clothes off frequently in films. ‘But I’ve only been naked pre-, during or post- a sex scene. I don’t just get my cock out for laughs,’ he protests. I beg to differ, I say, bringing up his rock ’n’ roll performance as Wild in which, sweat-drenched, he gyrates wildly, showers himself in glitter and proceeds to expose the full glory of his package to his live audience at Brixton Academy (‘Fucking hell. I forgot about that. You’re dead right’). Though, in both The Ghost and Beginners, McGregor keeps his towel firmly glued to his waist. ‘I have to be careful in films now. Because if people think, “There’s McGregor taking his clothes off again,” it can actually distract people from the movie.’ Yes, Ewan, it is quite distracting.

3

or all his Madonna-like career reinvention, behind his ever-thrusting present lurks the shadow of his own past. So intricately bound is his identity to the iconography of the Nineties – the cult of Trainspotting, the Primrose Hill set, and the dynamic energies of Cool Britannia – that he became not only the living, cocksure embodiment of our nation’s hopes, but also of our subsequent fin-de-siècle disillusionment. Some 15 years later, McGregor is sentimental about that time before the Fall. ‘I had this amazing little flat above the Polish café in Primrose Hill. Jude Law, Jonny Lee Miller and Sean Pertwee were always there.’ His eyes mist over. ‘I don’t see that lot as much as I’d like to any more. I love Jude very much. I was so pleased to hear about Jonny’s success in Frankenstein. I was the first to leave our production company Natural Nylon in 2002, and that broke it up, so I am partly responsible for us not seeing each other as much. But I don’t think there’s any bad blood…’ As charming as he is during breakfast, I feel a certain pang for the erstwhile roar and thunder of McGregor in his unguarded years – the nights drinking with journalists at Soho House, expounding with passion his anti-Hollywood diatribe, exposing the industry for all its emperor’s-new-clothes vanity. But that was when he was drinking (he later confessed to being a functioning alcoholic). ‘I’d be walking home at 6am and I’d kind of come to and think, “Oh no, here I am again.” I’d drink all the time – interviews were fair game. I said unkind things about people. I used to slag off LA, but I didn’t really know anything about it then. I didn’t like the system with the use of actors as A-list, B-list and C-list. But it’s the same here.’ He has been teetotal for almost 10 years now. (‘I’ve fantasies about drinking, but they’re not just about having a glass of wine, they’re about having five bottles. It’s not really a fantasy. It’s a nightmare…’) Ironically, acquiescing to the big-studio system, once so reviled, would lead him into career wilderness. In 1998, he accepted the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new Star Wars prequel trilogy (the cult films, so much a part of the mythology of his childhood in rural Perthshire, proved too hard to resist). Thereafter, the Hollywood offers rolled in – and, with them, the mixed reviews. But he is sanguine about the fact that his instincts have not always paid off. CONTINUED ON PAGE 180

TO THE WATERS AND THE WILD Brown wool jumper, £320, Bally. White cotton top, £23, American Apparel. Rose gold Cellini watch with leather strap, £4,280, Rolex at Time2, One Hyde Park. Ring, his own. See Stockists for details. Grooming by Martina Luisetti

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After all, his career has hitherto been of Teflon made; his potent charisma and versatility are his eternal saving grace. Though, throughout the on-off Hollywood years, he had to devise coping strategies. There were turns on the West End stage (Guys and Dolls in 2005 and Othello in 2007) and the BBC’s Long Way… series, motorbiking around the globe with his friend Charley Boorman. Was this his disaffected-with-Hollywood, dropping-out, beardgrowing, Joaquin Phoenix moment? ‘Yeah, but he was making a film… Er, wait a minute! So was I.’ He chortles. ‘OK. I like what you’re doing there…’ With Advil fully metabolised, McGregor, now bundled into a taxi, is chatting away like a loquacious five-year-old en route to the shoot at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, pointing at pavement life. ‘Oh, look at the lady with the gold hat and purple boa… Look at all the gravel drives. I want one. I don’t have one of those in London or even in LA.’ His wife Eve lived in this area when they first met in 1994, on the set of Kavanagh QC, he tells me, and memories of his 23-year-old self cruising on his motorbike to visit his young French love are flooding back. He could not have imagined, back then, that at 40, he would be ensconced in suburban Los Angeles in Brentwood, Santa Monica, where he moved in 2008. ‘It would bore me to death driving around in this Valium lifestyle. You’d soon lose critical faculty,’ he once said. This irony is not lost on him, but he is surprisingly blasé about the pernicious pressures of LA life on his daughters – though, under his staunchly civilian tutelage, one suspects them to be well-adjusted beings. Esther is 10, the same age as Jamiyan, who the McGregors adopted from Mongolia in 2006 (something he never shouts about), and Clara is 15. That’s a dangerous age, I warn. ‘I’m not worried about boys. I took her to see Juno when she was 13 and said, “See! Just be careful,”’ he riffs. ‘She does go to a school with rich West LA kids. But she’s not crying because she doesn’t have a Prada handbag. Cars are the big thing now. You can get your learner’s permit at 15-and-a-half, and some of her friends are coming to school in new Audi A7s and new fucking Mercedes as starter cars. I worked from the age of 14 as a dishwasher. By the time I was 16, I’d bought myself a second-hand VW Beetle.’ He is equally nonplussed by the A-list tweeting culture (though he doesn’t rant about his recent Twitter imposter or the ripple of allegations that have linked him to superinjunction-gate). ‘I don’t tweet or follow anyone. I’m quite analogue. I can understand it works for a pop star like Lady Gaga, but I think it’s a bit embarrassing to have an account as an actor – it’s like having your own official fansite.’ And it’s hard to believe that McGregor (formerly of the soapbox) is not repulsed by the amount of Botox freezing West Coast epidermises. ‘Well, there’s a certain section of ladies there that look like they are walking into a gale. I was driving to the airport the other day and I saw a woman with her entire face bandaged up. It looked awful. My wife doesn’t use it and nor do I. Someone offered it to me because I’ve got a frown mark and I said, “But I’m an actor, I need to use my face.”’ Whatever lines have set in on his countenance, they have not detracted from his boyish air. Though maturing, he says, has its advantages. ‘Carrying a film like The Ghost is wonderful, but it’s great sometimes to come onto a set, like with Jack and the Giant Killer, and see Nicholas Hoult ( Jack) and I’m like, “OK, you carry the fucker. I’ll be over here playing my knight.”’ But whatever he’d like us to believe, McGregor is not quite ready for his slippers. After Beginners, he releases Perfect Sense, a dark, apocalyptic film directed by David Mackenzie; a new Steven Soderbergh production; and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (he insists on looking up his new salmon-related vocabulary – see ‘salmonoid’ – on his iPhone as we arrive, promising to channel his ‘inner geography teacher’ on the shoot to impress me). ‘I like working. I don’t make very much money on the small films, so I have to do lots of them. I just have to keep working – got a big life to pay for.’ With that, he slides open the van doors, disembarks (with a tiny stoop to safeguard his follicular triumph) and saunters off through the grassy wilderness. ‘Beginners’ is released nationwide on 22 July. www.harpersbazaar.co.uk


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powerful charisma and clever wit as she opens up to STEPHANIE RAFANELLI about her fraught childhood and love of challenging roles PHOTOGRAPHS BY SOFIA SANCHEZ AND MAURO MONGIELLO

STYLED BY RAQUEL FRANCO ristin Scott Thomas, seated at the bar in China Tang, in the basement of the Dorchester hotel, is rather amused. The cause of this is our current predicament: amalgam of all my characters. They [producers/directors] love to with the dictaphone engaged, we are in the midst of a polite round put me in a tragic film. But I’m so bored to tears of “tragique”. I’m so of early-afternoon dim sum, when a drunk with apparent Tourette’s bored of doing “dignified depressed”. I can’t cope any more.’ She rolls syndrome slumps himself, corpse-like, next to us. Scott Thomas her eyes. ‘I’m never doing that again – shedding a tear discreetly in freezes, chopsticks aloft, like a rabbit catching scent in the wind. Her the corner, looking down and swallowing. It seems that my giant blue eyes widen as our neighbour lurches upright, spewing function on this Earth is to entertain people with tragic stories. forth a diatribe of slurred expletives that grow ever more alarmingly I think it’s my bone structure, it makes me look kind of “secret”…’ But it is not simply the hall-of-mirrors effect of cinema that has obscene. ‘This guy is insane,’ she finally whispers, coughing up a wry laugh (as I battle to suppress a more raucous giggle). Then, with blurred the lines between the real Scott Thomas and the characters perfect drollery, she pops a dumpling in her mouth, all the while she plays. There is a self-restraint and inscrutability to the 52-yearold actress in person that give one the sense of talking to her through remaining entirely composed. It is this unshakable poise that tends to confuse and intimidate a protective veil. Her answers today are punctuated with little techmost of those who meet Scott Thomas. Her reputation precedes her niques of digression: prolonged hums and well-timed deflective jokes. Still, this opaqueness has always intrigued the opposite sex. It like a chill. ‘When I first met her on set, I have to admit, I was really frightened of her,’ says Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed her in was, after all, one of the greatest miscarriages of cinematic justice, Nowhere Boy, the biopic of John Lennon, in 2009. ‘But I realised that and an implausible flaw in Richard Curtis’ Four Weddings and a this was just other people’s misconception of her. She is actually really Funeral script, that Hugh Grant could possibly spurn the steely funny and naughty. But if people misread you so often, it’s inevitable beauty of Fiona, as played by a 33-year-old Scott Thomas, for the that you become a little… self-defensive.’ This notoriety is partly due blandness of Andie MacDowell’s Carrie. The appeal of Scott Thomas’ sangfroid is inflamed by those lanto the brilliance with which Scott Thomas passed through a sliding scale of aristocratic froideur during her early career in the 1980s and guorous, hooded eyes that hint at the passion beneath – just beyond 1990s: playing Brenda Last in A Handful of Dust, Fiona in Four Wedd- reach. (Today, they are a little magnified by a pair of horn-rimmed ings and a Funeral and Katharine in The English Patient (for which she glasses. In a tweed jacket and green cords, she is working ‘intellecwas Oscar- and Bafta-nominated). ‘People think I am somehow an tual preppie’, a prime example of her insouciant ‘style anglaise’.) ‘“The fire under the ice,” as Hitchcock said,’ explains François Ozon, who directed Scott Thomas in the new French film In the House. ‘Kristin is a mixture of Marlene Dietrich’s sensuality and Greta Garbo’s glacial cool.’ And like those Hollywood stars who began their careers in silent films, Scott Thomas never offers herself

HAIR BY JOHNNIE SAPONG AT JED ROOT, USING LEONOR GREYL, ASSISTED BY JOHN BILES. MAKE-UP BY AYAMI NISHIMURA AT JULIAN WATSON AGENCY, USING MAKE. WITH THANKS TO THE DORCHESTER

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has many hidden depths. The actress reveals a

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Beneath her inscrutable poise, Kristin Scott Thomas


up too easily. In a world where ‘over-sharing’ is the norm, her understatement is as confounding as it is rare. Indeed, an encounter with Scott Thomas is a little like an initiation test. You must win her respect before she will (or, more importantly, can) play ball. Taylor-Johnson witnessed this on set: ‘The first week of shooting Nowhere Boy was really difficult, because she challenged every direction I gave her. Then she said, “I have to know whether I can trust you, and if I trust you I will give you the greatest performance. But you have to earn that trust for me to work with you.” It’s only when she trusts you that she can really open up and let go.’ For Scott Thomas, a combination of trust and fear is her most fertile ground. ‘I like being utterly petrified. I constantly need to test myself. If I feel like I’m not learning anything, I think, “What’s the point of this?” Rehashing something is just so dull.’ Over the past 10 years, she has turned away from Hollywood, embracing the more nuanced roles offered to her in French cinema (she is bilingual, having lived in Paris for the past 33 years). Her work with directors such as Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) and Philippe Claudel has received international acclaim; her performance as a woman convicted of infanticide in Claudel’s I’ve Loved You So Long (2008) was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Bafta. More recently, theatre has offered Scott Thomas similar stimulus. ‘If I didn’t like a challenge, I would be stuck in a TV miniseries playing a 1930s aristocrat,’ she says, feigning a sigh. She is currently treading the boards at the Harold Pinter Theatre, in the eponymous playwright’s Old Times – her third collaboration on the London stage with Jerusalem director Ian Rickson, following Chekhov’s The Seagull (for which she won an Olivier Award in 2008) and Pinter’s Betrayal in 2011. In the production, she alternates the roles of Anna and Kate each week, instigated by the random toss of the director’s coin. ‘One distinctive quality of Pinter’s work is this big volcanic yearning underworld beneath the surface, and Kristin is naturally very good at that,’ Rickson tells me. ‘Playing the roles of Kate and Anna, one guarded and one impetuous, allows her to explore different aspects of herself.’ For In the House, on the other hand, Scott Thomas is getting to flex her ‘comic’ muscles (seen in her recent brilliant turn in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), albeit in a dark social satire about a schoolteacher who encourages his pupil, a boy abandoned by his mother and caring for a disabled father, to write a voyeuristic story based on his infiltration into his friend’s ‘normal, nuclear’ family. In it, Ozon ENGLAND’S GLORY explores, among other themes, the impact of tragedy Kristin Scott Thomas wears leather trench-coat, £6,185, on childhood, as well as its potential as a creative catalyst. Valentino. Previous page: ‘One day, we were in a taxi together leaving the set, and coat, as before Kristin opened up to me about the dramas of her childhood and the pain she suffered,’ he confides. ‘It was all related with dignity and contained emotion. At that moment, I suddenly

When her father died, she was ordered not to cry. ‘It was just never mentioned again after that’

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home from boarding school, only to be put back on the train three days later. (With help, her mother scraped together the fees for the Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Leweston school in Sherborne.) ‘It was just never mentioned again after that. I don’t think my childhood dramas would have been dealt with in the same way today. I would have immediately been asked to talk about it. I can’t have dealt with it that well, you know, because after all, I am still talking about it. I mean, why am I talking about it now? But it’s made me who I am.’ She slumps a little in her chair. ‘I bet some children of the military are still told not to cry when their dads don’t come back [from Afghanistan].’ Does she cry at all now, I ask. ‘Nowadays I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry so easily. I cry so much. It’s almost a kind of physical release. I could probably cry now if I needed to… it’s very useful for playing all of these dignified, depressed women.’ It may not be a coincidence that the year her father died, Scott Thomas developed an imaginary friend. ‘Her name was Wendy. Her dad had a Rolls-Royce. She was five, too. I also had an imaginary brother. He was in hospital with a broken leg.’ I point out how many actors have suffered the loss of a parent or a childhood trauma, and speculate on how this helped their imaginative realm take flight at an early age. She begins to scrutinise China Tang’s chequered carpet, humming a little ditty. And I watch as she shuts down in front of me, like a flower in reverse bloom. ‘No, no, I don’t think it is anything to do with that,’ she concludes sharply. Still, I press on: does she feel that she lacked the stability of a male role model as a young girl? ‘I had my grandfather but he was a real authoritarian, very, very frightening… But my two sons have helped me understand men.’ (Scott Thomas has three children by French IVF expert François Olivennes, who she was married to until 2005: Joseph, 21; George, 12; and her 24-year-old daughter Hannah, who has just started working at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. ‘She’s forced me to reappraise journalists, too,’ she adds.) Scott Thomas’ own mother was initially against her becoming an actress. ‘A single mother is going to want you to get a proper job, get a pay cheque every month.’ She nevertheless enrolled in the Central School of Speech & Drama; but at 19, after a cruel comment from her tutor that she would ‘never make it as an actress’, she dropped out, suffering from the first in a series of bouts of depression, and fled to Paris to become an au pair. (The black clouds have slowly dispersed over the years, something that therapy has helped her to control.) It was perhaps no accident that Olivennes, who she met in her early twenties, hailed from a family of psychotherapists. In Paris, Scott Thomas enrolled a second time in drama school, and upon graduation was handpicked out of a line-up of Parisians by Prince to play a French heiress in his musical drama Under the Cherry Moon in 1985. (‘I have always been out of kilter,’ she tells me later. ‘The French always see me as English and the English think I’m so French.’) There followed a string of French films, until she was cast by Charles Sturridge as Brenda Last in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, a role that would cement her firmly in the milieu of British aristocracy in the 1930s – in the minds of casting directors, at least. In a way, the part of Katharine Clifton was an inevitable conclusion. I once read that when Scott Thomas first discovered the

character in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, she thought it was the role of her life. ‘I was misquoted,’ she corrects me now. ‘It was Hana who I felt most like and wanted to play.’ The self-sacrificing nurse (portrayed by Juliette Binoche in Anthony Minghella’s 1996 adaptation) is cursed, as Ralph Fiennes’ Laszlo Ede Almasy puts it, in that ‘everyone she ever loved tends to die on her’. Scott Thomas admits: ‘I am always bracing myself for catastrophe at any moment. I am a terrible pessimist, but as I get older, I feel that I don’t have to save anybody any more, that my general behaviour isn’t going to trigger some disaster.’ She suddenly quips: ‘God, did you feel that earthquake?’ During filming, Scott Thomas was forced to confront her most profound fear by acting out a plane crash. ‘It was such an emotionally draining experience. Ralph and I were bonded for ever, like blood brothers, in that film because the story was so affecting for both of us.’ (Fiennes has just directed her in his new film The Invisible Woman, the story of Dickens’ secret lover, due out later this year.) Despite the psychological challenges thrown up by The English Patient, including channelling her fear of abandonment for her death scene alone in a cave, Scott Thomas relished playing Katharine, ‘an object of desire’, a woman able to give in to her passions, because, she tells me, ‘she is so different from me’. I ask if she is able to let go, be passionate in her own life, away from prying eyes. She sips jasmine tea for rather a long time. ‘What does passion mean?’ she says finally. ‘Being out of control? If so, no – I have myself under quite a tight rein.’ (Although, if the tabloids contain even a modicum of truth, history has not always held this to be entirely true. In 2005, Scott Thomas divorced Olivennes after an alleged affair with Tobias Menzies, an actor 14 years her junior.) ‘There are things more important to me than passion: education, commitment, enthusiasm, interest,’ she adds. All of which continue to thrive in her work as her fifties progress: she has five films in the pipeline, including Only God Forgives, co-starring Ryan Gosling, out later this year. It is never a wise thing to categorise a woman, but if one did, Scott Thomas would surely belong to the group of actresses living in Paris – Rampling, Deneuve, Huppert – who still inhabit the screen (albeit for the most part in French cinema) as enduringly sexual and sentient beings, defying Hollywood’s crushing perceptions of age. I attempt to trigger some kind of rallying treatise on the power of post-menopausal woman, but instead Scott Thomas cries: ‘Oh no! I can’t wait to have a big bloody old facelift. I wonder what Lauren Hutton has had done. I want to look like her or Jane Fonda. I met her once, she was wearing a big fur coat. She smelt delicious and you could hear her jewellery jangle…’ She pushes her face backwards with her hands, but there is barely any movement. ‘Of course, I will have a facelift, just not next week.’ She peers at me intently over her glasses, her exact level of irony entirely unreadable. ‘Or maybe I won’t.’ She arches a magisterial brow. ‘Well, only time will tell.’ ‘In the House’ is released nationwide on 29 March.

‘Nowadays I cry at the drop of a hat. It’s useful for playing all these dıgnıfied, depressed women’

HAIR BY JOHNNIE SAPONG AT JED ROOT, USING LEONOR GREYL, ASSISTED BY JOHN BILES. MAKE-UP BY AYAMI NISHIMURA AT JULIAN WATSON AGENCY, USING MAKE. WITH THANKS TO THE DORCHESTER

understood where her inspiration and force as an actress came from.’ When Kristin Scott Thomas was five years old, her father, Simon Scott Thomas, was killed in a plane crash. Her mother Deborah was a young actress brought up in Hong Kong and Africa, who had fallen in love at 18 with the young Royal Navy pilot, a distant relative of the ill-fated polar explorer Captain Scott. A few years after losing her first husband, Deborah married another Navy pilot, only for him to die in a similar crash when Kristin was 11. ‘I don’t know how she did it,’ says Scott Thomas of her mother. ‘She could have collapsed but she didn’t, she kept going. Imagine: she’s 25, with three little children and pregnant again, and the love of her life is killed. Then she meets someone else who sweeps her off her feet, marries him, and five years later the same thing happens. Except this time you have five children, one born after his father died.’ She covers her eyes with her hands for a moment. ‘When she remarried, she had lost all her financial rights. She only got the pension for the youngest child… We didn’t have a financially secure upbringing, we grew up with a single mum who had to make ends meet, who was hanging on to all these things and trying to hang on to her dignity at the same time. The resilience of it all…’ It is therefore ironic that Scott Thomas has come to represent the quintessential born-with-a-silver-spoon aristocrat, a kind of female Ralph Fiennes. ‘My mother was a Naval wife, but she was also a bit of a hippie in the Seventies and we lived on brown rice and had some macrobiotic diet.’ She groans. ‘Then, when I was 18, she took herself off to art school and trained as a silversmith to support the other kids through school.’ I ask if she is like her mother. She begins to hum to herself, as if practising her musical scales. ‘I look more and more like my father every day. In the pictures I have of him, he looks drop-dead amazing, very fair-haired. But that’s also the little girl in me, because I was five years old, fantasising about my father who was a prince, the most beautiful man in the world. A god.’ When her father died, Scott Thomas was ordered not to cry; and after news arrived of her stepfather’s death, she was summoned

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THE FEMALE BOSS Karren Brady leans in for women BETWEEN THE LINES The booksellers battling Amazon PUPPY LOVE How Grace Dent went from on the lash to on the leash

ES Evening Standard Magazine 07/11/2014

THE

GOODGUY

Is Elijah Wood the nicest man in Hollywood?


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Craig Patel

‘Hollywood can be a very dark place. At its worst it can destroy people’ Elijah Wood is a rare breed: a former child star who stayed on the rails and a blockbuster hero with indie credentials. He talks to Stephanie Rafanelli about shunning celebrity, DJing in East London and why he’ll never be a stoner

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R

ight in the middle of interviewing Elijah Wood — reportedly one of the most charming and welladjusted actors in Hollywood — I realise that I’m giving him an incredibly hard time. In his screen performances, Wood has a Christlike quality, his cornflower-blue eyes able to transmit at once anguish, stoicism and vulnerability; off screen, he has been referred to as a ‘source of genuine goodness’. Maybe it’s because I finally get to pick on someone my own size. Only 5ft 5in tall, delicate and elfin, at 33, Wood looks as though he has been frozen in time as a 16-year-old boy. I wonder if it can be just this physical slightness that has allowed him to dodge the slings and arrows of Hollywood fortune: the damaging repercussions of a decade of child stardom and the potential career-killing effects of the mania surrounding The Lord of the Rings trilogy that forever crystallised him as the load-bearing saviour Frodo in the minds of the media, public and casting directors alike. All of this, Wood has endured good-naturedly and politely. And he is so polite. Despite a morning of 12 television interviews back-toback at the Corinthia Hotel, he is still opening doors for waiters, thanking everyone and pronouncing that everything is ‘wonderful’ or ‘delightful’. He’s also handsome. But he really, really can’t be this nice. So when we sit down to talk about his new film, Set Fire to the Stars, I start testing him, jabbing at him like a school bully, though I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to find. Some bratty manchild? Unvented rage? A dash of healthy cynicism, at very least. ‘I don’t believe in cynicism,’ he says, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. ‘I believe in sarcasm, in scepticism. Cynicism kills the soul and murders people’s ability to move forward.’ Come on, Elijah. ‘Well, sometimes, I can be frustrated at the laziness of journalists who just won’t let something die. They’ll be like, “Frodo is doing a horror movie.” That’s annoying. I’ve done ten years of other movies. But The Lord of the Rings will be with me for the rest of my life, I’d be a fool not to recognise that.’ Set Fire to the Stars marks a kind of fourth act of his 25-year career. First, there was the child actor, whose instinctive performances in Barry Levinson’s Avalon, Joseph Ruben’s The Good Son and, above all, Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm, inspired esteemed US film critic Robert Ebert to write: ‘Elijah has emerged the most talented actor in his age group in Hollywood history.’ Then came The Lord of the Rings, in which he was burdened with the task of carrying the whole trilogy, which swallowed up four formative years — from 18 to 21 — of his life. Next came a decade of de-Frodification, in which Wood progressively ruptured the confines of family-friendly, big-budget fantasy, with smaller indie roles: the nerdy pervert lab technician in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Kevin the prostitute-eating psycho in Sin City; and a West Ham football hooligan in Green Street. Then there was the serial killer who scalps his victims in Maniac. I get the feeling Wood has been trying to tell us something. Perhaps the final death-blow to virtuous

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‘As a Hobbit I was a bit

desexualised. I didn’t get as much love as a Gondorian’ Frodo was his recent appearance in Wilfred, a bizarre BBC Three comedy in which he played a suicidal loser ‘saved’ by his friendship with his neighbour’s dog who manifests to him as a bong-smoking Australian. ‘It’s a stoner comedy!’ he chuckles, prodding at my knee playfully. ‘Do I appreciate laddie humour? Totally. I don’t know if I’m laddie in that slightly misogynistic, on-the-piss, lack of intelligence, overly masculine, gross way. I don’t respond or relate to that... And I’m not a big weed smoker.’ Too well-adjusted? ‘No. It’s not for lack of trying. I get very stoned, that’s the problem. I have a high tolerance for alcohol, but not weed. I wish I did. But f*** me, I get so monged out.’ Wood is an ace at British colloquialisms. Now that he has enough projects out there to make references to Frodo ridiculously churlish, it seems he has nothing left to prove. And it shows. His role in the understated Set Fire to the Stars, which he also co-produced, is a return to Ice Storm form. A semi-biographical work, the feature debut of Downton Abbey director Andy Goddard, the film focuses on the relationship between the ‘roistering, drunken, doomed poet’ Dylan Thomas (played by Welsh actor Celyn Jones, who also co-wrote the film) From boy to man In Flipper (1996); in The Lord of the Rings (2001); in Green Street (2005); in Set Fire to the Stars (2014)

and the Harvard academic John Malcolm Brinnin (a Buster Keaton-looking Wood), the man responsible for inviting Thomas to tour America — a move that would both cement his status as a cultural icon for the Beat movement and lead to his untimely death, hastened by binge-drinking, in New York in 1953. Jones’ remarkable performance as the philandering, attention-seeking, mollycoddled manchild poet is matched by Wood’s nuanced turn as a young man both disillusioned and profoundly altered by his initial five-day encounter with his hero. It begs an obvious question... ‘No!’ Wood catches on immediately. ‘I’ve never been disappointed with any of my heroes. I met Paul McCartney once and he was so wonderful.’ Wood says he was always well-adjusted. Born in Iowa to parents who ran a delicatessen, he was the middle child of the family, between his older brother Zach, now a film producer, and sister Hannah, an actor. ‘I was the family peacemaker and moderator,’ he sighs. ‘The one who understood everyone’s perspective, for better or for worse.’ At four, on his mother’s suggestion, he began modelling in local shopping malls and at the age of eight, she took him to Los Angeles to a Hollywood talent scout convention where he was cast in Paula Abdul’s video ‘Forever Your Girl’, directed by David Fincher. A small role in Back to the Future Part II followed, which led to Avalon, The War and Flipper. He’d had no formal acting training. ‘I wasn’t a show-off. I didn’t put on plays at home. I innately knew that I had to portray another person and I had to do that with honesty.’ When they moved permanently to the West Coast, his father Warren stayed behind. His parents finally divorced when he was 15, around the time that he was shooting The Ice Storm, the story of two dysfunctional families and the effect of their infidelities on their children. Wood has had little contact with his father since, and clearly puts his mother-mentor on a pedestal. ‘I’m a mummy’s boy, totally,’ he says proudly. ‘It was always my mum and me. She was the one taking me around on location. That’s the closest relationship that I ever had. I’m indebted to her. There are so many ways to go wayward in this industry.’ It was not until he was cast by Peter Jackson in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, after sending in a homemade audition tape of himself running through the woods in a hired Hobbit costume, that Wood left home on his own for the first time and moved to Wellington, New Zealand, for the 16-month shoot. He regards that time as ‘my university, the year I changed from boy to man’. I ask how Frodo went down with the ladies: ‘Well, I think. I mean as a Hobbit I was a bit desexualised. I didn’t get as much love as, like, an Elf perhaps, or a Gondorian. But I did OK.’ The length and insular nature of the shoot allowed him to make the deep personal connections that he felt he’d missed out on as a child — he recounts tales of surfing and road trips with his co-stars Orlando Bloom, Dominic Monaghan and Viggo Mortensen. Which perhaps goes some way to explaining why, after all his public exorcising of Frodo, Wood agreed to appear in the prequel trilogy The Hobbit, the final part of which is out next month. ‘I knew


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MICHAEL TULLBERG/GETTY IMAGES

ELIJAH WOOD


ELIJAH WOOD that I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t going to have to carry the film on my shoulders. It was more of a family reunion.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The same logic applies to the Air New Zealand safety video he shot recently in which he is dwarfed in a giant-scale plane seat. He knows how to laugh at himself. He can also be disarmingly candid. When I ask if he has ever been in therapy, he immediately replies: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;F*** yeah. I highly advocate it. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not an admission that thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something wrong, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an admission of vulnerability. All these things bubbled up when I was 29. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d just broken up with my girlfriend of five years [Pamela Racine, his co-star in Everything is Illuminated]. Someone suggested therapy and I thought, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I actually think I need this.â&#x20AC;? I was an adult from a young age, I had to deal with so much familial responsibility. Some might say I lost my childhood. I missed out on certain things, but if anything that shaped me. By the time I really needed friends my own age, I had them.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He lights another cigarette. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I was always taking care of other people, thinking about their feelings and not my own. That can bite you in the ass. I found it hard to say no. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like to disappoint people. Too nice. Too honest.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Did he just get bored of being the dependable, level-headed one? â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;No, I like having a healthy perspective. It allows me to deal with all the bullshit in the industry.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Wood purposely circumvents a lot of said â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;bullshitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. He lives between Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Venice Beach and Austin, Texas, avoids the paparazziâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prime hunting areas in Los Angeles, doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t party at clubs and tends to only retweet

Superstar DJ Spinning the decks in Hollywood, 2013

on Twitter. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;...and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t release naked pictures of myself. Men who take dick-pics? That is the most retarded thing. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really nothing sexy about it.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He has also managed to carry out his private life under the radar; his only publicly documented relationships have been with German actress Franka Potente and Racine. I wonder if he actively doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t date high-profile actors? â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a policy I have, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s better not to. It brings a certain attention Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather not have in my life. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t roll in the scene at all.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Of Hollywood he says: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;It can be a very dark place, but it can also be wonderful. At its best itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an opportunity to create great art. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capable of that. At its worst it can destroy and bring out the worst in people.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Our conversation turns to Robin Williams,

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t release any

naked pictures. Men who take dick-pics? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s retardedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;

with whom Wood worked side by side when voicing Happy Feet. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The death of Robin really shocked me.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; His eyes look like giant blue marbles for a second. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;When you unpack it and you recognise that he battled with addiction for the vast majority of his life, there had to be darkness, but I never saw a stitch of it. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve met anyone in my life that shone so brightly, made so many people so happy and was so humble. I kept thinking about how alone he must have felt to make that decision... People are so judgemental about suicide. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important never to judge someone for their decisions, if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like to walk in their shoes. I remember when Kurt Cobain died, people called him a loser and said that he took the easy way out...â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Cobain is another musical hero Wood is categorically not disappointed with. He is a ceaseless font of nerdy enthusiasm for a plethora of musical legends and genres. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a part-time DJ with 4,000 vinyl sleeves in his collection. He often plays at Market Bar in Dalston, when heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s over here scouring London haunts for new trainspotter finds (his favourites are Honest Jonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and Soul Jazz). But his record label Simian Records has taken a back seat while he concentrates on SpectreVision, his production company specialising in horror films â&#x20AC;&#x201D; another of Woodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ardent predilections. He rhapsodises about the genre, then chuckles, exposing the slash between his front teeth. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Yeah, sometimes I can be drawn to things a little on the darker side.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; ES Set Fire to the Stars is in cinemas from today

       

      



    


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THE GIRL

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Oozing with seductive Seventies appeal, British actor Rebecca Hall is the toast of Hollywood after her lauded role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But the daughter of theatre legend Peter Hall shatters the film-star mould with her take on fame. On the eve of appearing in Twelfth Night at the National, she talks nudity and ‘playing the babe’ with STEPHANIE RAFANELLI Photographs by ALEXI LUBORMIRSKI. Styled by VANESSA COYLE


R

ebecca Hall is doing an impression of Peter Hall. Stooping her shoulders, chin protruding, she drops her temple into a ponderous frown, then settles into his gait. From a photograph on the wall of the National Portrait Gallery, her father stares back at her, one eyebrow raised like Orson Welles, as if amused at his own reflection. ‘Very good tweed,’ she says, now recomposed as her 28-year-old self, as she scrutinises the veteran director’s image (eyes hooded, gnarled hands regally clasped). She drifts on to a nearby polyptych in oils depicting scenes from his career. ‘This is on the set of Orpheus Descending [1988] with Vanessa Redgrave. And this one’s got the family dog Smudge in it; he’s wearing a “cone of shame”, like he’s just had an operation!’ Despite her spirited playfulness, as a lauded actor in her own right – both in Hollywood and on the stage – Hall doesn’t always relish such focus on her heritage. But, newly returned from America and about to embark on rehearsals for Twelfth Night at the National – under the direction of her father no less – she is today unleashed from self-restraint. And so, together, we wander the parquet floors and marble archways of the gallery, in search of the British greats (some of whose lives are entwined with her own impressive lineage). We saunter past effigies of the distinguished: Diana Athill (‘She really rocks – an amazing role model for women’); a rugged Tom Stoppard, who adapted Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard for the Old Vic’s Bridge Project, in which Hall appeared in 2009 (‘He’s ludicrously charismatic and casually foppish in the most impressive way’); Francis Bacon, resembling a knackered Teddy Boy (‘Have you read his interviews? His dark doubting moments are inspirational. They bring you back from the brink’); and Samuel Beckett (his shock of white hair and wire specs immortalised by Harpers photographer Dmitri Kasterine), whose English-language premiere of Waiting for Godot was directed by a 24-year-old Peter Hall. ‘There’s a cupboard in my dad’s house full of Hasselblad cameras Beckett gave him,’ Hall recalls. ‘I never met him, but I saw my dad’s revival of Waiting for Godot with Ben Kingsley when I was 15: it was one of the most transcendental theatre experiences of my life.’ Despite Hall’s thespian connections and film roles in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Please Give and Ben Affleck’s The Town, the gallery crowds murmur past oblivious, as she roams the corridors wrapped in a masculine camel coat (a present from David Hare’s wife, Nicole Farhi), denim shirt and jodhpurs. In the flesh, she possesses that same calm presence and low-key magnetism that allow her to melt, unassuming, into her roles: the dowdy mammogram technician in Please Give; Woody Allen’s gawky Vicky… Yet Hall is a beauty of equine allure: a loose espresso-coloured mane, a mouthful of teeth and the elongated limbs of a Modigliani muse, softened by a smattering of asymmetric dimples. It’s a look Halston would have adored in his Seventies heyday. ‘I love the silk-shirt-no-bra thing – it was a great time for women,’ she says of the era’s louche fashions. Only in Frost/Nixon (2008), dressed in the designer’s gowns, does Hall show

a rare glimpse of her siren potential. ‘It was a real relief to play the babe for once. I’ve always been attracted to wallflower parts, and I had to get them out of my system… I’m interested in being the girl who subtly reveals herself, rather than wears her beauty externally. I think it was Lou Doillon who said she’d rather be the one on the subway who the guy doesn’t notice at first, but who slowly draws him in.’ Nicole Holofcener, the director of Please Give, in which Hall appears in unbecoming hospital scrubs and a billowing granny’s nightie, emphasises the actor’s rare absence of vanity. ‘She never expresses any discomfort about playing plain. On the first shoot day, the costume department gave her a pair of skinny jeans, which were just too adorable on,’ she says. ‘We panicked and replaced them with an ill-fitting and unstylish pair, but Rebecca was totally game… She has a large mouth that looks incredibly sexy, but also has the potential to be goofy, and crazy dimples in weird places on her face. Her emotions are right there, on the surface of her skin. They trump any glamour that would get in the way of her character.’ ‘She’s always very real, very natural,’ adds Andrew Garfield, her co-star in David Peace’s 2009 film Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974. ‘She’s never showing off in her performances. It’s never about her, or about “look at me”. It’s always about the role. It’s very rare to find an actress who can put aside how beautiful they are, or how charismatic. She just doesn’t follow the obvious Hollywood mould.’ It is such on-screen versatility, coupled with her commitment to the London stage and theatrical inheritance (her mother is American soprano Maria Ewing, her uncle is director Edward Hall), that make her so reminiscent of one of our great British actresses. ‘She is a young Vanessa Redgrave,’ says Hall’s father, who championed Redgrave’s career in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1959. ‘They both take enormous risks because they are true artists. Watching Rebecca’s development has been one of the most exciting events of my life.’ The fading winter light filters through the Covent Garden Hotel’s windows, throwing shadows on Hall’s ivory complexion as we sip tea and discuss Twelfth Night. It is not the first time the actor has been directed by her father on stage. She starred in his productions of Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession in 2002, and As You Like It, the following year. Why did she choose to return from Hollywood to work with him again? ‘It’s my dad’s 80th birthday, and he would have grounded me and sent me to Coventry if I hadn’t,’ she teases, a resemblance to her father flickering across her face. ‘There’s a part of me that’s interested in extreme characters, and then there’s this one that wants to listen to Bach and do Shakespeare. I haven’t worked with my dad for seven years. Back then there was no reason than beyond wanting to prove myself. I was much more pugnacious; a little more “Fuck you world, I’m going to work with my dad.” This time, it feels much more personal and emotional than before.’ With half a decade of independent acclaim behind her, charges of nepotism in Hall’s early career (she once said she might as well embrace it if she was going to be accused of it) now seem anachronistic, as does any notion of her yearning for Oedipal approval. Hall is now nearly the age her father was when he set up the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 – his achievements must weigh heavy. ‘I’m in awe of him. Maybe subconsciously the success of my mother and father has driven me,’ she ponders. ‘But do I compare myself?

I haven’t worked with my dad for seven years. Back then there was no reason than beyond wanting to prove myself. I was much more pugnacious. This time it feels much more personal

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HALL’S STRIKING FEATURES AND TOUSLED HAIR ECHO EFFORTLESS SEVENTIES GLAMOUR This page: white cotton tank top, £79, Boss Black. Previous pages: basket-weave peak-lapel jacket, £2,200; matching trousers, £810; silk crepe de chine shirt, £1,130, all Tom Ford. Crystal pendant with white-gold chain, £2,700, Jordan Askill www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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SMOULDERING LOOKS IN HEAD-TO-TOE BLACK OR WHITE MAKE A DEFINITIVE STATEMENT THIS SEASON This page: embroidered linen and elastic corset, about £925, Dolce & Gabbana. Silver and rhodium necklace, £4,606, Jordan Askill. Opposite: sleeveless leather jacket, £1,880; silk skirt, £945, both Haider Ackermann. Diamond ring, from a selection, Harry Winston

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No! I’m not sure why. By every psychological textbook, I should.’ As the cross-dressing Viola, Hall will follow in the illustrious paces of Peggy Ashcroft (1939), Vivien Leigh (1955), Diana Rigg (1966), Judi Dench (1969) – and, of course, the famous Blackadder spoof. ‘Yes, Bob!’ she cries. ‘I love that sketch, Bob. It’s absolutely one of my favourites.’ Shakespeare’s comedic heroines resonate with Hall as they undergo ‘a kind of rites of passage. They are young women who aren’t quite sure of their identity. Their disguise is a chrysalis, and when they’re de-shelled, they have come to learn who they are’. Though Hall has undoubtedly grown these past seven years, she has always been blessed with a ‘strong sense of self ’, sangfroid and fierce intelligence nurtured by her bohemian background. Her father, the son of a railway worker, founded the RSC and presided over the National Theatre from 1973 to 1988, in its golden era. His first wife Leslie Caron had become Warren Beatty’s lover, and with his second marriage to Jacqueline Taylor over, he met Hall’s mother while directing her at Glyndebourne. Hall’s childhood was ‘culturally spoilt’, filled with the luminaries of the realms of theatre and opera: Peggy Ashcroft read her bedtime stories, Maurice Sendak drew Hall her very own Wild Thing, and her mother took to her on tour to the Met in New York (where, during Tosca, the wardrobe department made Hall mini costumes for her Barbies), La Scala in Rome, to Paris, LA, Chicago and Tokyo. Ewing, who grew up in Detroit and is of Dutch, Scottish, Sioux and AfricanAmerican descent, also sang jazz at Ronnie Scott’s, but was best known for her arrestingly sexual rendition of Salome, for which she stripped naked in the final scene, holding the head of John the Baptist. ‘She played the role from when I was four to 14, so I was used to her singing love songs to a bleeding head, doing the dance of the seven veils before being hacked to death,’ Hall remembers. ‘I just couldn’t understand why she couldn’t go off with the head and live happily ever after.’ Peter Hall and Ewing divorced when she was five (‘The mixture of our two volatile natures and our two careers made for a turbulent life,’ Peter Hall has said), and mother and daughter moved from Chelsea to Sussex, near Glyndebourne. There, Ewing exposed her daughter to the glorious divas of the silver screen: Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck. ‘I was obsessed, and watched All About Eve on a loop every night for years. I could quote entire sections of Margo Channing’s lines. I loved the style, the glamour, but most of all the strength of the women.’ Ewing recalls Hall’s nascent talent for mimicry: ‘We were watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and within minutes she had the lines memorised and was doing the perfect Marilyn Monroe. She was only about seven. It was hilarious.’ When his daughter was eight, Peter Hall was casting the role of 10-year-old Sophy for his TV adaptation of The Camomile Lawn. ‘We had seen about 500 girls for auditions, but none of them was right,’ he says. The project’s producer, captivated by the young Hall, suggested she try out for the role. Cast in the series, she played a character subjected to a ‘flashing’ while running along the Cornish cliffs at full moon as a dare. ‘My stepmother Nicki [Frei] had a talk with me to explain that there would be a little cross on the camera and I had to pretend he was showing off his ding-dong,’ Hall hoots. ‘More to the point, I had to sit on Toby Stephens’ shoulders butt-naked, which makes it a bit awkward when I see Toby today.’

Her spell in TV was brief, her father aware of the perils of child stardom. In any case, it was Hall’s ambition to become a painter and later, at Roedean, she spent afternoons sketching and listening to music. She also appeared in school productions, most notably as the 50-year-old obese American in The Man Who Came to Dinner. (‘I had to put on padding and sit in a wheelchair,’ she says). After a spell as head girl, during which she purveyed radical left-wing politics, she went to Cambridge to study English. Impatient to become an actor, she dropped out after her second year and, soon after, won the Ian Charleson Award in 2003 for Mrs Warren’s Profession. By 2006, with a host of stage and screen roles behind her, Hall had broken into Hollywood. But it was not until 2008 that she would make a mark on the global consciousness in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Woody Allen had always been something of an idol for Hall, who had long coveted Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall role. And after a single brief encounter with the director in New York, it transpired that the admiration was mutual. ‘It was snowing and I met him in an edit suite. I was so nervous and clumsy, accentuated by the physical awkwardness of being wrapped up in layers of clothes, with a huge woolly scarf and hat.’ Allen surely identified with her in that very instant, as he cast her as the uptight, over-analytical anti-type to Scarlett Johansson’s bohemian spontaneity. ‘Vicky is the “Woody” character,’ Hall explains. ‘I wasn’t playing him exactly, but the Woody type that appears in all his movies.’ Allen’s juxtaposition of Johansson and Hall as opposites is a revealing one: it is hard to imagine Johansson surmounting her ‘bombshell’ physical attributes to disappear into a plainer role. Even when Hall plays ‘seductive’, as she did as the traumatised mother of a girl murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper who loses herself in an affair with a journalist in Red Riding, she does so with nuance and subtlety. ‘Rebecca has the confidence and the discipline to be still – and the beauty and the gravitas to convey so much while maintaining that stillness,’ says Jon Hamm, Hall’s recent co-star in The Town. ‘The fact that she is so young is mindblowing to me, because she carries herself with the comportment of a more mature actress – qualities not found in the majority of today’s young actors, who seem to want to prove how much they can act rather than how well.’ Firmly set on the trajectory of fame, post-Allen, Hall abandoned Hollywood in 2009 to act in Sam Mendes’ three-year-long transatlantic Bridge Project, alongside Ethan Hawke and Simon Russell Beale. The double bill of The Winter’s Tale and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard played at the Old Vic in London and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, followed by a world tour. ‘My general rule is one piece of theatre for every three films,’ Hall says, as she orders an orange juice. ‘I think it’s how to preserve one’s mystique. I like disappearing, and I think I’ll always do it. I’ve never been one who gets frightened if I’ve not had my face splashed in magazines. For me, fame is a by-product, not the aim, of what I do.’ Over the course of the year-long production, the cast became close, like one big family. ‘The last night was emotional. We played in front of 30,000 people under the stars at Epidaurus in Greece. I was thinking it’s all much bigger than me. See, I’m a total hippie! Afterwards, we partied and went skinny-dipping. It was dark when we went in the ocean and then the sun came up.’ CONTINUED ON PAGE 162

I was obsessed and watched All About Eve on a loop every night for years. I could quote entire sections of Margo Channing’s lines. I loved the style, the glamour, but most of all the strength of women

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DELICATE SILK IS TOUGHENED UP WITH A STRONG BELT IN THIS DEMURE YET SENSUAL LOOK Black wool-mesh body, £895; black silk floor-length skirt, £1,355, both Lanvin. Black leather and metal belt, £290, Mouton Collet. Diamond ring, from a selection, Harry Winston. See Stockists for details. Hair by Ben Skervin for Bumble and Bumble at the Magnet Agency. Make-up by Stephen Sollitto for Chanel at Starworksartists.com. Manicure by Bernadette Thompson for Bernadettethompson.com at Art Department www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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STOCKISTS A, B Akris (020 7758 8060) Alberta Ferretti (020 7235 2349) Alexandre Birman at Browns (020 7514 0000) Alexis Bittar (+1 718 422 7580) All Saints (0844 980 2211) Amanda Wakeley (020 7352 3115) Antonio Berardi at Browns (020 7514 0000) Aspinal of London (0845 052 6900) Boss Black (020 7554 5700) Bottega Veneta (020 7629 5598) Burberry (0700 078 5676)

C Camilla Skovgaard at Net-a-porter.com Carolina Herrera (020 3441 0965) Céline at Dover Street Market (020 7518 0680) Cesare Paciotti (020 7235 3393) Chanel (020 7493 5040) Chloé (020 7823 5348) Christian Louboutin (020 7491 0033) Christopher Kane at Harvey Nichols (020 7235 5000) Cole & Son (020 7376 4628)

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H, I Haider Ackermann at Dover Street Market (020 7518 0680) Harrods (020 7730 1234) Harry Winston (020 7907 8800) Harvey Nichols (020 7235 5000) Hermès (020 7499 8856) Isabel Marant at Net-a-porter.com

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‘MAD ABOUT THE GIRL’

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And what of her relationship with Mendes? The rupture of his marriage to Kate Winslet had been attributed, by the tabloids at least, to his closeness with Hall (‘She totally Sam’s type – a thespian mix of beauty and brains,’ an anonymous ‘friend’ was quoted). Hall freezes for a second, looking disappointed that I have asked the inevitable question. ‘The whole thing was horrid,’ she retorts with aplomb. ‘But I’ve said my piece on this one.’ Certainly, ‘Bridge’ was an epic commitment for Mendes and the cast. When Hall was nominated for a Golden Globe for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, she was unwilling to abandon the production to attend the awards. ‘Many people said it was a big old error, that I wasn’t making the most of the exposure. I haven’t done many award ceremonies… The business generates this fear for actors. You think you’re rational, intelligent and immune to it, but I’ve felt it. Like, “Am I going to enough parties?” “You’d better go out quick, get me some cleavage-enhancing cream.” It’s a dangerous thing to get sucked into.’ For the most part, Hall is immune to the vortex of anxieties that ensnares most actors, and possesses a rare comfort in her own skin. Partly due to the legacy of Ewing’s naked Salome, she is unperturbed by the nude scenes she has played – most recently with Affleck in The Town. ‘Though I’m always slightly disturbed when something gets dropped in the edit. “What? I got my boobs out and you’re not using it?’’’ She laughs. ‘There was this one website that freeze-framed every bit of a nude scene I did. It was shocking. Awful angles. You’re in mid-movement and your boob is kind of up there. And now it’s about for all time on some actors-get-naked site.’ Hall is level-headed about the lunacies of Hollywood, and is in no hurry to migrate to LA’s palm-fringed shores. Instead, she feels an affinity with the East Coast, especially New York. With her recent turn in Affleck’s film, set in working-class Boston, her public persona is evolving from what she once perceived as ‘the bluestocking, intellectual, asexual’. ‘In New York, I’ve been noticed a lot recently by real kind-of dudes on the street with their Hi Tops and massive jackets. They’re like, “Woah, it’s that girl from The Town.’’’ She is keen to explore her own American heritage, in particular, her maternal grandfather’s Sioux and African-American descent. ‘I’m a strong black woman!’ she jokes, revealing a slightly gummy grin. ‘Well, it’s quite complicated. I’ve been to a Native-American reservation in Colorado. But the black part is of completely unknown origin. I’d like to research it when I have time, without going on Who Do You Think You Are? ’ Hall has thrived on her peripatetic existence in recent years. She gave up a rented flat in Tufnell Park three years ago, and is only now house-hunting for a base in North London again. When I ask if she’s single, she shoots me that same dispirited look. Hall is fiercely private about her amorous existence; on the subject she says only that, at five foot 10, she has ‘dated a lot of shorter men; why limit your options? I think I’d be fine playing opposite Tom Cruise’. Her greatest infatuation instead, she confesses, is music. An accomplished pianist, she taught herself jazz piano on a keyboard in her hotel room while making The Town. A soundtrack is the inspiration point for every role. ‘The first thing I do for every character is make them their own playlist.’ Being a ‘muso’ and sketching – she is also an adept portraitist – is her ‘meditative’ refuge from the frenetic world of film. With such polymathic talents, there are no limits to the direction of Hall’s career. Beyond upcoming turns in Everything Must Go with Will Ferrell and a Richard Linklater film, she has ‘done with wallflower parts’ and plans to go ‘all balls-out with a new surprising role’. Is it a Charlize Theron in Monster or a Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist, even? In response, Hall simply smiles impishly; though, she later adds she’d happily undergo a De-Niro-style metamorphosis or don her Rodean-era fat suit again. With diversity as her guiding principle, she would relish a role in a musical or, given her heritage, the chance to direct one day. In whichever – and all – of the paths she chooses, Hall cannot but thrill us. ‘Unhindered by the need to be pretty or famous,’ says Holofcener, ‘she will have a long and varied career.’ Outside the hotel, the London heavens have opened. Hall peers out and sighs with fortitude (triggering an implausibly positioned dimple on her chin); the drowsy onset of flu has descended upon her during our interview, but, ever committed, she ploughs on to the end. ‘It’s a big fat cliché, but the benchmark is Meryl Streep,’ she ponders, as she dons her coat, hugging her collar to freckled cheekbones. ‘She’s juggled film and theatre, been constantly surprising, kept her sense of humour and had three kids. That’s kind of it in a nutshell, isn’t it?’ With that, she plugs in her iPod (switching, I fancy, to the sounds of the Seventies) and strides out into the sodden streets. She’s surely one of the few actors who can hope to attain such a dream. ‘Twelfth Night’ opens at the National (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) on 18 January. To listen to Rebecca Hall’s musical playlist exclusively selected for Bazaar, visit harpersbazaar.co.uk


EVA FOR EVER From Bertolucci to Bond, Eva Green has cast a spell in a string of darkly captivating screen roles. And now, the French bombshell and self-confessed oddball has caught the eye of moody movie maestro Tim Burton. Here, she tells STEPHANIE RAFANELLI about on-screen sex scenes, her strange passion for insects and her obsession with Helena Bonham Carter Photographs by CAMILLA AKRANS. Styled by FRANCK BENHAMOU


TOM FORD’S GORGEOUS GOWN BRINGS SEXY BACK Eva Green wears white stretch-silk-cady dress, about £2,575, Tom Ford. Previous page: white wool jacket, £1,700, Balmain


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gave birth to myself yesterday,’ French actor Eva Green deadpans over the rim of a crimson glass of Bordeaux, her eyes widening like a silent movie star’s, beneath heavy slashes of kohl. ‘I had a body cast. It was like being in a David Lynch film. They cover you with plaster. You have to stay really calm. When they remove the head, the first thing you see is your own face. It was really surreal.’ As she marvels, her hands part in front of her, re-performing the act of her twin’s creation, made for special effects in her upcoming role in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. ‘But because I didn’t shave my legs properly, they had to cut me out of the rest. I gave birth to myself. Then I watched two people carry my body out of the room.’ A demi-bottle down and an hour into our conversation, I am already deeply immersed in le monde according to Eva Green; the existential visions, the impassioned cinephilia, the facial gestures (without which her words lose meaning), the non-sequiturs, the black humour that bursts forth unexpectedly from her softly spoken, sometimes inaudibly uttered sentences. Although her name evokes the lightness of springtime, at just 30, the actor and new star of Channel 4’s Camelot is as dark and intense as vintage Château Lafite. ‘I am a nerd! I live life in this weird bubble, I know… Sometimes I feel so old,’ she declares in immaculately crisp, haute English, with only the occasional over-elongated vowel to hint at her true nationality (though it is entirely unplaceable, like a native accent once lost in the classrooms of Roedean). ‘I feel like I’m dead or something. Like I’m a ghost. Just wandering.’ Green perches next to me on a velvet sofa in the salon de thé at Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris: hair brutally scraped back à la Callas, black boots, black jeans, black sweater, giant cartoon eyes, domed forehead, exquisite pallor; she is Bela Lugosi’s perfect woman, Morticia meets Jessica Rabbit; a Gothic Greta Garbo. It is no surprise that those seduced by her dramatic aesthetic include John Galliano, for whom Green was campaign face and muse at Dior in 2008 (she has also fronted campaigns for Giorgio Armani, and still has a contract with Montblanc); Bernardo Bertolucci, who cast her, aged 22, in her first screen role, The Dreamers; Ridley Scott, who directed her in crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven in 2005; and, of course, James Bond himself, in Casino Royale. The distant, mysterious air and the alternating imperviousness and unrelenting obsession in her performances have proved an irresistible cocktail. ‘She is a very cool customer; she’s got that Caligula look in her eyes,’ Bertolucci once said. It is this quality, along with a certain otherworldliness, that saw Green cast alongside Nicole Kidman, as Serafina the witch, in The Golden Compass (2007); and now as legendary sorceress Morgan le Fey in 10-part series Camelot, which begins in May on Channel 4, co-starring Joseph Fiennes as Merlin and Claire Forlani as Igraine, Arthur’s mother. ‘People think Morgan is the evil sister to Arthur, but throughout the series, you see that she has been really damaged,’ says Green.

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‘She’s been kicked out by her father and banished to a nunnery for 15 years – that’s enough to make anyone bitter.’ A wry grin comes out of nowhere, then disappears. ‘The only thing that keeps her alive in the convent is the thought of winning the throne. The throne. The throne. She is denied power because she is a woman. She’s ballsy, like Joan of Arc and Lady Macbeth mixed into one.’ She pauses for thought. ‘I could never be that character, because she is fearless…’ She visibly shrinks for a moment and trails off. Green’s Morgan is defiantly baroque, wimple-clad and ferally sexual – at night, she communes naked with wolves – and one warms to her rather more than legendary ‘good boy’ Merlin and his Mandelson-like political machinations. ‘The beauty of casting Eva as Morgan is that she can play beautiful, powerful and evil, but she is also able to bring seduction and vulnerability to the role to make her human,’ Forlani tells me. ‘She’s very shy, but she has a wonderfully quirky sense of humour, which is quite surprising.’ Green is renowned for her choosiness over screen roles (‘I am so, so picky. I know. Some people think I don’t work enough’) and her obsessive pre-production preparation, which has included the aforementioned complete eradication of her French accent (some linguistic feat). For Camelot, she read ‘a lot of magic books’. She is currently working on an American accent for Burton’s Dark Shadows. ‘My voice coach says I should use my American accent all the time. But I am no Daniel Day-Lewis. I’d sound so pretentious! My American is fucked from learning the English accent. There was pressure for Bond. Sometimes I can sound more French…’ She slips playfully into Franglais. Her characters are always so immaculately spoken. Can she do cockney? ‘Yeah, me love! Don’t know!’ she blurts out in a rather Matt Lucas outburst. ‘I would love to do something to break this dark-lady, fucking-posh-whatever image. Yeah.’ Then, after a while, she adds: ‘Accents change everything in your body. American is like, “Open your legs.” [Brash West Coast accent, uncrossing of thighs.] American is so cool, and I am so uncool.’ Green’s insistent self-representation as a ‘nerd’ and ‘weirdo’ is one of her – albeit quirky – charms, and one that unites her with the Burton ‘outsiders’ camp. Her casting as Angelique, a witch, in Burton’s film remake of Addams Family-style Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, which aired on ABC in the late 1960s, is of course inspired. ‘Burton is a god. My favourite film is Beetlejuice. It was my childhood. This part is like a gift from the heavens,’ she enthuses, slapping my knee for emphasis. ‘I love the fact that he is like a child. He gets excited so quickly. He can have a big head because he is one of the geniuses of his world. He even gave me a book on anthropology [from his MoMA exhibition].’ Green is surely a kindred spirit of the Holy Trinity of Burton, Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. The fourth element. If Winona Ryder was Edward Scissorhands’ great love, then Green could have been his twin sister. The pair share a quality that seems born of another time. ‘In Dark Shadows, Johnny and I are like The Eagle with Two Heads,’ she says, referring to Jean Cocteau’s 1948 masterpiece. ‘In some ways, we are the same creature.’ It is Bonham Carter that Green is most excited to meet,

though. ‘I think I will just pass out. I adore her so much, it’s a joke. I watched A Room With a View so many times when I was sad, and I’d go completely crazy.’ She makes impassioned hand gestures. ‘The Puccini music. La, la, la…’ Embracing challenging roles has been cathartic for Green, a way to exorcise shyness by embracing extremes, though the journey is often a painful one. ‘People don’t realise how shy I am because I exude confidence, which makes me come across as cold. But when I have castings or meetings, I’m constantly thinking, “Oh no, please, not a panic attack.” I hate auditions. You come with it written on your forehead: “PLEASE” [she traces the letters with her finger], and when I’m working I am always worried about disappointing or getting fired.’ She chuckles at herself, as if she feels partly exasperated and partly affectionate about the whole thing. ‘It’s completely paradoxical. Completely masochistic. There’s all this competition and insecurity, and I am completely insecure with some choices and very confident with others. I should lie down with a psychiatrist…’ So why put herself through it all? ‘I feel more centred when I’m prepping a character, which is crazy. Schizophrenic. Maybe I don’t like myself…’ She trails off. ‘I don’t know!’ Whatever the answer, Green is always fearless in her performances – never more so than in her first film role, at 22, in Bertolucci’s controversial film The Dreamers (2003), a tale of incest, cruelty and teenage sexual experimentation, against the background of 1968 Paris student riots (including an extended and graphic deflowering scene). ‘When I first met Eva, it took me barely two minutes to decide to cast her in the role of Isabelle for The Dreamers,’ Bertolucci tells me. ‘I was struck by the mystery within her beauty. At the end of our first meeting, I asked her to cry. She told me to time her, and within seven seconds her eyes welled up with tears. She was extraordinarily selfconfident and had a mastery of technique for one who had never acted before.’ ‘I had an enormous Last Tango in Paris poster in my bedroom,’ says Green, ‘and I saw that film so many times. Then Bertolucci asked to meet me.’ Her blue eyes appear momentarily grey. ‘When you film something, it doesn’t feel controversial. You do a sex scene, and people put you in a box. “Ahh, French, sexy.” I remember seeing the film, and the nudity is violent. It’s rough seeing yourself. I was very self-conscious – it’s like seeing your own guts on the screen.’ Maria Schneider famously complained of her brutal treatment at the hands of Brando and Bertolucci while filming Last Tango in Paris. ‘Maybe he was different on Last Tango…’ says Green. ‘We felt like his children. He invited us to his house every weekend. We ate good food… At first, my mother wasn’t happy when she found out what the story was about… For my parents, it was not a character having sex – it was me! Even now, my father has all my films on DVD. Bond. Tick. The Golden Compass. Tick. Cracks. Tick. But he never bought The Dreamers.’ Green’s parents are no strangers to art-house cinema: her mother is Algerian-born French actor Marlène Jobert – discovered by Jean-Luc Godard, who cast her alongside Brigitte Bardot in Masculin Féminin in 1966 (she is now a children’s writer). Her father Walter Green is a Swedish dentist who Jobert met, rather prosaically, on a routine check-up, though he went on to star

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‘People don’t realise how shy I am because I exude confidence, which makes me come across as cold. But when I have castings or meetings, I’m constantly thinking, “Oh no, please, not a panic attack”’


that same year in Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar, a film about a battered donkey. In July 1980, Jobert gave birth to twins, Eva and Joy; by Green’s accounts, the pair were always very different, antithetical (though they get on now; today, Joy breeds horses at her home in Normandy with her husband, an Italian count of the Antinori winegrowing family). At school, Joy was outgoing and social, while her sister was all ‘work, work, work’. ‘Boyfriends? No! I was too obsessed. I reached a point where I was saturated. I hated going to school. So many teachers are not passionate. Like undertakers. Sadists.’ She snaps her fingers. ‘At 16, I transferred to the American school in Paris. And it saved me. Suddenly, I was like this little chick coming out of an egg. It was like a fashion show every day. I dyed my hair from blonde to black, and I felt stronger. I started dressing up, expressing myself. I would wear a purple velvet dress and matching eyeshadow.’ This newly claimed theatricality had its roots in Green’s burgeoning desire to become an actor, despite her mother’s anxieties about the unsuitability of her daughter’s fragile temperament for such a career. Green’s ambition was inspired most notably by seeing, at the age of 14, Isabelle Adjani in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H (1975). At 17, she went on to study drama, including a brief spell at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. It is ironic that, as an adult, Green has so far chosen to act mainly in English. ‘Because my mother was quite famous in France,’ she says. ‘Because I have this complex that things were easier for her.’ She and her mother are very close. When Green is in Paris, her base is still her parental home in the 17th arrondissement (she divides her time between there and a flat in Primrose Hill); and Jobert still accompanies her daughter on all her film shoots. ‘She helps me,’ says Green. ‘At the end of the day, she says, “Are we going to run through your lines?”’

You’re like, “God!” On the night, Tom was going to say everything. He agreed, but then Tom Hardy came into the room and said, “Are you going to say something? Can you utter a word?”’ Another shrug. ‘People think, because you’re an actress, you can… [snaps fingers]. But my legs go wobbly and I feel like I’m going to pass out or scream or something. And no one will ever want to hire me again. You’re completely paranoid.’ Though hailed as a style icon, Green seems to find her sartorial reputation somewhat amusing. ‘The magazines made such a fuss one year, when I wore a kimono [to a Dior event]. I’m now on the blacklist.’ She raises both eyebrows sardonically – perfectly horizontal and pencilled. ‘It’s fun, but it’s taken too seriously. The first question on the red carpet is “Whadda ya wearing?”’ she drawls in immaculate showbiz-reporter-speak. ‘I’m like, “Who gives a fuck? Let’s talk about my movie!”’ When she’s not gowning up for an award ceremony, Green’s daily uniform is head-to-toe black. Today she is sporting a smattering of Topshop (‘I go there once every four months at 9am. It’s got to be 9am. You can only try on six items, so I give up after that’). For special occasions, she visits Alexander McQueen. But she ‘hangs out in jogging bottoms’ in the comfort of her home, to her mother’s consternation (‘She thinks I need to make more effort!’). When in London, Green retires to her Primrose Hill flat, which she bought in 2005. Despite being a virtual neighbour of Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin et el, she professes to having never met any of the scene’s movers and shakers. She is merely professional and polite about Daniel Craig, and says she has yet to bump into Burton and Bonham Carter on Hampstead High Street (‘I don’t hang out with actors. My friends are hairdressers, make-up artists, stylists, journalists, dialect coaches’). It makes you wonder if perhaps Green is right – she is somewhat elusive – even ghostly. ‘I can make myself invisible!’ She extracts a beanie from a tangled jumble at the bottom of her handbag and encircles her eyes, playfully, with her fingers (to represent her shades), resembling a foxy Hunter S Thompson. Disguised thus, she roams freely throughout our metropolis. ‘I love to take the Tube. Here in Paris, people talk less than in London, but it is fascinating to hear what people are saying. Two weeks ago, I was running for the Métro. The train stopped, opened its door and the driver said, “Get in.” He started to explain to me how the guts of Paris work, and he asked if I wanted to drive.’ Very ‘Bond girl’. As is her new fitness craze: ‘Thai boxing! It’s brutal. You feel like Angelina Jolie in Salt. You need to do it to release the shit everyday. You can be like, “Raaaaaaaaa…”’ Then there’s the marvellously Gothic pursuit of collecting insects (‘The Evolution store in New York is amazing, with stuffed animals and framed insects’), though Green’s bug passion has been fading since a plague of moths infested her flat. ‘It’s like a horror movie. You have to get the council to fumigate. I am changing my mind about insects.’ She prefers to spend her time in such pursuits than hang out at Soho House (‘I hate it. I go to the Wolseley when I look fancy. It’s all black and steak tartare’). She is a stalwart of St John Bread & Wine in Spitalfields, and now Trullo in Islington, and ‘lives on Baker & Spice’ though, in general, she CONTINUED ON PAGE 179

‘At 16, I transferred to the American school in Paris. And it saved me. Suddenly, I was like this little chick coming out of an egg. I dyed my hair from blonde to black, and I felt stronger. I would wear a purple velvet dress and After The Dreamers, Green worked, in 2005, matching eyeshadow’ with Ridley Scott on Kingdom of Heaven; and Scott’s wife introduced her to John Galliano. In 2006, after her turn as the smart-talking Bond girl Vesper Lynd, whose betrayal crushes Daniel Craig’s vulnerable 007 (and who gets to utter the memorable, ego-puncturing line ‘I will be keeping my eye on our government’s money and off your perfectly formed arse’), Green was announced as the new face of Dior Beauté; and in 2007, she appeared as a Gothic Cinderella in a short film ad for Midnight Poison, by In the Mood for Love director Wong Kar-Wai. ‘John Galliano is a very nice man, even though he is going through a really terrible time,’ says Green. ‘Very shy. Now, I could say terrible things. I have some Jewish blood, though I am not practising. I don’t want to say anything against him. Under pressure, one can do really weird things. We don’t know what those people said to him to provoke him or piss him off. It’s hard because people fuck up. You need people to support you, and I hope he has good people around him.’ Galliano is not Green’s only haute-fashion admirer. She recently presented a Bafta with Tom Ford (she won her own in 2007, for Casino Royale). ‘He made a dress for me for the night, so we had two or three fittings. Everything is perfect. He is very sexy. The smell!

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TENDER IS THE NIGHT – ELEGANT EVENINGWEAR ENJOYS A DARKLY ROMANTIC MOOD Purple silk dress, £3,800, Dior. See Stockists for details. Hair by Shon at Julian Watson Agency, using L’Oréal Professionnel. Make-up by Wendy Rowe at Caren, using L’Oréal Paris. Manicure by Christina Conrad at Calliste, using MAC Cosmetics


PHOTOGRAPHS: CAMILLA AKRANS, DAVID BAILEY

‘EVA FOR EVER’

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favours places that are ‘not too fashionable! With old grannies in!’ Though, with two new films being released this autumn – Womb, opposite Matt Smith, and Perfect Sense – Green will surely be straying by default into some of London’s chicest locales. She filmed Perfect Sense – an existential, and somewhat nihilistic, love story set against a backdrop of global apocalypse – with former Primrose Hill ringleader Ewan McGregor. It is dark, Threads-level bleak, even by Green’s standards. But the somewhat unbelievable premise (a disease robbing the world population of their senses) and the difficult script are brought to life by some of the most raw and authentic performances given by both actors. Watching Perfect Sense makes one ponder what it is like to be in love with Eva Green. ‘I am very demanding. Very intense. Sometimes I wish I could be…’ (She gyrates her finger, as if dialling on an old-school telephone. Approximate translation: ‘frivolous’.) ‘…do something just for fun. But I cannot!’ She says that she is currently single (she dated French actor/ director Yann Claassen from around 2000 to 2004, and then her Kingdom of Heaven co-star New Zealand actor Marton Csokas – the pair split in 2009). ‘I am a lesbian. A paedophile lesbian,’ she hoots. ‘I am a virgin – a nun, actually. A sexy lesbian, transsexual nun! I am going through a phase. It’s not exactly disillusionment, but…’ She drifts into a thoughtful reverie. ‘I do have a dog. Griffin; he’s a border terrier. He’s rough, very manly. He absorbs all my feelings. He’s living with my sister at the moment. But she’s about to have a baby. Perhaps I need to find Griffin a role in the Tim Burton film!’ She leaps to her feet. It’s past 10pm and she has to email Burton urgently with her thoughts about her look as Angelique. ‘I agreed with his decision yesterday, but then last night I was whirring, whirring, whirring. I just couldn’t sleep.’ Then, in a flurry, she throws her black coat around her like a cloak and shoots me a look – half amused, half defiant – confirming, as she packs up, that she is due to play Maria Callas (‘Though I will have to get a vocal coach to teach me to sing’). With that, she hugs me three times in succession. (For all her reputed aloofness, Green is infectiously warm, wickedly funny, wholly refreshing. One gets the feeling that she is unlike other actors who, though charming, compartmentalise their lives, separating themselves from those of civilians.) Then, like a noir apparition, she is gone. Leaving me alone beneath the elaborate ceilings and chandeliers of the Plaza Athénée to imagine her as ‘La Divina’: red lips in a perfect ‘O’ formation, Cleopatra eyes filled with anguish, heaving breast, the tortured warbles of her bel canto floating up into the late-night Parisian air. ‘Camelot’ airs on Channel 4 in June. ‘Perfect Sense’ and ‘Womb’ will both be released in cinemas nationwide in the autumn.

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and for the past 13 years in the Royal Ballet, he has performed the principal male role in nearly every classical ballet. In 2003, he downsized his role to principal guest artist for the Royal Ballet, to allow him to be freed up for other projects including, in 2007, his own autobiography, No Way Home (which he wrote without a ghost, in a fresh and guileless voice). For a dancer on the cusp of his forties – even one in as good shape as Acosta – choreography is, of course, a natural transition, and this July the London Coliseum sees the return of Acosta’s production Premieres Plus, which features collaborations with dancers and musicians. Then there was 2004’s Tocororo: A Cuban Tale, Acosta’s own ballet based on his life story, in which Yonah Acosta, his nephew and a dancer for the English National Ballet, played the young Carlos. He has even completed a novel, Pata de Puerco, a first-person narrative about a Cuban slave settlement from the 1800s to the present day. ‘I have no idea if it’s any good, but I started it, and I finished it, and I am very proud.’ Having lived such a peripatetic existence, it is hardly surprising that Acosta’s Cuban roots have become the focal point of his personal work. Yet, after several decades of London life – he lives in Islington with his English fiancée – his Latin identity now sits comfortably alongside a British sensibility. ‘When I first arrived, I was very lonely – the Opera House was closed, I had broken up with my girlfriend, I had no friends and no dancing,’ he tells me, passionately. ‘But I never felt like a foreigner. This is one of the best things this country has to offer. The British value talent and embrace the new. It doesn’t matter where you come from.’ But Cuba is still ‘deep within’ him, and it is in his homeland that he plans to found his own dance company in the next five years to ‘build a bridge’ between Cuba and the rest of the world. ‘Dancers keep defecting, and it’s understandable because they have nowhere to grow artistically,’ he says. ‘I don’t want us to be outcasts, marooned. It’s time for me to give back. There are so many versions of me around the world. If we all return, this is how we will reveal our country.’ When he’s old and back in Cuba, rocking on his porch, which of his thousand memories will be most vivid when he closes his eyes? ‘I will remember Romeo & Juliet with Tamara, and the many great moments with Marianela Nuñez in La Fille Mal Gardée. Darcey [Bussell] I will remember for sure, Zenaida Yanowsky and, of course, Sylvie Guillem.’ Melancholy briefly washes over his sunny face. ‘It’s a wonnnderful life. I have been blessed.’ With that, he leaps up, and with a ‘Bueno mamita, ciao,’ and a Cuban-style kiss, he is gone, like a fleeting tropical sunburst in the London rain. ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is at the O2 (0844 856 0202; www.theo2.co.uk) from 17 to 19 June. ‘Premieres Plus’ is at the London Coliseum from 27 to 30 June; for tickets, ring 0871 911 0200, or visit www.eno.org.


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AND PENELOPE God created

With a sex appeal that women love and men worship, Penélope Cruz is the A-list beauty who shuns Hollywood for Europe, stays true to her art-house roots and goes home to Javier Bardem. Stephanie Rafanelli meets her in her hometown of Madrid to talk beauty, babies and the joy of karaoke It’s 10am at Madrid’s Hotel AC Santo Mauro and I’m beetroot-coloured, sweltering hot. This has less to do with Spanish climes – it is a mild autumn morning – than the frantic battle I am waging with my portable hairdryer. The thing is, in less than an hour I am to meet Penélope Cruz (among other things, the perfectly coiffed daughter of a beauty salon owner and Lancôme’s ambassador) and I am suffering from what might be termed Chronic Hair Anxiety. Symptoms include loss of brush control and shortness of breath, triggered by a bizarre dream overnight: I am in church worshipping the Virgin Mary, who turns out to be Penélope Cruz, hair cascading like a fountain. She bends down to touch my own inferior locks and wrinkles her nose. Since 4am, I have been somewhat blow-dry obsessed. I step downstairs to the empty restaurant in the hotel garden to get some air and some sanity. And there it is: the very mane in question, curling seductively like an upside-down question mark down the back

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of a charcoal cashmere shawl. A bearded, scruffy-looking man in a baseball jacket is stroking it protectively. This is Cruz’s husband of three years, Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem. Hyper-alert, he turns and raises a bushy eyebrow at my invasion of their intimate get-together. So I scamper off to wait for Cruz outside the pre-agreed meet location: two adjoining suites, one converted into a crèche for two-year-old Leonardo and his newly born sister, Luna. (Luna was delivered, very aptly, in July 2013 on the same day as our very own Prince George. She and her brother are virtual Spanish royalty, after all.) The occasional gurgle floats through the hotel corridor. Work commitments these days are a full-on Cruz/Bardem family affair. Of course, there are no obvious signs of recent childbirth on Cruz’s body, as photographs of her frolicking in the Corsican waves on holiday, only two months after Luna’s arrival, already bear witness. She strides into the suite with the posture

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ruz could easily be confused with the volatile, passion-crazed Maria Elena – all bed hair and abandon – in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The role marked her (hot, hot, hot) acting reunion with Bardem after a 10-year hiatus, and the beginning of their relationship. Allen once said, ‘Penélope has a quality of a wild animal.’ If so, then she is in feral protective mode in public: professional but cautious, polite but ready to pounce if necessary. Motherhood has been a ‘revolution’ in her life and she guards her family fiercely. Her work commitments have been pared down to only one film a year because, she says, ‘I want to raise my kids myself’, and she and Bardem have recently moved back to Madrid after a three-year stint in Los Angeles to be near their parents. (‘Everyone in LA is always talking about the industry,’ she tells me. ‘You’d think there was nothing else going on in the world.’) ‘I always knew that Penélope would make an amazing mother,’ says Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, Cruz’s mentor and careerlong collaborator. ‘She has no fear of love. You can see that in her work.’ In Almodóvar’s films, Cruz has invariably played maternal figures: at 22, a prostitute who gives birth on a bus (in Live Flesh in 1997); a pregnant nun (in 1999’s All About My Mother); and as ‘the mother of all mothers’, as he puts it, who fights to protect her daughter in Volver, for which she was nominated an Oscar in 2006. But it was not until the Italian film Twice Born – soon to be released on DVD – which Cruz made after the birth of Leonardo, and while she was still breastfeeding, that she could draw on her own instincts as a mother. In the film, she plays an infertile Italian woman, so desperate to have a child that she hires a young Bosnian girl to have a baby for her. ‘It was the first time I had played a mother, being one in real life, and it changed how I approached the role in a way that I cannot even explain. I understood it on a deeper level. Until you have a child, you just don’t know to what degree it can change you. It’s the biggest transformation of your life,’ she says, her nearly-black eyes softening. ‘People ask me whether I think a woman can be happy without a child. I have friends who don’t have that need. They don’t have kids and they are

very content. But the ones who want to have children and can’t, they can’t think about anything else. In the film, the most difficult scene is the one in which my character goes back to Bosnia after 16 years and finds the girl she paid to give her baby away. For a moment, she thinks that she is going to snatch her teenage son back – their bond is so strong. Having to play the fear that you’re going to have your child taken away from you, as a real mother, was the hardest, most emotional thing I have ever had to do in my career.’ She pronounces hardest like ‘heart-est’. Cruz understands a woman’s yearning for children not just through her own maternal urges. In May, her younger sister Monica gave birth, at 36, to a baby girl who she conceived with an anonymous sperm donor. ‘I think Monica is amazing and, yes, brave – I would use that word,’ she says, visibly controlling her emotions. ‘The way that she has decided to share her story with the world is really beautiful and inspiring. I think it had a lot of impact because she is not the kind of person to share her private life. But she wanted to talk about it to open the debate. I really respect and admire her for that.’ The sisters are famously close. When Cruz was filming Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and pregnant with Leo, Monica stepped in as her body double. In 2008, they modelled their own clothing line for Mango together. And last year they designed collections for both Spanish accessories label Loewe and Agent Provocateur. The promotional film for the latter, directed by Penélope, was a Cruz family extravaganza with music composed by brother Eduardo, hair styled by mother Encarna and cameo roles for Bardem and a very pregnant Monica. ‘It’s muy sexy,’ Cruz enthuses. ‘I did the whole thing – directed, wrote the script – and I cast every single woman there. I wanted it to be a celebration of female beauty. For me it was very important to have plus-size models and women of different ages, so some are 19 but some are 47. I was pregnant when I was directing it and I really wanted to include my beautiful sister because pregnant women also buy sexy underwear. I wanted to show that our collection is for everybody. It’s not something that you can only wear if you are a specific age and shape: eight stone, 5’ 10” and 22 years old.’ The resulting raunchy film fantasy caused a bit of a stir. ‘It was even censored on YouTube. Did you know that?’ she asks, with low-level outrage. ‘There are so many violent films on there – and they don’t even check your age or ask for your email address before you watch them. We actually got a lot of hits because people were curious: “How come they banned this video? Is Penélope Cruz perverted?” I don’t mind. I’d rather be called a pervert for that than the violence they allow teenagers to watch.’ Cruz’s bombshell status is powered partly by her nature – she’s a woman’s woman – and in-built hard work ethic. Her upbringing in Alcobendas (a city just outside Madrid), was defined by strong matriarchal energies – not least those in Encarna’s hairdressing salon, where the young Cruz grew up observing a myriad of female customers, and where she learned how to act. ‘My mother is a really strong woman. That’s the way we were raised. The women worked really hard,’ she says, clapping her hands for emphasis. ‘No bullshit. No time for that. You just get on with it.’ Her father owned a hardware store and both parents worked six days a week. Cruz trained in classical ballet from the age of four, but when her parents bought a Betamax player she fell in love with the movies. At 15, she lied about her age to get into the cinema.

‘THAT’S THE WAY WE WERE RAISED... NO BULLSHIT. NO TIME FOR THAT. YOU JUST GET ON WITH IT’

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The film she saw would change her life. It was Almodóvar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! – the story of a sadomasochistic relationship, starring a young Antonio Banderas. ‘From that moment I became obsessed with the idea of working with Pedro. I decided on the spot to try to find an acting agent. He was my reason, my inspiration. I didn’t know anyone in the business. It was like I had decided to go to the moon.’

T MAIN PHOTOGRAPH ALEXI LUBOMIRSKI FOR LANCOME. ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS ALLSTAR, GETTY IMAGES, REX FEATURES

of a classical dancer (she trained as a ballerina): a petite, taut package of hair, maternal bosom and legs in a wool mini-dress. At 39, she is the very incarnation of olive oil-fed, Mediterranean siren. It’s embarrassingly hard not to ‘wow’ in her presence. ‘I hope you’re not going to ask me about what exercise I do,’ she laughs, kicking off her shoes and curling up on the sofa. ‘I eat really healthily but I eat a lot, a lot.’ She reels off a list of Spanish and Italian dishes. ‘I think I’m very lucky that I can breastfeed my children because sometimes even if a woman wants to, she can’t. I breastfed my son for 13 months and I plan to do at least the same with my daughter. That’s an amazing thing for babies, but it’s also really good for the mother because it regulates your body again after pregnancy.’ This comes out more like ‘pregnan-chy’. When Cruz speaks English, she sounds ever so slightly like she is blowing bubbles in water. This is the cherry topping on the whole charming effect.

he young Cruz’s beauty was matched by a steely determination that anything was possible: ‘I used to go to Pedro’s house and wait for him to come out on the balcony to water his plants. He didn’t know he had this crazy person following him around.’ After being turned away three times by her agent, she was finally taken on and, at 17, cast in her first Spanish film, Jamón Jamón. Almodóvar saw it and immediately called her: ‘I was so shocked. They told me Pedro was on the phone. I was drying my hair and wouldn’t come down because I thought it was a joke. I had dreamt and dreamt and it all came true.’ Indeed, Cruz’s life so far has been an exercise in wishfulfilment, or simply, how to ‘make it happen’. She went on to become Almodóvar’s muse (her performance in his films caught the attention of Hollywood) and marry her first leading man, Javier Bardem, her co-star in Bigas Luna’s Jamón Jamón. (Can it be just coincidence that they called their first daughter Luna?) She has even become the face of Lancôme Trésor, her first teenage perfume. Cruz and Bardem’s on-screen chemistry has always been nuclear-level explosive. Her love scenes with past Hollywood co-stars – Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Nicolas Cage – and most recently with Michael Fassbender in Ridley Scott’s The Counsellor just pale in comparison. Bardem also stars in Scott’s film as a brash drug dealer – all spray tan, playboy shades and wind-tunnel hair – though, at the expense of the film, the pair have no scenes together. Her husband is fond of playing bad guys in bad wigs, I point out, thinking of his gruesome performance as the Bond villain in Skyfall. ‘No! But he has also played some of the romantic parts. Did you see The Sea Inside?’ she leaps in, her passion unleashed momentarily on the otherwise taboo subject of her husband. ‘Javier can do anything. His range is incredible. I knew that the first time we met. He was 20 and I was 17. I knew straight away how talented he was. It was mind-blowing.’ She pauses, catching herself. ‘I mean, I’m not saying that just because he is my husband.’ In addition to love and family, there are other passions in Cruz’s life, ones that help her to stay grounded and decompress. She is a worrier, and gets anxious easily, especially on set. ‘I love singing karaoke. When I hear people say that they don’t like it, I just think they are lying. I do it to have a laugh – and to laugh at myself, when I need to. My favourites are Blondie and I also love to rap: Biggie and Eminem.’ She launches into Eminem’s Without Me: ‘Two trailer-park girls go round the outside/round the outside/round the outside…’ She quickly regains her composure, but now I can’t wait to see her next film, La Reina España, a musical comedy. I ask her if she ever dances to de-stress at home: her infamous, athletic cabaret solo from Rob Marshall’s musical Nine, perhaps? ‘Well, I can still remember all of the moves. But I would need a month of rehearsal. It was so hard, four or five hours of training a day. My hands were always bleeding. It was so hard,’ she sighs. ‘But now, of course, I only dance to children’s songs with the kids at home...’ Motherhood

has changed a lot of things: ‘In my twenties, I used to go everywhere in high heels and make-up. But there is no way that I would do that now; I need to be barefoot most of the time so that I can run after the kids.’ It was on the set of Nine that Cruz met one of her role models, Sophia Loren, who is now something of a surrogate mother to her. ‘All she talks about is food and children. “Are you eating enough, Penélope?” Her family is so important to her. She gave me the best advice… Of course, nothing that I could tell you,’ she says with a hint of mischief. I tell her that they sound very similar – they certainly look alike. I ask if she is inspired by Loren to age gracefully. ‘Oh no, no. I don’t look like her. She is a goddess. A goddess! I cannot see her in terms of ageing. She is so sensitive, wise and funny. But older women are so beautiful.’ (Beau-dee-ful.) ‘I remember my grandmothers’ faces, even just before they died, they had so much life, history and experience. Their faces were like beautiful poems.’ As she stands up, barefoot, to check in on her brood next door, I wonder what Cruz’s own face will look like when she and Bardem are grandparents, and Leo and Luna have kids. Few have accomplished their childhood dreams so exactly, or lived them with such passion and symmetry. It will indeed be a beautiful poem.

PENELOPE CRUZ’S BEST THINGS IN LIFE BEST ACTRESS: I think there is nobody

better than Meryl Streep. I watch her movies over and over again – I saw Silkwood again a couple of weeks ago, and it made me just want to kiss her feet. BEST DISH:

My mother cooks very well – I love her Russian salad. And my dad makes a very good paella.

BEST FRIEND:

I love Salma Hayek. Everything she says is so funny.

BEST MEMORY:

The birth of my son, Leonardo (with husband Javier Bardem, left).

BEST SCENT:

Lancôme Trésor was my first perfume. When I saw the campaign with Isabella Rossellini, the one shot by Peter Lindbergh, I fell in love with those images. I asked for it for my 14th birthday, and I still wear it now.

BEST THING IN LIFE: Love

is the thing that moves the world. It’s the thing that brings hope and happiness.

Lancôme Trésor (EDP, £40 for 100ml) is available nationwide

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KISS FROM A ROSE Salma Hayek wears stretch velvet dress, about £2,170, Zac Posen. Yellow gold, diamond and onyx necklace; yellow gold and peridot ring, both from a selection, Cartier

It may surprise you to know that Salma Hayek hasn’t always been ahead of the curve. Beautiful, intelligent, talented, outspoken, not to mention the wife of one of fashion’s most powerful men, she is clearly a force to be reckoned with. So why does she still feel she is fighting a battle? STEPHANIE RAFANELLI finds out Photographs by PAOLA KUDACKI Styled by GABRIELE HACKWORTHY


AGENT PROVOCATEUR Stretch lamb-skin skirt, £1,190, Jitrois. Leather belt, £845, Alexander McQueen. Polyamide and elastane gloves, £40, Cornelia James. Yellow gold, diamond and onyx necklace, from a selection, Cartier

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adies and gentlemen!’ a small voice declares from behind the tangles of black chiffon, sequined net and feathers of Bazaar’s clothing rail. ‘Please welcome…’ (imaginary drum roll) ‘Mrs Pinault!’ The fiveyear-old ringmaster of this performance emerges from her haute couture den-cumdressing-up box, throwing open her arms to introduce her prize act. Mrs Pinault, better known as Salma Hayek, steps forward on cue: arched brow, crimson pout, hands around her waist, turning like a show pony in a red Elvira-style gown, while the tiny chest of her cherubic mini-me (Valentina, her daughter with fashion conglomerate PPR’s CEO François-Henri Pinault) expands an inch with pride. Then, suddenly, mother and daughter collapse in hysterics that roll into lavish hugs until they are a petite bundle (5’2” and 4’ respectively) of exuberance. Eventually rising, Hayek turns and pads up the spiral staircase in bare feet, dress trailing on the floor behind her, and in front of the camera, the intensity of maternal passion transforms into sexual desire: an expressive, syrupy magnetism. The body is famously and unmistakably Fifties: the exaggerated out-inand-out-again silhouette of Loren, Mansfield, Russell, packaged in a tiny frame. ‘Back then, standards of perceived beauty celebrated what a woman is supposed to look like, with curves,’ proclaims the 46-year-old actor later, with cadences that rise and fall like waves against her hometown beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. ‘But in recent years we have had to fight against our genetic nature to look like something we are not, to look like little boys, to be socially accepted as beautiful,’ she continues, her vocal texture all black velvet. ‘It used to be that a young girl could not wait to grow up and take the shape of a woman. Now our goal is regression, to look younger and like a child. There has not been enough diversity of body shape in fashion. That’s terribly important. Fashion should be an art form that is executed on different canvases.’ By now Hayek is curled up, Sergio Rossi heels kicked off beside her, in a chair in the lobby bar of the Manhattan Mandarin Oriental. She is wearing a string of pearls and a black Stella McCartney fringed mini-dress (her husband owns the brand, as well as Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi,


and Saint Laurent Paris under the new creative directorship of Hedi Slimane. ‘He is a genius, and I have heard from a very good source that what is about to be unveiled is quite extraordinary,’ she teases). ‘Of course, I don’t think that women should let go and say to the designers, “Well, that is your problem, you have to make me look good!” No!’ She dabs her hand on my knee like a kitten extending its paw. ‘But I don’t think you have to be unhealthy and not eat in order to be able to wear a dress.’ She lifts up the fringes of her McCartney creation and grabs her belly voraciously. ‘This dress is amazing because it covers it all up. I also have a problem because I am very short with large breasts – I am a D-cup, a double D sometimes – and a small neck, and if you don’t put on tight clothes underneath it, your boobs, they take over part of your décolleté. So I wear a lot of cleavage [sic]. If you don’t open it up, you look like an Oompa Loompa. They paint you green and you’re part of the Chocolate Factory.’ Such a compactly sensual body (worshipped since her performance in 1996’s Tarantino-scribed From Dusk Till Dawn) has always been a distraction from Hayek’s true sources of power. An Oscar-nominated actor and producer (she single-mindedly fought for eight years, out-foxing both Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, to produce and star in Frida, a biopic of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo); director and Golden Globe-nominated film executive (responsible for the global success of ABC’s Ugly Betty); and human-rights spokeswoman (she has campaigned for Unicef, runs the Salma Hayek Foundation and has testified for the repeal of the Violence Against Women Act in US Congress), in 2008 she was placed 17th in Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Smartest People in TV, and she has been dubbed ‘one of the smartest women I’ve ever met’ by Oprah Winfrey. Indeed, Salma Hayek is a bombshell in a shot glass, a café cortado of a woman: packed with intelligence, passion, directness, sharp wit and sexual power in their most concentrated and potent forms. ‘If Salma had been a man, she would have been as big as Harvey Weinstein,’ her friend and Frida co-star Alfred Molina tells me. ‘I think it’s easy to underestimate anyone who is pretty and petite. But the truth is it is very dangerous to do so. I sometimes think the world is littered with arrogant men who didn’t take Salma seriously and now they are sitting in dark rooms wondering what the hell went wrong.’ Hayek’s own overview of her career is a little more tongue-incheek. ‘It’s a miracle that I am still working,’ she says. ‘I don’t think you can get more to the bottom of the ladder than a Mexican or an Arab – my father is Lebanese – and the worst thing you can be in Hollywood is a woman and over 40. On top of that, I have an accent, am dyslexic, short and chubby. You name it, I have it, but here I am. I must be the luckiest girl in the world to be working.’ And working she most definitely is, most notably in Oliver Stone’s new film Savages, in which she plays Elena, a woman of steel in a blunt-cut Cleopatra wig, who is willing to torture and kidnap to keep control of power. ‘There are certain women who know that they are going to be a part of history and they create a very memorable character. I felt that Elena was one of these women. I think

DUSK TILL DAWN Leather skirt, £1,085, Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière. Bra, £198, Bordelle at the Lingerie Collective. Yellow gold ring, from a selection, Cartier

in order to survive in that world she had to create a character that was outside herself. Cleopatra had that wig that was her trademark; Eva Perón, Frida Kahlo, they all found power in their look.’ In the film, Hayek assumes the ‘character’ (read euphemism for older woman) role, which Stone wrote specifically for her – ‘He was wondering if I could still do it, if motherhood and my new life – I am a very, very happy girl – had softened me’ – while Blake Lively plays the central love interest to Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Taylor Kitsch. But there was no All About Eve-style rivalry. ‘Blake was very strong about not taking all her clothes off for the sex scenes,’ says Hayek. ‘I love her because she stood up for herself. It was a man’s world, but we stuck together on set. We had the girls’ club… and women have a lot more strength when they stick together.’ Green tea, seaweed and dumplings arrive. ‘Blake has the most amazing legs. I look at them and say, “Oh my God, what must life be like with those legs?” Do I envy her? Of course I envy those legs. Do I wish she didn’t have them? Not for a second. That’s the difference between envy and jealousy of other women. It’s admiring.’ She waves her chopsticks in the air like batons. ‘We go, “Wow, look at Angelina Jolie’s mouth, is it real? Wow. What would it be like to have that mouth?” When you look at Madonna… let me tell you she is older than me and I wish I had her body now. Do I envy Madonna’s body? Yes. Do I thank God that she has it? Yes! If you’re fiftysomething and you look like Madonna, and you put a lifetime’s work into the way you look, then flash it to the world!’ Hayek is not interested in bland, tactful statements – she shoots from the hip: a mesmerising quality that has interlocutors tripping off her every word (as she fixes you unflinchingly in the eye, whipping up a sermon, be it in on politics, motherhood or love). It’s fitting that director Roberto Rodriguez cast her as a snake charmer in From Dusk Till Dawn. OK, it was a blatantly male, rather unimaginative interpretation of Hayek’s feminine power, but you don’t have to be in possession of Y chromosomes to find her irresistible. The selfmockery, the feistiness, the strong pro-women stance, the incongruous emotional candour – being around Hayek turns out to be an empowering, feminist experience. Being in her orbit simply reminds you that you are a woman with a capital W. So it won’t surprise you to learn that Hayek is not fainthearted. In the past she has even received death threats, when she drew attention to police negligence with regards to the mass femicide in the city of Juárez in Mexico, where over 700 women were found dead between 1993 and 2007. Savages is far from squeamish in its portrayal of violent crime in Mexico; I ask her if highlighting drugrelated brutality was an imperative when taking on the film. ‘I have to be honest,’ she says carefully. ‘I don’t get calls to work with that many iconic directors. After I did Frida, I thought that things would change for me and that I would start being offered great parts, but I still just got offered the same roles.’ She gives a prolonged shrug. ‘So the fact that Oliver Stone offered me a movie, I was already going to say yes. But on top of that it was something that I don’t think is talked about enough: that not only is there violence in Mexico but that the US is involved in it. The arms are coming from

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‘The worst thing you can be in Hollywood is a woman and over 40. On top of that, I have an accent, am dyslexic, short and chubby. I must be the luckiest girl in the world to be working’


SCARLET FEVER Sculptural rubber dress, £2,120, Lanvin. Patent heels, £395, Christian Louboutin. Yellow gold, onyx and emerald bangle, from a selection, Cartier


the US and so many people have died but America does nothing. They are in Iraq, the Middle East and North Korea, but what about their next-door neighbours?’ Hayek might have another motive for taking the role. The daughter of a Lebanese oil executive, she was kidnapped as a teenager with a fellow student for nine hours. It is perhaps apt that Hayek ended up in a world defined by luxury. ‘My mother and grandmother were very elegant,’ she says. ‘They had these hourglass figures, with full bosoms and tiny waists. My grandmother looked and acted like a Hollywood star.’ Legend has it that as a child Hayek was given a pet tiger as a present. ‘It was an ocelot!’ she counters, popping a dumpling in her mouth. ‘Can you imagine? His name was Rambo and he was the sweetest cat. He was very tame. A cat for protection…’ As a young girl, Hayek wrote and directed plays for her family and friends, and in 1988 she dropped out of university to become an actor. She was soon cast in one of Mexico’s most successful telenovelas (soaps), Teresa, and by the time she was 23, she had become a national obsession. She felt it was time to escape so, at 24, she arrived in LA as an unknown Mexican actor, where she studied with Stella Adler; her fellow pupils included Benicio del Toro (her co-star in Savages). But she was told again and again that no one would cast her – no audience would pay to see an actor, however talented or beautiful, who sounded like their maid. ‘When I saw The Artist, I really related to it,’ she says, raising a brow. ‘That would have been a great part for me. You know, Dolores del Rio was Mexican and a huge star in the late Twenties, and when sound came in no one would hire her because of her accent. She had to go back to Mexico. And since the time of Dolores del Rio, there hadn’t been another Mexican actress who got leading roles, until me.’ Although Hayek’s film career has been, by her own admission, a little patchy – from movies such as Dogma and Timecode to Grown Ups and the role of Kitty Softpaws in Puss in Boots – her very existence in film in the 1990s opened the gateway to Hollywood for other Latin actresses. But being a pioneer has never been easy, despite her inimitable fighting spirit. It was not until she was spotted by another Latin industry figure, director Rodriguez, on a Spanish-language chat show, speaking out in true Hayek style about how Mexican actresses didn’t get work in Hollywood, that she got her first break. ‘She was amazing,’ says Rodriguez. ‘I knew that she was the star. I was looking for Latin actors for a film called Desperado with Antonio Banderas. But the studio wouldn’t take her on because she had never worked in English before, so I had to shoot a whole film [Roadracers, 1994] with her to convince them to let her do a screen test. When it came to From Dusk Till Dawn, Tarantino wrote the part for Madonna, but then I suggested, since it was set in Mexico, that he rewrite it for Salma. Unfortunately, she was completely afraid of snakes, but I said, “If you don’t start touching these snakes, this part will go to Madonna.” She got over the fear pretty quickly.’ Although Hayek’s turns in Rodriguez’s cult Mariachi trilogy made an impact, being cast as a bombshell CONTINUED ON PAGE 235

‘I always wanted to be a mother. But I was clear I shouldn’t go around desperately looking for the father of my children’

A BRILLIANT MIND Stretch velvet dress, about £2,170, Zac Posen. Yellow gold and diamond necklace; yellow gold and peridot ring, both from a selection, Cartier. See Stockists for details. Hair by Chris McMillan at Solo Artists. Make-up by Genevieve Herr at Sally Harlour. Manicure by Donna D at Artists by Timothy Priano

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THE U N BELIEVABLE

RU TH

Ruth Wilson’s rare combination of sharp talent and impish beauty has bewitched audiences, directors and a swathe of leading men, from Johnny Depp and Idris Elba to Jude Law. No wonder Hollywood has now come calling BY STEPHANIE RAFANELLI PHOTOGRAPHS BY TRENT M C GINN STYLED BY VANESSA CHOW

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unique talent, the real deal. She has this roll-up-your-sleeves attitude to work and life. She has bygone-era beauty, but it’s not just about surface. It comes from her inner workings.’ Her astuteness and level head seem to be as refreshing to her co-stars as her Jane Eyre is to Rochester. ‘She never falls back on obvious sexuality or that “love me, like me” need,’ Law continues. ‘She has a total absence of vanity.’ ‘I never want looking good on camera to become important to me,’ says Wilson (now fully recovered from her prolonged exposure on the roof terrace) over lunch at the Greenwich Hotel. ‘I’ve had to look at my face in a different way. It’s no longer mine, it belongs to my character. It’s public property, almost.’ Certainly, Wilson’s curious beauty is the subject of much debate, with entire blogs devoted to her eyebrows and upper lip. What fascinates so is her expressiveness, as if her face has been given an extra propensity for movement by some kind of anti-Botox. Every muscle, every contour, seems to flex at her command – from the minute quivering of an eyelash to full-blown contortions. In repose, she looks as virtuous as a child in a Victorian etching; at other times, she is impish: brows shaped like hawk’s wings, flushed cheeks and sensual overbite all hinting at something underneath. Her counterintuitively tomboyish demeanour – and a refusal to ‘play it sexy’ off- and on-screen – only heightens this appeal. She strides about today, hands in pockets, in a pair of Chaplin-like slacks and brogues: ‘I don’t really like to be looked at by men in that way.’ Her voice is gravelly, at times reminiscent of a teenage boy’s. ‘I hate being whistled at in the www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

I

t might be a breach of professional decorum to admit it, but an interview with Ruth Wilson comes with a host of perks. First, there’s the simple journalistic thrill of catching talent on an upward trajectory: the two-time Olivier Award winner takes her first step into Hollywood this summer. A second fringe benefit is a feelgood factor by proxy: her life-affirming willingness to pose, without fuss, on a New York roof terrace in minus-degree temperatures and something approaching a force-six gale. Then there’s the afterglow, during which my voicemail fills with messages from enamoured former co-stars. This leads to a full week of phone tennis (thank you, Ruth) with Jude Law, Idris Elba, David Walliams – and some email input from Johnny Depp. I mention this not to define Wilson by the men she has worked with, for her own brief career has already been marked out by gravitas and critical acclaim. In her choices, she has demonstrated a taste for complex (and somewhat tortured) literary characters – from Jane Eyre to Anna Christie – for which she has received a Bafta nomination and her second Olivier respectively, and she brings nuance and surprise to even her smallest roles. Her reinvention of the priggish socialite Princess Betsy Tverskoy, who is so coiffed, primped and bleached as to be nearly albino, was the jewel in Joe Wright’s otherwise mediocre Anna Karenina. ‘She is an actress of fierce intelligence with the most enviable career,’ says Walliams, who met Wilson on the set of Stephen Poliakoff ’s Capturing Mary in 2007. Law tells me, when we finally synchronise schedules: ‘Ruth is a

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Ruth Wilson wears wool dress, £1,355; wool jumper, £365; leather belt, £200, all Prada

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Wool dress, £2,400, Dior. Patent heels, £365, Jimmy Choo. Patent belt; net veil, both stylist’s own. See Stockists for details. Hair by Fernando Torrent at L’Atelier NYC, using Leonor Greyl. Make-up by Yumi at the Wall Group, using MAC. Manicure by Elisa Ferri at See Management for Nars. Stylist’s assistants: Yety Akinola and Claudia Cifu. Set design: Daniel Graff at Mary Howard Studio, with thanks to Elle W Collection. With thanks to Tribeca Grand Hotel

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street. It makes me angry. I don’t really want men to be looking at my breasts or legs. I want men to engage with me through the brain.’ Wilson’s career has been propelled by a guiding intelligence. She has already deftly pulled off a number of game-changing roles, and she bounds between them with the confidence of one whose leaps of faith have always paid off. After too many period pieces, she took us by surprise in 2010 as modern-day sociopath Alice Morgan in the BBC detective series Luther opposite Idris Elba, her lips curling menacingly, this time, into a grimace worthy of the Joker. (She returned in the third series this summer, evolving the inverted Hannibal Lecter-Clarice Starling rapport. ‘I told Idris that if he gets to play James Bond, I want to play the female villain. Come on, Barbara Broccoli,’ she cries into my Dictaphone. ‘It’s time we had a female arch-baddie.’) Now, she has swapped her recent spate of classics for a blockbuster Western in a Hollywood adaptation of The Lone Ranger, produced by the team behind Pirates of the Caribbean and co-starring Johnny Depp. The latter plays Tonto, the ranger’s Native American sidekick, with all his usual pomp and swagger; while Wilson co-stars as Rebecca Reid, childhood sweetheart of the eponymous hero (played by The Social Network star Armie Hammer), a part which provided the closet extreme-sports fan with ample opportunities to fly through the air in harnesses and hang backwards off fast-moving steam trains. (‘I’m a real thrill-seeker. I think I’m addicted to danger.’) But the seven-month-long shoot, partly in New Mexico, was not all high-adrenalin capers. Wilson studied Midwestern and Native American history and listened to Johnny Cash and Ennio Morricone to get in the mood for the role. ‘Johnny [Depp] got his guitar out a few times. He’s got a band and they played at our wrap party in a bar in Angel Fire, near Santa Fe. We all got up and sang Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks of My Tears”, which is one of my favourite songs,’ she tells me. ‘Johnny has this unique presence. On-screen he’s like a silent-movie actor. I loved watching him in Edward Scissorhands when I was young. I remember when he was dating Kate Moss and he had his tattoo changed from “Winona Forever” to “Wino Forever”. It was genius.’ As is my journalistic duty, I tentatively broach the subject of the tabloid rumour that she was involved with the newly single Depp on set. She humours me, saying politely: ‘Look, I was very flattered to be associated with Johnny. But it was so far from the truth. I only spoke to him a few times. My publicist warned me that something was coming out in US Weekly. And I thought, “That’s brilliant. I am going to cut it out, frame it and put it on my wall.” In the future, I can show my grandchildren and say, “Look, it was in the paper – it must have been true.” You just can’t take it personally…’ This level-headed approach stems from Wilson’s upbringing in Shepperton, Surrey. Her mother is a probation officer, her father an investment banker. ‘I was never valued for looking pretty at home, I didn’t need that kind of attention as a girl.’ She shrugs her shoulders. This dictum became the foundation of Wilson’s self-assurance, aided by a childhood filled with tree climbing, den building and swimming in the Thames – activities dictated by her three older brothers. ‘We had a lot of fights. I know how to hold my own with

men. At the same time, men are comfortable around me because they know that I’m not asking them to look at me in a certain way.’ Where Wilson did feel out of place was in her thespian urges. It was not until a year after she graduated from Lamda in 2005, during her breakthrough role as Jane Eyre, that she came to understand the source of her innate dramatic leanings when she uncovered another member of her family who flitted between identities. Upon the death of her maternal grandmother, Alison, it was revealed that Ruth’s grandfather, the ex-MI6 agent and spy novelist Alexander Wilson, who died in 1963, was a serial bigamist with four wives and families. ‘Suddenly it all made sense,’ says Wilson now. ‘Alexander was the ultimate actor and thrill-seeker. He lived these transient lives. We had a family reunion in 2007 and I thought, “Wow. Look how this has filtered down through us all.”’ It’s not only Alexander’s life that has informed Wilson’s work. After Alison discovered such profound betrayal, she suffered a nervous breakdown. It was an experience that echoed that of Karin in Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly, a role Wilson played at the Almeida Theatre in 2010. ‘After Alison died, I read her memoir and found out the extent of what she had suffered. She had fallen in love with a man 25 years her senior and had subsequently become estranged by her family. So when the betrayal came, it was so huge that she had this nervous collapse, although she described it as finding God.’ Wilson stares into her cappuccino. ‘I’ve used a lot of her in work I’ve done.’ One role was that of Anna Christie, an abused prostitute who seeks salvation both through a reunion with her estranged father, the captain of a coal barge, and the love of a Messiah-like sailor (played by a brawny and bearded Law). The play was electrified by Wilson and Law’s palpable chemistry. ‘They were the perfect partners. They pushed each other to the extremes of their emotions, both as characters and actors,’ says Rob Ashford, who directed Wilson in both Anna Christie in 2011 and A Streetcar Named Desire in 2009. ‘They both act from the soul, the gut.’ Law affirms this bond. ‘We became very close. We were holding hands throughout the whole production because we knew we were in it together for the long haul. Ruth and I were so connected at the hip… she means so much to me now. We spend a lot of time going to the theatre together when we are both in London.’ (It is no secret that the tabloids reported last year that the stars of Anna Christie were romantically involved, and the Daily Mail online is still titillated by sightings of the pair on theatre jaunts. ‘Well, when you’re doing a play together and you get on, you’re always linked to them,’ Wilson says with a sigh.) Romance or no, one thing that Law, Ashford, Elba and Walliams all agree on is that Wilson’s career will be a successful one, whether she is to star in future productions of Hedda Gabler or in Hollywood – next up is the biopic of PL Travers alongside Emma Thompson – or both. ‘Ruth is in it for the long term,’ Walliams says. ‘In 30 years’ time, she won’t be some long-forgotten glamour puss who has had too much plastic surgery. She will be Judi Dench or Maggie Smith. She is a dame in waiting.’ Wilson laughs when I recount this to her. ‘My mum is a little worried. She keeps calling me saying, “Now, Ruth, whatever you do, don’t put any Botox in your face.” I always reply, “I won’t, Mum. Night, night.”’ She prods her top lip with her index fingers for a moment. ‘Can you imagine? Botox in this? How horrible.’ Her mouth forms a little O shape in disgust. May Ruth Wilson’s face forever move. ‘The Lone Ranger’ is released nationwide on 9 August.

‘I told Idris Elba that if he is James Bond, I want to play the female arch-baddie’

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SEE STOCKISTS FOR DETAILS. HAIR BY PAUL MERRITT AT JED ROOT. MAKE-UP BY NIKKI PALMER AT MANDY COAKLEY, USING DIOR ADDICT AND DIOR HOMME DERMA. MANICURE BY AMANDA BRAGOLI FOR LEIGHTON DENNY EXPERT NAILS. MODEL: AMBER ANDERSON AT TESS MANAGEMENT. WITH THANKS TO SPRING STUDIOS

THE CHEEK OF IT! David Walliams and model Amber Anderson recreating Herb Ritts’ famous 1993 shoot with KD Lang. Amber wears Lycra body, £395, Eres. Leather heels, £1,059, Tabitha Simmons at Selfridges. Metal cuffs, £380 each, Balmain. Gold and pearl ring, £7,000, Solange Azagury-Partridge. Walliams wears wool trousers; matching waistcoat (sold as suit), £2,850, Tom Ford. Silk tie, £120, Dior Homme. Watch, cotton Tom Ford shirt and leather Yves Saint Laurent boots, all his own

KING OF COMEDY David Walliams , joker extraordinaire, acclaimed writer, serious actor, husband to a supermodel, swimming fundraiser and all-round national treasure, tells STEPHANIE RAFANELLI about his love for Wonder Woman, bringing up ‘gay babies’ and dressing as Pippa Middleton Photographs by TRENT MCGINN Styled by PIPPA VOSPER

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avid Walliams is grinning like a Cheshire cat. I note said beam because this is not a mien to which he is naturally predisposed. Though he is prone to triggering outbursts of hysteria in others, merely by the prolonged upkeep of his own curious brand of composure (if there were a visual aid on YouTube to illustrate the word ‘deadpan’, he would surely feature heavily), he is not an actor-comedian in the Cordenian lolloping Labrador or quickfire motormouth moulds. David Walliams is a very serious man. But given his current predicament (one in which he seems not altogether uncomfortable or unaccustomed) – his torso straddled by a one-piece-clad model in some haute-fashion wet shave-cum-lap dance – Walliams is hamming up his best camp Bond, by way of Lurch and Frankie Howerd. This is all part of his wholehearted embracing of Bazaar’s homage to Herb Ritts and his 1993 celebration of sexual ambiguity for Vanity Fair starring KD Lang and Cindy Crawford; Walliams has enthusiastically proffered both his own savvy model suggestions and collection of Tom Ford suits (he is rather obsessed, more on which later). But then Walliams is a man who himself thrives on the frisson of ambivalence – able, since Little Britain took off in 2003, to slip, sans embarrassment, between three-piece suits, fat suits, skirt suits and wetsuits (at one point today, it looks as though a Dolce & Gabbana swimsuit will be added to the list, as he flicks, with a mischievous glint in his eye, through the fashion rails). He revels in the provocation. Or perhaps he just can’t help himself. For instance, when I suggest that he is both overachiever and polymath

I met him at Kate Moss’ wedding. I mean, it was like meeting Mozart,’ he recounts, counterintuitively poker-faced. (For the record, we are eating porridge pre-shoot, a stone’s throw from his Supernova Heights home – the notorious former abode of another friend, Noel Gallagher). ‘Lara suddenly got a job and had to go to New York, so I took my friend James instead. I saw [Paul] before the show and I said, “Sorry Lara couldn’t come, I brought James.” And he said, “Ahh, come on, we all know the real reason, David.”’ I act dumb as to the meaning of it all. ‘He was insinuating that James was my boyfriend,’ Walliams explains. ‘I just thought, “Bloody hell! Macca is making a joke about my sexuality. How did that happen?”’ It’s heartening to know that Walliams can be gracious when the tables are turned. ‘No one should be above having the mickey taken out of them,’ he tells me (except perhaps Tom Ford) – and, he adds, especially not Simon Cowell. Walliams has just returned from Britain’s Got Talent ’s Birmingham auditions: ‘Simon is the king, and I’m the court jester.’ He shows me a picture of the pair on his iPhone, his chin resting on Cowell’s shoulder from behind, like a showbiz version of Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ‘I asked the show’s producers, “Can I make jokes about Simon? About him being camp? About being friends with Sinitta? About his hair?” And they said, “No, no, no.” I feel ready for him to crack into a grin, but his face remains impassive. ‘Then the first act came on and said, “My dream is to perform in front of the Queen”, and I said, “Well, he’s right here – go ahead.”’ Suggestive homoerotic ad-libs and double entendres aside (he must rein himself in for the live part of the show, he says: ‘The innuendo-meter is definitely a problem. I’m going to have to have a second’s delay in my brain’), Walliams is sure to be good cop to Cowell’s bad. ‘I’m the new Cheryl Cole,’ he declares without batting an eyelid. Walliams agrees that he’s swimming in his native habitat on Britain’s Got Talent, which is, after all, the real Little Britain. Early audition candidates Dolly Mix (girl band), Joe Santini (rock guitarist) and Little Mee (puppeteer) are characters that Walliams himself might invent. And although he and Matt Lucas are famed for their grotesque, cartoonish caricatures, Walliams insists there is always a fondness to his lampooning: ‘Humour celebrates people in a way – we are all absurd.’ Walliams as lachrymose bastion of empathy is not an angle I would necessarily buy, had I not read his award-winning children’s novels – including The Boy in the Dress (2008), Mr Stink (2009) and Gangsta Granny (2011) – which showcase such a range of storytelling skills, observational insight and touching sensitivity about the absurdity of our world from the point of view of a child, as to convert any former sceptics. That his tomes are proliferated with toilet gags, irreverent humour and low-brow contemporary references makes his moral messages less turgidly didactic and all the more digestible. Walliams is a natural populist, a man of the people – but an intellectual one, as much in his element referencing Hogarth and Dickens (we are talking Little Britain as social satire) as Strictly Come Dancing. He flips between them like a master juggler, with the kind of shamelessness with which he morphs between his characters Emily Howard (‘I’m a laydee!’), Sebastian Love (‘Bitch!’), Carol Beer (‘Computer says no’) and Melody Baines. Gangsta Granny, the tale of Ben and his secret-diamond-thief grandmother, who plot to steal the crown jewels (subtext: be kind to the elderly and don’t assume they are boring) – its paperback release rather fittingly timed to coincide with CONTINUED ON PAGE 194

– actor-comedian (co-creator of Little Britain and Come Fly With Me), award-winning author (he has written four novels for children that sold more than a million copies, and is working on a TV adaptation of one of them), serious actor (Pinter, Poliakoff, Dickens – he has a role in Mike Newell’s upcoming Great Expectations), endurance swimmer (and subsequently, in the words of his own dear mother, ‘the nation’s sweetheart’) and now a new judge on the sixth series of Britain’s Got Talent alongside Simon Cowell – he blurts out in a faux Freudian slip: ‘I’m definitely a Polly, a poly-something anyway…’ Certainly, Walliams has overachieved in at least one area of his life: l’amour. And I really don’t feel that he would mind me saying this. In May 2010, he married 28-year-old Dutch ‘sex bomb’ Lara Stone (barely a month goes by without a fashion bible’s love letter to her comeliness and the gap between her incisors), simultaneously discombobulating and intriguing most of London, tabloids and celebrity scenesters alike. It’s not that Walliams isn’t attractive – all the traditional ingredients for handsomeness are there: he is tall, dark, wide of jaw. Yet it’s as though his outline had been etched by childish hands: his head disproportionately large, his frame too Hulk-like, his eyes exaggeratedly flinted. Walliams is surprisingly good-natured about such physical shortcomings in relation to his paramour and the nebula of speculation that surrounds them; although when emanating from certain quarters, it is tantamount to flattery. ‘Lara and I had planned to see Paul McCartney in concert. 132 |

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the Jubilee – was inspired by a recent date: ‘I had just visited the Tower of London. My wife, even though her father is English, grew up in Holland, so a lot of British culture is new to her. It’s a rather lovely thing to say: “Have you ever been to the Tower of London? No? Let’s go!”’ In the book, Ben and his granny are caught in flagrante in the Tower by the Queen herself (she later flashes her knickers during her Christmas speech in homage to Gangsta Granny’s rebellion). ‘I’ve become a bit of a monarchist,’ he says. He was invited to Buckingham Palace in 2006, after swimming the English Channel for Sport Relief, and again last year, after his dramatic 140-mile, eight-day swim along the Thames, which raised over a million pounds. ‘Whatever is happening in the country – the world – the Queen is a symbol of continuity and unison.’ Royal anecdotes ensue in a more typical Walliams vein: ‘I met Wills and Kate at an awards ceremony with my mum. He just kept on saying, “You must be very proud of him, Kathleen” [brilliant lock-jawed Wills impression]. I said to Kate, “Oh, did you see the picture in Heat magazine of me dressed as your sister?”

penchant for women’s clothes: ‘My sister used to dress me up as soon as I could walk,’ he says unequivocally. ‘We had a little dressing-up box, and she used to dress me up like I was a dolly in a bridesmaid’s dress and a fur hat. I never thought it was anything unusual…’ He trails off. ‘Anyway, that’s how I ended up in Little Britain dressing up as Emily Howard [the unconvincing transvestite] and all the other women, because that was always in me. You don’t have to be gay to be camp. In Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant puts on Katharine Hepburn’s frilly bathrobe and answers the door saying, “Oh, I’ve come over all gay!” Men used to wear wigs and make-up and it was a sign of masculinity. Look at the New Romantics or Bowie in that “Ashes to Ashes” period…’ Still, the childhood anecdote reminds me somehow of Grayson Perry, and the complex dynamic of self-degradation and selfaffirmation that he gleans from his ritual outings as Claire. Is there any element of humiliation or self-flagellation that plays out either in his masochistic endurance swims or his frumpy female roles? ‘Well, yeah. Hmm. I never saw it as that, but it’s difficult to psycho-analyse yourself,’ he muses. ‘Getting a laugh is the best feeling in the world. Even if you completely degrade yourself to get one, you’ve still got a laugh, so that’s still a very good thing.’ Either way, Walliams is refreshingly frank about this, as well as his past struggles with self-loathing, insomnia and depression (he sought therapy during the filming of the first series of Little Britain. On his 2009 Desert Island Discs appearance, he requested a gun as his ‘luxury’ – just in case). ‘For me there’s a kind of manic depression that happens where there’s been a manic phase of creativity or performing. I mean, even just being in front of the audience of Britain’s Got Talent, I do have this manic energy, and that has to be counter-balanced with something… That’s just the way things are. There have been these manic phases, and there have been these depressive stages. It does colour the way you see the world. Everything is grey. You have to get good at spotting it.’ But presumably he has coping strategies these days, I say – not only the hottest wife on the planet, but his Herculean charity feats (swimming the Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar in 2008, and the Thames, despite contracting ‘Thames sickness’, with a monomaniacal commitment to his cause): ‘I do like to have something that I’m striving for. But I remember feeling pretty low after I’d done the Channel, because you’ve worked so hard for this goal, and then after everyone has jumped up and down for a day, it’s like, “What’s next…?”’ Walliams has won numerous accolades for his natatorial achievements, including being invited to be ambassador to the British Olympic swimming team, and earning his very own swimmingrelated sobriquet from Elton John and David Furnish: ‘They call me Esther Walliams [after Esther Williams, the 1940s Olympic-level swimmer turned Hollywood starlet]. You know you’ve made it when Elton and David give you a drag name. All their friends have one.’ Whether in the guise of Esther or David, Walliams is still surprisingly starry-eyed about some of the people with whom he now circulates, none more so than the man Lara Stone credits as being the third person in their relationship: Mr Tom Ford. And the admiration is mutual: ‘I can spend hours reciting Little Britain quotes, and have seen every episode many, many times. Desiree DeVere always has me in stiches,’ the designer tells me. ‘When I first met David, I was very surprised to see the deeply sensitive and caring side of his nature and that he is, indeed, quite serious.’

‘They call me Esther Walliams. You know you’ve made it when Elton and David give you a drag name. All their friends have one’ And she said, “No.” And I said, “You’ve got to Google it when you get home.” I don’t know if she did, but it was a very absurd conversation to have with the future Queen.’ He erupts in an impromptu giggle. This is David Walliams: teetering curiously on the border between thoughtful and absurd.

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o explore further the Walliams psyche, we must await his upcoming autobiography, which he is currently scribing along with a television adaptation of Mr Stink, his tale of a shy, bullied girl called Chloe who makes friends with a tramp, which won the Children’s Award in the inaugural People’s Book Prize in 2010 (the story was conceived while playing opposite Michael Gambon in Pinter’s No Man’s Land in 2008: ‘His voice was in my head when I wrote it,’ he says). But his fiction is already revealing. Walliams deals as adeptly with Chloe’s anxiety about her weight – he himself was a chubby child – as he does with the urge of 12-year-old Dennis to secretly cross-dress as Denise in The Boy in the Dress, which was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize: ‘I was naturally effeminate as a boy. I would play Wonder Woman in the playground, spinning around and pretending to be Lynda Carter, fighting for your rights in her satin tights. When she ran, her boobs bounced up and down. I fancied her, but I also wanted be her.’ Walliams grew up in suburban Banstead, Surrey, the son of Kathleen, a lab technician, and Peter Williams, a London transport engineer (he altered his name for Equity). As a result of his innate campness, he was anointed with the moniker ‘Daphne’ for his entire school career. ‘It was like a word for gay. Homosexuality is the biggest fear in an all-boys school.’ And so Walliams began to play up to his reputation. ‘A person becomes a comedian so that they can control the laughter directed at them, so that people are not laughing at you, but with you.’ His first theatrical role was as a Jacobean queen in a play at school, but this was not the real genesis of his

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Walliams’ eyes brighten when I mention the designer: ‘Everything I’m wearing right now, except for my watch and my boxer shorts, is Tom Ford. Even my bag is his.’ (He does look immaculately dapper.) ‘He’s a genius. He is very handsome. He’s aspirational as well. You sort of want to be like him when you meet him. His stores are so beautifully designed, you want to move into them.’ Indeed, Walliams had the interior of Supernova Heights renovated according to photographs of Ford’s own LA home. But despite such imperial fashion connections, Walliams’ taste in friends remains as high-low as his cultural references, as the quirky cross-section of guests at his Shoreditch House wedding reception – from Mario Testino to Barbara Windsor – attests. ‘There was a moment when I looked up and Dale Winton was talking to Tom Ford… Tom isn’t tanned at all when he’s standing next to Dale Winton.’

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alliams and Stone will celebrate their two-year anniversary this May – doesn’t he ever feel physically intimidated, I ask, by the male models that Stone works with, for instance in her recent Calvin Klein campaign? ‘Lara always calls them “boys”, and she says they’re always eating protein shakes and doing press-ups and sit-ups between shots.’ He raises a brow sardonically. ‘I mean, they’re incredible specimens, aren’t they? But have they swum 140 miles of the Thames? No. Have they ever dressed as a naked black woman on television? No.’ It is hard to believe that the playground Daphne Walliams of yesteryear could have ever imagined his luck. ‘I was good at talking to the girls – I was only really friends with the pretty ones – but I had no idea how to make a move. But when I turned 20, I got my first girlfriend, Katy Carmichael: she was the most attractive girl in university [Walliams attended Bristol University with Matt Lucas after meeting him at National Youth Theatre], and I thought, “Oh well, maybe…”’ Nowadays, he is a more experienced connoisseur of the female species. Is he proud of his wife for helping to bring back curves – more specifically a bust – into fashion and art? ‘For me, breasts have never been out – they have always been in the forefront of my mind,’ he deadpans. ‘I do think there seem to be more voluptuous models out there at the moment. Lara is really sexy, like a siren of the screen. She is halfway between Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot, isn’t she?’ Speaking of fecund forms, Walliams is, he says, unashamedly broody. At 41, his biological clock is ticking loudly – though he recently petrified his nephew by reading the part of a troll in a bedtime story rather too vividly. On this thread, he whips out his iPhone again to show me ‘Bert’, a young border terrier they are picking up on Stone’s return from LA. Well, puppies today, babies tomorrow. Or even ‘gaybies’, as Stone once drolly quipped (the pair are as bonded in humour as in gloominess – Stone has often cited doleful Smiths lyrics to express her state of mind). ‘I am effeminate and Lara is a model, so there will be a lot of feminine energy in that house.’ He threatens to chuckle for a moment. Tom Ford would make the perfect godfather, I suggest. He holds my stare for a second. ‘I don’t know about that,’ he retorts solemnly. ‘But maybe Dale Winton…’ ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ is on ITV1 on Saturday evenings. ‘Gangsta Granny’ (£6.99, HarperCollins) is out in paperback on 5 July. www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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Coverley had walked into Ipswich hospital in pain and found out that she was in the advanced stages of cancer. Freud herself was one of the most painted of Lucian’s many offspring (among them Susie and Ali Boyt, Paul and Lucy Freud and artist Jane McAdam Freud), and she says she doesn’t want to offend her siblings by appearing to ‘own’ their father more than they do. ‘It means so much to me that we all stay close,’ she says. ‘It just depended on the relationships our mothers had with our father. My mother made a big effort to make sure we saw our father. The older we got, the more involved we became with him.’ She only has to share her mother, on the other hand, with her younger sister, the novelist Esther Freud. Bernadine Coverley was the daughter of Irish pub owners who settled in London for a while. She met the fortysomething Lucian in Soho as a teenager, got pregnant and gave birth to Bella at the age of 18. The pregnancy was immortalised on canvas in Lucian’s Pregnant Girl 1960–61. Bella talks about her mother’s ‘incredible strength’: she was a dancer, model and latterly a writer on gardens, who took her children to live in Morocco when Bella was seven (which Esther Freud wrote about in Hideous Kinky), before returning to the UK and putting her daughters through a Steiner school in Sussex (‘Mum was totally self-made. So lovely. So beautiful as well’). She brings out a photo she has recently acquired of a grinning 15-year-old schoolgirl with black hair and a 100-watt smile. ‘I love this picture of my mother because she just looks so up, so excited about life.’ Freud offers to take me on a tour of the rest of the house, including the slightly rickety upstairs. She is looking forward to when Maria Speake of Retrouvius begins the final revamping phase on the top floor (new bedrooms all round and a new office for Fox). Fox’s influence can also be felt in a wealth of tomes on subjects ranging from Diaghilev to the Black Panthers and Mario Testino, as well as fiction by Will Self, Martin Amis and Noël Coward. Then there’s the metre-high doll of Keith Richards as Captain Teague in Pirates of the Caribbean with a real Keith Richards voice that says things like ‘Get out of my way, boy’ as you walk past it. Freud and Fox’s worlds join with the Rolling Stones guitarist: they both met Richards before they met each other. As well as writing White Mischief, the glamorous tale of philandering and murder in colonial Kenya, later made into a film, Fox helped Richards craft his autobiography; they met in the 1970s when Fox interviewed Richards for The Sunday Times. Freud met him in Italy in her twenties, when she was studying fashion in Rome (he was a friend of her boyfriend of the time, the eccentric playboy Prince ‘Dado’ Ruspoli). Richards commissioned a coat from her on the strength of some of her drawings he’d seen; her old Seditionaries boss Westwood, who was spending time in Italy manufacturing her Mini-Crini collection, helped her out with the coat’s teething problems. There is no doubt that the Fox-Freud residence resonates with the maverick spirit of art, literature and good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll. We end up in the sitting room where two Chardin maids, etched by Lucian from nights he spent in the National Gallery, look down on the robust-looking drum kit. Freud confides that she’s been rehearsing ‘Ziggy Stardust’ because ‘there are lots of drum rolls in it’. ‘It’s great when you do something that – you know, when you’re an adult and you think, “Oh, I can’t do that…”’ She hesitates before adding: ‘Since both of my parents died – that’s one thing that’s happened – I’ve just thought, “I don’t care if I’m bad. Fuck it. I’m just going to do it!”’ For details of the Hoping Foundation, visit www.hoping foundation.org. May 2012 |

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the Jubilee – was inspired by a recent date: ‘I had just visited the Tower of London. My wife, even though her father is English, grew up in Holland, so a lot of British culture is new to her. It’s a rather lovely thing to say: “Have you ever been to the Tower of London? No? Let’s go!”’ In the book, Ben and his granny are caught in flagrante in the Tower by the Queen herself (she later flashes her knickers during her Christmas speech in homage to Gangsta Granny’s rebellion). ‘I’ve become a bit of a monarchist,’ he says. He was invited to Buckingham Palace in 2006, after swimming the English Channel for Sport Relief, and again last year, after his dramatic 140-mile, eight-day swim along the Thames, which raised over a million pounds. ‘Whatever is happening in the country – the world – the Queen is a symbol of continuity and unison.’ Royal anecdotes ensue in a more typical Walliams vein: ‘I met Wills and Kate at an awards ceremony with my mum. He just kept on saying, “You must be very proud of him, Kathleen” [brilliant lock-jawed Wills impression]. I said to Kate, “Oh, did you see the picture in Heat magazine of me dressed as your sister?”

penchant for women’s clothes: ‘My sister used to dress me up as soon as I could walk,’ he says unequivocally. ‘We had a little dressing-up box, and she used to dress me up like I was a dolly in a bridesmaid’s dress and a fur hat. I never thought it was anything unusual…’ He trails off. ‘Anyway, that’s how I ended up in Little Britain dressing up as Emily Howard [the unconvincing transvestite] and all the other women, because that was always in me. You don’t have to be gay to be camp. In Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant puts on Katharine Hepburn’s frilly bathrobe and answers the door saying, “Oh, I’ve come over all gay!” Men used to wear wigs and make-up and it was a sign of masculinity. Look at the New Romantics or Bowie in that “Ashes to Ashes” period…’ Still, the childhood anecdote reminds me somehow of Grayson Perry, and the complex dynamic of self-degradation and selfaffirmation that he gleans from his ritual outings as Claire. Is there any element of humiliation or self-flagellation that plays out either in his masochistic endurance swims or his frumpy female roles? ‘Well, yeah. Hmm. I never saw it as that, but it’s difficult to psycho-analyse yourself,’ he muses. ‘Getting a laugh is the best feeling in the world. Even if you completely degrade yourself to get one, you’ve still got a laugh, so that’s still a very good thing.’ Either way, Walliams is refreshingly frank about this, as well as his past struggles with self-loathing, insomnia and depression (he sought therapy during the filming of the first series of Little Britain. On his 2009 Desert Island Discs appearance, he requested a gun as his ‘luxury’ – just in case). ‘For me there’s a kind of manic depression that happens where there’s been a manic phase of creativity or performing. I mean, even just being in front of the audience of Britain’s Got Talent, I do have this manic energy, and that has to be counter-balanced with something… That’s just the way things are. There have been these manic phases, and there have been these depressive stages. It does colour the way you see the world. Everything is grey. You have to get good at spotting it.’ But presumably he has coping strategies these days, I say – not only the hottest wife on the planet, but his Herculean charity feats (swimming the Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar in 2008, and the Thames, despite contracting ‘Thames sickness’, with a monomaniacal commitment to his cause): ‘I do like to have something that I’m striving for. But I remember feeling pretty low after I’d done the Channel, because you’ve worked so hard for this goal, and then after everyone has jumped up and down for a day, it’s like, “What’s next…?”’ Walliams has won numerous accolades for his natatorial achievements, including being invited to be ambassador to the British Olympic swimming team, and earning his very own swimmingrelated sobriquet from Elton John and David Furnish: ‘They call me Esther Walliams [after Esther Williams, the 1940s Olympic-level swimmer turned Hollywood starlet]. You know you’ve made it when Elton and David give you a drag name. All their friends have one.’ Whether in the guise of Esther or David, Walliams is still surprisingly starry-eyed about some of the people with whom he now circulates, none more so than the man Lara Stone credits as being the third person in their relationship: Mr Tom Ford. And the admiration is mutual: ‘I can spend hours reciting Little Britain quotes, and have seen every episode many, many times. Desiree DeVere always has me in stiches,’ the designer tells me. ‘When I first met David, I was very surprised to see the deeply sensitive and caring side of his nature and that he is, indeed, quite serious.’

‘They call me Esther Walliams. You know you’ve made it when Elton and David give you a drag name. All their friends have one’ And she said, “No.” And I said, “You’ve got to Google it when you get home.” I don’t know if she did, but it was a very absurd conversation to have with the future Queen.’ He erupts in an impromptu giggle. This is David Walliams: teetering curiously on the border between thoughtful and absurd.

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o explore further the Walliams psyche, we must await his upcoming autobiography, which he is currently scribing along with a television adaptation of Mr Stink, his tale of a shy, bullied girl called Chloe who makes friends with a tramp, which won the Children’s Award in the inaugural People’s Book Prize in 2010 (the story was conceived while playing opposite Michael Gambon in Pinter’s No Man’s Land in 2008: ‘His voice was in my head when I wrote it,’ he says). But his fiction is already revealing. Walliams deals as adeptly with Chloe’s anxiety about her weight – he himself was a chubby child – as he does with the urge of 12-year-old Dennis to secretly cross-dress as Denise in The Boy in the Dress, which was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize: ‘I was naturally effeminate as a boy. I would play Wonder Woman in the playground, spinning around and pretending to be Lynda Carter, fighting for your rights in her satin tights. When she ran, her boobs bounced up and down. I fancied her, but I also wanted be her.’ Walliams grew up in suburban Banstead, Surrey, the son of Kathleen, a lab technician, and Peter Williams, a London transport engineer (he altered his name for Equity). As a result of his innate campness, he was anointed with the moniker ‘Daphne’ for his entire school career. ‘It was like a word for gay. Homosexuality is the biggest fear in an all-boys school.’ And so Walliams began to play up to his reputation. ‘A person becomes a comedian so that they can control the laughter directed at them, so that people are not laughing at you, but with you.’ His first theatrical role was as a Jacobean queen in a play at school, but this was not the real genesis of his

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Walliams’ eyes brighten when I mention the designer: ‘Everything I’m wearing right now, except for my watch and my boxer shorts, is Tom Ford. Even my bag is his.’ (He does look immaculately dapper.) ‘He’s a genius. He is very handsome. He’s aspirational as well. You sort of want to be like him when you meet him. His stores are so beautifully designed, you want to move into them.’ Indeed, Walliams had the interior of Supernova Heights renovated according to photographs of Ford’s own LA home. But despite such imperial fashion connections, Walliams’ taste in friends remains as high-low as his cultural references, as the quirky cross-section of guests at his Shoreditch House wedding reception – from Mario Testino to Barbara Windsor – attests. ‘There was a moment when I looked up and Dale Winton was talking to Tom Ford… Tom isn’t tanned at all when he’s standing next to Dale Winton.’

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alliams and Stone will celebrate their two-year anniversary this May – doesn’t he ever feel physically intimidated, I ask, by the male models that Stone works with, for instance in her recent Calvin Klein campaign? ‘Lara always calls them “boys”, and she says they’re always eating protein shakes and doing press-ups and sit-ups between shots.’ He raises a brow sardonically. ‘I mean, they’re incredible specimens, aren’t they? But have they swum 140 miles of the Thames? No. Have they ever dressed as a naked black woman on television? No.’ It is hard to believe that the playground Daphne Walliams of yesteryear could have ever imagined his luck. ‘I was good at talking to the girls – I was only really friends with the pretty ones – but I had no idea how to make a move. But when I turned 20, I got my first girlfriend, Katy Carmichael: she was the most attractive girl in university [Walliams attended Bristol University with Matt Lucas after meeting him at National Youth Theatre], and I thought, “Oh well, maybe…”’ Nowadays, he is a more experienced connoisseur of the female species. Is he proud of his wife for helping to bring back curves – more specifically a bust – into fashion and art? ‘For me, breasts have never been out – they have always been in the forefront of my mind,’ he deadpans. ‘I do think there seem to be more voluptuous models out there at the moment. Lara is really sexy, like a siren of the screen. She is halfway between Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot, isn’t she?’ Speaking of fecund forms, Walliams is, he says, unashamedly broody. At 41, his biological clock is ticking loudly – though he recently petrified his nephew by reading the part of a troll in a bedtime story rather too vividly. On this thread, he whips out his iPhone again to show me ‘Bert’, a young border terrier they are picking up on Stone’s return from LA. Well, puppies today, babies tomorrow. Or even ‘gaybies’, as Stone once drolly quipped (the pair are as bonded in humour as in gloominess – Stone has often cited doleful Smiths lyrics to express her state of mind). ‘I am effeminate and Lara is a model, so there will be a lot of feminine energy in that house.’ He threatens to chuckle for a moment. Tom Ford would make the perfect godfather, I suggest. He holds my stare for a second. ‘I don’t know about that,’ he retorts solemnly. ‘But maybe Dale Winton…’ ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ is on ITV1 on Saturday evenings. ‘Gangsta Granny’ (£6.99, HarperCollins) is out in paperback on 5 July. www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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Coverley had walked into Ipswich hospital in pain and found out that she was in the advanced stages of cancer. Freud herself was one of the most painted of Lucian’s many offspring (among them Susie and Ali Boyt, Paul and Lucy Freud and artist Jane McAdam Freud), and she says she doesn’t want to offend her siblings by appearing to ‘own’ their father more than they do. ‘It means so much to me that we all stay close,’ she says. ‘It just depended on the relationships our mothers had with our father. My mother made a big effort to make sure we saw our father. The older we got, the more involved we became with him.’ She only has to share her mother, on the other hand, with her younger sister, the novelist Esther Freud. Bernadine Coverley was the daughter of Irish pub owners who settled in London for a while. She met the fortysomething Lucian in Soho as a teenager, got pregnant and gave birth to Bella at the age of 18. The pregnancy was immortalised on canvas in Lucian’s Pregnant Girl 1960–61. Bella talks about her mother’s ‘incredible strength’: she was a dancer, model and latterly a writer on gardens, who took her children to live in Morocco when Bella was seven (which Esther Freud wrote about in Hideous Kinky), before returning to the UK and putting her daughters through a Steiner school in Sussex (‘Mum was totally self-made. So lovely. So beautiful as well’). She brings out a photo she has recently acquired of a grinning 15-year-old schoolgirl with black hair and a 100-watt smile. ‘I love this picture of my mother because she just looks so up, so excited about life.’ Freud offers to take me on a tour of the rest of the house, including the slightly rickety upstairs. She is looking forward to when Maria Speake of Retrouvius begins the final revamping phase on the top floor (new bedrooms all round and a new office for Fox). Fox’s influence can also be felt in a wealth of tomes on subjects ranging from Diaghilev to the Black Panthers and Mario Testino, as well as fiction by Will Self, Martin Amis and Noël Coward. Then there’s the metre-high doll of Keith Richards as Captain Teague in Pirates of the Caribbean with a real Keith Richards voice that says things like ‘Get out of my way, boy’ as you walk past it. Freud and Fox’s worlds join with the Rolling Stones guitarist: they both met Richards before they met each other. As well as writing White Mischief, the glamorous tale of philandering and murder in colonial Kenya, later made into a film, Fox helped Richards craft his autobiography; they met in the 1970s when Fox interviewed Richards for The Sunday Times. Freud met him in Italy in her twenties, when she was studying fashion in Rome (he was a friend of her boyfriend of the time, the eccentric playboy Prince ‘Dado’ Ruspoli). Richards commissioned a coat from her on the strength of some of her drawings he’d seen; her old Seditionaries boss Westwood, who was spending time in Italy manufacturing her Mini-Crini collection, helped her out with the coat’s teething problems. There is no doubt that the Fox-Freud residence resonates with the maverick spirit of art, literature and good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll. We end up in the sitting room where two Chardin maids, etched by Lucian from nights he spent in the National Gallery, look down on the robust-looking drum kit. Freud confides that she’s been rehearsing ‘Ziggy Stardust’ because ‘there are lots of drum rolls in it’. ‘It’s great when you do something that – you know, when you’re an adult and you think, “Oh, I can’t do that…”’ She hesitates before adding: ‘Since both of my parents died – that’s one thing that’s happened – I’ve just thought, “I don’t care if I’m bad. Fuck it. I’m just going to do it!”’ For details of the Hoping Foundation, visit www.hoping foundation.org. May 2012 |

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B.986;4 EDITED BY AJESH PATALAY

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IRONS SCION Max Irons, who stars in the new film â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Red Riding Hoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. To read more about the exciting young actor, turn to page 100 www.harpersbazaar.co.uk

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WHOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S AFRAID OF THE BIG, BAD WOLF? Max Irons as Henry and Amanda Seyfried as Valerie in the new film â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Red Riding Hoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;

promises to be as rife with smouldering teen eroticism as the hitherto dominant vampire franchise. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I heard that Robert got chased down the street in Paris in his car before the film even came out,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; says Irons. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I really donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think it will come to that for me.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He talks almost apologetically about his time as a model, which culminated in Burberryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2008 ad campaign. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m living in this basement bedsit with no fucking kitchen and barely a window. My phone goes off and someone says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Do you want to be shot by Mario Testino with Kate Moss?â&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He fidgets uncomfortably. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;That campaign has haunted me. It has a smell of â&#x20AC;&#x153;youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll do anything to be in front of the cameraâ&#x20AC;?.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Hardly; his brief track record â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a nomination for 2009â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ian Charleson Award for

Wallenstein at Chichester Festival Theatre, followed by his London stage debut in Tom Stoppardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Artist Descending A Staircase â&#x20AC;&#x201C; already hints at his acting credibility. For now, Irons is adding the finishing touches to The Runaway, a six-part gangster series set in Seventies Soho, airing on Sky One this month. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I get to wear flares and woollen tank tops. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got really shit hair though,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; he says, wincing. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I had to have a perm.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; And with that, he pulls out his tobacco, deftly crafts a cigarette (â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m gagging for oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;), before sauntering off into Dean Street. A roll-up is the only thing Irons need be desperate for right now. To read an extended feature on Max Irons, visit harpersbazaar.co.uk

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ax Irons and I are playing the guessing game; in this case, over the identity of the lycanthrope killer in the 25-year-old actorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s debut feature, Red Riding Hood, a gothic thriller (still under wraps) adapted from the fairy tale. So, who is the werewolf? Is it him, Red Riding Hood â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (Amanda Seyfried) betrothed, or the woodcutter she really loves? The suspiciously hairy wolf hunter (Gary Oldman)? Or, in an implausible twist, Julie Christie, the taleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sagacious matriarch? â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I could be the werewolf,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; he chuckles, over a drink at Blacks club in Soho. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a werewolf suspect!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Those carved cheekbones and distant jade eyes are a clue to his genetic inheritance as the youngest son of Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a heady cocktail that Red Riding Hood director Catherine Hardwicke, the woman responsible for casting Robert Pattison in Twilight, clearly responded to; her reinvention of the wolfish fairy tale


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