'Phantom Thread': Daniel Day-Lewis' Co-Stars Talk Relationship Dynamics
The Paul Thomas Anderson film finds the Oscar-winning actor playing a prestigious fashion designer in what Day-Lewis has said will be his last acting role.
Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread explores the world of the 1950s fashion industry in London. In what he's said will be his last acting role, Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Reynolds Woodcock, a prestigious but controlling designer who takes waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps) under his wing both professionally and romantically. As he embarks on a complicated relationship with his new muse, viewers get an inside look at his dynamics with both Alma and his sister and business partner Cyril (Lesley Manville).
“She’s a strong-willed country girl, very determined, very close to the ground and very close to her heart,” Krieps told The Hollywood Reporter about her character at Phantom Thread's New York premiere Monday night. “[She’s] not afraid to go a long way to get to where she believes is right.”
Alma and Reynolds' unusual relationship quickly escalates when she moves in with him and Cyril. And the pair goes through multiple ups and downs throughout the film.
“I think it’s more dialogue than the fight and I think that’s what’s interesting,” Krieps said. “It’s really a pulling and pushing of one and the other and you cannot really say who’s stronger and you cannot really say who’s more cranky or who's more strange.”
It is implied that Reynolds has had a number of women act as his muses in the past, though there is something different about Alma that makes their relationship last longer than the others. “I think both of them are just very unique in their own way and both have their own world, which they can show to the other," Krieps said. "And I think this is where they meet and find each other — being someone from a different world, showing someone to a different world and opening a different world to someone, and I think this is why this works in the end."
Alma may be Reynolds' romantic interest in the film, but Cyril is just as much of a leading lady in her brother’s life. As the co-runner of Reynolds' couture house, Cyril is equally involved in his life both professionally and personally. “They’ve had a very close relationship for their whole lives. They’ve grown up together and they’re very co-dependent,” Manville said of the sibling duo. “It’s a kind of strange relationship. It’s quite hard to describe it really. They are each other’s beginning and end until Alma comes on the scene and then it all gets a bit different.”
Because the three main characters are heavily involved in the fashion industry, Manville stated that it was important for her to research the fashion of 1950s London to have a realistic understanding of her character. “That’s a natural thing to do,” she said. “That was a lovely thing to do. To research the fashion of the period.”
Day-Lewis announced in June that Phantom Thread would be his last film and that he planned to retire from his acting career that has spanned over 40 years. Both Manville and Krieps spoke fondly of the three-time Oscar winner during the night’s celebration.
“It was great. He’s another actor. He doesn’t come to the set thinking that he’s anything that I should be bowing to and so you’re there to get on with the day’s work, shoot the scenes and make them as good as possible,” Manville said. “There’s no good of turning up on set just being in awe all day. It’s hopeless.”
Krieps admitted that working with Day-Lewis was just like any other professional experience she has had, even if it is his last film role. She said, “It was in a way working like in every work situation, but it was very nice because it was like a memento for me."
Following a screening at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, castmembers and high-profile guests gathered at the Harold Pratt House.
Phantom Thread, which earlier on Monday landed two Golden Globe nominations, hits theaters on Dec. 25.