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For her turn as Cassie — a brilliant former medical student confronting the traumas of her past — in Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut Promising Young Woman, Carey Mulligan has earned her second Oscar nomination and her first in over a decade. The 35-year-old actress was last nominated in 2010 for An Education.
Mulligan, who said she watched the nominations announcement from her home in the English countryside, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on Monday shortly after the news broke that Fennell’s dark comedy was nominated for five awards — including best picture.
Did you watch the nominations announcement?
I was very divided on whether I should watch or not, and then I just thought, if Emerald is nominated [for] screenplay and director, I really wanted to see that. So yeah, I watched, which was quite nerve-wracking.
How did you feel receiving your own nomination, and seeing Emerald Fennell receive hers?
I was completely overjoyed for Emerald — just so, so happy. It really feels incredible what Emerald’s achieved with her first feature film that was made in 23 days. To this level, it just feels sort of record-breaking. I can’t quite get over it. So, that was extremely exciting. And then yeah, my surname comes last. So, it was a nightmare. When they were announcing the category, I went through a real rollercoaster of emotions. But I was completely overjoyed. I immediately FaceTimed with Emerald so we could jump around together.
I was going to ask if you’d spoken to her yet!
We FaceTimed straight away. As soon as they announced best picture, we were on FaceTime. It was lovely to get to share it.
Do you have any other plans for celebrating the nomination?
In lockdown, it’s limited. I have to get the kids from school. In that sense, everything kind of trundled on. But it’s just so nice… I got to watch the nominations with my husband. It sounds very mundane, but… beyond that, there’s not much celebrating that you can do in the lockdown. But we’re just feeling completely overjoyed to get to enjoy it together.
You’ve said that, when you read the script, the role really resonated with you and you felt you had to play her. Can you elaborate?
I felt like many other actresses could have played her. It’s just that I didn’t want them to. I felt like, ‘Oh, I will just be miserable if anyone else gets this role because it’s just so much to play.’ I was so excited to read a script really about female friendships. The lengths she goes for her friends are so extraordinary, and I think we see that portrayed in cinema quite a lot when it comes to male friendship or a father-daughter relationship, but we don’t often see that really close connection between women. And I think, more than ever, women feel that at the moment and they feel that solidarity. Of course, the film is a revenge-thriller and it’s a romantic comedy and all these things — but also, at the heart of it, there’s a real love story between these two women and the friendship that they had and what she’s fighting for. That was something I wanted to be a part of.
What other nominees were you excited for outside of Promising Young Woman?
I’m so excited for the Minari cast because I loved Minari so much. I think it was so exceptional and Lee Isaac Chung is brilliant. And Steven Yeun — I’m so excited for the whole cast. And then, Amanda Seyfried for Mank. I think it’s just so well-deserved. She’s extraordinary and she’s been delivering brilliant performances for years and I think it’s just such well-deserved recognition. There are so many I’m thrilled for, but those two have made me incredibly happy.
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