The Hollywood Reporter Actress Roundtable 2021


Written by Elise on February 12 2021

THR – A fiesta grandmother. A persecuted jazz icon. A grieving mother. A sexual assault avenger. A pioneering scientist. A girlfriend scorned.

On a mid-December morning, six actresses behind some of the year’s most dynamic performances came together for The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable: Hillbilly Elegy’s Glenn Close, The United States vs. Billie Holiday’s Andra Day, Pieces of a Woman’s Vanessa Kirby, Promising Young Woman’s Carey Mulligan, Ammonite’s Kate Winslet and Malcolm & Marie’s Zendaya. The group, who gathered via video conference from homes and sets in L.A., Montana, Atlanta and the U.K., discussed the business side of acting, their weirdest pandemic habits, the dangerous Hollywood misconception about creative genius — and the fact that “how women’s voices are being received [is] the biggest thing that has shifted.

Press > 2021 > The Hollywood Reporter: Actress Roundable Issue [+02]
Photoshoots & Portraits > 2021 > Session 07 [+01]

What is something people often get wrong about acting?
There’s a bit of an idea, and maybe more even within the industry, that to make something great, people have permission to behave badly, the idea of someone being a creative genius … that they are so inspired, there’s a required level of darkness or unpleasantness that goes along with that, that you need to put up with. And I think people get away with bad behavior because of those reasons. In my experience, some of the most incredible people I’ve worked with have just been also the most delightful. So that’s kind of a common misconception, that there are people who have to behave badly to psych themselves up at work, or that the process is just sort of utterly miserable. I think you can work really hard, but ultimately … the attitude on set should be one of warmth.

What will you do differently in 2021?
The first thing that came into my mind was that I’m going to go to the theater as much as I can, and the cinema. As soon as we can, I’m going to sit around people and watch something together with them. It just shocked me how much I missed that. I watched a medley of musical theater on television a couple of weeks ago, and it just made me cry. I just want to be a part of that. So it sounds quite trivial, but I think that is something I’m looking most forward to.

(read the whole article at the source)

Carey Mulligan for Harper’s Bazaar (March 2021)


Written by Elise on February 03 2021

Harper’s Bazaar – Carey Mulligan is at home, where she’s been – like everyone else – for the best part of a year. The day we speak she’s in her bedroom, in her house in Devon, and through the oddly personal glimpse Zoom allows into people’s lives, I can see a large, neatly made bed, little bottles of cream on a bedside table, the odds and ends of family life strewn around the room.

[…] When everything stopped, Mulligan was just starting to promote one of her two new films, Promising Young Woman, written and directed by the Killing Eve writer Emerald Fennell. Already, the movie had provoked the kind of conversations that reached beyond mere buzz. The story follows Cassie, played by Mulligan, who is on a path to avenge her best friend’s sexual assault by pretending to be drunk in bars, allowing men to take advantage, and then suddenly, soberly, calling them out.

Press > 2021 > Harper’s Bazaar (March) [+17]
Photoshoots & Portraits > 2021 > Session 06 [+10]

[…] “When the script came to my agent,” says Mulligan, “I just didn’t know what to do with it. I thought, ‘Why would Emerald ask me to do this?’” The part, and the movie, were outside Mulligan’s usual territory and the challenge to do something different was irresistible. Mulligan is more often found in period pieces – The Great Gatsby, Suffragette, Far from the Madding Crowd. She tends to play characters more obviously sympathetic, such as the grieving widow, Edith Pretty, in her other new project, a Netflix film called The Dig, which takes place on the eve of World War II and tells the story of the discovery of a haul of Anglo-Saxon artefacts beneath Edith’s land. Edith is the quintessential Mulligan role – slightly pained, wry, and often giving the impression of a buried emotional life communicated through a tiny half-smile, or a flicker of an eyebrow.

[…] Reflecting on her career, Mulligan says there simply wasn’t the opportunity for women film-makers and writers to make such movies when she started. “I certainly didn’t feel any of this kind of activity for the first decade I was working.” In her view, a game-changing moment was Blue Jasmine, the 2013 Woody Allen film in which Cate Blanchett played the title role, winning an Oscar for her performance.

I remember thinking, ‘Oh, there’s loads of brilliant, complex parts being written for women,’” says Mulligan. But after that, things seemed to regress again: “It was like one step forwards, two steps back.” (Also, it was still a film written by a man, one mired in controversy, who has had to publicly deny sexual abuse.) Only in the past couple of years has she felt that the landscape has truly changed, with women writers and directors getting the kind of backing they’ve long deserved and, as a result, creating parts like Cassie. Mulligan smiles at the thought not just of Cassie, but the antics all of these unforgettable characters: “It’s really fun to see people behaving badly.

So, has the process of working with Fennell given her an appetite to do the same – to make a story of her own? “Not right now,” says Milligan, frankly. “I don’t know, it’s funny. If I spend too long on something, or if I see too much behind the curtain, I don’t really want to participate.” Partly it’s the reality of life with small children, and the consequential lack of time. But also, she quite likes just being, as she puts it, ‘an actor for hire’ – turning up, doing her job, leaving. When filming The Dig, she rented a house as close to set as she could and made it home for bath-time most days. But her attitude reveals a little more than just the logistics of juggling family and work; it’s also part of who Mulligan is, and the way she chooses to be.

She talks about enjoying the mystery of jobs: her dream is to be sent a wonderful script, to unwrap it like a present, make the movie and then disappear. She doesn’t want to analyse shots or watch the rushes, has no inclination to be involved in the film-making beyond playing her part. “It makes me feel very self-aware,” she says. “I like being just an actor. I like just showing up and doing my thing and then leaving them to it.

Carey Mulligan and Zendaya: Actors on Actors (Variety)


Written by Elise on January 28 2021

Variety – In “Promising Young Woman,” Carey Mulligan’s Cassie has been knocked off track by the rape of her best friend, Nina. In the aftermath, Cassie has devoted herself to a life of revenge — but it’s getting her nowhere. Mulligan and Emerald Fennell, the writer-director of “Promising Young Woman,” clearly formed a close bond, which she discusses with Zendaya — who has a similarly simpatico relationship with Sam Levinson, the writer-director of her forthcoming film, “Malcolm & Marie” (and the creator of HBO’s “Euphoria,” for which she won an Emmy in September).

In “Malcolm & Marie” — shot in June and July in Carmel, Calif., under COVID-19 protocols, one of the first films to do so — Zendaya plays the girlfriend of a stubborn director (John David Washington), who stays up late on the night of his premiere to argue (passionately) in the style of a Tenne­ssee Williams play, about his art. And in a move that Marie would approve of, Zendaya asks Mulligan about her calling out Variety’s tone-deaf review of “Promising Young Woman” and our subsequent apology.

Watch their full conversation for Variety‘s Actors on Actors, presented by Amazon Studios, above.

Photoshoots & Portraits > 2021 > Session 04 [+01]

Carey Mulligan and Emerald Fennell for Deadline


Written by Elise on January 16 2021

Deadline – Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut Promising Young Woman could have easily been your classic revenge fantasy thriller, with its tale of Cassie, a grief-stricken, silently enraged woman on a mission to expose every last sexual predator in town. Only it’s so much more. Styled like an entrancing ’90s romcom, it wrongfoots the viewer at every turn with its fluffy-sweatered, heart-printed world, punctuated by cupcakes and pop songs. With Carey Mulligan’s blood-curdlingly underplayed performance as Cassie, Fennell leads us down a deceptively pretty garden path to the real truth about sexual assault and society’s turning of the other cheek, in a journey so twisty we never see its end coming. Antonia Blyth meets Fennell and Mulligan to find out how they disguised a truly thought-provoking shocker as a pretty pink love story.

[…] As soon as she’d read the script, Mulligan was on board. “For ages before this film came along, people were like, ‘What part do you want? What have you not done that you want to do? What’s your dream part?’” Mulligan says. “And I couldn’t describe what it was. I would just say, ‘Well, I just know it’s not that, and I know it’s not that. I know it’s not the wife to that great man or the girlfriend who’s a ‘troubled individual’. I knew what it wasn’t. And when this came along I was like, ‘Oh, it’s that. That’s what I want to do.’

Photoshoots & Portraits > 2021 > Session 01 [+04]

[…] Fennell and Mulligan built Cassie through an ongoing conversation. And the result was a character who mostly appears impassive on the surface, like a kind of angel of justice. This was something that required so much internal emotion with so little surface tension. But, says Fennell, Mulligan was thoroughly cut out for the job. “You see what’s happening with so little. She’s got that thing that’s so rare to find, where she does almost nothing, and it’s almost everything.

[…] “It’s so easy to cry on camera and that’s the territory I feel comfortable in,” she says. “But laughing and being free and happy, without ego and self-awareness, I think is much harder. That’s why I have such an immense respect for comedians.

She definitely did not want to dance, and tried the tactic of telling Fennell she didn’t imagine Cassie would do that.

She confesses, “It was definitely me hiding behind my character saying, ‘Oh, Cassie doesn’t want to do it,’ but I think it was Carey not wanting to do it. A great note from Emerald was, ‘Of course you feel that way, but when you’re in love you look like an idiot from the outside. Everyone thinks you’ve lost your mind. You’re so annoying.’ And Bo, from the beginning, God bless him, was just totally comfortable doing it. He says he wasn’t, but he was immediately picking up the [can of] spam. So much of the levity, and so much of Cassie’s lightness and vulnerability, was just because Bo was so hilarious and charming in that role. I can’t imagine a different actor doing it.

But there was also the problem of singing along to Paris Hilton.

The lyrics are quite complicated to learn,” Mulligan says, with absolute seriousness. “There are bits of it that don’t really make sense. It’s like learning a Radiohead song. It’s not a narrative. They are strange bits in it that are… I mean, it’s a brilliant song, don’t get me wrong, I loved it. But it’s not straightforward to learn, so we did have to print the lyrics out and practice them.

Fennell and Mulligan always excitedly planned to invite Hilton to the premiere, and then the pandemic got in the way. “My biggest disappointment of 2020 was not getting to meet Paris Hilton,” Mulligan says. “I hope she likes it.

(read the full article at the source)

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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