Carey Mulligan for The New York Times


Written by Elise on December 24 2020

The NY Times – […] “I know that for a cinema audience, I’m just constantly in period costume,” Mulligan said recently, shrugging her shoulders in an oversized red sweater. She was video-chatting with me from her British country house in Devon, where she had sequestered herself in a darkened music room typically used by her husband, Marcus Mumford, from the band Mumford & Sons. A single, solitary lamp illuminated her, as single, solitary lamps often do with Mulligan.

[…] The film [i.e. Promising Young Woman] is a tonal tightrope walk, and Mulligan is astonishing in it. There is so much about Cassie that an actress might be tempted to overplay — her biting sense of humor, her well-defended soulsickness, the startling lengths to which she’ll go in her mission — but Mulligan makes the character feel achingly real. And sometimes, as if it were as easy as breathing, she can convey all of those warring traits in the space of a single line.

She is so unfailingly truthful and about as grounded as an actress gets,” said Emerald Fennell, the writer-director of “Promising Young Woman.” By casting Mulligan, Fennell sought to steer clear of a more stereotypical presentation of female revenge, which would portray Cassie as “a woman walking down the street in slow-mo with a fire burning behind her,” as Fennell put it.

[…] Does she feel she’s been typecast as a period actress? Mulligan is quick to point out that she’s played at least two contemporary roles onstage over the last several years, in “Girls & Boys” and “Skylight.” But really, she said, it’s just rare for a contemporary movie to come along with an antiheroine as complicated as Cassie, whose mission is righteous even when her methods may be mad.

I never feel like I need to agree with everything that a character does for me to be along with the ride, and we never do with men,” Mulligan said. “Cassie has every right to be as closed down, as abrasive, as unpleasant, as vindictive as she likes, because she’s been through hell. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about her.

Photoshoots & Portraits > 2020 > Session 16 [+03]

[…] “I read the Variety review, because I’m a weak person,” Mulligan said. “And I took issue with it.” She paused, debating whether she really wanted to go there. “It felt like it was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse,” she said, finally.

[…] Mulligan can still recite some of the lines from that review. But she said, “It wasn’t some sort of ego-wounding thing — like, I fully can see that Margot Robbie is a goddess.” What bothered Mulligan most was that people might read a high-profile critique of any actress’s physical appearance and blithely accept it: “It drove me so crazy. I was like, ‘Really? For this film, you’re going to write something that is so transparent? Now? In 2020?’ I just couldn’t believe it.

[…] “We don’t allow women to look normal anymore, or like a real person,” Mulligan said. “Why does every woman who’s ever onscreen have to look like a supermodel? That has shifted into something where the expectation of beauty and perfection onscreen has gotten completely out of control.

“I just don’t think that’s really what storytelling or acting needs to be about,” she said. “Things can be beautiful without being perfect.”

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