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BAFTA Film Sessions 2022: Leading Actress

4 March 2022
Event: BAFTA Film: The Sessions, Leading ActressDate: Thursday 3 March 2022Venue: VirtualHost: Danny Leigh-

Danny Leigh in conversation with Joanna Scanlan, Emilia Jones, Renate Reinsve, Lady Gaga and Alana Haim

Danny Leigh: Hello and good evening. My name is Danny Leigh. And welcome to the 2022 BAFTA Film Sessions. This hybrid series of 14 events celebrates the nominees from this year's EE British Academy Film Awards, and tonight's event welcomes five of this year's brilliant leading actress nominees.

I've got a pinch of housekeeping before we start. Please do join the conversation on social using #EEBAFTAs. And closed captioning is available now, which you can turn on the bottom of your screen via the CC button.

Now, as I say, we're delighted to have five nominees joining us this evening with Emilia Jones for CODA, Renate Reinsve for The Worst Person in the World, Joanna Scanlan for After Love, Lady Gaga for House of Gucci, and Alana Haim for Licorice Pizza.

Welcome to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us. It's brilliant to have you here. To start, I actually have a question for everyone, so I'm going to ask it and then come to each of you in turn, because it applies to all of you.

Each one of your performances is so vivid. When we're watching them, we feel like we end up knowing your characters so well. And I wondered, at what point in the creative process did you come to know and understand your character? Does that happen instantly on page one of the script, or does it happen much later? I mean, does it really only happen actually when you're on set? Joanna Scanlan, I'm going to come to you first.

Joanna Scanlan: {Laughs} Not me first please!

DL: You’re on the spot.

JS: Well, I can think of a moment sort of, which was we'd actually just started shooting. We were doing drone shots and it was early doors, and I really couldn't find how to play the Nemours prayer because it felt like a stretch. It was hard to get on top of the Arabic and so on. Anyway, I asked Talid Ariss' mum — who was there because he was only 16 at the time and he had a chaperone, who in this week was his mum.

I said, could she record it for me? And she just did the Nemours prayer on my phone, on my iPhone. And we were sitting on the white cliffs of Dover, looking out to Calais. And she did it so beautifully that it just, I thought, oh, okay, but that's where I'm headed. So that's the inner person that's like the core of that person. And if I can reach to that, then I've got an inkling about the character. I mean, there were many other things before that, but that was a big moment.

DL: Fantastic. And thank you for going for first Joanna, I appreciate that.

Lady Gaga, let me bring you in. I mean, in your creative process, at what point did Patrizia Gucci kind of, you know, take shape in front of you? At what point did you think ‘I know this woman’?

Lady Gaga: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me today, and I'm feel really honoured to be here with all these incredible women and I look up to all of you.

So in terms of your question, actually, I feel like I have sort of multiple answers, which is that at some point right before we began filming, I felt that I had done a lot of research on Patrizia and really delved into the script. I spent a lot of time studying the script in a very specific way in an effort to understand her, as well as understand myself as it relates to her. Meaning what about Patrizia was like me? And what about Patrizia was not like me? And how do you fill in those gaps and those holes? So when I got to Italy, once I started to talk to Italian people and really live in Rome as her, there was there was a sense of becoming that I really experienced.

And yet I also feel like the best way for me to truly answer this question is to say that I don't feel like I really knew exactly who she was until I was done filming. Because, you know, you think you know a character, you think you know the person, especially playing somebody real. You think you know absolutely everything about them, as much as you can. But I feel like I was a student throughout this entire process, so I wouldn't even want to really say that I knew her perfectly before we started. I discovered her in every scene. I discovered her through her relationships with the entire family. And I also discovered her through how I injected myself into the performance, meaning I’ve had a complicated relationship with patriarchy and women's roles in the world. And in what ways did all of that information in that perspective inform this performance? I think that she operated inside of a system that was inherently designed to push her down, and it did. And by the end of filming, I felt that I really, really knew her. And in that way, I was also ready to leave her because I got so close to it that it was time for it to be over.

DL: Perfect. Renate, let me bring you in. What's your relationship with Julie in The Worst Person in the World? How quickly did you come to know this very complex character?

Renate Reinsve: Yeah, it's very complex. It's very complex. And I'm of the opinion that human beings can’t really see themselves what they are truly. And for me, I think it was, you know, about like giving it as much nuance and as much complexity as I could. And put it all in there for a structure, to be free within that structure. But it's a difficult question because I felt that I didn't know who she was when I was filming her. I had a sense of what choices she wanted to make and of course, couldn't make. That's her core, too.

But it was very, I guess, when I met the audience and started talking about Julie and people having a very personal and emotional connection to Julie and to the film, I felt I knew her in a different way. So it's still like ongoing conversations about who she is and what she represents. And I am, I love that character, so I'm very happy that I, like, a year after now, get to talk to people about her, still.

DL: Emilia, let me come to you. And that’s so fascinating actually, the idea that the character kind of changes in the eyes of other people. So let me tweak the question for you really — both about when you got to know Ruby in CODA, but also whether maybe your relationship with her has changed since the film came out?

Emilia Jones: I really got to know Ruby quite quickly, because I was cast on, I think, a Friday, and then on the Monday, I went straight into American Sign Language training. And I had an amazing coach who was deaf. And so, I immediately was learning about the culture, about the language. He was telling me stories in ASL and I guess I just learnt a lot faster than I thought I would because he was such an amazing teacher. And I trained for nine months, and so I was learning more and more and more and more and more. And then I spoke to a lot of CODAs also in my prep time, and I think that's when I really started to understand the character and her kind of battles, her inner battles. And the fact that this character feels like she's part of two worlds, the hearing world and the deaf world, but doesn't really feel like she belongs to either.

But I was 17 and Ruby 17, I think that rarely happens. People always tend to cast older, and I totally understand I was always losing out to older girls because they could work a full day on set and I couldn't. But I was glad that Sian (Heder) did cast authentically, because I was kind of at that age where I guess I was figuring out who I was.

And then I guess, you asked about how things change when the movie's out. It hasn't really changed, I think, because I was so close to Troy, Marlee and Daniel, and I kind of became a CODA on the film set, because we were filming in this tiny house and we were only allowed, I think it was like six or seven crew members in at once. And so people couldn't get in, interpreters couldn't get in to, kind of, talk. So I ended up interpreting for Marlee, Troy and Daniel and I kind of became a little CODA.

And then it's been really nice that people, after they've seen the movie, CODAs especially, have come up to me and said, thank you for kind of representing our community on screen. So it's been just a wonderful, really, really lovely experience and I loved every second.

DL: And Alana, how about you with Alana and Licorice Pizza? I mean, she's this box of surprises in the film, but did you know from your first morning on set exactly who this woman was or was? Or was that a bit of a kind of surprise for you as you were working through the film?

Alana Haim: I mean, Alana Kane is a little bit more unhinged than Alana Haim. She yells a lot more, especially to her family. But no, I remember the thing that I feared the most with playing this part was that I had to drive this stick shift 70s U-Haul truck, and I didn't think that I was actually going to do it, until I was told, ‘No, you are, you are doing this.’ And there was this one move that I had to do — I had to reverse very quickly and then go forward and then but also say lines. And I will never forget when I did this like very dangerous move that was so incredibly physical, and then I could say lines as I was doing it. I remember I walked out of the truck and everyone was just stunned because I definitely probably almost hit a bunch of parked cars. I knew I was good, no one else did. But I knew that if I could do that, something so physical because again, I'd never done this before. I bend the knee to all of you guys, by the way, I have no idea how I got here, but I'm very grateful. But I had never done this before. I'm a musician, and so doing something so physical and being able to kind of do a million things at once. It made me feel so incredibly powerful, and it made me really fall in love with Alana Kane. And I wish I had more of her confidence in real life. But no, she's super powerful, super intense, again, a little unhinged, but a lot of fun, and I very much loved her.

DL: The truck scene is an instant classic as well. So it was all worth it.

Joanna, let me come back to you. In a lot of the most powerful scenes in After Love, it really struck me that you were alone on screen. I mean, I wondered as an actor, how do you prepare for that moment when it's just going to be you in the camera?

JS: Can I just say how nice it is to hear the other women talking about their films? It's absolutely riveting to, having seen them, to just hear a little bit around the back of what went on. It's really fascinating. Thank you.

Yeah. Well, I guess I don't know, I mean, playing that character is just such an immersive experience. But to be honest, the relationship was just with the cinematographer, really. So I never was alone because he was always there — Alexander Dynan. And he was operating as well as being cinematographer. So it was always, kind of, a less lonely space, if you like. Before ‘action’, it was a bit lonely. But then as soon as it was ‘action’, it was like a relationship there. There's somebody holding it. And so it didn't really feel truly alone. And of course, you’re not alone, there's loads of other people standing around, in and out of your eye line. But it felt to me like a lovely place to be held, you know, to be sort of erm, just sort of almost like an embrace that I really loved. And similarly, I've never played a leading role, or not to that, not to the extent of just that much in your, you know, in your face a lot of the time. And that was a little bit unusual, but then you just do it day by day, bit by bit, scene by scene, moment by moment, take by take, I guess.

DL: But one of the things which is so fascinating about the film, I think, is you do both so brilliantly because, you know, you do hold the camera solo so much, so brilliantly, but also you have these compelling onscreen relationships. You already mentioned Talid Ariss and I wanted to mention your relationship with him on screen. Because, you know, he's a very young actor. I'm going to ask this of other nominees, too, but I wondered how you build a really a close working relationship with someone you're going to be sharing the screen with, you know, both on and off camera

JS: I just loved him. And I don't know why, and I don't know, that wasn’t about acting, really. He doesn't speak, or didn't at this point speak particularly good English. So we weren't like chatting or anything. He was sitting like 16, smoking a lot. And I just looked at him and just thought, I really love you, you're just extraordinary. And then we played the end of the film in the first week. So there was something about the conclusion of the story that happened at the beginning, and that meant we had this bang moment. And when I was standing there and he hugs me, he just like squeezed the living daylights out of me. It was just almost like huge, huge hug and it took my breath away. And I couldn't help but just love him for that. And I think it was a genuine feeling of a deep affection.

DL: I'd love to throw that question open, actually to the other nominees as well. When you're building that relationship with your co-stars, does it need to be built around a scene? I mean, is it actually about sharing a scene and then almost the relationship follows? Or can you, can you become friends and colleagues first? I'm going to pick on someone unless someone volunteers.

RR: You have to pick. You have to pick.

DL: Well, let me come to Emilia. I'm fascinated particularly by your work on CODA because you've already mentioned, you know, learning ASL and learning sign language, which obviously you're doing, I guess, with the part on one level, but also behind the scenes as well, you know, to actually have that bond with your co-stars, that command of sign language is also going to be important. So I guess you're doing two things at once.

EJ: Well reading the script, I mean, the story is a love letter to family. And so I was very aware going into the preparation and the nine months that I didn't just want to learn my lines, I wanted to learn the language so I could have a proper conversation with Marlee, Troy and Daniel. And I didn't want to have to talk through an interpreter because I wanted that connection and that bond. And the minute I flew to Massachusetts, Marlee, Troy and Daniel welcomed me into the community and all of our interpreters on set were CODAs and so they welcomed me into the community. And we had, kind of, two weeks of prep time and the first time I met Troy and Daniel — my dad and my brother in the film — was the first time we went three miles out at sea to go fishing at 3am. And so it was definitely a bonding experience because it was kind of like we were thrown into the deep end. I'd never fished. I've never really been on a boat. And they'd never fished, let alone worked a professional fishing trawler. So we met these seven fishermen from Gloucester who were all really, really tough. Troy calls them like Popeye. And we just met and went out at sea. And, you know, we were on that boat all day, for hours and hours and hours. And I think that just made us bond really, really quickly. And so going into most of the family scenes, which came first in our shoot, it meant that we already kind of had this, yeah, this relationship. So I was lucky that we had that prep time. Because that's rare, especially when it's a small, independent film and time is rushed. But we had that kind of moment, which I was very grateful for.

DL: Alana, I'm going to bring you in on this question I think. Because it's kind of mind blowing that Licorice Pizza is your first film, but it's also the first film of your co-star Cooper Hoffman. And I wonder, was there a sense on set that both of you were kind of finding your way through this thing together? A little bit like Alana and Gary are as characters in the film as well?

AH: Completely. I mean, me and Cooper Hoffman had never done this before. Which honestly, I think worked in our favour because we were both so close in the fact that we both didn't know if we were doing OK. So I can call him every day and be like, ‘I'm sorry, I stepped on your lines’ like, ‘No, no, no, it's my fault. It's my fault, I did everything.’ We were both very insecure throughout this whole process, but I was so grateful because we had, I think it was super important that me and Cooper became close before we started shooting, because we had three months of just getting to know each other through FaceTime time because it was COVID. So we would just talk all the time and had an incredible connection. We like grew up — I mean he’s like ten years younger than me — but we liked the same music. We loved the same things almost instantaneously. And it was so great because when we started at day one, we started with Jon Peters — Mr. Bradley Cooper — with that scene, I mean, to jump in to basically almost the end of the movie where we're super close, we have to be incredibly close because it's us against the world, we have this beast that we have to tame and we have to be together in this. It's this obstacle that's so great and we can only work through it together. And so showing up on day one and having him basically be my brother at that point, it was like, ‘Oh, we got this, it's you and me against the world’. And it was so important because it really did feel like we could jump in and do this together, and it's still that way. I mean, he's still my best friend. I think I wouldn't have been able to do this without him.

DL: You mentioned earlier coming to the film as a musician, and I wondered how much making the movie felt connected to that creative life. I mean, obviously, you worked with Paul Thomas Anderson on a whole bunch of music videos before, but is there a deeper connection going on there as well?

AH: I mean, I think the thing, I mean, and we have another amazing, incredible musician in this in this talk, too, which is very comforting. But I think it really goes back to being able, when you step on stage, it's so, you know, so many things can happen in an instant. I mean, it's live, you're in front of people. Anything can go wrong and you really have to keep moving forward. But I thought it was just so great because it really did make me feel like okay I have this many things to do, and on stage I have a million things to do and you have to focus and not look like a deer in the headlights. And that's how I kind of brought it to acting. I mean, there's so many people around you and you're supposed to be acting like there's nobody in the room and you just have to black it out and just be very focused. And it's this weird thing that, I don't know if any of you guys feel it like how I feel, but I was incredibly nervous before every take and I had a teacher telling me that if you're nervous, it means that you care. And I cared a lot. I cared so much about doing a good job and doing a good job for Paul in the movie. But I would be so nervous and then when I would hear ‘action’, it kind of felt like this weird wave of calm would come over me, which is the same wave of calm that happens before I play music. Before, I'm incredibly nervous, I have stage fright and then it's like, you step in through this like weird, invisible curtain that you're just like, oh no, I got this. Maybe four minutes ago I was pacing through my dressing room being like, ‘Why do I do this to myself? What am I doing? What am I going through here?’ And then it was nice to have that same wave with acting and with being in front of a camera. I mean it, it's really weird and it feels like this inexplainable feeling. But it happened and it kind of feels like magic.

DL: Can we just have a quick show of hands, actually everyone? How nervous are we all? Do we get nervous on the first day of shooting? Who's nervous? Who isn’t? A show of hands, for nerves.

EJ: I'm nervous right now.

[They all raise their hands]

JS: I do know what you're saying, and I know it's tough.

RR: Yeah, yeah. It's so interesting. I want to hear you guys talk. And then I forget, oh yeah, I have to answer something too. But yeah.

DL: Well, if it's fascinating for you, it's even more fascinating for me because, you know, I get all the pro tips.

Lady Gaga, I mean, let me bring you back in as well. I mean, we talked again earlier already a little bit about that process of getting to know your character. I mean, how did you judge how much was enough of an immersion in the character off-camera? You know, that process of becoming Patrizia off-camera? At what point do you think ‘I have now become her’?

LG: You know, I think that every actor has a different style of acting, and I think it's really fascinating to hear everybody speak about their craft and speak about their relationships with their co-stars, cinematographers, directors. For me, this is an endless process and I think, you know, just loving, immersive acting for me. I think one of the things I found that the most interesting and life-giving to the character was — how do I explore who she is? How do I discover who she is by being curious about how to be private in public? You know, there's a little bit of this kind of coming up as everybody speaks, but I really view acting as that — as being private in public. And this this notion that there's people all around you while you're working, you know how can we become capable of fully being our truest selves, being as vulnerable and open and raw as possible? Part of becoming her was getting to know everybody that I worked with. And the way that I got to know them, I feel in a lot of ways was in the ways that we were willing to share our vulnerabilities with each other. I mean, Adam (Driver) knew almost everything about me, the same with Al (Pacino).

We had long discussions about a family and life. Jeremy Irons and I used to talk all the time and also Jared (Leto) and I mean, Salma (Hayek). I find that there's there is a becoming for me of my character when I'm able to reveal to the actor that I'm working with, as well as to the director, what my buttons are and where to push them. So that at any given moment, Ridley (Scott) can start pushing my different buttons and I am then becoming her on camera. I view this in a lot of ways. It's like a very generative art experience.

 We can say, I can say I became her before I started. or when I was off camera, but was I ever really? Or did it happen when I was on set with my fellow actors? Or did it happen in the editing room? I think that it's kind of it's an interesting conversation. Like, what is the definition of becoming? And to me, there's a way that the world views Patrizia, and the way that the performance was experienced. But then there's also my experience. So when I watch the film back, it's like watching a montage of something that felt like, you know, a year and a half of my real life.

But what I would say is that. In a little bit of a plainer sense, if I just try to take a step back and look at it from a bird's eye view, becoming the character for me is always the thing. It's always the single most important thing to me because I know then if I have the DNA and the soul of the character inside me, and I have a framework with how I personify not just the cast, but the characters, there's then a way for me to be present and have dialog in the most honest way possible.

This woman did a reprehensible thing, and yet I cannot play that in every scene because that's not who she was in every scene. It's not who she was in her whole life. One of the biggest challenges for me, which is why it's actually kind of hard to answer this question, is that in the film, it spans 30 years of her life. So I'm playing anywhere from between a 25-year-old and older. And with that happening, you know, becoming her, it's like in some moments I was becoming her at that age and other moments, I was becoming her later in life. And I periodically set milestones in my script for the various traumas that this woman experienced and what were all the things that led for her to commit this murder? So I guess what I'm trying to say is at any given moment while filming and working and being immersive, I was becoming having some type of way. But it's not linear, it's not a straight line. She's complicated. Women are complicated.

Women are complicated, beautiful creatures. You can hear that listening to everybody talk today about their different experiences, all inspiring, all something that I'm in awe of. What I'm what I'm interested in about acting as a woman is, and I don't know how everybody else feels about this, but being on set with a lot of men most of the time and playing a female character is it's a powerful experience. And you really have to stay true to yourself and also hold those nerves that you have. And it's interesting to hear Alana say that about being nervous because you care. Tony Bennett has always said that to me, my whole career with him that I've known and loved him, he’s always said, “you're nervous because you care.”

So I suppose that's a very tangential response to your question. But there's been a lot of questions I've answered about immersive acting and being a method actress. But what I would say is that it's all the things. It's all of the above. Every cell in my body, my fingernails, you know, I did as much as much research about her life and her family and things about that you never saw on camera that I also did about, you know, studying photographs of her and trying to figure out what her nail polish colour was. I remember I spent several hours one day doing that and I said, I think it's Jade Rose Chanel. And I then I then ordered it online and it showed up and it oxidized in the bottle. And then I had to mix it together to get something accurate. But I'm using that silly example as a way of saying there's an accuracy to alchemy, and I think every actress that's on this call did that alchemy, chemistry, becoming her. So like the art of combining things and making formulas.

DL: I want to ask everyone really about their relationship with directors. But you mentioned Ridley Scott just now, and I'm curious, you know, in this incredibly dense, intricate kind of building of a character that you're talking about, did he just give you the space to do that? Or is there more of a direct collaboration going on between you and him?

LG: You know, I love working with Ridley so much. From the very beginning we had strong conversations about Patrizia, but it was interesting, like as the filming process began and as we started to work, he started really to come to me and say, “okay, what is this scene about?” He became interested in the way I saw her because he never spoke to me, as me, really. He always called me Stefani. Ridley doesn't know me as Gaga. He doesn't refer to me that way. And that was always important to me too, because little Stefani, the me inside of all of this acting, is the place where I pull everything from when I'm working. Working with Ridley, I would say he ultimately empowered me to tell this story in the way that I believed I wanted to. And I don't know how everybody else feels about this on the on the call, working in your various scripts, in your various stories and characters — but for me, it's like, how can many things be true at once for a character? So that we we're not telling these one-dimensional stories that make women viewed by the world in this one-dimensional way. But how are we multi-dimensional? And how can I both be a brutal character as well as somebody that's a mother? And you know, there's there was a scene in the film that I was so grateful to Ridley for — this series of moments that we shot, and it's after Maurizio Gucci is murdered and I'm entering the house, there's paparazzi all outside, and I actually did a lot of sense memory work that dated back to the deepest trauma in my life, in the car. And as the car pulled up, I was doing this sense memory work. They yell ‘action’, I get out of the car. And I had made the decision not to take my daughter's hand as I was walking through the cameras, to go into the house that we used to live in together. And I remember Ridley allowing me to make these choices — the choice that she would in this moment be so paralyzed and that all her survival mechanisms, would kick into gear that she would forget her daughter, that she would walk in with no sense of her motherhood in that moment. And then yet when she would arrive in the house, she would be faced with the woman that had an affair with her husband and she would hold her and hug her and embrace her that they both loved the same man. So I'm telling this is the story to provide some colour to you of the ways in which my amazing director, who's also a man, empowered me to make complicated female choices. And I don't think that that always happens, and I think sometimes even in scripts, it can be interesting the way that we have to swim against the current of a way a story’s told. This script was written by a man, and so much of the story is about a woman. So I spent a lot of time really advocating for women's stories.

And I think everybody here gave such beautiful performances, and I feel really, really honoured to be able to talk about this. And I'm interested what everyone thinks about what it's like to be a woman that's an actress. But also if the person that wrote the script is male or that the director is male, like, how does that inform the performance and how does that change the way that we tell our story?

DL: Well, that's a perfect segue to actually to bring Renate in. Obviously, as we say, Julie is this incredibly complex character, you know, she's a woman with many parts. And you're working with Joachim Trier, a male director. So how yeah, how was that dynamic for you in that case? You're playing this very complex woman in a film directed by a man?

RR: Yeah. And I knew that the role was actually written for me, and it is written by two men —

Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier. And I was really scared reading the script the first time just to, I don't know, see that aspect of two men writing a female character and also how they kind of thought that they saw me. You know. But I think for Joachim and Eskil they are really humble and very curious, and they really wanted my opinion. And also like, like you say, Lady Gaga, like they wanted to invite me in with my perspective, and that was very important. And they knew that they needed that to make this story. And for them, it's not about writing a woman, it's about writing a human being. Starting with a character that is complex and then a part of her identity is being a woman. And I really like that perspective going into this role. I feel a lot of her is, of course, her struggles as a woman, but also as a person. And the themes are so universal. They talk about choices, and they talk about loss of both people, and the image that you have of yourself, and what you thought you should be, thought you would be, and what you always don't become. No one plans to become, or some people do, but I like life is a chaos, and it's like very big existential things. And I felt really respected. My choices, my thoughts, they were very respected. So I felt very comfortable in working with them and Joachim as a director too, very, very comfortable. And it was some like small nuances that I needed to, I felt it was a little bit implied and romanticized that Aksel, who is the male lead, he's kind of defining Julie. So I tried to make it into a problem that she actually doesn’t know who she is, so she needs someone to define her. And that's paradoxically why she has to leave him in the end, because she doesn't want to be defined. This is all subconsciously, of course. And also that maybe Aksel was the strongest one and this was, maybe I don't think they meant to write it, but that maybe they just think that, that if you are well articulated, if you know exactly what happens, that every time if you can structure, see the structure of your life and put it into words, you are the strong part of the relationship. And I really fought for chaos and to not know exactly where you are or who to be. And I'm not saying that's a feminine quality, really. But it might sometimes be, that it might sometimes just be put on women, that that's how we are, even though we can be different things. But I feel I touched on some themes and started talking about some themes with this movie. And of course, it's a long way to still. But I’m a part of it.

DL: Before you made the film, I mean, you worked with Joachim Trier eleven years ago, I think it was eleven years ago?

RR: Yeah, but I had one line. [Laughs] And my line was, “let's go to the party!” And then he was like, ‘Whoa, she needs to do a lead’.

DL: I mean, I wondered when you've got a kind of working history with a director like that, do you do you expect to pick up where you left off? Did he expect to pick up where you left off because people change a lot in eleven years.

RR: From that one line? Yeah, we were like let’s go back to that moment. [Laughs]

Now, it was very, very different. But I feel like Joachim — talking about being nervous before — I was really, really nervous in preparing, and I had a year to prepare and find all the complexity and nuances in her inner life and her subconscious, you know, every all those layers. But when I came on set, it was really about, it wasn't about me being a lead. Of course, I had my preparation very thoroughly and for a long time, but it was really about finding the dynamic between the characters on set. And being really safe and opening up to those big like, for instance, when you fall in love and you meet someone and you want to be your most charming self and you want to be amazing, you also bring like your shame and your defaults and all this stuff you don’t like about yourself. So actually, with someone else opening up to that, and being very honest, that makes it less scary to, I feel just to like, lean on everyone else. Everyone else on set was so into the script and like the focus puller had his favourite scene and I wanted to honour him and the way I did it. We were all really in it together and made it a lot less scary.

DL: Emilia, let me bring you back in before we go to audience questions, which we will be doing in about four or five minutes. I mean, CODA is this beautiful coming of age film and you've been acting and performing since you were a kid. And I wondered watching it whether there was a point, maybe with CODA itself, where you thought, ‘OK, that was me as a child, essentially having fun, and now this is my career’. Or in fact, has it all be your career, or actually are you still just having fun?

EJ: I mean, I'm always having fun. I love this.

It was so much fun, but it was bloody hard work. And as much as it was fun, there were moments where I would wobble and think, ‘what have I signed up to do?’ You know, I had never had a singing lesson before CODA. I didn't know any American Sign Language. I had never been fishing, let alone on a trawler. I didn't know how to interpret. I didn't even realize that that was a skill I'd have to learn. I'd never done a Massachusetts accent. And so there was just a big fat no by every single skill that was required. And so it did make me — you said nerves — made me nervous, but I think that's what's so amazing about this job. You know, when you are scared, it pushes you and it gets you out of your comfort zone and you learn so much. I think because I am really young, I'm all for learning. I learn from amazing people I work with. I'm learning from all of you right now, hearing all of your experiences. I learned so much from Sian. If I talk about Sian, she is a phenomenal director. She took a chance when she cast me and I was 17 and British, and it was a big role. But I love that Sian takes risks. She's a trailblazer. And she also learnt American Sign Language with me. And so when I had the scenes, like Both Sides Now at the end of the movie, going into that scene because she had learned sign language, she knew how hard that scene was and she was kind of such a supporter. Like, for instance, that scene like going into Both Sides Now, I had to make sure my acting was, I guess, tonally where it needed to be. I had to sing in an accent that wasn't my own, and sing in tune because all the singing was recorded live on set and Ruby gets into Berkeley, which is one of the best music schools ever. And I had to make sure that that my sign language was accurate because no matter how many takes you do, if your sign language is only accurate and one that's the only take they can pick in the edit. And because we were an independent film with no money and no time, you don't get that many takes anyway. And you know, we all, I think, can agree that more takes to choose from in the edit is better. And so going into that scene, it very much was kind of multi-tasking under pressure. So it was a challenge, but it was fun because when I finished that scene, I can't explain — I can't actually explain the feeling when we wrapped as well — when I finished it, it's like it was so rewarding and I felt really proud that I, kind of, completed it. But I had a great group of people that helped me with this role, so it did make it still fun. And my mom came with me too, to help me and support me and make sure I didn't have to worry about anything else but my sign language, because often it would change the day before. And so I had a lot on my plate, but I had great people surrounding me to help me out.


DL: I wanted to ask you Emilia, but actually I'm going to ask everyone this this same question before we get audience questions. You know how much you've kind of, we’ve touched on this a little bit actually, but about how much you sought out other actors’ performances, in particular movies? And how much you seek out other movies to learn from and to kind of measure yourself against?

JS: I mean, I want to seek out other people's movies because they give you, you know, something in your heart. That's the inspiration. I don't think it's looking for, particularly for technique, because there are many ways, as everybody said there are. You're an individual, you have your processes, and you have the context in which you're working, and all sorts of things that will make it very difficult to just mimic or even work with that sort of energy in the same way. But I do think other people's movies, I mean, films for me changed my life. When I was a young person, and I didn't know that you could think differently or act differently in this world, it was films that showed me. And that still is the case today. I seek the, I mean, the films we're talking about here are films that mean a lot to me personally, each one of them actually for different reasons. But that's really, truly part of who I am. And that imaginative, emotional, moral change of point of view is what I go to the cinema for. And so without that, I wouldn't be so, you know, I'm so proud to be part of that stream.

RR: That's very, that's yeah. No, I just wanted to say that was a really nice thing to say.

LG: That was beautiful. I think it's so true about watching films and watching other actors that you get to experience people's hearts, like you were just saying. The love that people have not, just for movie making, but for storytelling and for humanity. I just think it's just a really powerful way that we all get to learn about each other. And I'm always interested in, I think when I whenever I watch movies, I think to myself what was happening off camera and what happened to these people their whole lives that brought them to this moment? And then what happened to us that brought us all to this moment to sit here right now and watch this movie? And how is it bonding all of us? I think art, and filmmaking in particular, is immensely powerful.

JS: Mm hmm. Hear hear.

DL: So I've got a fantastic audience question here. Quite a few, actually. But first, I'm going to go for is from Isabella Furst, and she's a young female filmmaker. And she wants to know from all of you really, kind of what gives directors the extra — the ‘extra jump’ is the way she puts it — you know, to entice you to work with them. And what is it about the director? And I guess actually, it's particularly interesting that that's coming from a young woman filmmaker. What is it that really gets your attention as a filmmaker where you think ‘this is somebody that I want to connect with creatively’?

RR: I think just like if they have a really strong voice and that they actually fight for keeping that. Because you know productions can be so big and that it's really hard to get money to make things. But if you actually go through that process fighting for what you really believe in, and you see someone trying to say something new and be progressive and really fight for what they believe in, and that you see a spark there. And also, like, a really good script, of course. And yeah, for me, those are very important too.

EJ: I completely agree, I think passion.

JS: And like Lady Gaga was saying about that, at the end of when she when she had finished Gucci, that it was time to say goodbye to that character, I think we will need to take a break and do a different kind of film. That would be that's, you know, you need you need a bit of change because to just sit in, you know, the big emotion of if I was doing After Love and then another After Love and then another After Love, I don't think I'd have a very happy life. And its sort of like a different director brings a different quality and something a part of them that you can hook in with. And so, you know, some people are more interested in the toys and some people are more interested in emotions, and some people are more interested in the quirk or whatever. And I think it's really lovely for us as actors to shift and have opportunities to hook in with the things that they are interested in.

DL: Alana, let me bring you in on that question, actually, because obviously, as we said, you know, you have this relationship is working relationship with Paul pre-dating the film, but I mean, are you now kind of looking to work with other directors as well and to kind of broaden that whole experience?

AH: I would love to. I mean, it sounds terrifying, but I would love to. I mean, working with Paul, we had such trust. And the last thing I worried about was him. I mean, and he supported me through this whole process. And I think the thing that I loved about it the most is that because I was so calm and because I trusted him so much, he let me really run free and try things. And I mean, the only sort of acting experience that I can think of is growing up and just trying to make people laugh. That's all I cared about doing growing up. I loved making people laugh. I love seeing smiles on people's faces. And to have a director that let me really just go for laughs. I mean, I was doing outrageous things that were not written in the scripts. Including slapping and asking about people's nether regions. And just saying the craziest things that would come to my mind. And the only person that I cared about making laugh was Paul, because if he laughed then I knew I was on the right track. And so to have a director that really, I mean obviously I love all of his films, to be a part of his legacy is a really great honour. But it was just so, if I worked with anyone, I would just hope that I had that trust. And so the last thing that I was thinking about was my performance because I knew that they got me. Like, if you got me, I got you, and I'm here to just make sure that your vision is on that screen. And also, if I could add just a little bit of my thoughts to it, that would be great.

DL: Isabella Furst actually asked another great question. So she wants to know what's the biggest thing that you want audiences to take away from your films? I mean, I wonder, actually, when you when you're going into a project, is that what you're thinking? Are you thinking in terms of what the audience will then go away with? Or is this much more personal at that stage? Joanna I'm going to come to you first.

JS: I don't think you can control that at all, really. I think you offer up what you offer up, which is essentially the truth of that moment, the truth that those all those moments, and the preparation then as it's caught by a camera, at that moment, and then edited and blah blah blah. You can offer that up. But it's connecting — you know, I think I think there's a lot of academic work on this — it's connecting with the unconscious. Cinema, unlike other art forms, really goes deep into the dreamscape of human beings in a very strange, unknowable, uncatchable way. And therefore, I just don't think, I can't know the inner, I never could. In fact, that's the point of life, isn't it, to try to get as close as close as close as you possibly can be to understanding another human being's dreamscape? That's kind of what I see life to be. So film has this instant relationship with that place. And I think therefore, I can't define it. All I can do is try to be as open and truthful in that moment as I possibly can be, given the parameters of character, story, and director's intentions, and everything else.

DL: Lady Gaga, how about you, I mean, are you thinking, when you’re on set, are you thinking of what this will mean to the audience or is your process too deep at that point?

LG: You know, I actually find that it's a bit of both and that both of those things are true at the same time. I think that, well, definitely while I'm in a scene, I'm not thinking about the public. But all the other time that I'm working, and especially in the preparation of choosing a film or working with a director. Just to even get back to our earlier questions, I love working with lots of different types of people. I find it fascinating to have diverse relationships in my life. Everybody's different. Every artist is different. In terms of what I'm thinking about, whether it's the public or am I trying to say something, I guess I would say is that when thinking about this character in particular, it was so important to me that I made something of her. That was that was a bit of the truth. And I think that Joanna was just kind of saying this as well, that there's, I believe there's so much that we do unconsciously as people. There's, you know, the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious. And the unconscious is like that deep thing where we behave and do things that we're not even aware of. And it's something that's like part of our epigenetics. It's like it's buried so deep inside of us and it's been carried through. And I remember thinking to myself that I wanted, I always want to make the public smile. So that's something I deeply care about. And I'm always interested in and creating truths, and finding the real truths, to share a bit of myself, but to share a bit of what I believe that I'm sort of academically discovering about humanity through a character. But also, I'm really interested in finding the thing that will be meaningful to people, something that they can take with them, something that maybe they didn't think about before, something that maybe they went through something in their life that they unconsciously have not faced, but they then see that and through you and a character, and then they face it in that moment. I did a scene with Jack Huston in House of Gucci, in the courtyard of my daughter's school, and he serves me with divorce papers, and he's been the business attorney for decades for the family. And I remember that in that scene, I prepared so much for every scene, but for this scene, I had prepared so much work and whether I was listening to music or I was doing personification a circumstantial mapping to other moments in my life, what I discovered is that in this moment where this woman is completely falling apart, she's also more of a rock star than she's ever been in her whole life. And in that moment, I was able with Jack, knowing Jack and going to him before and saying, I just want to be very clear that I'm going to say and do a lot of things and do I have your consent before this scene, and he said “You can do whatever you want.” And I remember thinking that I discovered something that I then hoped the audience would maybe feel unconsciously, which was that maybe when women, maybe when we've aged and the world is saying that we've changed and that we're becoming, we're becoming older or we're becoming, as she was, ugly to the people around her, maybe in this moment, are we are we the superstars that we never even realized our whole lives that we could be? Meaning the bravery of the human spirit, the champion and everyone? Those are the things I'm fascinated with. How can I be subversive through a character? And help the audience discover something that they just have never discovered before.

DL: Renate, how about you? I mean, with The Worst Person in the World, I mean, is there something specific that you want the audience to come away with? Or is that between them in the film and kind of none of your business?

RR: Well, it is. But it actually, with this movie, when I read the script, I felt I'd been everywhere emotionally and also in different places. And I felt because it was my first lead, I was so scared of not, like, I was scared of robbing the audience of the like, really big experience I had just reading the script. So that was actually a little bit with me, but I guess it's good to be nervous and good to be scared. And when we were on set, like I felt everyone was very, I don't know, we came from set, and everyone would be very moved and very invested. And Joachim, the director, would have a speech where he said, ‘OK, this break up scene this week of doing this breakup scene, we will take it home and it will it will affect us.’ So we kind of knew, for us, that in in the room with us, it was very important. And of course, you want to give that. You want to put that through the screen when you do something, but you never know. So it's, of course, really, really great when, like all you want is two people to like people to have their own personal experience and leave spaces in what you do for them to breathe and not like push or tell them what to feel and what to think, but just suggest something. And I really feel that it's been a lot of great conversations about the movie and these themes after.

DL: I'm going for one more audience question. Someone has asked what would be a piece of advice you would give to a young actress at the beginning of their acting career? Emilia, I'm going to come to you first because you know you are a young actress near the beginning of your acting career.

EJ: Because I am young, I can't really give advice. But what I will say is, you hear ‘no’ a lot more than you hear ‘yes’. And there were definitely moments growing up, in my career, that I was too young to play this role, I was too old to play that role. and I was kind of getting no after no, after no. But I learned a lot in the moments where I wasn't working because I was doing self-tapes and I was training my brain learning lots of scripts. And I was able, I think, on self-tape, I think what's great is you can kind of watch it back and I guess in a way, direct yourself. And so I learned a lot in that respect, too. So just don't give up, because when you hear no a lot more, you think maybe this isn't for me, but I think you grow a lot and you learn a lot and it makes you stronger when you do get something finally.

DL: Alana, I'm going to ask you the same question. I mean, again, so you know, with Licorice Pizza, now is the start of this acting career. What's the one lesson that you've taken from that and that you would pass on to somebody else?

AH: I mean, I can only go back to music because I know so much more. I've been in the music game a little bit longer than I have in the acting game. But I just remember when me and my siblings started our band, I mean, there's so many people around you that have this, you know, they tell you what you think you should think, and like how you should dress, and how you should be, and what you're doing is not right, and what I know what you should do, just trust me. And I remember me and my siblings being so frustrated because we had such a clear path in front of us. And it's so hard because people try to deter you from this path and really, when we started our band, we always said was if we fail, at least we failed on our own terms. Then I can look back and every single decision that I made, if it was my decision, then it was the right one. And if I made, if I went down another path where someone was like, ‘No, you should say yes to this’, and then it didn't go well, I would spend my whole life going over that one decision, saying I knew I should have trusted my gut. So I make it very abundantly clear that even if you make the wrong decision, that's okay. That is so okay because it's your decision, and you will live with that, and it takes you on a different path. I mean, if you would have told me ten years ago that I would be sitting in this chair talking to you, incredible women because I'm in a movie, like, I would think you were crazy. And so I think the only thing that I can say is really trust your gut, because that's right there, I mean, I'm pointing to my gut, right there! [Laughs] That's going to help you, and follow it blindly, because it really is, it really will steer you on the right path.

DL: That's perfect. Listen, we've got time for one more question. And I know my BAFTA colleagues would love to know the answer to this, so I'm going to put you on the spot. I'm afraid it's a terrible question. If you had to pick out one film, one performance, maybe another actor's performance, that you know, in these very, very difficult times that we're in, that gives you joy, one film to bring the world joy. Let's pass on that love, and let's pass on that recommendation. Alana, I'm going to start with you.

AH: Any film?

DL: Any film. Any film that can bring the world joy.

AH:  Oh, can bring the world joy. I mean, oh god, I mean, I can say, oh my goodness. All right, you're putting me on the spot. There’s probably two, and I say them all the time because they are the movies that I grew up watching. But A Goofy Movie is a hoot. Guys, just so you know. If you watch A Goofy Movie, it really does put a smile on your face and also has incredible music. But seriously, I think one of my favourite movies growing up was A Goofy Movie.

RR: What did you say? ‘A goofy’?

AH: A Goofy Movie, its animated. [Laughs]

RR: Like with Mickey Mouse and the dog?

AH:  That yeah, yeah. And I'm sticking to that answer. But no, but seriously, I think a movie that I always go back to constantly is this Albert Brooks movie called Defending Your Life. That is so incredible and always puts a smile on my face and always makes me laugh. And if it makes me laugh, then I'll watch it over and over and over again. But yeah, those are my two choices. I will probably regret saying that, but those are the things that came to my mind. And my siblings are probably going to call me and be like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ But I'm following my gut! I'm following my gut.

DL: I just feel bad for doing this! But I thought I thought they were great choices. Renate, I'm going to come to you next.

RR: I knew I was going to be the next. I knew it. I knew it. Okay, actually this first thing, and I shouldn't say this, because like but it is Licorice Pizza because I yeah, I just felt so happy and free watching that movie. It brought me joy. And then, a really joyful movie, I feel like I have an answer, but I need to think more about it.

DL: Okay, I'm going to I'm going to come to Lady Gaga instead. I may come back to you. How about you Lady Gaga?

LG:  You know, actually, I have two. And the very first one is one that I saw a very long time ago that made me fall in love with movies. And it was The Wizard of Oz. I fell in love with Judy Garland, very, very young. And I think I was always very, very overwhelmed by the magic of that film, as well as watching what is actually a very terrifying journey for a young girl, and watching her go through it with so much tenacity and grace, and the amount of talent in that young person. You know, there's there might be some very young people on this call who are actors, but I will say that you have you have decades and decades of wisdom and inspiration inside of you.

And then I would also say, more recently, I was able to see Al Pacino's Wilde Salomé with Jessica Chastain. And, you know, this was like the one of one of the earliest works that Jessica did. And Al found her, and she was at Juilliard. And I just saw recently. And I just have to say, the joy that I think it would bring to the world, for people that are movie lovers as well as people that love actors is to just watch the process of somebody creating something from so many different angles, whether they're creating the play version or the film version, or you're watching them do a deep dive into the life of Oscar Wilde. I just I found this fascinating to watch something that was in a lot of ways, quite Shakespearean, but not Shakespeare. And to me, you know, I think of Shakespeare and I think of what else could bring more joy to the world than Shakespeare. So two movies, two very different films. Both, I think, could bring joy.

DL: Fantastic. Fantastic. And we're so very nearly out of time, Joanna and Emilia, I'm just going to ask for titles. Joanna and Emilia?

JS: Nosferatu. Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu, which was the first foreign language film I ever saw and cinema transcends language. And that too has been borne out by so many of these films we talked about today.

DL: What a choice! Emilia?

EJ: I think I'm going to have a goofy moment too and maybe regret this, but Friends with Benefits. Because I can watch it again and again. Who doesn't love a flash mob? [Laughs]

DL:  Yeah, that's the perfect choice. All perfect choices. Listen, unfortunately, that is all that we have time for this evening. Thank you so much to all of our nominees.

RR: Thank you so much.

DL: Congratulations again on your nominations. I want you all to win.

Check out and BAFTA social channels for more information on what's coming up next in the 2022 BAFTA Film Sessions. Coming up tomorrow is a panel with the hair and makeup nominees, so do join us for that.

And last but not least, of course, tune in to the 2022 EE British Academy Awards on Sunday 13th March at 7pm on BBC One, hosted by Rebel Wilson. But thank you all and have a great evening.

[All saying goodbye and thank you]

AH:  So nice to meet you all.

LG: Nice to meet you too.