Vicky Krieps Gave Hollywood One More Try. It Wasn’t So Bad.
RAMBROUCH, Luxembourg – Four years ago, Vicky Krieps seemed destined for Hollywood stardom. The Luxembourgish actress had emerged from near obscurity to star in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread”, in which she played the tormented muse of an authoritarian fashion designer played by Daniel Day-Lewis. Her performance – vulnerable, prickly, anguished – garnered critical praise and suggested the arrival of a major new talent.
Then Krieps seemed to disappear, turning down a slew of Hollywood offers, including a big budget action flick, and instead taking smaller roles, mostly in European arthouse films and on German television. .
“I needed two years,” she said recently, sitting in the courtyard of the 200-year-old family home in the Luxembourg countryside. The experience of being in the public eye, she said, “was almost traumatic.”
This summer, however, the 37-year-old Krieps is back in the limelight, starring in two films at the Cannes Film Festival this year (Mia Hansen-Love’s Bergman Island and Mathieu Amalric’s Hold Me Tight). And in a move that marks the end of her self-imposed Hollywood exile, she also stars in M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant new horror fable, “Old,” which hit US theaters on July 23.
Krieps, who is self-deprecating and warm in person but prone to serious tangents about art and nature, said the notion of “old” presented in so many theaters stressed her out.
“I carry this huge paradox: I became an actress, but I don’t want to be seen, it doesn’t make sense,” she said. “I’m really afraid people will recognize me.
In the film, which also stars Gael García Bernal, she plays a mother of two who, on a family vacation, finds herself trapped on a beach where people are aging at a dramatically accelerated rate. Her character, who sees her children grow into adulthood within hours, is the film’s emotional anchor, and Krieps has received widespread praise for her performance.
In an interview with Zoom, Shyamalan said he had been a fan of the actress since “Phantom Thread” and had been drawn to her “classic dignity”. He added: “It’s so beautiful to have someone of your caliber who is so vulnerable at the center of a genre film.”
Her decision to make the film, she said, stems from a confluence of factors. In the midst of the pandemic, she had given a lot of thought to the nature of time: “I felt the film might tell us something about how we as people live in a construction of time and time. space, going from A to B, but really going from ourselves. “
But she also said that she has increasingly come to terms with the anxieties that emerged with the release of “Phantom Thread”. By that point, she said, she had approached her career – and her life – without a big plan and was unprepared for promotional demands and industry attention.
Krieps, who now lives mainly in Berlin with her two children, said his desire for erasure was largely rooted in his upbringing in Luxembourg, a small duchy wedged between Belgium, France and Germany. The size of the country is conducive to modesty, she said.
Self-proclaimed “dreamer” teenager, after high school, she left Luxembourg for South Africa, where she spent a year as a volunteer teacher for children with AIDS. While there, she had the revelation of pursuing an acting career in a damask moment involving a low mountain that she glimpsed from a road. “I had a deep connection to this mountain and its energy,” she said, “and I decided I wanted to be someone who can capture that feeling and release it, maybe on a stage. . “
After enrolling (and leaving) a theater school in Zurich, she tinkered with her life, mostly small roles in German television and cinema. Then one day she received an email with a video audition request which she misinterpreted on her phone as an invitation to try out a student film project. “I was sitting on the bus and had just started an interesting conversation with a stranger – you know what it is,” she said.
She sent a submission, recorded on her phone, and it wasn’t until she got a call from her agent warning her that Anderson had liked the video that she realized it was for. “Phantom Thread”.
The film’s press tour, she said, had been a culture shock. She had never had a credit card and when she arrived in Los Angeles, she was surprised to find that she would need one to check into her hotel. “I said, ‘I’m going to go to a campsite, I don’t care’. (The hotel eventually gave in.)
Then came her media training: “She was a woman telling me what was wrong with me and not to say my opinions,” she said. “I walked through LA in shock thinking, ‘Oh my God, do they want me? “”
This experience cemented his decision to escape international scrutiny by returning to Europe. His work there included a supporting role in “Das Boot”, a German television series and, more recently, “Hold Me Tight” in French and “Bergman Island”, Hansen-Love’s long-running English project. This film, which will be released in the United States on October 15, centers around a couple of filmmakers (played by Krieps and Tim Roth) who visit the Swedish island of Faro, where director Ingmar Bergman once lived.
Hansen-Love, a French director, said in a telephone interview that Krieps had a “very European melancholy” and compared his acting style to that of Isabelle Huppert.
In “Bergman Island”, the character of Krieps has a series of encounters that make her question her role as mother, partner and artist. Krieps said her character’s search for an identity has also helped her overcome some of her own reservations about Hollywood.
“This woman is trying to find a solution to the question ‘Who am I? And ‘What is real?’ The answer is: there is no real, ”she said, adding that this awareness had pushed her to become more open-minded about the projects she wanted to pursue.
Krieps said she would be ready to make more big-budget American films in the future, although her post-pandemic schedule is already busy. She recently completed the filming of “Corsage”, a German-language biopic of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and her upcoming projects include an adaptation of “Three Musketeers” and a film by Belgian director Philippe Van Leeuw, in which she will play a State Border Agent, her first onscreen attempt with an American accent.
Her return to American cinema, she added, was a bit like closing a book she hadn’t opened. “I had thought, ‘Phantom Thread’ is going to disappear again, people will forget about me – but I can’t undo this movie,” she said. “It’s like undoing who I am.”
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