U.S. Markets close in 5 hrs 47 mins

Daniel Day-Who? Meet Vicky Krieps, the secret star of 'Phantom Thread'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Vicky Krieps as Alma in Phantom Thread. (Photo: Focus Features /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Daniel Day-Lewis’s announced retirement dominated much of the prerelease buzz surrounding Phantom Thread, the celebrated actor’s latest collaboration with his There Will Be Blood director, Paul Thomas Anderson. Now that the intimate period drama is in theaters — it opened in limited release on Christmas Day, with a nationwide rollout to follow on Jan. 19 — maybe we can stop dwelling on its being Day-Lewis’s final film and start celebrating it as the first major English-language showcase for Luxembourg-born actress Vicky Krieps. Anderson reportedly discovered the 34-year-old performer in the 2014 German film The Chambermaid and chose her for the pivotal role of Alma, a quiet young woman who becomes the personal and professional muse of Day-Lewis’s ’50s-era British fashion designer, Reynolds Woodcock, taking up residence in the home he shares with steely sister Cyril (Lesley Manville).

While Woodcock — like the actor playing him — has a dominating presence, one of the joys of Phantom Thread is watching how the balance of power stealthily shifts from him to Alma as their relationship evolves. And, in the process, Krieps herself emerges as the movie’s real star, with her three-time Oscar-winning scene partner almost relegated to supporting-player status. “It’s a funny one, that,” Anderson tells Yahoo Entertainment with an impish grin. “It doesn’t compute with people. They’re like, ‘What do you mean Daniel Day-Lewis is the second banana?’ We’re so used to him being front and center, but he’s so generous in this film. We begin and end the story with Alma, and it’s told through her eyes.”

Not that Krieps hereself would ever boast about reducing Day-Lewis to second-banana status. “I didn’t realize it, you know?” she remarks in a separate interview. “The way it was written, you couldn’t really tell. Then during shooting, I remember realizing that I was working every day and thought, ‘Oh, my God, I think this is kind of Alma’s story!’ Thankfully, Paul didn’t make it only Alma’s story. The way he edited it, it’s Reynolds and Alma’s story, but in a very subtle way.”

Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread. (Photo: Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Krieps feels that part of the reason why Alma’s centrality to the narrative is only a cumulative realization on the audience’s part is that viewers spend much of the movie uncertain about their feelings toward this interloper in the Woodcocks’ carefully manicured midst. “For a large part of the movie, they don’t like Alma,” she says, matter-of-factly. “They’re like, ‘What’s she doing? It’s strange.’ She’s not the typical object of desire, and she doesn’t seem interested that she’s much younger than he is or that he has more money. She exists somewhere in between all that.”

And because her motivations appear opaque, audiences initially endear themselves to Reynolds and Cyril, whose behavior at least follows distinct patterns, as rigid and even cruel as they may seem. It’s only as the movie progresses that we see just how completely Alma understands her lover’s needs and desires, ultimately pushing him to a climactic emotional breakthrough that results in a darkly funny, and genuinely moving, happily ever after. “It’s only in the end that [audiences] really like her,” Krieps notes. “And I think that’s the most interesting thing about the movie. She’s not the typical hero.”

Day-Lewis, of course, is famous for his deep immersion into the characters he plays, not to mention the times they live in. To play Bill the Butcher in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, for example, the actor reportedly trained as a butcher and also spoke like a 19th-century gangster even when the cameras weren’t rolling. And for Phantom Thread, he spent a year studying the art and science of haute couture, even re-creating a Balenciaga dress as his graduation project. While Krieps’s own research wasn’t quite as hands-on, it was equally in-depth. “I knew I had to learn a lot about the ’50s and how people behaved. I had to understand how people could be so patient and restrained, because that’s really not me! I’m so not into fashion, either; I was more like a little tomboy growing up, so I learned what I could about the styles of the ’50s through books and movies.”

One other key part of the actress’s preparation was total Day-Lewis related news blackout. “I wanted to forget everything I knew about Daniel and his films. I didn’t Google him or watch any of his movies. I wanted to be pure and open, like a white sheet of paper, so I could be aware and react to his current [presence].” Nevertheless, Krieps couldn’t avoid first-day jitters when she stepped onto set with her co-star. “I remember being very scared, because I hadn’t met him before, and I was going to meet him in character. But I found this strength in me and made it through, step by step.”

Alma participates in a Woodcock fashion show in a Phantom Thread sequence that Krieps considers pivotal to her performance. (Photo: Laurie Sparham/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Krieps says she felt truly comfortable in Alma’s skin only after shooting the fashion show sequence seen midway through the movie, where London’s elite descend on Woodcock’s home and design studio, where Alma is among the models showing off his latest wares. “I don’t like being looked at, especially not in dresses,” she confesses. “It was really hard for me, and I remember feeling so happy that I made it through the scene and didn’t do anything wrong. That’s when I realized how strong Alma is.”

If audiences are similarly looking for one sequence that helps them unravel the enigma that is Alma, Krieps directs them to an eerie scene late in the movie where she tends to a bedridden Reynolds while he has a vision of his late mother’s ghost observing them silently from the back of the room. It’s a moment that seems directly inspired by the real-life incident that encouraged Anderson to make Phantom Thread: being nursed through an illness by his wife, Maya Rudolph. (In that case, though, no hallucinatory ghosts were present.) More importantly, it’s also the scene where the ever-shifting balance of power between them tilts decisively in Alma’s direction.

Day-Lewis and Krieps in Phantom Thread. (Photo: Laurie Sparham/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

“That whole day was very eerie,” Krieps reflects now. “It was if we were also open to ghosts, and yet there were no ghosts. At the same time, the way Paul wrote the scene, it felt so natural. In order to become Alma, I had to constantly blend out things: blend out Reynold’s rudeness, blend out his sister, or blend out my own fears and insecurities. In that scene, I blend out the ghost in order to become a person who can walk across the room and be very caring for who is sick in bed. That’s Alma.”

Phantom Thread is currently playing in limited release and will be in theaters nationwide on Jan. 19. Watch the trailer:


Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

 

 

 

 

  • Business
    Reuters

    U.S. Bancorp profit beats on higher interest income, loan growth

    (Adds details on Q3 earnings) Oct 17 (Reuters) - Regional lender U.S. Bancorp reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by higher interest income and loan growth. A strong economy has led the U

  • Better Buy: The Home Depot, Inc. vs. Lowe's
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Better Buy: The Home Depot, Inc. vs. Lowe's

    Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) have helped countless homeowners increase the value of their homes. They've also made many investors rich. With their shares having soared 879% and 484%, respectively, over the past decade, Home Depot and Lowe

  • Business
    Benzinga

    Bernstein Initiates On Tobacco Stocks: Philip Morris 'Leads The Way In The New Nicotine World'

    Tobacco stocks are facing an uphill battle when it comes to regulation and public perception, but one Wall Street analyst says tobacco companies have a long track record of success for investors. The Analyst Bernstein analyst Callum Elliott has initiated

  • Why Democrats are getting nervous before the midterms
    Politics
    Fox Business Videos

    Why Democrats are getting nervous before the midterms

    American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp discusses the problems surrounding the Democratic Party and why he is optimistic about the midterm elections.

  • Finance
    Associated Press

    Abbott: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

    ABBOTT PARK, Ill. (AP) -- Abbott Laboratories (ABT) on Wednesday reported third-quarter net income of $563 million. On a per-share basis, the Abbott Park, Illinois-based company said it had profit of 32 cents. Earnings

  • 7 Stocks to Buy and Hold Through Any Market Selloff
    Business
    InvestorPlace

    7 Stocks to Buy and Hold Through Any Market Selloff

    Last week’s market collapse made headlines throughout the world. Since the sharp correction has negatively impacted virtually all investment sectors, you’re going to find discounted deals everywhere you look.

  • Steven Mnuchin, Who Sat on Sears' Board for Years, Could Impact the Pensions of Thousands of Workers
    Business
    Fortune

    Steven Mnuchin, Who Sat on Sears' Board for Years, Could Impact the Pensions of Thousands of Workers

    Long before he was Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin was a student at Yale University. One of those was Eddie Lampert. Lampert, of course, is the recently departed CEO of Sears Holdings, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.

  • Canada Greets Legal Cannabis With Lineups and a `Wake and Bake'
    Business
    Bloomberg

    Canada Greets Legal Cannabis With Lineups and a `Wake and Bake'

    Stores in St. John’s, Newfoundland were the first to sell recreational cannabis, followed by more than 100 outlets and websites opening across the country of 37 million people. “The eyes of the world are on Canada and Canadians should feel very proud, because people have been fighting for decades to make this moment a reality,” said Brendan Kennedy, chief executive officer of Tilray Inc., the largest cannabis company by market value. Canada is the second country in the world to legalize recreational pot nationally after Uruguay.

  • Boeing delivers first 737 Max 8 BBJ and unveils Max 7 luxury interior (Photos)
    Business
    American City Business Journals

    Boeing delivers first 737 Max 8 BBJ and unveils Max 7 luxury interior (Photos)

    Boeing has delivered its very first 737 Max 8 business jet to a paying customer. It's the first of 20 BBJ Max jets that buyers from around the world have ordered from the Chicago-based jetmaker since they went on sale. Boeing spokesman Dmitry Krol declined to identify the buyer of the jet, which is the second of its kind made at Boeing's Renton 737 factory.

  • Will Shell’s Dividend Payment Be Stable in the Fourth Quarter?
    Business
    Market Realist

    Will Shell’s Dividend Payment Be Stable in the Fourth Quarter?

    Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDS.A) dividend payments have remained steady in the past few years. In the third quarter, Shell paid a dividend of $0.94 per share, which is equal to the dividend it paid in the third quarter of 2016. Since the second quarter of 2014, Shell has steadily paid a quarterly dividend of $0.94 per share.

  • Social Security Checks Are Increasing: What Does That Mean For You?
    Business
    Fortune

    Social Security Checks Are Increasing: What Does That Mean For You?

    Social Security checks will see their biggest increase in four years as 2019 kicks off. The Social Security Administration has approved a 2.8% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for next year. That follows a 2% jump this year and an increase of just

  • Sizing Up the 5 Biggest Canadian Marijuana Stocks as the Country's Recreational Market Opens
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Sizing Up the 5 Biggest Canadian Marijuana Stocks as the Country's Recreational Market Opens

    Today is the day that Canada opens the doors to its nationwide legal recreational marijuana market. A game of musical chairs has been played over the last few months, as different marijuana growers moved up and down in the ranking of the largest Canadian marijuana stocks by market cap. Which stocks are at the top as Canada's adult-use recreational market opens?

  • Tesla secures Shanghai site for $2 billion China Gigafactory
    Business
    Reuters

    Tesla secures Shanghai site for $2 billion China Gigafactory

    Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has signed an agreement with the Shanghai government for an 860,000 square metre plot of land to build its first overseas Gigafactory, the electric carmaker said in a Chinese social media post on Wednesday. The land agreement marks a key step towards the firm and its Chief Executive Elon Musk making cars locally in China for the fast-growing market, even as tariffs imposed by Beijing on U.S.-made goods have caused it to hike prices of its imported models. Tesla signed a long-anticipated deal with Shanghai authorities in July to build its first factory outside the United States, which would double the size of its global manufacturing and help lower the pricetag of Tesla cars sold in the world's largest auto market.

  • Netflix bulls are ignoring a very bearish detail in the streaming giant's numbers
    Finance
    Yahoo Finance

    Netflix bulls are ignoring a very bearish detail in the streaming giant's numbers

    With Netflix long ago earning the momentum trade moniker, the last thing traders want is to be negatively surprised on an earnings release. Streaming media beast Netflix reported Tuesday that through the nine months ended Sept. 30 its free cash flow was an astounding $1.7 billion outflow. Free cash flow is defined as cash flow from operations minus capital expenditures.

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Child Will Probably Not Be a Prince or Princess. Here's What the Title Will Be Instead
    News
    Time

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Child Will Probably Not Be a Prince or Princess. Here's What the Title Will Be Instead

    Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex announced Monday they are expecting their first child and many Brits have responded with the same enthusiasm that met news of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s impending arrivals: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. “At the time, there were revolutions happening across Europe and many monarchies collapsing,” she says.

  • Cramer's lightning round: 'I can't countenance' selling B...
    Business
    CNBC Videos

    Cramer's lightning round: 'I can't countenance' selling B...

    Jim Cramer flies through his take on callers' favorite stocks, including that of a money management giant run by the reputable Larry Fink.

  • 3 Stocks for Warren Buffett Fans
    Business
    Motley Fool

    3 Stocks for Warren Buffett Fans

    Warren Buffett has no shortage of acolytes, and it's easy to see why. The Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) chief and founder has made thousands of early investors in his conglomerate rich as the parent of businesses like GEICO car insurance and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad has posted average annual returns of 20% over the last 50 years, crushing the market. Buffett has never gotten too big for his britches, however.

  • Business
    Benzinga

    HSBC Upgrades Las Vegas Sands, Says Buy The Trade War Dip

    Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) got a bump Tuesday after one Wall Street analyst said it’s finally time to jump in and buy the stock. The Analyst HSBC analyst Charlene Liu upgraded Las Vegas Sands from Hold to Buy but lowered her price target from

  • Is Wells Fargo & Company a Buy?
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Is Wells Fargo & Company a Buy?

    North America's biggest banks have made for pretty great investments over the past few years. Since the beginning of 2016, Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) have delivered total returns of 72% and 75%, respectively

  • These are the bad things about early retirement that no one talks about
    News
    MarketWatch

    These are the bad things about early retirement that no one talks about

    For all the glamour of living an early retirement lifestyle, there are plenty of negatives I’ve come to discover since I permanently left my job in 2012. As a result, you’re repeatedly forced to will yourself into action.

  • Where Will NVIDIA Be in 5 Years?
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Where Will NVIDIA Be in 5 Years?

    At one time, NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) floated under the radar in the technology sector. Its graphics processing units (GPUs) were then niche tech products that appealed mainly to graphic artists and hardcore PC gamers, but that all changed over the last

  • Business
    Benzinga

    U.S. Bancorp's Q3 Earnings Outlook

    U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) unveils its next round of earnings this Wednesday. Here is Benzinga's everything-that-matters guide for the Q3 earnings announcement Earnings and Revenue U.S. Bancorp EPS is expected to be around $1.04, according to sell-side

  • With Culp’s ‘lean and mean’ style, layoffs may loom at GE corporate
    Business
    American City Business Journals

    With Culp’s ‘lean and mean’ style, layoffs may loom at GE corporate

    As of this summer, General Electric Co. had around 28,000 employees in corporate functions worldwide, doing everything from overseeing GE’s global expansion to developing new technologies. When GE’s new chief executive, Larry Culp, led Danaher Corp. (NYSE: DHR) earlier this decade, he had a decidedly smaller corporate team: the equivalent of 40 full-time employees. Culp’s well-known obsession with efficiency has analysts predicting that Boston-based GE (NYSE: GE) is poised to carry out significant layoffs in the early part of his tenure, particularly in its corporate department.

  • Marijuana Stocks to Watch in October -- and Into 2019
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Marijuana Stocks to Watch in October -- and Into 2019

    Tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 17, Canada will become the first industrialized county in the world where marijuana is legal for adult recreational use -- and only the second country, along with Uruguay, where such use is legal.  Not only does this open up

  • Will Marathon Petroleum’s Q3 Earnings Beat the Estimates?
    Business
    Market Realist

    Will Marathon Petroleum’s Q3 Earnings Beat the Estimates?

    Will Marathon Petroleum’s Q3 Earnings Beat the Estimates? Second-quarter performance Marathon Petroleum (MPC) is scheduled to announce its third-quarter results on November 1. Before we proceed with the third-quarter estimates, let’s recap Marathon Petroleum