“Big Little Lies” stars Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, and Nicole Kidman cover the February 2017 issue of Elle magazine photographed by Alexi Lubomirski and styled by Samira Nasr.
On the importance of the deplorables: As an artist, I feel more strongly than ever that my job on earth is to tell the stories of the invisibles, and women have been invisible on film for a long time. Women are wives and mothers and girlfriends, but not the center of our own stories. No one’s the good guy; no one’s the bad guy. We all do deplorable things and very honorable things.
On changing beauty standards: Costumes, fashion, it’s all an expression of self, and the more you push the boundaries— the more that people work at creating alternative ideas—the more it changes people’s ideas of beauty. I love that people are going, Yeah, I love a hundred different kinds of beauty; it’s not all the tall, skinny supermodel. Around the world, we have to find the beauty. Now more than ever, we’re looking.
On the political climate in Hollywood: It’s hard to talk about politics in a Hollywood world. I learned that really quickly. But after the California primaries, when Bernie Sanders lost—and I’m not saying he should have won—I knew that Trump was going to win. Because I’d been on the ground for months, and we would be in small cities in America and big cities in America, and Bernie would get tens of thousands of people at his rallies. And then Trump would come and he’d get the same numbers. But Hillary would only have a few hundred people at her fundraisers. It doesn’t matter how much more you have in your bank; if 50,000 people show up to your opponents’ rallies and you only have a few hundred people, it says a lot about what the people of America are ready to do. I grieved all of this months ago, where- as most people are grieving it now.
On the importance of knowing self-worth: When it comes to sexuality, sensuality, self-representation, self-nurturance—America fails in those departments. Women like Nicole [Kidman] trailblaze these paths of self-love and self-recognition. Not from a pretentious place or a greedy place, but from a place of knowing that in order to help those around you, and in order to even be a good actress and a good mother at the same time, you have to know your worth.
On her “political” mother, Lisa Bonet: She kind of stumbled into that world. It wasn’t a conscious choice (a) to be an actress, (b) to be a famous actress, and (c) to be—she shook things up—a model for so many young women. The beautiful thing about her is that she just thought a certain way and lived her life that way.
On Trump: There has to be something positive that can come out of [the election]. Already it’s helped me want to connect with everybody. When I go to the deli or I’m talking to a waiter or my Uber driver and they say, “How are you?,” I’ve answered in an honest way for the first time. Like, “Oof.” Even that felt good. Let’s let everything come to the surface, even with people we come in contact with for a moment. This situation can help us be a little bit more awake with each other.
On shooting sex scenes in “Little Big Lies”: So many of the bruises you see on me aren’t fake. I had to do a shower scene where you would see a lot of them, and I asked them not to put makeup on me. It needed to be pretty raw and out there. There’s certain choreography that you need for a scene like that, so that you don’t actually get your cheekbone shattered, but a lot of the time, they’d say, “Oh, you can put some pads in your back,” and I would say no, because you might be able to see them. I also felt that the nudity was a part of it. It wasn’t about exploitation. It really feeds into their relationship. You really get their sexuality through that.
On her costar Shailene Woodley: She’s politically engaged, which is surprising for someone her age and in her career. She’s very, very responsible. She’s good at keeping her boundaries and standing up for herself. If she doesn’t believe in something, she says so. I could probably have learned from that at her age. I don’t think I stood up for myself in the same way she does. Reese and I have both said it: It’s a whole different world now. When we were growing up, we were far more protected, but we weren’t as empowered. We weren’t connected through knowledge, which is what social media gives you.
Reese Witherspoon: Dress by Lanvin | Bra by Morgan Lane | Ring by David Yurman | Rings by Marc Alary.
Zoë Kravitz: Dress and Bra by Dior | Ear cuffs by Repossi
Shailene Woodley: Top and Trousers by Fendi
Nicole Kidman: Top and Jeans by Saint Laurent
[Photo Credit: Alexi Lubomirski for ELLE Magazine]