All women of the producer

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This article is published in issue 50 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until 13 December 2022

Year 2017, the beginning of a spring October. The New York Times publishes the investigation that reveals the sex crimes of film producer Harvey Weinstein. It bears the signature of two journalists, Jodi Kantor And Megan Twoheywho went to the end of the world to unmask the Hollywood ogre.

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Year 2023, half of a January that promises to be unstable: the film Me too (Universal Pictures) reveals the story behind the story, the backstage of that going to the end of the world. It bears the signature of Maria Schrader, actress and director who tells for the first time a Vanity Fair (the interview is on page 50) how it feels to be a prey.

To interpret Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan, both stars not in the blatant sense of the term. The first from Los Angeles, 39 years old, and from London, 37, the second, one alternates character choices with the right films at the right time (The Thomas Crawford case with Ryan Gosling, Revolutionary Road with Leonardo DiCaprio), the other focuses on the projects that are talked about a lot: Shame, The Great Gatsby, A promising woman. A fortnightly friendship binds her, born on Broadway after sharing the dressing room – «the smallest imaginable, perhaps one person could lie down on the floor but not two», Carey Mulligan once recalled – on the top floor of the theater where they performed The Seagull by Chekhov.

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Before talking to them, let’s get the list of things not to say (and not write) in the interview: do not refer to the women Harvey Weinstein abused as “victims” (unless specifically in a judicial context), but prefer “survivors” and “the first to break the silence”; don’t call non-famous people “ordinary people”; pay attention to whether the investigation of the New York Times helped propel the Me Too movement, not create it (in fact, African-American activist Tarana Burke founded it in 2006, ed); actresses can’t comment on Harvey Weinstein trial (by the way the second is in progress, ed) or any
legal issue.

The first to appear punctually on the screen is Carey Mulligan: she has half-updosed hair, a teddy jacket and a pair of forest-green trousers; she is sitting on a white sofa behind which hangs the poster of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, the edition in which she took part with The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann. Zoe Kazan has just become a mother for the second time: «I don’t sleep much… Oh, look, I’m getting milk right now». Hair down, no makeup, a black T-shirt and a pretty mess behind her in an all-white room.

First thoughts after reading the script?

Carey Mulligan: «He’s brilliant. I knew the book (she She Said, from which the film is based and which was released two years after the investigation. The Italian version arrives on January 3 with Vallardi, ed), but I had no idea who Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey were: maybe out of ignorance, maybe because I’m English or maybe because I’m not a regular reader of the New York Times. In any case, I was struck and moved that the plot also embraced the private life of the protagonists».

Zoe Kazan: «I really cried. I felt very emotionally involved and at the same time agitated: I think there is something strangely exciting about witnessing a journalistic work of this magnitude. Me too follows the tradition of All the president’s men (on the Watergate affair, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, ed) and The Spotlight case (the investigation of Boston Globe on Catholic priests
pedophiles of the Boston diocese, ed)”.

CM «All the president’s men it’s an iconic and incredible film, but you never see an intimate moment of Bob Woodward (Robert
Redford, ed) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman, ed), as if they had nothing else to manage in life other than the investigation they were carrying out».

Have you compared a lot with the real Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey?

CM «Both Jodi and Zoe are in New York and therefore have spent a lot of time together in person. I, on the other hand, live in the UK and only reached out to them the month before filming began: with Megan we started our relationship on Zoom, after several technological bungles. They were both open and generous, but graciously stepped aside at one point. I don’t remember which of the two said: “The investigation was ours, the book was ours, now the film is yours”».

ZK «I was struck by many things about Jodi: the ability to listen similar to that of a therapist even during an informal lunch, the extreme attention to every single word she says, and the fact that she knows everyone… the first time we went at dinner and we walked down the street, we kept running into people who would say hello or stop her. And we were in mine
neighborhood, not even his own! She is a woman who knows how to build community ».

Carey, what struck you about Megan?

CM «I couldn’t get into his head, which usually attracts me to a character. You see, I am constantly worried about saying something that might offend someone and in fact I analyze – too much – every conversation and any consequences. I couldn’t fathom how for work she would call a stranger in the middle of the day and say, “I’m pretty sure I know what happened to you a long time ago. It could be the worst thing that ever happened to you. Would you tell me about it?”

What, then, was the point of contact?

CM «We both lived the experience of postpartum depression».

Do you want to share it with us?

CM «I had just had my first daughter Evelyn, but I was also busy with the press business of Suffragettes: premières, interviews, trips to America… A crisis took me by surprise and knocked me out. Luckily, I received a lot of support: from the incredible women who participated in the film and from my husband (singer
Marcus Mumford, ed), who followed me everywhere, backstage, always with our daughter in her arms. Which is then what you see in Me too: the protagonists, despite the family and the house and the personal problems, complete their monumental work».

ZK «When we were shooting I had the distinct feeling that life imitates art: Paul (Dano, the companion, ed) had been taken in the cast of The Fabelmans a few weeks before I was cast for Me too and we started shooting the same day in opposite parts of the country. Our little girl was three at the time and a very elaborate schedule where she and my mom and the nanny would fly back and forth to be with me and with her father for a while. She had also started kindergarten and I missed her first day. I asked Jodi, “Who helps you with the kids?” His answer: “I owe a lot to my parents”. My parents even moved to the East Coast for a few months to make this moment possible! I’m lucky and I don’t take it for granted. In the meantime, however, it seems crazy to be here while I’m losing milk and learning to manage two children!».

What do you fear most as mothers?

CM «I say it for both: social networks. We don’t believe that anyone should see what we do in private. Our children didn’t ask to be actors or public figures, and we don’t want them to have to endure the disadvantages of this kind of life.”

But it is difficult today, for those who do your job, to ignore them completely.

CM «When I started acting 18 years ago they didn’t exist, then I didn’t care about them especially for privacy. It’s different now, it’s true. But I continue to work better away from the internet».

It is equally difficult to be an actress of your generation and not have crossed paths with Harvey Weinstein, even at a party. You said you never met him, not even you, Zoe, who had a small part in a film he was one of the producers of, The Seagull.

ZK “She was really powerful, and I think that’s one of the reasons why so many capable journalists had tried, before Jodi and Megan, to bring her story to light and failed.”

In Me too Weinstein’s character is always from behind. Maybe because Kantor and Twohey didn’t try to bring down a single man but a whole system. Did they make it?

ZK «In our sector the changes have been concrete: on each set there is an intimacy coordinator; before shooting a film we sign a code of conduct and undergo training on harassment and abuse in the workplace».

CM «Last night Jodi and Megan were asked a similar question: basically to take stock. Megan noted that Me Too’s success is often measured by how far a man on trial falls or gets back up. From the series: is he acquitted? Then the movement is over! Does a powerful one go to jail? The movement is alive and well! It’s wrong, Me Too has truly had a global impact, and not just in our sector: legislation is adapting. But it is important that we talk about it again and again. We have taken steps of a few centimetres, we have to grind out kilometres. Zoe and I are neither activists nor sociologists, but we believe that art, e Me toocan propel the conversation».

Have you ever wondered: what if this happened to me?

ZK «I think we all like to think we would have done the right thing, or the bravest thing. Yet, we reiterate, we cannot underestimate how powerful Harvey Weinstein was and how robust the conniving system behind him was.”

CM «In fact, the heroines of the film are the women who came forward to testify. I can’t even imagine myself in their shoes. And I can’t imagine how they found the strength to speak. Me too he is full of courage. And where it has already been screened, he garnered applause intended above all for the survivors present in the hall, which I fear did not happen at the time ».

The protagonist is also the female collaboration, which is never taken for granted. True?

CM «The film shows what happens when women connect and gain the trust of others. Too bad it is still rather infrequent to see two or more in the role of protagonists. They also remain rare ensembles of women and in fact we often feel alone, isolated in a cast».

What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?

CM «I’m about to say something rather cynical: if you can, do something different. I know, it’s not the best! It’s just that I don’t feel in a position to offer suggestions: I come from a privileged position, so even if I hadn’t been successful, I could have counted on my family. Ok, let me rephrase it: don’t try too hard, don’t overdo it».

ZK «I agree with Carey. I am 39 years old, 16 or 17 of work and one certainty: investing in the family and in everything that gives meaning to this life – outside of the profession – has helped me keep me sane. To use a metaphor: give water to different trees».

One last curiosity: you also shared the dressing room on the set of Me too?

CM «We were always in each other’s one».

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Source: Vanity Fair

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