Lesley Manville in ‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, ”Phantom Thread” and On-Screen Sexuality


I learned a lot from Mike and his cinematographer, Dick Pope, and I’m still listening to their conversations about how the scene is going to be shot. Dick is so brilliant at understanding the scene and the nature of the scene and the heartbeat behind the scene and knowing how the camera work will serve the emotion of the scene. That’s why he’s great. So I love it. I’m not one of those players who doesn’t care what all the other departments are doing. I love listening to these conversations and that’s one of the joys for me.

Go to ghost wire, there’s a Twitter account that posts clips of Oscar-nominated performances.

I’m not on Twitter as you probably know.

Yes, then I will explain myself. Yours played just when the account started last year. And it went far.

Did it?

Yes, he did. I also noticed, while listening to it, that there is just huge applause from the audience when the clip ends in the cinema. I don’t know if you remember.

There was. I say. I do, I do. Yes, I remember. And they played the tune at the breakfast table with Daniel Day-Lewis and me. “Don’t fight me, you certainly won’t come out of this alive.” [Laughs.] It’s a great clip. And it did, it made a big splash in the audience. So I thought “Yeah! It’s good. It’s pretty good. It was a good day. I met Steven Spielberg. He came over to say hello to Daniel, who I was sitting next to at the Oscars. And I thought, Well, I hope Daniel introduces me to Steven. And Steven turned to me and said, “Hello, Lesley.” Well, my life was done. Steven Spielberg knows who I am. What else could a girl want?

ghost yarn is another incredible craft movie. These suits are amazing, and it’s Paul Thomas Anderson, so it’s going to be amazing. Given your interest in this aspect of cinema, I imagine it was a special and unique experience.

Oh my God. Well, I love Paul. I simply love it. We had a great time. I mean, 14 of the best weeks of my professional life. Just wonderful because he let me do it at the beginning, very non-prescriptive, just let me come on set and start doing my thing. But once you start doing your thing, he sees all these things you’re doing – and then he gets carried away and it’s just the two of you. Both of us cooked with gas every day. It was absolutely joyful and so much fun. I mean, there were times he had to leave the room because he was laughing so much. He just had to get up and walk out because he couldn’t watch the take without laughing.

Did you expect it to be so funny? You see the thrust of the movie and you might not expect you and Daniel to bring to it in that regard.

Well, because there’s a kind of ridiculousness to these characters. Is not it? And if you analyze the situation, there is this brother and this sister and they have always been together. They run this business together. She knows him better than anyone in the world. She gets rid of her girlfriends for him. I mean, it’s this weird setup. Very, very strange. And of course Daniel’s character, Reynolds, is that man-child. And she tries her best not to activate it, but she can’t do much. It’s not, as you’ve noticed, completely comical. You can see Cyril taking off his glasses and doing his hair. And that’s funny in itself because you’re just thinking, “How is this woman going to be more anal?”

You go from there to Mrs Harris, and you see a chameleon, to return to our starting point. It’s quite different.

It’s not just this label that appeals to me. I would be bored otherwise. I would be bored if I only played the Adas of this world, or only played the Cyrils. It wouldn’t be so much fun.


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