Claire Foy on First Man

In­ter­view with the Bri­tish ac­tress Claire Foy.

Vocable (All English) - - Sommaire - RACHEL HAN­DLER IN­TER­VIEW WITH CLAIRE FOY ac­tress

The film, First Man, in cine­mas now, is a thought­ful biopic of the life of Neil Arm­strong, first man to walk on the moon. In this film, Damien Chazelle, di­rec­tor of the multi-Os­car win­ning La La Land, is back with another pos­si­ble con­tender. It has a won­der­ful cast, in­clud­ing Bri­tish ac­tress, Claire Foy ( The Crown), who por­trays Janet Arm­strong, wife of Neil, played by Ryan Gosling. In­ter­view.

New York Mag­a­zine: Tell me how Damien Chazelle per­suaded you to be in First Man. Claire Foy: (Laughs) I think it was the other way around. Damien had seen some of the stuff I’d done, but I hadn’t played a mid­west­ern Amer­i­can, and it would’ve been a mas­sive, mas­sive leap of faith for him to go, “Sure! You’ve got the part!” So I came to L. A. and read for it, and we went and met Ryan. It was one of those sit­u­a­tions where it should be re­ally weird, and you’re barely able to open your mouth be­cause you’re so hon­ored and in such awe, but I some­how man­aged to not em­bar­rass my­self — I don’t think. I prob­a­bly did.

2. N.Y. Mag­a­zine: You re­cently de­scribed Janet as an “ab­so­lute cracker.” Did you get a

chance to meet her be­fore her death in June? C.F.: I was never in a room with her. I’ll al­ways re­gret that. But then at the same time, I won­der whether, when play­ing her, it was help­ful that I didn’t meet her; there was some dis­tance. She was very pri­vate about her re­la­tion­ship with Neil any­way. I didn’t want to put her in a po­si­tion where she was hav­ing to talk to some ran­dom ac­tress about her mar­riage. No­body wants to do that!

3. N.Y. Mag­a­zine: What was the most dif­fi­cult scene to film? C.F.: Damien is a very trust­ing di­rec­tor and doesn’t in­ter­fere un­less he feels like he has to. The hard­est scene was Karen’s [Neil Arm­strong’s daugh­ter] funeral. But he didn’t put us through the wringer. That felt, as much as it could have, good, in a sense. But there was one scene, the night be­fore Neil goes away be­fore the launch — it was one scene, shot for 12 hours, and we im­pro­vised a lot of it. I was driv­ing the scene quite a lot. That’s al­ways hard, when you’re the per­son re­spon­si­ble for get­ting it go­ing.

4. N.Y. Mag­a­zine: How much of the film was im­pro­vised? C.F.: Im­pro­vised is a gen­eral term for what we did. We were do­ing takes tied to di­a­logue and takes where Damien would be like, “Do what­ever you want!” It was more of an ex­er­cise, I think. But be­fore shoot­ing, we did two weeks of pure im­pro­vi­sa­tion. Me and Ryan and the kids were a fam­ily, all of a sud­den, in a cabin. We were like, “Hi! Hello. We’re a fam­ily.”

5. N.Y. Mag­a­zine: Were you liv­ing to­gether in the cabin? C.F.: No. Dear God, no. I mean, that’s a lovely idea, but I have a child. I can’t go dis­ap­pear and be some­body else’s mom for two weeks. But the premise was that we came to work eight hours a day with each other. And that was amaz­ing. There was no pres­sure; it was just us mov­ing in and out of each other and try­ing to see the rhythms of their life (be­fore the events of the movie). We had two weeks to build the world that then gets shat­tered by every­thing that hap­pens.

6. N.Y. Mag­a­zine: There’s a part in FirstMan, the Neil Arm­strong bi­og­ra­phy on which the movie is based, in which Janet says she’s over­whelmed by her sud­den fame. Did you ever feel that way after the suc­cess of The Crown? C.F.: Janet didn’t ask to be the poster girl for Amer­i­can wives. She didn’t know that by mar­ry­ing a fighter pi­lot she’d sud­denly be on the front cover of Time mag­a­zine. But up un­til The Crown, I’d been rel­a­tively un­scathed by any of that. I’m still un­scathed, be­cause I’m still me. But I think Janet found it more re­stric­tive and con­fin­ing, like be­ing in a strait­jacket. There’s a scene where she re­ally gives it to NASA. But Janet knew who she was and what was hap­pen­ing. She had such a back­bone of steel.

7. N.Y. Mag­a­zine: You’ve now played sev­eral women who are se­cretly stress­ing out while hav­ing to seem calm for var­i­ous rea­sons. Do you re­late? C.F.: I suf­fer re­ally badly with anx­i­ety. Not about work, but life in gen­eral. There’s a thing of think­ing some­body’s life on the out­side looks amaz­ing, how won­der­ful, and that’s such dog s**t. In­ter­nally, ev­ery­one’s strug­gling. A few weeks ago, I saw some­one who was re­ally cry­ing on the side of the road, and I thought, “Oh my God, I want to give them a cud­dle.”

“Janet didn’t ask to be the poster girl for Amer­i­can wives.”

(Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures)

Ryan Gosling as Neil Arm­strong and Claire Foy as Janet Arm­strong in First Man.

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