“She kept me sane through this whole crazy past year,” declares actress Rebecca Dayan about portraying famed model and designer Elsa Peretti. in the Netflix limited series “Halston.” Co-produced by Ryan Murphy, the period drama stars Ewan McGregor as the title character, one of fashions most iconic and mercurial figures. Peretti began her career with Halston as a model before ultimately becoming a famed jewelry designer in her own right. In our exclusive video interview with Dayan (watch above), Dayan discusses the importance of getting Peretti’s story right and the significance of playing such a strong and independent woman.
The role required Dayan to learn to speak with an Italian accent, something that didn’t come easily for the French-born actress. Dayan describes how she worked with friends who are native to Italy, sometimes recording conversations with them to help her master the accent. She also relied on more conventional methods, including studying tapes of the real Elsa. “I watched videos of Elsa talking in interviews– which are later on in her life– to get the mannerisms and cadence of her voice and the rhythm of her speech,” she says. “I think that was all essential to finding the accent.”
Peretti turbulent friendship with Halston accounts for many of the show’s most dramatic moments. Despite the fracture of their personal and creative partnership, Dayan believes that the two artists were ultimately good for each other. “I think they both helped each other become who they were supposed to become,” she argues. “I think they were both essential in each other’s growth and development as artists.”
Although Dayan never got to meet the real Elsa, who died in early 2021, the actress says that she feels a connection to her and hopes that audiences learn out Peretti’s work. “I miss her in a way that is very strange cause I obviously don’t know her personally,” she explains. “I think what I’m really proud of is that I get to introduce her and her life and her work to people who maybe have never heard of her. In that sense, it’s a beautiful homage to somebody that’s an amazing role model for young women.”
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