The brightly colored, cheerfully surrealist world of this year’s Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue is instantly appealing. It shows a place you’d like to walk inside—or, perhaps, an ideal theme for an Oscar party that can’t happen. But a cover this bold could only follow a year of pandemic. The team behind the Hollywood Issue brought in artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari specifically to capture the surreal atmsphere we’re all living in. If it‘s going to inspire a theme party, it will have to be over Zoom.
On this week’s Little Gold Men podcast, Vanity Fair’s executive Hollywood editor Jeff Giles joins Richard Lawson, Katey Rich, and Joanna Robinson to discuss what went into making this year’s issue, and how Richard’s accompanying essay captures what cover stars like Zendaya, Michael B. Jordan, Charlize Theron, and Sacha Baron Cohen are doing to light the way forward. The episode also includes a look ahead at Sunday’s Golden Globes and some discussion of new releases Cherry and The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
The episode ends with a conversation between Joanna and Mads Mikkelsen, the star of Thomas Vinterberg’s bittersweet drama Another Round. Listen to the episode above, and find a partial transcript of the interview below.
And don’t forget, you can text us! Sign up here and text us during the Golden Globes or with any other burning awards season questions, we are here to help.
Little Gold Men: I’ve heard you describe this character you play as a man that’s left at the train platform, after the train has left the station, and how that’s not something you can necessarily relate to as your own approach to life. But then again, you’ve also said that the part was written for you. So I’m wondering what you think they saw in you for this role?
Mads Mikkelsen: I don’t know. I mean, luckily as actors, we’re not just playing ourselves. We’re not like, “Oh yeah, that’s exactly me.” So one of the things we have to do is to have empathy and identify with other people’s situations. He goes to a lot of places throughout this film. So maybe that’s what’s Thomas saw. But he also saw something, I guess, in The Hunt, where part of that man was giving up … is brought to life, I guess. And then he evolves throughout this film, more than he did in The Hunt, I would say.
I think he just likes to work with me, to be frank. And it could have been one of the other parts, but he gave me this one. And I’m really, really pleased he did that.
They mention in the film, a couple of times, the Danish approach to drinking. I think they said, “Drink like maniacs.” At least that’s the translation I got in my subtitle. Having spent a good deal of time in America, what do you think the difference is between our approach to alcohol and the Danish approach?
Depends, I guess, where you go. America is a big country. There are so many different cultures within America, right? I think one of the interesting thing about this film is that yes, on the surface, it might be a dangerous topic to a degree, but every culture has their own history with alcohol, one way or the other, and it’s quite recognizable. Yes, they might not have that specific celebration when you were young, when you’re just graduating, but they will have something else. And what also is recognizable for other cultures is, this is a tribute to life. This is a life-embracing film, and the alcohol is just a kick-starter for that story. And that’s why I think a lot of other cultures can relate to.
But to answer your question, is that yes, Americans might go, “But are you crazy? Are the teachers just letting the young kids do that?” And they will have a standard for that. But then at the same time, they will drive their big cars to a business meeting at lunch, and they will down a bottle of wine. And they will go back in their car and drive home. So they’ll have a different standard with that.
So I think that standards are different, but alcohol is here, has been here for six or 7,000 years. And we’ve always used it for the same purposes, either to get our miserable lives, or to get closer to the gods, or be creative, or just lift the conversation into something more relaxed and beautiful. And then obviously now, we’re talking about two glasses of wine, but if we talk about two bottles, it’s a completely different story. But every nation knows that story as well.
I think this is a really relatable, really human story, but something that feels very especially un-American about it, is that it’s a story without a hard moral lesson. You’re not trying to come down on one side or another. And I feel like that’s nearly impossible to do in American film. We don’t make those in-the-middle movies.
You used to. I mean, my biggest inspiration ever, an eye-opener for me, when I was young man. I thought I was going in to watch one of the stories, where you have a baddie and a goodie, and then a lot of action in the film. I saw the poster, I saw some photos, and it looked really messy and bloody. And it was called Taxi Driver. And I went in to see it, and it just blew my mind, that you could like a character, and then you could hate him, and then you could like him, and then you could hate them. You were just being thrown around by the actor and the director.
And I left the movie theater with a lot of questions and a lot of curiosity, but no answers. And I thought that was actually brilliant that a film could do that. So you have a tradition for it. Somewhere down the line here, it’s gotten a little blurry. We do want to point a finger at certain things. But in Thomas’ world, that was never the goal.
There has been a lot of films that warns us about the danger of alcohol, and there’s been a lot of beautiful films about that. He wanted it to be a kind of a tribute to all the things that we like about alcohol, not just you and me, but everybody. It’s a social lubricant. Why do we love those two first glass of wine and that fantastic conversation with friends? How many have met their spouses without having alcohol involved? So it’s that. And that’s what he wanted to research into. Right?
And then it was unavoidable that we will also have to dig a couple of big holes, because that’s where alcohol can take you. So that was part of the film, but we didn’t want to make it the biggest part.
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