Poppy Corby-Tuech may be a modern actress, but she exudes old Hollywood glamour whenever she steps in front of the camera.
When Poppy Corby-Tuech first graces the silver screen in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, she immediately evokes images of the silent film era. Her character, Vinda Rosier, is silent but watchful. Rosier is a devoted follower of Gellert Grindelwald, and her presence as his doting yet menacing sidekick is intriguing to behold. As Corby-Tuech explained during our conversation, she drew inspiration for the character from cats—by mimicking their quiet, calculated movements, she’s able to convey a multitude of details about Rosier without uttering a word.
Though Corby-Tuech does speak in The Crimes of Grindelwald, it’s her mannerisms and movements that trick the audience into thinking they’re watching a film from the past. A tilt of the chin or an arched eyebrow convinces you that Rosier is up to no good, and Corby-Tuech enjoyed being able to express herself creatively in this way. She’s gearing up for the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, where she’s reprising her role as the villainess Vinda Rosier. This continued exploration of her character allowed Corby-Tuech to tap into several facets of interest, as she was able to work closely with costume designer Colleen Atwood to create memorable outfits for Rosier. The French-British actress also had the opportunity to film thrilling new content alongside Mads Mikkelsen, and she continues to explore the Wizarding World through the lens of a mysterious wallflower.
Watching her performance is like catching a glimpse of Greta Garbo or Hedy Lamarr in action. Corby-Tuech says so much by saying so little—captivating with a glance, a carefully placed touch, a scheming smile.
1883 Magazine spoke with Poppy Corby-Tuech about the process of filming Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, her background in fashion, her passion for old Hollywood starlets, the joys and pitfalls of social media, and much more.
It’s good that you guys have a premier to look forward to for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. That’s exciting!
Yeah! Fingers crossed. I think it’s this Friday (8th April)
So you’ll have to figure out what you’re wearing and get all glammed up and do the whole night out.
I’ve just met a really great stylist and I’ve started working with her and we are going to hopefully go through some looks this week.
I can’t wait to see what you end up wearing because you have such a cool sense of style.
Oh, thank you! It’s mostly black. [Both laugh].
Same! We’re both wearing black right now. I’m also wearing black jeans, though you can’t see them. So, that’s the life.
Yeah! That’s the life. The prospect of wearing something other than just tracksuit bottoms and leggings is quite exciting.
Just a little something different! This is a good segue actually, because you studied fashion journalism in school, right?
Yeah, I did!
That must be interesting to be involved in the selection process in terms of what you’re wearing for premieres. Do you get a say in that?
It’s funny, I went through a phase after going to London College of Fashion and I assisted various stylists and I worked for Dazed & Confused Magazine. And I was also freelancing across different publications for a couple of years and was super into it. It’s what I’d been into for a really long time. And then I went through a phase of maybe becoming a little bit cynical of the industry, and not as impassioned as before. And I discovered film and acting and pursued that more. And actually, I get more excited by fashion these days than I have for a long time. I don’t know if it’s the escapism that feels like quite a relief over the last couple of years. There’s always been that sort of superficial side that can be difficult to reckon with, but there can also be…fun, and light relief, and it’s something that can be lovely to partake in as well. So, I quite enjoy that side of things a bit more at the moment, if that makes sense?
It does! It’s a tough thing, and I’ve tried to be more mindful of my fashion choices and I’m thrifting things more as I understand the impact the fashion world has on the environment, and human rights issues as well. I think you’re right that there’s an element of escapism to it. It’s almost like a form of art where you can look at it and it’s visually appealing and it takes you out of the world a little bit.
Yeah, it totally is. Getting dressed is something most of us do on a daily basis, and putting thought into how we dress is a form of expression and frivolity and fun, but at times it feels superficial. But it can be a super creative outlet, and it can have so many layers and so much depth to it as well. I mean, the politics of fashion is a whole other thing. That feels, thankfully, like something we’ve all become a bit more mindful of especially over the last couple of years, and looking at things like climate change and looking at disposable fashion and looking at the levels of abuse that go on, not just in this country, in the Western world, but in manufacturing as well. I don’t think clothes just apply to people who are into fashion. It’s for all of us, it’s such a first basic way of expressing ourselves.
It’s definitely a key part of expression and personality, and it’s one of the easiest ways to show your preferences. I think it’s always good to try to view that positively. But like you said, it’s such a loaded thing, so it can be difficult to toe the line on that.
I think it’s normal to go through phases where that stuff feels important and when it doesn’t. Fashion has always been linked to your taste in music, your taste in sub-genres, maybe your film influences or artists who you’ve grown up really loving. So, that aspect of it I really love. I think I get more fashion inspiration from musicians and films and people of the ‘80s than anything else.
I love the ‘80s, that’s one of my favorite time periods for music, movies, fashion, everything. I love all of it. I think it’s just such a refreshing, totally unique time period where you can look at it and it’s not like anything else. You couldn’t mistake it for any other decade.
It was so weirdly liberated. I mean, you had this super yuppy culture that was going on with a lot of money in the States and over here. But then there was just this complete abandonment, this freedom and this gender fluidity with everything that was going on at the Blitz Club, and the New Romantics, and with punk and new wave. It was so interesting! I don’t know if it’s possible to miss an era that you didn’t live in the first time around, but I do.
I definitely think you can!
Right? I wasn’t really around, but I kinda feel nostalgic for it.
I feel the same way. I look at the freedom they had then…you didn’t have a cell phone, you didn’t need to be available 24/7. I have such an issue with managing the accessibility and availability that’s required of you in the modern age. But if there was a day where you wanted to tune out, in the ‘80s, you wouldn’t pick up your phone and they would leave a message on the voice machine and you would be like, “Oh, I’ll call them back in two days.” I would love that.
I think with that, you also didn’t have the level we have today of self-scrutiny. I read something the other day and it was using this term self-optimization. It’s insane. But I guess that comes from just being available at all times, being so aware of eyes on you at all times, carrying what is essentially a recording device and camera on you at all times. That made us hyper-aware of who we are and how we project ourselves. It’s fascinating. It must have been a lot freer in those days, for sure.
I would love to be able to regain that sort of freedom, but I know it’s probably something that’s going to trend more in the direction we’ve already been going. And I’m sure that also must be tough for you to balance, right? Because you’re in this public sphere where there’s an expectation of posting to Instagram and being accessible to people because of your profession.
It’s a conversation I have with people constantly, and not just people in my industry, but everyone. Everyone is trying to manage exactly that. How much of yourself do you give away? Because the internet is forever. As we’re seeing now, people, things, topics, get resurfaced years later. I think we’ve become so used to putting stuff on there without any thought of the consequences. And that really weighs on my mind, and it has weighed on my mind a lot more recently as well, because I suppose going through promotion for a film, and wanting to promote it, really. I want to share this cool thing that’s happened with the world, while also being aware of that boundary. With social media, you have to figure out what you’re comfortable giving away and what things you want to protect, and it differs for everyone. I think I’m quite old school and I like the idea of keeping my private life and my politics to myself. Instagram’s the only social media I’m on, but that feels almost like Tumblr back in the old days.
I still use my Tumblr! [Both laugh].
That makes me really happy!
That’s my happy place after a long day. I put some music on and I scroll through Tumblr.
Is it still alive and kicking? Are people still using it?
They are! But I also similarly felt like that. I have an Instagram mainly because of work, but I keep my private life to myself. I don’t post about my relationship, I don’t post private details. That’s one of the things I still love about Tumblr is the anonymity of it. I think it takes away the pressure of social media because you’re posting something because you like it, you enjoy it, you’re not looking at who’s viewing it or liking it or sharing it. I’m trying to apply that mindset with social media more now.
I appreciate that mindset hugely because that’s definitely how I like to view social media. I think that’s probably how I engage with it too. And when I look at other people’s, it’s very much in a visual way. It’s a difficult thing, and I suppose it changes over time, and you can have certain experiences that put you off it, or that might make you engage with it more. The thing I grapple with is…if I give a lot of myself away on social media, does that then allow people to own me in a way I won’t ever be able to get back? That’s the boundary. Because there is often a sense of celebrities opening up their world and then feeling partly owned because of that by an audience. And maybe not necessarily in a cynical way, but I think once you cross that line, it’s hard to take it back.
It sets the expectation for other people of, “Well, she was really accessible this one time.” So then they want that all the time. I’m sure that’s especially tough for you in a position like this where you’re in this huge movie franchise. Obviously you want to engage to a certain extent while also protecting yourself and making sure you’re comfortable with what’s being shared.
I do find it really hard. It actually gives me total anxiety. I have to be very mindful of how much I partake in it for that exact reason. Before doing Fantastic Beasts, I’d never been in anything remotely on this international scale with this fanatical fan base. And they can be the most amazing, beautiful thing. I mean, the artworks I get tagged in, and the cosplayers, the people that dress up like Vinda, and the amount of love and passion is incredible.
It is the most passionate fan base you can be part of. I know you’re a Harry Potter fan, so it must be interesting to now enter that fan base as someone who was originally part of it.
Yeah, I mean, now it’s been around for 20 odd years, which is crazy. There’s a lot of the Wizarding World out there, and I think it’s captured people’s imagination hugely. And it’s funny because I remember going to the premiere of our last film about three or four years ago. And there was a guy and his daughter there, and his daughter must have only been about six years old. And he was like, ”Do you mind if I get your picture?” And I was like, “Of course!” And he was like, “I read Harry Potter to my daughter when my wife was pregnant. And now here she is a six year old and she’s a huge fan.” And she dressed up as Hermione to come to the premiere, and it was the cutest thing in the world. When the books came out, I suppose, lots of people of all ages read it, but now seeing that kind of cross generation thing happen, it’s wild. It’s incredible. And it’s surreal all at the same time.
And your character isn’t in the original Harry Potter books, but she is part of a family that’s at the intersection of that. What’s it like to be part of the greater wizarding universe through that connection?
When I went into it, I knew her name was Vinda Rosier, but I didn’t know anything else about her. I found out more about her from people on the internet going, “You must be related to Bellatrix Lestrange because of her family name.” Because these books, these Fantastic Beasts books, aren’t based on preexisting material, they were written as an original screenplay. So, there are links to the Harry Potter world, but these are entirely new characters. There’s scope for them to be connected to a world that we’re familiar with, but you don’t always know. The way the films are made is quite secretive. Even when you’re casting, you don’t necessarily get a lot of information. And so that stuff transpires as time goes on, sometimes many months later. But yes, it’s a fun experience to be part of this world!
I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, and I also grew up reading them. I remember when the first ones came out, and my mum would always take me and my brother to the movie theater to see the new movies when they came out, too, so it’s always been such a huge part of my life. I particularly love the Fantastic Beasts movies because I love the time periods and the fashion and the locations for the movies. So, I’m really looking forward to seeing the new one!
I mean, it’s called The Secrets of Dumbledore, so you can expect a bit more Dumbledore in the story! Which is great if you’re into Harry Potter. It does have a bit of that sense of adventure like the Harry Potter films, but it’s still kind of dark and epic in scope, but it’s got that Harry Potter feeling that’s really lovely to revisit.
I know it’s probably silly to say, but I love that the Fantastic Beasts movies are really magical. I love seeing the creatures and this whole new adventure, and seeing what wizarding life is like outside of Hogwarts. I know your character is obviously in a very different arc than some of the other characters. As a viewer, you’re trying to figure out why she’s on Grindelwald’s side and why she firmly believes in his message. How is that to play for you? Because as an actress, you know Vinda is on the wrong side, but she believes she’s on the right side of things.
In a word, she’s fanatical. It’s almost bigger than Grindelwald. She’s a believer, she’s hardcore. It’s almost bigger than a religion to her. It’s interesting to bring it into the 1930s when we started this film franchise in the ‘20s. In the first film, they did New York, and then we went to Paris and London in the second film, and we get a bit of that, as you say, outside of Hogwarts real life, versus obviously the magical wizarding world we’ve seen previously. But also, you do get this sense of the real life of the 1930s, which is so beautiful. It’s one of my favorite eras in terms of decor and interiors and fashion. It’s visually stunning, and to get to do that and also have the fantasy wizarding world where we’ve all got wands, we’re all doing magic, is great. Because it grounds it in something quite real. Sadly, I didn’t get to go to Hogwarts. [Both laugh].
I wanted to ask you about your wardrobe in this film, because it’s so beautiful.
It’s amazing! And we’ve got Colleen Atwood, who is the costume designer. She’s the best of the best. It’s funny looking back to all the things that she’s worked on, to see quite how many influential movies she has been involved in. She’s made so many iconic costumes over the years, like Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman costume.
Oh my gosh! Absolute perfection.
I can’t top that! But one of my favorite things was working with Colleen. She’s a complete genius when it comes to knowing everything technical about fashion and how to fit and how to tailor and how to make things look absolutely beautiful on you. Her influences, her mind, her eye for detail, the way she sees things is unlike any other person’s brain I’ve ever encountered. You could be looking in the mirror at your costume that she’s fitted on you and she’ll zone in on things you might have a feeling of, but no sense of being able to articulate. I loved working with Colleen. One of my favorite experiences of working on those films has been working alongside her because I think she’s so, so clever.
That must be amazing if you grew up being a fan of her costuming and how she was designing things. Were you able to collaborate with her and have a say in the ensembles you were wearing for the film?
Yeah, especially going into a second film. Having had the experience of meeting on the first film I did and working with her, you then come into this, and I had a bit more of a sense of who Rosier was and what might be cool to wear. And there was one thing I thought might be quite cool. I’d seen Dark Shadows, which is a Tim Burton film, and Eva Green looks so good in that movie. And she’s got this blonde peroxide wig, and there’s a scene in there where she’s in a pinstriped suit. And I was like, “That’s so great.” And I said to Colleen, “It’d be really fun to wear a trouser suit.” And she was like, “Yes, it would.” And then she made me one!
It was really fun and it was super, super beautiful. It features in a scene that got a lot of air time for me, so I’m really glad we saw that suit. At that period in the ‘30s, a lot of women wore gowns and dresses, and it’s fun with a character like Rosier who is a henchwoman, an evil sidekick, but also dresses amazingly. To be able to give her something quite masculine and tailored and modern, was amazing.
I love that! I’m going to be looking for this specific outfit now when I watch the movie. [Both laugh]. That’s incredible though because I feel like it definitely fits with Vinda’s character. She’s following Grindelwald because she wants this independence and she wants this new world he’s talking about. So, it’s almost like your fashion is reflective of that, because Vinda doesn’t want to be pinned down by these standards of what women can and can’t wear.
One of the really fun things about doing these films is that they’re set in the ‘20s or the ‘30s, but because it’s fantastical, you do get a bit of leeway and you get to be creative when it comes to fashion. So, you can dress period appropriate, but still have nods to more modern things. Or you can mix the influences up. So, having a tuxedo in the ‘30s, sort of the trouser suit tuxedo thing, it felt super modern but it also felt really appropriate for the time. You can just be like, “Who cares if it’s not correct.”
I feel like if there’s this weird beast in the background, you can wear whatever you want.
Yeah! And actually, the crowd actors look so good in this film. And I wish you could see them more at the forefront because the work that Colleen and her team did on the crowd is stunning. The detail and the mixing of influences—some people have really punk rock hair, and some people have sort of an ‘80s look, or a ‘40s look, so it’s fun.
I’m excited to see it anyway, but I’m definitely going to be noticing these little details more now that you’ve mentioned this.
There’s a lot of attention to detail. It’s amazing.
Especially something on this scale, because you need to make sure everything is perfect in the background and everything looks cohesive.
And Colleen does that. It’s amazing because she absolutely has her eye on every single person in the room, regardless of whether they’re deep, deep background or they’re up front. She will check everyone’s costume to make sure it fits perfectly.
I can’t even imagine trying to be like, “I have to fit 200 people for clothes today.”
And beyond! I mean, it’s quite unusual, really. You would have other teams of people to take care of that, but she’s invested in the whole vision.
I’m glad I asked about the wardrobe because these are such incredible details.
Everything is devised, designed, fitted and made like couture. It’s incredible. Nothing is off the rack, you know? Everything’s made to you and your character, and that’s the really amazing thing.
That must help in terms of getting into character, right? When you’re physically transformed and you have her clothes on, and her hat and her hair, does that help you get into Vinda’s mindset more?
And her shoes! Especially because I have been given some really high heels for this role, and sometimes you don’t even see them. Sometimes they’re completely covered up by a coat or a pair of trousers, but it gives you a certain stride and a body shape. In these films, I’m not a huge talker. I’m a character who’s often on the periphery of things and who doesn’t have a huge amount of dialogue. And a lot of my character really comes from body language and from movement. That all comes from costume and makeup, and then I’m trying to own it, feel it, and translate that without words.
That was one of the things I noticed and loved about your performance in Crimes of Grindelwald, because you conveyed so much with a look, which is a testament to your acting and what you’re capable of. Because you can literally be in the background looking at something and you’re like, “Oh, she’s up to something.”
Thank you. It’s fun being a character on the outside of things. Because you do get to observe as an actor, but also as a character. It’s always about the eyes, but certainly with Rosier, I sort of based her mannerisms on cats and that feeling of watching silently and waiting for the moment to pounce.
You definitely see that! Because with cats, it’s always a little eye scrunch or small movement that lets you know they’re up to no good.
They’re not good at pretending to hide their emotions, either. Or maybe they do, but there’s no care in terms of hiding them.
I know this is the first time Mads Mikkelsen is in the movie as he’s taking over the role of Grindelwald. What was that like for you to find chemistry with him? Because your character is very interlinked with his and is very devoted to his character, but this is the first time you’re working together as actors.
It was great with Mads. We were so, so lucky. I was really lucky to have someone like him step in and at such short notice and with not a huge amount of prep time, and to just be so good in the role, and so lovely to get on with as a person. It was so collaborative with Mads. I don’t know if you know this, but he’s an excellent dancer. He trained as a dancer, actually!
I didn’t know that!
Once you know that, you can’t unsee it in his work because he has a super gracious way of holding himself. But he has that sense of being in a company and being in a troop. Obviously the circumstances were tricky, and it was difficult in a lot of ways, but having someone like Mads step in and be the lovely person he was made it easy. I did get to spend quite a lot of time with him and we just jumped straight in. It was easy because he’s a very easy going guy, and so lovely.
I’m glad he was so collaborative and kind, and that it made it easier for you to find the connection you needed to be like, “Okay, I’m devoted to this person.”
“I really, really love you and I’ll do whatever you say.” [Both laugh].
He made it very easy, and I’m sure he felt the pressure probably more than any of us did, in a way. But it was a pleasure to work with him.
He’s very talented! Now I’m going to rewatch all of his movies and be like, “Oh he is a dancer!”
Have you seen Another Round? It’s the Danish movie he made.
I haven’t seen it yet!
It’s really great! And there’s a sequence at the end where he dances.
I’m hoping there’s going to be a secret dance sequence in Fantastic Beasts.
There are certain moments where you find yourself in a position to do that. Where are you in America, by the way?
I live in Florida! I live close to Universal Orlando where the Harry Potter world is.
Have you been?
I have! It’s very immersive, which I love, and I highly recommend it if you haven’t been. I’ve been to London once and I went on the Harry Potter studio tour there and loved it, but with Universal it’s a totally different experience. You can literally walk down Diagon Alley and go to Ollivander’s and get ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s.
I haven’t been to the one in London even though we were filming in Leavesden, which is where the Harry Potter one is. But because I was working, I never got to go there, but I’d love to go to the Harry Potter World! It sounds incredible.
You can take the Hogwarts Express! One side of the park is Diagon Alley, and the other side is Hogsmeade. So, you literally get on at King’s Cross Station and it looks like Platform 9 ¾. They have rides and shops, and you can drink Butterbeer. It’s so cool.
Do they have chocolate frogs?
They do! You can go into Honeydukes and they have all the candy they had in the books. They have the Weasley shop and everything inside is authentic. The detail is insane.
Is it the actual set or they’ve just recreated it?
They’ve just recreated it for the most part. On the Hogwarts Express, the fabric they use for the chairs is the actual fabric from the movies. I think they took certain elements of things, but it’s definitely more recreation.
Well, I know on our last film they were talking about bits of our set being used for the Harry Potter world down the road. So, they would transport actual things from the set, and costumes as well would get whisked away! They wouldn’t let anyone keep anything because it was all being used for archives and all the studio tours.
How interesting! I know they’re expanding down here as well so there will be a Fantastic Beasts world similar to the Harry Potter one, which would be cool because then your picture would be everywhere.
It’s kind of nuts! I had just not been involved in anything remotely on this scale that has that outside participation in it, it’s wild.
This must be so surreal for you?
It’s funny because these stories [Fantastic Beasts] aren’t based on existing books. So, even if just press shots or trailers come out, it’s out in the world and it’s not just yours anymore. And it’s not this secret thing you’ve all been working on, it belongs to the outside world, and people then dress up as characters in it. Even going to the premiere of Crimes of Grindelwald, last time people were dressed up as my character and the film wasn’t even out yet. People had recreated the costumes from looking at press shots and making them their own! It’s so lovely. That novelty never wears off. Even when I was filming [Secrets of Dumbledore] and stepping onto the set for the first time and wearing the costumes, it was incredible. It never wears off.
That sounds amazing. Speaking of Harry Potter, do you know which Hogwarts house you’re in?
Slytherin! But I did take the test as Rosier, I didn’t take it as me.
I think sometimes Slytherins get a bad rep, but there are good qualities to Slytherins as well. Even if they’re known for being an evil group!
Evil’s always more fun. Isn’t it?
[Both laugh]. It keeps things interesting!
They get great outfits. They get to say the things everyone else is thinking. I mean, I love Bellatrix, and she’s Slytherin through and through. She’s the most amazing character. Have you taken the test? Do you know which house you’re in?
I’m Ravenclaw! I thought you’d also be Ravenclaw. [Both laugh].
I’ll take the test as myself after I get off the Zoom from you and I’ll find out and let you know!
I would love to know! I love this world because it has always felt like such a form of escapism. When you’re going through adolescence and things are strange, it’s nice to be able to retreat into a different world for a while.
We grew up with the characters. Harry and his friends grew up as we all grew up, and his first kiss and his first dance and being bullied at school and losing parents, and dealing with those themes, are all relatable. It’s funny watching the first film now because everyone looks like babies!
I completely agree! It’s funny because I can re-watch the movies now and look back on that time in my own life and be like, “Oh, I remember when every boy had the same haircut as Harry and Ron in Goblet of Fire.”
Yeah! I’m hoping for that letter from Hogwarts to come through the post any day now!
I think Fantastic Beasts is doing a great job of carrying on that magical element of escapism while still dealing with really complicated human emotions and real-world difficulties.
It’s weird, when we were filming this time last year, and we’d been filming for some months already, but the Capitol Hill riots were happening and I remember we were filming a scene where Grindelwald was rallying his followers. And I was just like, “This is so weird.” Because these real-life themes echo in these films and vice versa. I don’t think that was ever the intention with these films, but you can’t help but see parallels in them and in the politics around us. You can tell big, epic, moral stories in these kinds of films and we absolutely do that with this one, so it’s been interesting.
I’m excited to learn more! I had read an interview you did with Square Mile where you mentioned that Hedy Lamarr was a big inspiration for you, and I’m also obsessed with her. Would you ever want to play her in a biopic?
Do you know what’s weird? There have been a few biopics of her doing the rounds recently. I was sent a script for one, and I had been having a conversation about her the day before with someone. It was really weird! I was with a friend, and we were talking about the Golden Age of Hollywood and movie stars, and I was like, “Well, my favorite was always Hedy Lamarr.” And he was like, “I’ve actually got this amazing quote from her.” And he played me his audio of her, which actually they have at the end of Bombshell, the documentary that they did on her, I don’t know if you’ve seen it? It’s really great.
I have! It’s phenomenal.
It was really moving to listen to the clip. And then the next day I got an audition to play her in a biopic. It went a different way, but it’s kind of strange when those things happen. Obviously, it wasn’t the right time, right place, but maybe at some point, it’ll work out. Because I think when you connect to people on a deeper level, there’s a kind of resonance there.
She was such a fascinating person. I’m intrigued by the idea of you auditioning to play Hedy because I think you look like her!
God, thank you! I don’t know about that [laughs]. I like how she seems like a really modern woman for someone who lived a hundred years ago.
So weird to think it was a hundred years ago!
Yeah, it’s wild! But the choices she made and the way she navigated her life were so modern and it was a tricky time to be a woman. She not only did that with grace and poise, but she also went and did all these incredible things in science and technology. She was involved in submarine detection technology, which kind of then turned into Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology. She was also involved in plastic surgery and technological advancements, so I find her endlessly inspiring.
I feel like it’s one of those things where people don’t know that she was scientific and intelligent, or that she was really directly involved in these things. I’m very interested in that period of Hollywood history in general.
But also the whole studio system! The contracts, people being owned by studios, and not only that, but in one of her first films, Ecstasy, she was nude on screen.
Which was scandalous back then! A huge deal.
Yeah! It’s wild to think what that was like at the time. Because we still have these conversations, even just looking at the Pam and Tommy show that came out last month. It’s forcing us to look back on what happened in the ‘90s with Pamela Anderson and that sex tape and to analyze it through today’s eyes.
It’s definitely a different perspective on a situation that at first glance, we wouldn’t realize is so difficult or that it had as much of a traumatic effect on Pamela as it did. Hopefully, we’re trending in a good direction of being more empathetic and of seeing things through the lens in which they should be viewed.
And also seeing that people aren’t just one thing. Just because you’ve done a nude role in a film and you become a sex symbol does not mean you don’t have a brain, or that you’re incapable of being a scientist. This shows the complexities of women in a way we are only just now starting to do. And we’re just starting to tell those stories. But having lived through the things she did, at the time she did, and to still make the choices she made, I think that’s incredible.
It’s always interesting to see how people get on board with these things when it gets back in the limelight because of a biopic, or a new show, or a documentary, or a biography. I feel like that about Marilyn Monroe. People usually say, “Oh, she’s just the Blonde Bombshell,” but no one really knows that she was incredibly intelligent, she was witty, she loved to read, she loved to cook.
Absolutely. She became an icon, but she became a two-dimensional icon. I think she’s so fascinating. I was reading about her relationship with both Kennedys the other day.
I grew up in Massachusetts, so everyone was, usually, very supportive of the Kennedys and wouldn’t hear anything against them. It’s kind of ingrained in your DNA there, but their situations with Marilyn were quite interesting.
Where are you from in Massachusetts?
I grew up in a little town outside of Boston! You learn about the Kennedy history pretty early, but it’s interesting as an adult to see the flip side of that, like their situation with Marilyn. I learned as an adult that they were flawed human beings like anyone else.
I was actually just watching a documentary on Jackie Kennedy. What a life she had. But they focused on the roles she played within the Kennedy family and the experiences she went through.
It was definitely strenuous for her. She’s another perfect example of someone who was not allowed to be a whole person, because she was defined by her relationship with JFK and then by her relationship with Aristotle Onassis. But she was incredible. She was an editor, she was into fashion.
Totally. Have you watched the Netflix documentary on Andy Warhol? It’s a mini-documentary series and it’s fascinating. It’s crazy to think that Andy Warhol was born in the ‘20s and worked in fashion in the ‘40s and ‘50s. And then he started creating his own art as a well-known artist in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and onwards. But the people he met throughout his career, and obviously he painted all these people we’re talking about. He had those famous portraits of Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. There’s some really interesting insights into all those people. It’s well worth a watch. It’s by Ryan Murphy, bizarrely.
Oh really? That’s so interesting! I didn’t know he did that.
It’s not how he usually makes television. Obviously, it’s a documentary series form, but I have found it really interesting. You might like it!
Thank you for the suggestion! I’m absolutely going to watch that. I feel like Andy Warhol was very complex. I love art and I love documentaries, so it’s right up my alley. I appreciate you mentioning it!
Of course! I’ve watched two or three episodes so far. I think it’s four or five in total, but it touches on all those icons. Those people were making interesting art and interesting films and interesting fashion. They’re all sort of involved in the same scene, weirdly.
So, you’ll see the final cut of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore at the premiere, right?
I saw a really rough cut without the finished special effects a few weeks ago, but I haven’t seen the fully finished thing yet!
That must be interesting to see all the effects and to see how everything comes together!
A lot of things in these movies are real, actually, even if they’re special effects. Even if it’s the fantastic beast, they’ll have puppeteers and they’ll have people moving real life, three-dimensional models, and they’ll even have an actor doing the voice of the creature. So, you are not often acting with just a blue screen around you. There’s always stuff you’re not aware is going on. Like, the pictures moving, or things being in the background they’ve created. So, I can’t wait to see all of that because I love it as well. The work they do, the special effects team, and the props department, and the set design, is so beautiful. I love seeing the final product.
I didn’t realize that they had people on set acting everything out for the special effects! That must make it a little easier as an actor, right?
I think in a lot of films, they’ll probably have tennis balls on sticks, but with ours they have people who build models and puppets. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say about the animals in this film, but there’s a creature in this that was very much a puppet operated by two people and then a voice. And Pickett! Pickett is a little puppet. It’s amazing. It’s so, so creative.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is out in cinemas 8th April in the UK and 15th April in the US
Words by Sam Cohen