Home Entertainment Haley Bennett: ‘I always felt like, what’s wrong with me?’

Haley Bennett: ‘I always felt like, what’s wrong with me?’

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It’s fairly an entrance. Haley Bennett walks into the Soho lodge room flanked by publicists, then breaks theatrically into track, filling the air with lyrics from her new adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. The movie is directed by her companion, Joe Wright; she performs Roxanne reverse Sport of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage as Cyrano. It’s a recent, fashionable and giddily romantic film, and can most likely do for Edmond Rostand’s traditional play what Wright’s Delight & Prejudice did for Austen.

Bennett sits down and locations a framed {photograph} on the espresso desk between us, of a sunny little woman with pigtails. Having change into barely obsessive about Bennett’s Instagram account (extra later), I assume that is her three-year-old, Virginia. However no, the picture is of Bennett herself, aged 4. “I used to be simply visiting my household in Ohio,” she says brightly. “I feel it’s vital that we nurture the four-year-old in all of us, so I introduced her with me.”

It’s the sort of opener to throw you. Afterwards, I ponder if she staged it to masks her nerves. Bennett, now 34, as soon as suffered suchcrippling anxiousness and shyness that it nearly ended her profession. Sitting down, she pulls a cushion protectively on to her lap, and absent-mindedly fidgets with the tassels for a lot of the 45 minutes we speak. Within the flesh, she is exquisitely fairly, with porcelain pores and skin she says lets her down when she blushes on talkshows: “I’m an open ebook. I’ve translucent pores and skin.”

Haley Bennett in Cyrano, elaborately costumed with garter and tights on show
‘A powerful, daring and courageous character’ … Bennett as Roxanne in Cyrano. {Photograph}: Peter Mountain/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Photos Inc

Bennett appears dreamy, kooky, however sincerely and earnestly so, regardless of the incongruous uniform of black blazer and denims. In Cyrano, she sports activities beautiful bosom-bursting corsets within the fashion of Alexander McQueen; in her Instagram feed of life with Wright and their daughter in rural Somerset, her fashion is Hackney-cool-meets-Land-Lady – numerous wide-legged slacks and fairly headscarves.

Cyrano marks a belated breakthrough. The film offers us the traditional love triangle: two males falling at Roxanne’s ft. However that is Cyrano and not using a huge nostril. As an alternative, Peter Dinklage’s dimension is what makes him really feel like an outsider, and unworthy of Roxanne’s love – a therapy that feels 100 occasions extra genuine than a scorching actor sporting a colossal schnoz.

Bennett and Dinklage appeared collectively within the authentic US stage model in summer time 2018. Bennett was eight months pregnant; she’d been terrified to inform writer-director Erica Schmidt (who’s married to Dinklage), fearing she’d be fired. “Actually, I feel another director most likely would’ve recast me.” On stage she wore an empire-line costume to cowl her bump; bodily it bought more difficult, tougher to hit the notes.

On opening night time Wright sat within the viewers, and he stored coming again, night time after night time. “I used to be like: You wish to see it once more?” Bennett is wide-eyed. “Joe simply fell in love with it.” Ultimately he determined to show the play right into a film.

The humorous factor is that, even along with her different half directing, Bennett wasn’t a useless cert to play Roxanne within the movie. “I by no means anticipated to be solid,” she says. “There’s lots of containers that should be ticked when a studio makes a movie. I knew Peter could be [in it]. I simply wasn’t positive about my destiny.” As a result of she wasn’t a bankable Hollywood title? Bennett nods wearily.

Luke Grimes, Haley Bennett and Denzel Washington in 2016’s The Magnificent Seven.
Luke Grimes, Haley Bennett and Denzel Washington in 2016’s The Magnificent Seven. {Photograph}: Columbia Photos/Allstar

She spent her 20s benefiting from supporting components. In The Girl on the Train she played the woman stalked by Emily Blunt; a vengeful widow in The Magnificent Seven. However she at all times appeared to overlook out on main roles. “I at all times felt like: what’s incorrect with me?” She shrugs philosophically. “I suppose the purpose is to do work you imagine in. I could not ever be an A-list film star, however I’ve sort of come to phrases with that.”

Bennett was born in Florida and raised in Ohio. Her dad and mom divorced when she was six, and he or she lived along with her father, Ron, a mechanic. They moved lots when she was a child. “It was a nomadic childhood; I by no means went to the identical faculty for longer than two years. I used to be extremely reserved and shy.”

So, she wasn’t the child in all the varsity performs? “No!” Bennett gasps. “Oh God, no. After I first began appearing, I’d simply be coated in hives.” However on stage she might flick a swap, change into another person.

When she was 19, Bennett moved from Ohio to Los Angeles. She enrolled in appearing lessons and gave herself three months. Was she formidable? “No. I felt like an artist. However I’d been raised very working-class. Nobody in my household has left Ohio.” (There may be speak of a marriage subsequent summer time – she and Wright getting hitched in Somerset. The issue is that nobody on her aspect of the household has a passport.)

Earlier than her three months in LA have been up, Bennett landed the position of a teen pop diva in Music and Lyrics reverse Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. On the display screen take a look at, performing a dance routine, she begged the casting director to not rent her. “I ended mid-dance and began crying. I used to be so humiliated. I mentioned: ‘You don’t wish to solid me. I shouldn’t be right here.’”

However after Music and Lyrics, Bennett’s profession stalled. In 2011, it appeared like she caught a break when Terrence Malick solid her in Song to Song; she filmed on and off for a 12 months, principally with Christian Bale. However when Bale pulled out of the movie, her half was reduce. “That’s the best way the cookie crumbles,” she shrugs with the air of a lady who has taken a knock or 5. Nonetheless, being employed by Malick boosted her confidence. “It was validating. By that time I used to be feeling: possibly this isn’t what I used to be meant to do?” Malick reassured her: “He mentioned, ‘By no means surrender.’ I wanted that.”

Bennett’s breakthrough lastly got here within the feminist indie drama Swallow. Bennett performs Hunter, a lady in full Stepford spouse mode: stunning home, wealthy husband. When she will get pregnant, she develops a freakish craving to eat objects that aren’t meals (the situation is named pica). For Hunter it begins when she pops a marble into her mouth. The movie is pitch good: humorous and subversive with a shiver of physique horror.

Producing and appearing in Swallow was transformative, says Bennett. “I don’t suppose, earlier than Swallow, I’d have been in a position to have this dialog with you. I discovered my voice by way of the method of telling that story. Hunter didn’t have a voice and I felt that manner in my life, I felt that manner in my profession. Like my voice didn’t matter.”

Partly, she credit Wright with the change; they labored collectively on her character (he served as govt producer on the movie). “It was a really important collaboration with a artistic companion, with Joe. How supportive he was and the way totally different that relationship was to any relationship I’ve ever had in my life.” Listening again to the recording, I can hear the click-click of her nervously opening and shutting her gold locket.

In 2018, the pair discovered themselves within the tabloid highlight: papped at an airport collectively not lengthy after Wright introduced the tip of his marriage to the musician Anoushka Shankar, with whom he shares two sons.

The couple have been at residence in Somerset initially of the primary lockdown. Bennett’s face melts right into a blissful smile on the point out of it. “I’ve fallen in love with the English countryside. We moved to Somerset a 12 months earlier than the pandemic, proper within the nick of time.” Her lockdown Instagram feed is idyllic (Virginia in corduroy and bonnets, daffodils, canines, countryside sunsets, puppet exhibits). “I’ve taken up gardening, rising our personal meals, chickens. I’ve actually leaned into that sluggish tempo of life.”

Wright had been engaged on Cyrano for 2 years initially of the pandemic; the producers have been considering that filming could be kicked again to 2022 or 2023. However in June 2020, Wright determined it was now or by no means. The solid and crew shaped a manufacturing bubble in Noto, Sicily, in October 2020, continually anxious a few Covid outbreak. “At one level it was proposed that Pete and I sing to one another with Plexiglass between us,” she giggles. Not very romantic.

Bennett says that “dream work” helped her overcome anxiousness on the prospect of enjoying Roxanne. That is the appearing methodology that’s all the craze in Hollywood: selecting aside desires to unlock creativity. Bennett labored with the appearing coach Greta Seacat (who helped Kirsten Dunst on The Energy of the Canine). “I didn’t go to movie faculty, I didn’t research theatre. So [it’s] with the ability to deep-dive into a method moderately than occupied with my very own concern and emotions of inadequacy.” She appears up a bit of warily, acutely aware this could simply be mocked as actorly pretentiousness.

The dream work helped her to silence the important voice in her head on Cyrano, she says. What was it telling her? “Oh: You’re unfit. You don’t have what it takes to painting a powerful, highly effective, daring and courageous character.”

Our time is sort of up. I take a look at the picture on the desk: four-year-old Haley appears very pleased, I say. Bennett nods. “She appears very pleased and harmless and candy. After which issues get troublesome as you grow old and wish validation and love. It’s all about love. All of us simply wish to be cherished and seen.”

Cyrano is in cinemas on 25 February

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