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Even if you are a person who cannot bear witness to one without mentally calculating how many lives could be saved with the amount of money it costs to put on, the sheer excellence is overwhelming, and it is impossible not to be impressed. He had not not worked — not for one day — for months, and was looking forward to returning to Paris and enjoying a staycation, a portmanteau that charms him but which he can never quite remember.

But his impact on fashion — both on the runway and off — runs beneath it, deeper, like an undercurrent. Imploring people is easier than coercing them.

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Soon these will be moved to a different location, which he recently secured. Set design by Andrea Stanley at Streeters. Casting by Nicola Kast at Webber Represents. Production: One Thirty-Eight Productions. Digital tech: Matthew Cylinder. Photo assistant: Isaac Rosenthal. Hair assistant: Cassandra Normil. Makeup assistants: Jamal Scott and Hiroto Yamaguchi. Set assistants: Phoebe Shakespeare and David Gimbert. The shop is not busy — it is May, close to dinner time — and the customer, a movie star dressed simply in a white blouse and jeans, gently draws the woman out: She hears about her beloved horse back home now in horse heaven , her philosophy on eating doughnuts all or nothing, and she has chosen nothing , how she moved to the city to make it in a band.

Eventually, a man in a baseball cap walks in with a young boy, presumably his son, stops in his tracks and watches, a small smile on his face as he takes in this New York moment: an aspiring star chatting with an already established one, clearly unaware the young woman later confirms that her charmed and charming customer is an Oscar winner, a queer icon and the wife of an actor who embodies traditional masculinity. The actress smiles, demurs, wishes her the best of luck and exits.

As soon as she does, the man turns to the boy. But something about her level of success also allows her a distinct relationship to her art and to her audience: For all her beauty and success, Weisz is still better known for her talent and taste than for an all-consuming and occluding kind of celebrity; it is an endearing pitch of fame, the kind that inspires more admiration than awe. One quickly sees how she cuts against the expectations of a period piece: She is irresistible as Lady Sarah, an adviser to the 18th-century Queen Anne of England, winning enough that it seems only fitting that her queen wants to reward her with the gift of a palace.

By the time her character has been onscreen for 90 seconds, the viewer already grasps that Sarah herself is a performer with a wide range, and that she believes wholeheartedly that the kingdom rests on her ability to play her parts convincingly.


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They got more interesting, the parts less so. A month or so after she stopped by the doughnut shop, Weisz was back in London, where she grew up, and where she was spending the summer.

Framed by a Skype screen, she appeared naturally cinematic, nibbling on the last remnants of a cantaloupe wedge, her laptop in front of her, her hair loose as she sat at a desk in her home office. She was wearing tinted aviators that gave her the look of someone who was about to take a road trip to the beach with some girlfriends, or maybe one bad boyfriend; they signified the opposite of what they actually were, reading glasses. Weisz gave off the air of a woman fully in command of her life, even her body: Who was going to tell Weisz she could not, as she did a year ago, at the age of 48, give birth to a child?

She also has a teenage son, from a previous relationship with the director Darren Aronofsky. Female control exists, in her world, in a way that was not possible for much of her career. It is one of the first Marvel films directed by a woman — Cate Shortland, a respected Australian independent-film director for whom this job is a massive jump, at least in terms of budget. Her Viennese mother, a teacher who later in life became a psychotherapist, was intrigued by the opportunity, but her father, an engineer and inventor originally from Hungary, had concerns about Rachel entering the film industry.

There was a lot of flamboyance. No stiff upper lip. In her early teen years, she was not particularly riveted by class work or her teachers, which she made evident, and was eventually asked to leave the private school she attended. She clearly looks back at those teenage years with great affection. She had smiled, thinking about it. You want to see yourself.

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Weisz might have seized the chance to work in a Marvel project under any circumstances; a role in one now creates, for an actor, a kind of currency that can help finance other films, films that fall into the struggling category of everything-but-action. Watching that, as a woman, you know immediately when a character is subject or object — she was always subject. I had never seen anything like it. For that reason, I never forgot it. And she was funny and confident.

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It was a curious confidence. There is a long history of English male actors emerging from venerated theater institutions at Cambridge or the University of Oxford, forming helpful professional contacts along the way: Ian McKellen, John Cleese and Hugh Laurie all took that path, collaborating for years to come with people they first met just out of their adolescence. Weisz, too — working with Garnett, Sasha Hails now a successful screenwriter and David Farr who went on to become the associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company — established a new theater group called Talking Tongues, one with distinct physicality and characters that had a heightened, even clownish quality, sometimes in a style known as bouffon.

Talking Tongues created innovative work, such as one piece in which Weisz and Hails formed a metaphorical love triangle with their only prop, a ladder. The women fell in, then out, of love, with some brutality: In one scene, Weisz swung the ladder round and round, faster and faster, with Hails, on her knees, ducking the massive object whirling around her head. Weisz likes to think that the group, which won a prestigious student theater award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, would still exist had Hails not moved on.

The role of a young woman who looks like an English rose but is, in fact, a fierce rebel was the part for which Weisz won her Oscar for best supporting actress in Her acting — in that film, in many of her films — shows enough restraint that the emotions that surface inspire all the more ache.

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One sees the psychological nuance, perhaps, of someone raised by a therapist, the commitment to the layers of complexity and conflict. Weisz, who herself was in analysis for many years, seems to have done whatever work is necessary to allow for great acting by intuition. Actors want to have control. Colman had assumed that Weisz would merely gesture toward her for the purposes of rehearsal; there they were, in jeans, just trying to get the feel of the roles.

Instead, Weisz unexpectedly made the grab, just as the script dictated. We were all laughing.

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But right there, my fear went away. She was brave enough for both of us. Colman had just popped by unexpectedly for lunch. Weisz and Craig were for once filming in the same place. And she was enjoying working on the Marvel set, where she had been struck by the passion of the producers overseeing the project.


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  • Gay Twitter seized on that last line with joy. At the same time, she had not intended, at Comic-Con, to make any statement about herself or her character; there was no subtext or big reveal. Weisz alternates between reveling in the newness of truly female-driven films and seeming frustrated by their ongoing status as anomalies. But I could be wrong. Weisz was likewise hesitant to make any grand claims about how working with Shortland, so far, differed from working with any male directors in her past.


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    • As someone interested in capturing complexity, Weisz seems to be trying to avoid the way that certain lines of pop cultural conversation can flatten out the richness of experience, regardless of whether it belongs to a man or a woman. She has spent plenty of her life, like most successful actresses, pouting for the camera or being saved by a man or playing the rebel who inevitably ends up dead, punished for her strength, strength that is all but conflated with her sexuality.

      In every one of those roles, she has added depth and richness while still operating within the constraints of a male-driven industry. But the idea all along, since she was in college, seems to be to escape familiar talking points of any kind, to defy tidy boxes that place her neatly in some category. It is tiny and black and of a ladder — a fond memento of her early work, but also a reminder, maybe, that the goal is not climbing up, but out. Set design by Piers Hanmer. Production: Prodn. Digital tech: Nicholas Ong.

      Makeup assistant: Kuma. Set assistants: Erick Benevides and Ryan Maleady. Outside, stretching across the windows along Milwaukee Avenue, is a foot-long mosaic made of 7, circular name tags with a mix of red and white backgrounds, each of them personalized by local schoolchildren and community members. Best known for his Soundsuits — many of which are ornate, full-body costumes designed to rattle and resonate with the movement of the wearer — his work, which combines sculpture, fashion and performance, connects the anxieties and divisions of our time to the intimacies of the body.

      Exhibited in galleries or worn by dancers, the suits — fanciful assemblages that include bright pelts of dyed hair, twigs, sequins, repurposed sweaters, crocheted doilies, gramophones or even stuffed sock-monkey dolls, their eerie grins covering an entire supersize garment — are compulsively, unsettlingly decorative. Some are amusingly creature-like; others are lovely in an almost ecclesiastical way, bedecked with shimmering headpieces embellished with beads and porcelain birds and other discarded tchotchkes he picks up at flea markets. Even at the level of medium, Cave operates against entrenched hierarchies, elevating glittery consumer detritus and traditional handicrafts like beadwork or sewing to enchanting heights.

      In invigorating performances that often involve collaborations with local musicians and choreographers, the Soundsuits can seem almost shaman-esque, a contemporary spin on kukeri , ancient European folkloric creatures said to chase away evil spirits.

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      They recall as well something out of Maurice Sendak , ungainly wild things cutting loose on the dance floor in a gleeful, liberating rumpus. There is something ritual-like and purifying about all the whirling hair and percussive music; the process of dressing the dancers in their pound suits resembles preparing samurai for battle.

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