This article is published in number 17 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until April 27, 2021
“One day, a long time ago, I was shopping with a friend. Suddenly, a boy lifted her skirt. So, in front of everyone, in the shop, and he walked away quietly on the escalator. I was baffled, but I didn’t follow him or contact the security of the shop. Nothing at all, I stayed there, still, because in a sense it is as if we were all addicted to similar images. On the other hand, don’t they show us students from the brotherhoods in the cinema and on TV who bring girls to parties to get them drunk? It’s usually the fun part of the story and we all laugh about it, in a kind of silent complicity towards the abuse. ‘
Carey Mulligan she shrugs and shakes her head, as if she were still incredulous at that memory, during the Zoom link in front of the home library (a farm surrounded by greenery in Devon, Cornwall). And in the white striped sweatshirt without a trace of makeup, she looks so petite and even younger than her 35 years.
He is telling A promising woman, the most personal project of her career (in a few days she could win the Oscar in the best actress category). The film, in contention for five statuettes and soon in Italian cinemas, is produced by Margot Robbie and written and directed by “a newcomer” of exception, Emerald Fennell (who in the series The Crown plays Camilla Parker-Bowles). It is the story of Cassie, a former medical prodigy student who leaves her studies after a trauma, which she tries to make up for by hunting down sexual predators by often pretending to be drunk, high, or compliant before teaching them a lesson.
“But be careful,” warns the actress, “she is not moved by revenge, but by love and loyalty: she has an extreme sense of friendship and puts herself in danger on purpose, after having removed everyone from herself in a total self-destructive process. I’m not like that, I tend to avoid conflict and never go to bed angry without clearing up a fight. And, to be honest, I don’t even feel so bold. As women we tend to come to terms with the abuses suffered personally, but if they involve our children, sisters or friends we go on the attack and become truly ferocious to defend those we love ». Part of it is character – she explains – but a lot depends on the education received: “As children they tell us that we are physically vulnerable, and in fact I don’t know that a man starts running if he is in a dark alley at night, as I did instead I. I lived in a very quiet neighborhood in London, yet millions of times I found myself practicing tricks that made me feel safer, like pretending to be on the phone to avoid unwanted attention. “
She learned them as a child and will also teach them to her daughter Evelyn Grace (five and a half years old), while for Winfred (four years old) she already knows that everything is different: “The world is a more dangerous place for a woman and this is a fact. As a mother, my duty is to provide context and information, to instill a sense of security and self-confidence, even though I know I can’t prevent them from being hurt. ‘
In the meantime, like all parents, he is struggling with distance learning: «I’m at home and I’m trying to keep them busy, while my respect for teachers grows. After just one week without school, I was already exhausted. I’m not complaining, mind you, because I live outside the city and can enjoy the freedom of nature, but they are too young to understand what is happening in the world. And in the meantime, time flies, so instead of thinking that I have put a year of my life on standby, I enjoy their childhood as much as I can ».
Are you able to carve out time for yourself? «The most I have done in this period, and it already seems like a lot, since everyone has been recommending it to me for twenty years, was to start practicing yoga, an activity that I now love but for which I am really denied, at least as much as dancing. In fact, the most traumatic scene in the film is not about violence, but about dance. Obviously I love music and at my house you just listen to it every single day (she is married to Marcus Mumford, singer of Mumford & Sons, ed), but I found myself having to sing a pop song in a pharmacy on the third day of shooting in front of everyone. I’m not one who lets go easily and I tried to avoid it, but nothing to do … and so I took courage and told myself that in fact the first two stanzas of Toxic they are really strong, they create a visceral reaction and it is a shame that this genre is dismissed as if it does not matter, because Britney Spears is really the best in her field ».
After this take, the rest was downhill: “And to think that Em was about to give birth,” she adds. “She proved that you can be nine months pregnant and do everything as and better than before. If only the industry allowed it, of course: pre- and post-natal care for female workers is still lacking, which in many cases limits the career advancement of women. Hollywood puts on us standards of unrivaled perfection, letting appearances be judged, not talent. I hope that the gender gap will be resolved in the next 10 or 20 years “.
In the past she stated that she was always paid as much as her male colleagues and that she had made her voice heard, perhaps because, she confesses, “I don’t think I’m good at anything but acting.” He hates seeing himself on screen and when, during a flight, he tried to watch Drive (the 2011 film in which she starred opposite Ryan Gosling), she almost hid from the flight attendant because she was too ashamed. Of one thing, however, she is very proud: «I use my popularity in favor of charitable causes such as Alzheimer’s Society (the grandmother suffered from it, ed) e War Child UK, who are in dire straits at the moment. We live in difficult times, but I remain optimistic looking at the daily heroes who spend themselves on the front line and show the good side of humanity ». He must do it – he concludes – especially when he chooses projects such as A promising woman, which instead eviscerate the darkest part.
Hands down In the running for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Carey Mulligan stars in A promising woman, the story of a girl who pretends to be drunk to expose the bad intentions of men.
FOTO Rory Payne
Cathy Kasterine report
Pag. 38: abito, Proenza Schouler. Make-up Emma White Turle @The Wall Group. Hair Dayaruci@The Wall Group. Art direction Phil Buckingham. Set
design Louis Gibson @ D + V Management. Produced by Priardi Nava Munoz.
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