W Magazine’s Best Performances Issue – Part One

Posted on January 09, 2023

W Magazine’s first issue of 2023, Volume 1, Best Performances hits stands February 7, 2023. The highly-anticipated Best Performances portfolio is an annual feature curated by W’s editor-at-large Lynn Hirschberg and highlights stars at the forefront of cinema, from industry legends and icons to those whose phenomenal talent is ushering in a new wave of stardom.

Paying tribute to the actors who left us in awe over the past year, this year’s Best Performance issue features Cate Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh, Zoë Kravitz, Michelle Williams, Brendan Fraser, Taylor Russell, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Eddie Redmayne, Ana de Armas, Jonathan Majors, Margot Robbie, and Austin Butler across fourteen unique covers photographed by Jamie Hawkesworth and styled by W Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Sara Moonves.

In total, the issue salutes 32 actors who offer thrilling emotion and depth from the most explosive, glory-filled, and introspective films of the year. The pandemic is, we hope, increasingly behind us, but these performances are a reminder that art can emerge out of darkness and we are beyond excited to share these gorgeous covers with you.





Discussing the kissing scenes in Babylon“…Nellie kisses a lot of people. I actually improvised a kiss that wasn’t in the script. We were doing a party scene, and Nellie goes up to Brad Pitt’s character and Katherine Waterston’s character, and I was like, “Fuck it. I’m just gonna kiss them and see what happens.” They were a little bit shocked. I don’t know if it made it into the movie.”

On crashing parties: “Oh, I’ve crashed heaps of parties. I crashed a wedding once, just to see how that would be. I had a great time.”





What he learned from flight instructors while preparing for his role in Devotion“It’s important not to panic in the air. Be calm, be focused, call your mom, and please sleep. Sleep hygiene. Everything is better when you sleep. And oh god, I love to sleep. When you train hard, you have to sleep hard. You call it the growth chamber.”

His experience in taking up boxing for Creed III: “I’ve always loved boxing. Now I have a different appreciation for it. The conditioning is different, the mentality is different. My coach, Rob Sally, said to me, “People fight the way they live.” And that makes watching boxing that much more interesting. It’s very much like acting. You can learn a lot about the fighter outside the ring in watching a fight in detail. Same way everyone learns a lot about actors, or believes they know a lot about actors, from watching their work.”





The film that makes her cry: “Father of the Bride always makes me cry. Not when they get married, but when he sees her as a little girl and she’s like, “Mommy, Daddy, I met a man in Rome and we’re getting married.” But I’m so sensitive now that I can barely watch anything with children or animals.”

On being starstruck: “To me, the biggest celebrities in the world are, like, Pete Davidson. Or when Ariana Grande was in my last film, Don’t Look Up, I was photographed with her and I fully look like a radio contest winner. I would be starstruck if I saw Jessica Simpson. That would knock me over.”





On Todd Field writing Tár specifically for her: “Todd sent me this script, and I inhaled it. He wrote it at the beginning of the pandemic. Todd was a musician first, so there was a musical quality to the script, and not just because it’s set in the classical music world. It could just as easily have been about an architect or a painter or a writer—anyone in a position of top institutional power, and the way that being in that position gets in the way of their sense of self and ability to relate to people.”

Her thoughts on Greatness in the arts: “We respect and understand it in sports people. But if you talk about it in more ephemeral art forms, everyone’s got a different version of what’s good or excellent. In a creative job, you have to be quite brutal with yourself and disciplined. And when, like a conductor, your instrument is a human instrument, how do you maintain that sense of rigor and brutality? It’s a complicated thing, balancing being a musician, an artist, and also being a human. I’m trying to learn how to be a human. [Laughs]”





The first thing she auditioned for and booked: “My first film was Una Rosa de Francia. I was still in school, and my school was very upset about that—because if you’re working, obviously, you’re not going to school. But I got away with it. And it was an incredible experience. I was very sad when filming was over, because you think you’re going to see these people forever, and then all of a sudden, the Spanish crew flew back to Spain, and the Cuban ones I never saw again. So I was devastated — I learned very quickly that that’s just the way it is in cinema.”

On her first kiss: “I won’t say what age, but it was in Cuba. I had a lot of freedom—we were able to play on the streets and go to the beach and not come back home until dinnertime. And then we’d go out again until we had to go to bed. On one of those days, I was playing in the park, and we went behind some trees and we kissed.”





Being a fan of movie mysteries: “I always loved Mickey Spillane and Agatha Christie. As a kid I loved Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot and Albert Finney also. I loved the event factor of those movies and that the stars were suspects. Everyone seemed equally guilty and innocent.”

On his character’s Benoit Blanc’s style and daring ensembles: “I wanted him to be a combination of Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and Jacques Tati in Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday with a dash of my superbly dressed agent, Bryan Lourd. Most important, no matter how outlandish the outfit, I wanted to make the clothes feel organic. I recall that for Goldfinger, the director, Guy Hamilton, told Sean Connery that he should go home and sleep in the gray suit that he wears in the film. He wanted Connery, as James Bond, to have the kind of natural elegance that comes from living in the clothes.”





What it’s like to date when you’re known as an action star: “Sometimes I meet people who don’t really know what I do, which is kind of refreshing. And then those who know, they’re like, “Oh my God, this is great—you can be my bodyguard.” And I’m like, “No, dude, you can be mine.”

How Everything Everywhere All at Once came into her life: “The journey started with the Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert It took two geniuses to write one great script, and that’s what they did. They poured their heart and soul, everything they didn’t get a chance to make, into this one script. When I was given the opportunity, the one request I made with the Daniels was they had to change the name. Initially, she was called Michelle Wang.”





[Photo Credit: Jamie Hawkesworth for W Magazine]

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