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INTERVIEW: Vanessa Kirby…

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Editor | News | United Kingdom

She became the best lead actor at the Venice film festival for “Pieces of a Woman”.

By Grandesso Federico – November 2020

Vanessa Kirby, 32-year-old British actress, did not really know what real childbirth is like. But she won best lead actress at the Venice film festival for drama film “Pieces of a Woman”, which opens with Kirby in a sensational 25-minute childbirth scene. “The minute that I knew that I had to do a real birth on screen, I just thought I don’t want to pretend. I want it to feel as authentic as possible,” Kirby said in a group interview.

Kirby won the Best Actress Award in Venice on Saturday for her performance in “Pieces of a Woman” by Hungarian film director Kornel Mundruczo. Kirby was also in Venice with another movie “The World to Come” by Norwegian film director Mona Fastvold. “Pieces of a Woman” tells about Martha and Sean Carson, a Boston couple on the verge of parenthood whose lives change irrevocably during a home birth at the hands of a flustered midwife, who faces charges of criminal negligence. The impressive birth scene, together with the death of their baby, immerses the viewer in an intense moment of joy and sadness.

Thus begins a year-long odyssey for Martha, who must navigate her grief while working through fractious relationships with her husband and her domineering mother, along with the publicly vilified midwife whom she must face in court. When Kirby knew she had to present the delivery of the baby in one take, she was excited because “the idea of doing something uninterrupted was really
exciting,” she said.

But she did not really know what real childbirth was like. She started to watch lots of documentaries and none of them showed anything in its entirety, Kirby recalled. Kirby then contacted obstetricians, asking if she could shadow them and spend time in a labor ward meeting women and trying to experience real births. She was admitted to a hospital in North London and spent many days in a labor ward with midwives, who taught her all about their job. She also had the possibility of seeing a real difficult birth at the hospital. “This was a game-changer for me because I thought I have now seen birth and I was surprised about the things I saw,” Kirby said.

Her goal was to represent a moment on screen in a way that women and men who have experienced it together would recognize. Kirby, who portrayed Princess Margaret in Peter Morgan’s Netflix series The Crown, recalled the difficult emotional moments she had on set, like the one when the baby goes blue after the birth and it is taken away — apparently, it took her a long time to reset. “I was sobbing for about ten minutes. I tried to stop myself and for a second I felt I thought I really have lost a baby. Kornel (the director) hugged me really tight for ten minutes as I sobbed. This was such a bonding, incredible thing,” she said. “It was such a gift to act that, to just get out of my mind and just let the body take over.” The honored actress explained that she felt so nervous about sharing the film with people because she felt it was like sharing a really vulnerable part of herself, more than she has done in other movies. Asked about her acting preferences, Kirby said she likes to play characters who have contradictions. “I like something that pushes me way beyond the limit of what I would think to do. I like something that frightens me,” she said.

VANESSA KIRBY (BORN 18 APRIL, 1988) is an English actress on both stage and more recently screen. She starred as Estella in the BBC’s adaptation of Great Expectations, alongside Ray Winstone. The daughter of a magazine editor and a surgeon Kirby was turned down by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and took a gap year travelling before studying English at Exeter University. She then turned down her place at LAMDA in London after she was signed up to an agency and met the theatre director David Thacker who gave her three starring roles over 2009 at the Octagon Theatre Bolton in ALL MY SONS by Arthur Miller, GHOSTS by Henrik Ibsen and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare. For All My Sons she won the BIZA Rising Star Award at the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, worth £5000. She then went on to star at the National Theatre as Isabella in WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN by Thomas Middleton directed by Marianne Elliott alongside Harriet Walter and Harry Potter’s Harry Melling. She then starred as Rosalind in AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, where Alfred Hickling from The Guardian named her a “significant new talent”. In 2011 she was in premiere of THE ACID TEST by Anya Reiss at the Royal Court Theatre directed by Simon Godwin earning praise for her performance with Paul Taylor of The Independent calling her “a star if ever I saw one”. The Londoner: Vanessa Kirby plans production company. “I feel so excited by the thought that there are so many female stories that haven’t been told,” she says. Kirby, who played Princess Margaret in the Netflix series and will appear in a Mission Impossible film next year, wants to add another string to her bow. The London-based actress explains that many stories “have examined the psychology of a man in a particular situation, but not the woman”. She told the Hollywood Reporter: “I feel like there’s so much opportunity for that and that we do actually have a responsibility. Changing that space is very important to me.” Kirby was in a long-term relationship with actor Callum Turner, with whom she co-starred in Queen & Country. The relationship ended in February 2020. Kirby had supporting roles in such films as About Time (2013), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Everest (2015), and Me Before You (2016). She gained wider recognition for her roles in the action films Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) and Hobbs & Shaw (2019). She won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her performance in the drama Pieces of a Woman (2020). Vanessa Kirby, who starred in Mission Impossible 6 alongside Tom Cruise, will reprisal in Mission Impossible 7, which will hit theaters on July 23, 2021. Kirby, an Audi user and World Audi representative, drives the Q8 / 5.0 liter TDI Quattro. “I didn’t stop smiling,” says Kirby, speaking from his home in south London, which he shares with his sister Juliet and two close friends. This is something very mind-blowing …

“I feel so excited by the thought that there are so many female stories that haven’t been told,” she says.

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