The Guardian

From Game of Thrones to The Crown: the woman who turns actors into stars

Earlier this year, the casting director Nina Gold sat at the back of the stalls of the Criterion theatre in the West End and watched a group of students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland perform their showcase. After three years at drama school, each actor had a couple of three-minute scenes to impress a silent audience of agents and casting directors on their lunch hour. Gold slid down in her seat, as if wanting to remain unseen. Every now and then, she scribbled something next to a name
New York Times Magazine

Philip Pullman Returns to His Fantasy World

On one of my first meetings with Philip Pullman, he led me to the crenelated tower of Exeter College, in Oxford, and pointed out the room he lived in as a student. More than 50 feet up from the ground was a tiny attic window. To visit friends living in rooms on the adjacent staircase — accessible only at ground level — Pullman, a tall, sturdy man with a head like a boulder, would clamber out his window, shimmy along a gutter and propel himself through a window into a bathroom. From where we were standing, the feat looked unlikely, and unwise. Pullman was self-deprecating. “It was less precarious than it seems because it’s actually quite a large gutter, and it’s quite deep,” he said. “And I was drunk. So.”
The New Yorker

Andrea Arnold’s Immersive Cinema

The Kenwood Ladies’ Pond, on Hampstead Heath, a patch of wilderness in North London, is surrounded by trees and populated by ducks. Regulars bathe year-round, breaking the ice with their toes in midwinter. On a surprisingly hot September afternoon, the British film director Andrea Arnold lowered herself into the water. She’d driven from the other side of the city, where she lives in Greenwich with her daughter, for a cold plunge. As she swam, she kept veering off the conventional counterclockwise course around the edge of the pond to try to get nose to nose with one of the passing mallards. One let her float up close, almost touching, before scooting across the water.
The Gentlewoman

Zadie Smith: cover story

1. Paris, late June, and le Jardin du Luxembourg is overspilling with tennis players and pushchairs and ice-cream-coated small children in various stages of euphoria and collapse. Among them are two belonging to the author Zadie Smith - Kit and Harvey, a girl and a boy, six and three - who are in the playground in the middle of a truce negotiation with their mother, identifiable from across the gardens by the bright red wrap tied around her hair. A babysitter, hired for a few hours each day, hovers. Zadie has to work; the children don't want her to go. The everlasting debate.
Financial Times

Review: Golden Hill

Not long after arriving in New York, fresh off the London boat, our hero Robert Smith goes to church. In 1746, the town is still in miniature, populated by a mere “six thousand souls”, many of whom are also saying their prayers. The scene allows author Francis Spufford to lay out his wares, presenting a dissection of New York society taking their places in the pews, from the Governor and his two African footmen “with wigs powdered to the colour of icing sugar”, to “a choir of blue-coated orphans
The Guardian

Long Read: The clean, green and slightly bonkers world of CBeebies

The feeling of despair that descends on hearing the theme tune of the CBeebies television show Me Too! is unmistakable. At 6am, it is the first show on the schedule of the BBC’s dedicated channel for the under-sixes, and if you find yourself watching it, a series of bleak assumptions can be made. First, you’re up too early. Second, you’ve capitulated, turning on the TV in the hope of silencing your offspring and going back to sleep. Third, even if you do manage to lose consciousness again, your
The Guardian

Long Read: What should we do about paedophiles?

A photograph of Aaron Collis regularly appeared in the press while he was on trial. It showed a young man in a crowd of friends, whose faces have been pixelated to preserve their anonymity, and it appears to capture a moment of celebration. The group are bunched together, arms in the air, all wearing the same white shirts and roughly knotted blue-and-red striped ties. They could be in school uniform, or party costume. Collis is looking up at the camera, a wide smile exposing a top row of pointed
Financial Times

Review: The Sunlight Pilgrims

The temperature drops by 50C over the course of Jenni Fagan’s new novel. The Sunlight Pilgrims begins, in the autumn of 2020, at a chilling minus six, and by late March and the end of the book has descended to an unsurvivable minus 56C. There’s a giant iceberg looming off the coast of Scotland, schools have closed and people are freezing to death in their homes and their cars, lost in snowdrifts that rise up above windows. This is climate change made palpably, physically real: not a policy issue
Financial Times

Review: The Portable Veblen

Once, love stories led up to a ring. Elizabeth McKenzie’s new novel begins with one: “a diamond so large it would be a pill to avoid for those who easily gag”. The metaphor speaks for itself. Veblen Amundsen-Hovda, who has just been proposed to by her boyfriend Paul Vreeland, has mixed feelings about marriage. Veblen, named by her impossible and hypochondriac mother Melanie after the anti-consumerist 19th-century philosopher Thorstein Veblen, is as unconventional as her name suggests. She is a
Harper's Bazaar

Rachel Weisz: cover story

There is a circus in Chiswick, says Rachel Weisz, to beat all circuses. It's not your average big-tent affair – morose animals, sparkly leotards – but a wonderland. There are Middle Eastern funk bands and African acrobats, clowns (proper clowns, not the disturbing, flower-squirting imitations). It's the best live show she's ever seen, she says. Weisz is utterly seduced. Sitting in a comically oversize chair in a Camden pub near her London home, drinking milky breakfast tea, she is momentarily seized by a desire to juggle. 'I'd love to join the circus,' she says.
New York Times

Sue Webster's second course

First, make a bed: chives, spring onions, peas, asparagus, lettuce. Rip the leaves apart with your hands. Chop the vegetables. Then, place the skins of two gray squirrels on top of the bed, facing each other, their pulpy entrails arranged so it looks like their stomachs are conjoined. Stuff their heads with radishes to make their eyes glow red. Finally, christen your work. “Two Lovers Entwined,” says the British artist Sue Webster, looking down with fondness at the squirrels, purchased from a nearby butcher.
The Gentlewoman

Saoirse Ronan: cover story

The twelfth edition of The Gentlewoman brings together a scintillating line-up of charismatic and cosmopolitan women, all interviewed in locations of their choosing. We spend a day on the Irish coast with actor Saoirse Ronan, the luminous cover star of this season’s issue, an afternoon at a south London snooker hall in the company of prodigious cross-genre musician Mica Levi and teatime on the Upper East Side of New York, chit-chatting with the renowned astrologer Susan Miller. Then it’s straigh
The Guardian

Long Read: Is Richard Dawkins destroying his reputation?

In Dublin, not long ago, Richard Dawkins visited a steakhouse called Darwin’s. He was in town to give a talk on the origins of life at Trinity College with the American physicist Lawrence Krauss. In the restaurant, a large model gorilla squatted in a corner and a series of sepia paintings of early man hung in the dining room – though, Dawkins pointed out, not quite in the right chronological order. A space by the bar had been refitted to resemble the interior of the Beagle, the vessel on which C
Harper's Bazaar

Lupita Nyong'o: cover story

Between photographs in a King’s Cross warehouse, Lupita Nyong’o dances. Nothing showy, just a shuffle of her hips or a head-nod to the beat of the music in the background. She’s surrounded by people – a circus of agents and stylists and Lancôme representatives (she’s the brand’s new ambassador) all there for her, but she doesn’t dance for them. It’s the kind of dancing you might do while you’re drying your hair, or on hold on the phone; moves only you can see. But seriously, this woman can dance. At one point, she body-pops like a pro, and makes herself laugh with a full-on strut. Mostly, though, she dances in a kind of dream, eyes half-closed, like it’s the most private thing in the world.
Prospect Magazine

Take me to the death cafe

In the middle of the graveyard in Vissoie, a small town in the Swiss mountain valley of Anniviers, stands a grey stone cross. For years, the cross was the focus of a local competition among the town’s teenagers. The brief was simple: turn up at midnight, sit by the cross, and whoever lasts the longest wins. By day, the task doesn’t seem too onerous. The graveyard is absurdly picturesque, perched on the side of a hill next to the church, the valley dropping away to a river, mountains on the far side rising up against a faultless blue sky. Even the graves are palatable: there’s no ornate Victoriana here, no ghoulishness or mawkish angels, no sentimental inscriptions; just a few rows of simple wooden crosses planted in the ground. (A rule was declared in the town that the dead should all be commemorated identically, to prevent wealth-displaying one-upmanship.)
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