When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the world last year, forcing many of us to remain socially distant from friends and family and some of us to live under strict lockdowns to stop the virus’ spread, many of Hollywood’s leading actresses also found themselves stuck at home with some unexpected downtime.
As seen in the clip above, the six stars on The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress roundtable reveal some of the lessons they learned — and challenges they faced — while staying at home during the pandemic.
“I don’t know if I was very surprised by it, but I’m not always efficient in my use of time,” says Glenn Close, whose role in Netflix’s drama Hillbilly Elegy has earned her an Oscar nomination for best-supporting actress — her eighth nom. “I usually come home to reboot before another job, so this was a big reboot. And my kitchen is very clean, and I make my bed every day. I guess my surprise is how nice it is to make my bed every day.”
Andra Day, whose her star turn in Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday has earned a Golden Globe in addition to an Oscar nomination for best actress, echoes Close’s sentiments about time management. Like many of us, Day hoped to get more done with her time at home. “I always said, ‘You know, if I had more time, if I was home more often, I would get this done, I would do this,'” says the actress and singer, who is also a three-time Grammy nominee. “I turned around once later in the pandemic and said, ‘Oh… I still need to do that.’ When it comes to daily home stuff, I’m not that great.”
Kate Winslet, who last year starred in Neon’s Ammonite and now leads HBO’s limited series Mare of Easttown, admits that unlike Close and Day, she became quite focused on her home during the lockdown. “I became — and still am, actually — utterly obsessed with sweeping my floor,” says the seven-time Oscar nominee, whose won best actress for 2008’s The Reader. The biggest target of that obsession: the hair from her golden retriever. “I’ve got this sort of microscopic vision where I can see the dog hair gathering in funny little cracks … and I’ll be like, ‘There’s dog hair! Somebody! Quick! Get me the broom! Get me the broom!” Winslet laughs. “I consider that to be an interesting, insightful thing that as a matriarch I’ve learned about myself — which is kind of bothersome.”
Carey Mulligan, nominated this year for best actress for her role in Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman, also admits she’s been doing a lot of cleaning and organizing (and targeting cobwebs, her newest obsession). But she admits that she’s been most grateful to have had time at home with her children. “In a way, it was a forced kind of pause where you’re so aware that they’re only going to be this age for a small period of time,” she says. “Just to get that amount of uninterrupted time with us hanging out all the time, even though that was fairly intense sometimes … to get to really soak it up was really lovely.”
Pieces of a Woman star Vanessa Kirby, also nominated for best actress, agrees that the pause in her busy career was a blessing. “I think I learned a lot about silence,” says the actress, whose performance in the Netlfix drama earned her the Volpi Cup for best actress at last year’s Venice Film Festival. “I hadn’t realized quote how much doing I was doing … I don’t think anything else would have taught me that in a way that this year has done.”
“I never really got to know who I was without work,” says Zendaya, who last September became the youngest winner of the Emmy for best actress for her role on HBO’s Euphoria at the age of 24. “I started working when I was so young, and I’ve always had a consistent thing happening in my life.” A series of questions emerged for her: “I was like, what makes me happy? What do I like to do other than work? Do I have any hobbies?” Luckily, the pandemic was creatively fruitful for the ever-busy Zendaya, who alongside co-star John David Washington produced the Netflix two-hander Malcolm & Marie, written and directed by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson. “I’m so grateful [that] … I basically get to do my hobby for a living.”
Watch the Actress Roundtable in full below:
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