The 2023 ICONS portfolio, photographed by celebrated international photographer Mario Sorrenti, spotlights 14 global trailblazers who are shaping the conversation right now in the worlds of fashion, art, film, music and activism. Led by cover stars Doja Cat, Paul Mescal and Kendall Jenner, who appear on the September covers of the U.S. newsstand edition, available August 29, the subjects haven’t just excelled in their respective fields, but have blown them wide open—and have created space for others to do the same.
The 2023 ICONS are passionate visionaries who captivate us, connect us, entertain us, move us, stoke our obsession, and inspire us with the urgency they bring to their work. They not only speak to this moment, they are also helping to define it and give it meaning. They’ve each made their marks — and some of them might be making history. But most importantly, they all understand what can happen when our eyes, hearts, minds, and energies are all pointed in the same direction.
On the interest in his personal life after his breakout role in Hulu’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People:
“If I’m going to make TV shows like Normal People, there’s going to be an appetite from the world,” he says of the public’s interest in his personal life. “Eighty percent of that is palatable. And then 20 percent of it is devastating.”
“The stuff that hurts is the personal stuff. It’s nobody else’s business and should never be commented on because it’s indecent. And it’s unkind,” he says. “Honest answer, it makes me angry. …It’s the entitlement to the information that people expect that just drives me f**king mad.”
On how early in his career he found auditioning for on-screen roles “mortifying”: “I didn’t buy into what I was having to say,” he offers. “I remember auditioning for some TV show. It was like a two-line self-audition. I was going in for some f**king ridiculous dialogue.”
On his role in this fall’s upcoming film, Foe, Garth Davis’s adaptation of Iain Reid’s book, where Mescal will star opposite Saoirse Ronan in what he describes as a “tired relationship”: “The feeling of being in a relationship and being in love, to me, sometimes can feel quite like a horse with blinders on. That’s such a wonderful feeling,” Mescal says. “The work in this film was finding out what it’s like to be in a tired relationship. That’s not a sensation I’m familiar with.”
Saoirse Ronan, Mescal’s costar in the upcoming film, Foe, on his raw talent dedication: “The first time I saw Paul act was in a commercial for Denny’s sausages in Ireland,” Ronan recalls. “He’ll kill me for mentioning it, but—I’m not actually joking—that was the first time I went, ‘Oh, who’s that guy?’ He’s really good.”
On the reality of fleeting fame: “I feel like the game that I’m playing now is a young person’s game,” he says. “And I’m young, but I want to be able to do this all the time.”
[Photo Credit: Mario Sorrenti for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine]
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