From Phantom Thread to Bergman Island, Vicky Krieps Embraces Her Own Exploration

After delivering a captivating performance in 2017’s twisted Paul Thomas Anderson romance, Phantom Thread, Vicky Krieps has solidified herself in films of every scale. There’s a role in Barry Levinson’s upcoming boxing drama, The Survivor; an ensemble performance in M. Night Shyamalan’s summer blockbuster, Old; and her awards-worthy turn in Mia Hansen-Løve’s intimate indie Bergman Island. But to hear Krieps tell it, the Luxembourg-born actor is just as comfortable with missing the mark. 

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“I’m very okay with people watching me fail,” she tells V.F.’s Richard Lawson on Little Gold Men. “By the way, I believe that’s mostly what I do, that I’m just letting it happen, and I accept the fact that probably someone is going to observe me fail if I don’t succeed, which is very probable.” In fact, possible fallibility is something Krieps seeks in her projects. “I feel like I’m like a scientist who’s studying a strange plant, and I go to all these different places and jungles,” she explains. “And one day my plant will be called love, and the other day it’s called motherhood, and then it’s called relationship. That’s what I study when I’m an actor. And I’m just mostly interested in the research, and not so much about the outcome. I’m happy if I find something, but it’s really the searching that interests me.”

Elsewhere on Little Gold Men, Krieps talks about “still processing” the success of Phantom Thread and finding humanity in Old’s high-budget surroundings. Lawson also joins cohosts Katey Rich, Rebecca Ford, and David Canfield to preview the third season of Succession and unpack the potential IATSE strike.

Take a listen to the episode above, and find Little Gold Men on Apple Podcasts or anywhere else you get your podcasts. You can also sign up to text with us at Subtext—we’d love to hear from you.

Read a partial transcript of the Vicky Krieps interview below.

Bergman Island is about a writer-director versus an actor. But it’s similarly an artist doing her research, mulling over her craft and her life and how they intersect. Was that something that drew you to the film—the way that it reflects how you think about your art?

I guess it was what attracted me, but not consciously. I think it was really Mia. Working with Mia was the first thing. And then it must have been that. You’re right. It’s an artist trying to find her way, and essentially it’s a person trying to find her voice. You could say it’s a story of emancipation. Many women react to the film, and I understand why. But it’s also just a person fighting her way to her insight, trying to find her voice, her vision, and what she wants in life, because not everybody’s an artist, but we all have to find a way.

As you’ve been on that journey in your own career, and new opportunities have presented themselves in a variety of genres, do you feel something evolving in you? Do you feel like you take bigger risks in recent years or any change that you’ve noticed in that regard?

Oh yeah, I notice a big change. And I think Bergman Island is really showing that. You can see Chris, but you can see Vicky also trying to find her voice. This was the first movie I did after Phantom Thread, and it was pretty overwhelming, as you can imagine. I felt very connected to Paul and Daniel [Day-Lewis]. But when I came off the movie, I had become this actress, as you say, that some people knew, which was not the case before. But also it felt like I couldn’t go home to where I came from. I did, but I could feel something had changed in me, and I couldn’t go back exactly to what I had left, but I didn’t belong to anything new. And I didn’t see myself packing my bags and going and living in LA. I was really pretty lost, I think.

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