Vicky Krieps On Her Unlikely Path to Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread

Lovingly embroidered

Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread (out now) centers around Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a fashion designer working in London's bustling scene in the 1950's. Woodcock dresses dignitaries and socialites and politicians, wrapping them up in gorgeous gowns. And his life changes when he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress near his country home, who he immediately dresses up. She serves as his romantic partner and muse, in a constantly shifting dynamic every bit as delicate as one of his gowns.

Keeping this in mind, Krieps, a Luxembourgian actress who is mostly unknown in the United States (bonus Focus Features trivia tidbit: she played Hanna's mother in flashbacks in Hanna), what it was like slipping into Anderson's latest opus.

But as it turns out, she didn't even know it was one of his films.

As she told us, she got an email from Anderson's casting director. "I just read it on the bus. I read it quickly and I read the important information and scrolled down to the document and had a look at the text. It was just lines, like a monologue, I didn't have the script or anything but I had this immediate connection. I knew this was something," Krieps told us. "All I knew was I had to put this on tape. The rest I didn't care."

After she sent her tape away, she got a call from her excited agent, who usually isn't quite as enthusiastic. The agent explained to her that, "They loved it so much." The agent asked for Vicky's number, to give the filmmaker. "Then she goes silent. She then said, 'Vicky – do you know who we are talking about?' And of course I didn't," Krieps explained. "When she told me who it was, I was of course very excited." She then realized that the text she had read was incomplete "because of secrecy." This level of concealment continued. "I wasn't allowed to tell anyone. It was very weird for me," Krieps said. And like that, she had entered the 1950's fashion designer realm of Phantom Thread.

In Phantom Thread Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a designer whose attention to detail and perfectionism often comes at the cost of his humanity. Day-Lewis' similar attention to detail and perfectionism has been widely reported, as has his affection for "method" acting, essentially disappearing into the character.

So we had to ask – did Krieps work with Daniel Day-Lewis or Reynolds Woodcock?

"Well I had never met him before so if I was communicating with him, I was communicating with Reynolds Woodcock," Krieps said. "It was part of the game. The moment I arrived on the project was so late, because there was no rehearsal. For me it all started the first day. I was totally submerged into the world of Reynolds Woodcock. So I wasn't questioning anything. I just accepted everything as the world I went into."

And this was an experience that ended up being highly rewarding for Krieps. Anderson, the actress said, was "wonderful." "He's the nicest director. The mix of everything – he's crazy, he's lovely, he's very warm. But he's very artistic in his own way and genius in a way," she said. "It was magic, really." Working with Day-Lewis left her speechless … literally. "There is no word I can give you that can describe how it is to work with Daniel Day Lewis," Krieps explained.

But chances are that when you see Phantom Thread, it's Krieps, as Woodcock's de facto muse and girlfriend, that will leave you just as amazed. This is a movie as silky and glamorous as one of Woodcock's couture creations and Krieps wears it marvelously.

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