Vanessa Kirby, the magnetic actress who gives meaning to the word performance

In Pieces of a Woman, available on Netflix since January 7, she plays a woman bruised by the death of her child. A complex and “terrifying” role, of which the ex-interpreter of Princess Margaret in The Crown seized with gusto. Portrait of an actress in search of new thrills, and on her way to the Oscars.

“Feel the fear, but do it anyway.” This is the mantra of Vanessa Kirby, ex-interpreter of Princess Margaret in seasons 1 and 2 of The Crown. The 33-year-old actress plays Martha, a woman battered by the death of her baby, in Pieces of a Woman, a drama by Kornél Mundruczó and available on Netflix since January 7. Her first title role in a feature film. A performance of such intensity that it was worth to her to be named in the category best actress at the Golden Globes as well as at the Oscars 2021. She also won the Volpi Cup for the best female interpretation at the Venice Film Festival. , in September 2020.

Read also “ “Pieces of a Woman”: “It was a way of making the baby we lost exist”

The shooting of the film was not, however, a long quiet river. “It was terrifying, because I didn’t want to disappoint women, analyzed Vanessa Kirby in the columns of New York Times, in December 2020. Then, I was even more afraid, because I realized that I had the responsibility to show the childbirth as it really is. ” To blend into the role, the actress meets victims of miscarriages, midwives and gynecologists at a London hospital. She even attends the birth of a child.

The “performance of his career”

The result is stunning. “Kirby (…) makes us feel Martha’s pain so deeply that the details hardly matter,” writes the New York Times. “The perfect performance of Vanessa Kirby transforms this drama on mourning and healing into something almost transcendental”, overbid Rolling Stone. For Variety, the actress simply delivers “The performance of his career”.

At the same time, said career takes off on the big screen. In November, the 30-something will be showing at Mission: Impossible 7, three years after giving the answer to Tom Cruise in fallout, one of the previous opus. In 2019, she played the best agent of MI6 in another block-buster, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw. But Vanessa Kirby readily admits: she only feels “at home” on stage.

The stage, a refuge

Before becoming a passion, the theater was first of all a refuge. Born April 18, 1988 in Wimbledon, Vanessa Kirby grew up with her older brother and younger sister in the upscale London suburb. To escape the remarks of her fellows, this daughter of a surgeon and the former editor-in-chief of Country Living Magazine get on the boards. “Every time I entered this space, I no longer felt judged, but accepted,” recalls the lonely teenager in the columns of the New York Times. If the young woman subsequently begins studying English literature, she is quickly spotted by an agent. The professional introduces him to David Thacker, director of the Octagon Theater Bolton.

Admitted to the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art, Vanessa Kirby will never appear there. Her mentor dissuades her, convinced that she will progress more by directly treading the boards. At 21, Vanessa Kirby took her first steps in the theater. Success is there. In 2011, she won three Ian Charleson Awards, which reward the best stage performances in classics, notably for her performance in the play As You Like It, by Shakespeare. In 2014, it is with Gillian anderson, her friend since the filming of the miniseries The great expectations, three years earlier, that she returned to the stage. Both officiate in an adaptation ofA streetcar named desire, signed Benedict Andrews. The play is a triumph, and is exported to Broadway.

First steps on the small screen

The actresses are still far from imagining that they will embody the two iconic Margaret – one princess, the other prime minister – of The Crown, the hit series from Peter Morgan. A role that will earn Vanessa Kirby an Emmy nomination and a Bafta – as well as a meteoric rise on the small screen. If the British series marked a turning point in the career of the actress, she is used to appearances in television programs.

It’s in the show The Hour, centered on the scenes of a show of the 1950s, that the actress sketched her debut in 2011, before playing a supporting role in season 13 ofHercule Poirot. In 2010, she made her debut on the big screen in Love / Loss, a British drama. Six years later, she plays Zelda Fitzgerald in the feature film Genius, alongside Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. The same year, she played Sam Claflin’s ex-girlfriend in Before you.

In private, Vanessa Kirby is very discreet about her love life. We will just learn that she had relations with the actors Christian Cooke (from 2009 to 2011), and Douglas Booth, the following year. His romance with comedian Callum Turner, met in 2014 on the set of Queen and Country, will not be formalized until 2017. It will end in February 2020, because the two actors would have “gradually moved away from each other” because of their multiple shootings.

In video, “Pieces of a woman”, the trailer

Coming soon with Marion Cotillard

Among them, that of Pieces of a woman, in which Vanessa Kirby shares the bill with Shia LaBeouf. But the actor’s past quickly caught up with him. Several of his former companions indeed accuse him of domestic violence. One of them, FKA Twigs, files a complaint for acts of violence, which would have been perpetrated between 2018 and 2019. The actor is ousted from the promotion of the film. Vanessa Kirby addresses the alleged victims in the columns of the Times. “I support all those who have been abused and I respect the courage of those who speak out their truth,” she said.

She also greets, in an interview with Esquire, the positive changes brought about by the Me Too movement. “The powerful now intend to create successful roles for women,” she said. They realize that movies with a woman in the lead role can make money. That’s exciting. There are so many stories about women that haven’t been told yet. ” Vanessa Kirby will soon be at the heart of one of them. She will play Tallie in The World to Come, by Mona Fastvold – the story of two farm wives who fall in love with each other in 19th century America. She will also give the reply to Marion Cotillard in the drama The Brutalist.

* This article, originally published on March 15, 2021, has been updated.

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Vanessa Kirby, the magnetic actress who gives meaning to the word performance

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