November 22, 2020  •  Leave a Reply Articles, Interviews, Magazines, Photoshoots

In ‘Pieces of a Woman,’ the actress inhabits a new kind of role—one that will not only garner Oscar buzz but also provoke important discussions around loss and motherhood.

When Vanessa Kirby was 21, she did a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, outside Manchester, England. She played Helena, in love with Demetrius, who is in love with Hermia instead. “All these schools used to come in, loads of kids,” she says. “They were always super bored or fidgeting.”

During her monologue at one performance, speaking desperately of a love that has been thwarted, someone dropped a box of candy down the stairs, and they rolled all over the stage in front of her. “And I was like, ‘Oh, God, fucking hell. What am I doing wrong? And then I saw this girl, off to the left. And she was, I don’t know, 13 or something, and she was listening to every word,” Kirby recalls.

“And there was something in that little girl that wanted to hear what Shakespeare was saying, via me … perhaps she was feeling something,” she says. “So I just did it to her.”

Kirby, 32, is magnetic, even on Zoom—there is a way the texture of the screen shifts, gets more lively, when she comes on any screen—and watching her recount this story felt like a glimpse into how she is able to channel discomfort into performance.

She is on the verge: both of breaking out into that coveted carries-the-movie, Oscar-nominated category of actor and of figuring out the kind of actor she wants to be. She’s tried out action franchises—she’s currently filming the next two installments of Mission: Impossible, continuing the role of the White Widow that she originated in 2018’s Mission: Impossible—Fallout, and starred in the latest Fast & Furious film—and is best known for her devastating performance as Princess Margaret in the first two seasons of The Crown. It’s her latest role, though, in Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s first English-language film, Pieces of a Woman, which premieres on Netflix in January, that promises to propel Kirby to that next tier. Her portrayal of Martha is being touted as a breakthrough; the term “Oscar-worthy” has been uttered countless times.

We met over Zoom on a Saturday: She was in London; I was in New York. It was my morning, her early afternoon. We both wore turtlenecks. I planned to take notes as we talked, but instead I leaned forward, rapt. Both of us gestured a lot. Pieces of a Woman is about motherhood and grief. The film, with a screenplay by Kata Wéber, stars Kirby and Shia LaBeouf as a couple whose child dies during a home birth; it assiduously, unflinchingly chronicles their struggle to come to terms with the loss.

The opening scene of Pieces of a Woman is a nearly 30-minute-long take of a labor that ends in the baby’s death. The scene is painful, gorgeous, terrifying—moments of it feel like horror. Kirby says that each time they finished filming, she and her fellow actors felt a sort of ecstasy, running out into the snow—they hugged and screamed; Kirby sobbed after the first time through. “It was completely surreal because we were there,” she says. “We were just there. We were witness to something.”

Read the full article/interview in our press library.

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