The Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue is a big fu**ing deal…
This year is the 28th annual Hollywood issue for Vanity Fair, and for the first time ever each of the eight actors included in the portfolio will get their very own solo cover. This year’s class of acting titans includes Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Idris Elba (The Harder They Fall), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM!), Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (Pose; tick, tick…BOOM!), and Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). The covers were crafted by conceptual artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari for the second year in a row.
“To mark the occasion of our 28th annual Hollywood Issue, we present the iconic Hollywood cover times eight: scenes real and imagined from the gravitational center of moviemaking, conjuring fantasies of stardom with a wink,” editor in chief Radhika Jones writes in an editor’s letter for the issue. “Our cover stars are on top of their worlds. Every one of these actors is having a hell of a year, bridging art house films and epic franchises, studios and streamers, small screen and big screen.”
In addition to the physical copies of the magazine, Vanity Fair has launched a special Hollywood issue hub on VanityFair.com, which will populate with cinematic stories of ambition, scandal, and tragedy throughout the coming week. Launching today on the hub are extended interviews with portfolio stars Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, Penélope Cruz, Andrew Garfield, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, and Simu Liu, and an exclusive first-look at Amazon’s forthcoming series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Below we share a few excerpts from some of the interviews featured in Vanity Fair’s Hollywood portfolio (check out the full Hollywood portfolio “The House of Hollywood” and accompanying interviews by Julie Miller, Yohana Desta, Rebecca Ford, David Canfield, Cassie da Costa, Chris Murphy, and Delia Cai on VanityFair.com)
We’re particularly excited for Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, since this is her first Hollywood Issue cover.
Michaela Jaé Rodriguez on winning the the 2022 Golden Globe for best actress in a drama series
“Child, it changed my whole perspective of how I saw myself and how I saw myself as an actress,” Rodriguez says. “I just felt so seen.”
…on when she came to terms with her gender identity
It’s been previously reported that playing Angel [in Rent] helped her come to terms with her gender identity, but Rodriguez would like to set the record straight about that. “When I was playing Angel, that was not the first time I actually discovered my gender identity,” she says. “I was seven years old when I had an affirmation of myself. When I started Rent, I started medically transitioning. But I already had a self-assuredness of my femininity and womanhood when I was seven years old.”
Wow that’s incredible. Did you see “tick, tick… Boom!”?
We were also excited to see Simu Liu on the cover. We been eating up Vanity Fair for YEARS about the Hollywood Issue lacking diversity but honestly there have been even less Asian actors featured than Black or Latino. Liu actually discusses representation in his cover story.
Simu Liu on the pressure of meeting the expectations of an entire demographic
This is what weighs on Liu, who’ll be publishing his memoir, We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story, this May: the responsibility of representation in the era of niche internet vitriol, cancellation, and even—amazingly—flak for being annoying, for doing too much. “What I wasn’t prepared for was backlash from within, for people to say, ‘He’s not our representative,’ ” Liu says. “Even if there are only a couple of people saying it, it always hurts.”
…on the advice he’d give his younger self
If Liu could rewind to 2019, right when he was preparing to take on the Shang-Chi mantle, he’d tell himself to loosen up more, to straighten up out of a heavily self-imposed defensive crouch. “I still feel very much like I’m an outsider in Hollywood…but I’m starting to realize I don’t have to prove to anyone or myself that I deserve to be here,” he concludes. “Taking up this space and being unapologetic—these things came a lot easier to me back in the day, when I didn’t have a seat at the table. I was playing a very different game, but I think I’m slowly finding that courage again.”
We were excited to see Idris Elba included in this year’s issue as well. It’s actually not his first time either, he was part of the 2014 collective featured. In his interview Elba talks about his range, being excited for his role in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and turning his attention toward music.
Idris Elba on building a music career
“Some may think, Well, it will be the death of your acting if your music’s shit,” he says. “I’ve dealt with the internal struggle of that over the years. So now I’m at peace and I’ve chosen: This is what I’m doing, and I’m going to do it. Some will love it and some will hate it.”
Idris also seems to be in denial about having a sexy voice:
“I don’t know, man. It’s really hard for me because when I listen to my voice, I don’t hear that,” he says with a chuckle. “I just hear my accent or my soft r’s, whatever imperfections I’ve got in my voice.”
One of our favorite parts of the VF Hollywood hub is the video piece that the magazine produced to accompany the issue. Check it out below:
We really loved hearing Penélope Cruz talk about her dance background and hearing that Nicole Kidman started producing her own projects after considering quitting the business. Check out more from them below:
Nicole Kidman on how Lucille Ball’s character was written in Being the Ricardos
“Aaron Sorkin wrote her as the smartest person in the room, because she was,” says Kidman. It was Ball who ultimately convinced CBS to let her Cuban-born husband play her sitcom husband. After divorcing Arnaz, she bought out his shares in Desilu Productions and became the first woman to lead a major production studio. As Kidman says, Ball never apologized for her smarts. “A lot of times, particularly as a woman, if you’re smart, there’s a lot of apology.”
…on fooling her own immune system into thinking her character’s suffering is real
She imbues her fictional characters with such humanity that, on occasion in her prolific Oscar- and Emmy-studded career, she’s fooled her own immune system into thinking her character’s suffering is real, only to fall ill after filming. “Parts of the body don’t know, a lot of the time, what the difference is” between a role and real life, explains Kidman, who got sick after “Big Little Lies,” in which she played an abuse survivor. “I’ve started to understand a bit more to take care of yourself.”
That’s wild. And it sounds super dangerous. Who knew playing someone ill could be so detrimental to your health? Kidman wasn’t the only actor to admit that her work made her sick. Penélope Cruz also described experiencing her characters’ pain during filming:
Consider the final month of filming Asghar Farhadi’s kidnapping drama Everybody Knows (2018), costarring her husband, Javier Bardem: Each night Cruz inexplicably ran a fever. (“I know it was from the tension of that character.”) Or take shoots for her recent film Parallel Mothers, as a new parent harboring a shocking secret: Cruz cried often, internalizing her character’s pain. At one point, Cruz’s own mother expressed concern about her mental state. “I told her, ‘Don’t worry’—but I was worried,” Cruz says now. “I pretended that I had things under control, but I was scared.” (Her mother still checks in regularly, nearly a year after filming finished.)
What do you think about this year’s Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue? Which cover is your favorite? Check out the full Vanity Fair Hollywood portfolio HERE