ALL ABOUT GILLIAN:
ACTRESS, ACTIVIST, FASHION DESIGNER, AUTHOR, MOTHER
Gillian Anderson, wearing a dress by Victoria Beckham, photographed by Nico Bustos for Pret-a-Porter.
Gillian Anderson is currently starring as Margo Channing in director and writer Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End. For this special LONDON EDITION of sessumsMagazine.com, I met with Anderson in her dressing room before an evening’s performance and talked about, among many other subjects, her counterintuitive take on Margo, originally portrayed by Bette Davis.
“Before meeting Ivo, I did watch the film again and what I was amazed by was how much Davis downplayed the biting lines in the script,” she said. “She often very much lightened and threw away the lines. Obviously, it was a conscious decision on her part, but I thought: Was it a conscious decision about her take on the character and that she didn’t want the film just to turn into this bitch-fest, or was it that she was known as a bitch and she didn’t want it to be hammered home as ‘This is just Bette Davis being Bette Davis’? …
“I had read so much about it being the bitchiest film of all time, so I was so surprised by how un-bitchy it was. I mean, obviously the lines speak for themselves, in a sense. But I was shocked at how gentle she was with it all.”
Gillian is gentle, too – and genuine.
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Britain has exported some of our brightest stars. The latest is Lashana Lynch. Movie audiences around the world have discovered her recently in "Captain Marvel" as Maria Rambeau, the best friend of the title character played by Brie Larson. Television viewers will soon have a binge-worthy crush on her as Secret Service Agent 355 in the FX series "Y: The Last Man." Lynch has also played Tybalt - yes, Tybalt - in "Romeo and Juliet" at The National Theatre, a character who, according to Lynch, is "screaming to be a black woman."
Lashana Lynch photographed by Daria Kobayashi Ritch for Darling magazine.
Asa Butterfield photographed by Leon Mark for i-D magazine.
Tells us about his hit Netflix series "Sex Education" as he begins to film Season Two, opens up about his own sexuality, and explains why Tokyo is his "favorite place on earth" and why he plans to live there someday.
Photo by Marco Grob
Photo from Göteborg Film Festival
PHOTOGRAPHER DAMON BAKER’S BRITAIN
Start with the great Shakespearean actor Sir Ian McKellen, born in Burnley in 1939. Add a bit of 19-year-old Saint Laurent model Lennon Gallagher, son of Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit. For more elegance and more erudition, stir in Edward Enninful, the Editor in Chief of British Vogue. Enninful was the Fashion Director of i-D when he was a year younger than even that Lennon lad in the middle there. Want more? Click here.
BOTH A LADY
AND A DAME
sessumsMagazine.com paid LuPone a visit in her dressing room at the John Gielgud Theatre in the West End before her performance as Joanne in the revival of "Company" for which she won an Olivier Award. We talked about her love of London. Her loathing of Trump. And her art, for she is one of our greatest theatre artists.
Gillian Anderson welcomed sessumsMagazine.com and me into her dressing room at the Noel Coward Theatre before a performance of director and writer Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of All About Eve in which finds a new emotional pathway into Margo Channing. We talked about this production, her role as the sex therapist mother in the hit Netflix series Sex Education, and much, much more. “I quintessentially feel American,” Gillian told me. “That rings true for me. And yet this – London – absolutely feels like home.”
WELCOME TO THE SPECIAL LONDON EDITION OF SESSUMSMAGAZINE.COM
As I launch this special London Edition of sessumMagazine.com, I have been thinking a lot about my first trip to London. I was but 22 – a boy really – when I visited London in 1978 with a former boyfriend and one of my early mentors, artist David Hockney, who took the boyfriend and me to Glyndebourne to see The Magic Flute for which he had designed the sets. David and my boyfriend and I had taken Laker Air back then to get to Gatwick. David looked on it all as a a bit of a lark. But the lark didn’t prove to be that much fun. I remember the flight as being quite crowded and rather airless and really, really hot. But it had also been really cheap. I’m still thankful for cheap flights and now fly Norwegian Air for that reason. It’s better than Laker but can still be a bit of a lark, and a gamble. Two of my last three round-trip flights with the airline were effortless and without stress. The third was a nightmare. But, hey, in-between, no matter what, I was in London, which has become my favorite city in the world.
But back to that visit to Glyndebourne. Brooke Hayward was in our party that day in the summer of 1978 along with her then-boyfriend, I think, a movie executive of some sort from Warner Bros. There was art dealer Irving Blum. And Henry Geldzahler, who had recently left the Metropolitan Museum, where he was Curator of 20th Century Art, to be New York Mayor Ed Koch’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs. I had only been in New York for three years from Mississippi and there I was with this cultured coterie as well as a boyfriend – a boyfriend! – in the countryside of England for a very posh afternoon of opera. Indeed, it was so posh one was expected to wear black tie attire to attend its afternoon performance. During its long intermission, those attending would then sit about the grounds in their finery eating their picnic lunches. It was all so very grand and yet so not-grand in that distinctly dandyish incongruous British way I have since come to appreciate. I told David I didn’t have any black tie to wear, but he said come along anyway and he would make sure not to wear it either to make me feel more comfortable. “You’re with me, Kevin,” he said. “We’re expected to be outré. We’re the artists.”
I’ve been rather outré ever since. This online magazine is, in fact, the most outré thing I have ever done – well, publicly. But I look on it, too, as an artistic endeavor. Glyndebourne was once looked on itself as a rich man’s folly. This site could have, at one point, been looked on as a poor man’s folly. It’s certainly been no picnic, but I do love doing the hard work it takes for each iteration to book the interviews, write almost all the content, serve as my own tech person, and lay it all out as if I’ve always been a Creative Director. So welcome this month. Come along with me. No black-tie required.
Seal - born Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel in Paddington - as a schoolboy.
STARS IN BLACK TURTLENECKS
Skin - born Deborah Anne Dyer in Brixton - as a study for a 3-D portrait sold by Turbosquid for 3-D graphics.
Fatboy Slim - born Norman Quentin Cook in Bromley - as his DJ personae with a mouthful of it.
IN THE COMING WEEKS ...
Mary J. Blige. Willem Dafoe. Laura Linney. Judith Light. Cara Buono. Ellen Barkin. Jason Moore. Annette Bening. Jane Fonda. Parker Posey. Style icon and photographer Lisa Eisner. Writers Armistead Maupin, Julia Reed, George Hodgman, Jesse Kornbluth, Joyce Maynard, Sheila Weller, Mark Childress, Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, Jennifer Raiser, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, and William Norwich.
Pritchett by David Levine
Naipaul by David Levine
JUDY, JUDY, JUDY ...
We met Judy Kuhn in her dressing room at The Playhouse in London's West End before her performance one evening as Golde in director Trevor Nunn's acclaimed re-imagined revival of "Fiddler on the Roof." The production began at the Menier Chocolate Factory before making its West End transfer, and Kuhn talked about her own re-imagined emotional mining of Golde before it was time to go on and mine the character a bit more. Her career has included roles in "Les Misérables," "Fun Home," "Rags," "Chess," "Passion," "Sunset Boulevard," "Metropolis," "Eli's Coming," and "She Loves Me." She played Laura to Shirley Knight's Amanda in "The Glass Menagerie." And she's a Disney diva too, too. That's her voice you've heard singing as the title character in "Pocahontas."
Eliot by George Platt Lynes, 1947. National Portrait Gallery.
Lloyd by Louis Saul Langfier, 1900. National Portrait Galley.
A THEATRE ROUNDUP FROM MY TRIP RECENT TRIP TO LONDON
From the National Theatre to the West End to many of the city’s Fringe Theatres and the ENO and the Royal Opera House, I saw some great performances. Read about them here.
Being in London for the month of March was a needed respite from the Donald Trump and the incessant, exhausting vulgarity and mendacity of the man. But London was just as obsessed with Brexit – which was like watching a production of Waiting for Godot written by Ben Travers.
One of my favorite cover stories I did during my career at Vanity Fair was with Emma Thompson whom I visited at her home in Hampstead on a Thanksgiving day. In this excerpt we talk about Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and Jane Austen – and she takes me on a stroll around Hampstead Heath.
A list of places to eat in London – cheaply, or if you’re on a much bigger budget. Read about my go-to meal, as well as my favorite new hidden-away restaurant that is great place in Covent Garden for a dinner before the theatre or opera or ballet.
JONATHAN BAILEY RECENTLY WON AN OLIVIER AWARD FOR HIS DISTAFF PORTRAYAL OF THE CHARACTER IN STEPHEN SONDHEIM'S "COMPANY" WHO SINGS THE TONGUE-TWISTING DECLARATION THAT HE WAS NOT GETTING MARRIED TODAY. WHEN WE MET IN THE JOHN GIELGUD THEATRE BEFORE THE END OF THE REVIVAL'S RUN THIS PAST SPRING, HE DIDN'T TELL ME IF HE WERE GETTING MARRIED OR NOT, BUT HE DID OPENLY DISCUSS HIS BEING GAY, HIS CLIMB UP MOST OF MT. EVEREST, AND WHY HE WAS HEADING TO SAN FRANCISCO .
Photo by Markus Bidaux for Attitude
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