“It’s just a wonderful, all-embracing film that takes you right into the nitty-gritty psyche of these three people and their nuances, their needs, their desires, their selfishness, and their narcissism,” says Lesley Manville about the unusual relationships at the center of her new film “Phantom Thread.” “The world is a minefield of relationships … Who wants a regular film about boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl falls in love, they have children, happily ever after? It’s not like that, is it.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Manville plays Cyril Woodcock, the sister of renowned fashion designer Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis), who falls in love with Alma (Vicky Krieps), a young woman who upsets the balance of the Woodcocks’ lives. To develop a familial rapport with Day-Lewis on-screen, “We certainly created the atmosphere of their childhood … We knew that they were a brother and sister who were very dependent on each other for all sorts of support and care, and that that had continued through their lives. They were very co-dependent.” In addition to filling in the biographical blanks, Manville and Day-Lewis “just became friends so that we could then, when it came to creating Cyril and Reynolds, take that friendship, that ease with each other that we had, and that humor that we had between us, and relocate it to Reynolds and Cyril.”
And even though Alma represents a dramatic disruption in their lives, Cyril “admires” her too “because she’s not frothy and lightweight,” Manville explains. “She’s a heavyweight woman, and I think in a feminist way Cyril appreciates that side of Alma … I love it because I think it’s like all relationships. You really don’t know what goes on privately with two people behind closed doors. Nobody knows. And what the film does is take a little bit of a microscope into that relationship.”
Day-Lewis has said he’s retiring from acting now after “Phantom Thread.” Manville didn’t know that at the time, and “I don’t think even he was aware of it” while making the film. “It’s a shame,” she says. “He’s a great, great actor, and I feel lucky that I got in there before he decided to make it his last.”
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