ALL ABOUT GILLIAN:
ACTRESS, ACTIVIST, FASHION DESIGNER, AUTHOR, MOTHER

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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.

You’ll see. 

Keep reading.

Click below to read more of this interview for free.  If you like it, please join our community of subscribers for only $20 a year.

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DIGITALIZED DIALOGUES: THE OTHER QUEEN VICTORIA

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Asa Butterfield photographed by Leon Mark for i-D magazine.

ASA BUTTERFIELD

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.

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Photo by Marco Grob

THE CHAT

STEPHEN SONDHEIM TALKS TO DIRECTOR DOMINIC COOKE, WHO DIRECTED THE RECENT REVIVAL OF "FOLLIES" AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE IN LONDON

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Photo from Göteborg Film Festival

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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.

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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.”

David Hockney and I at Glyndebourne in 1978.  “I’ve started painting much more freely, and faster,” he once told Sir John Mortimer.  “I think it’s working in the theatre that did it. You know what the Glyndebourne scene-painters said about my The Magic Flute? They said they had to wear sunglasses to paint it.”

Hockney: “The greatest drawing ever done is by Rembrandt. It’s in the British Museum. A family teaching a child to walk. Universal.”

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.

BEFORE GOOGLE

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Seal - born Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel in Paddington - as a schoolboy.

STARS IN BLACK TURTLENECKS

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Skin - born Deborah Anne Dyer in Brixton - as a study for a 3-D portrait sold by Turbosquid for 3-D graphics.

SOME JOY

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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.

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Pritchett by David Levine

WHO SAID IT: V.S. Pritchett or V.S. Naipaul?

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Naipaul by David Levine

THE DAILY DIVE

HERE ARE MY DAILY POSTS ABOUT POLITICS AND CULTURE. AND MY META-MEMOIR. SMALL-TOWN HUDSON. SMALL-TOWN NEW YORK. SMALL-TOWN LONDON. THIS IS WHERE WE ARE ALL A SMALL TOWN TOGETHER. WELCOME TO SESSUMSMAGAZINE.COM'S NEWEST FEATURE.

Guest Columnist

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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.

BARNET, ENGLAND - MAY 04: British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Finchley and Golders Green Conservative Association on May 4, 2018 in Barnet, England. The Conservative Party have retained Barnet council, a key target seat for the Labour Party in yesterday's local elections. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Monthly Memo

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.

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Meta-Memoir

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.

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Travel

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.

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