alexa BlackBook: Designs on Acting: ‘Hard Sun’ Star Agyness Deyn Talks Drama with Writer-Director Alex Ross Perry

 

IF you found the bleak dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale terrifying, you’d better buckle up for Hard Sun. The sensational Hulu/BBC drama concerns a pair of British detectives who discover that the apocalypse is coming in five years — and that the government wants them dead for finding out.

Aside from providing cryptic conspiratorial thrills, the show boasts a riveting performance from lead Agyness Deyn as the intense Elaine Renko. The emotionally wounded deputy inspector is trying to save the world, resolve family trauma, and process a growing suspicion that her partner (Jim Sturgess) is corrupt.

A former model raised in Manchester, England, Deyn, 35, has proved to be a formidable actress with an excellent taste in film and television projects. The New Yorker named her one of the best actresses of 2016 for Sunset Song, the story of a young woman persevering through a brutal rural existence in World War I-era Scotland. It’s a long way from shooting ads for Dior, Burberry, Uniqlo and Vivienne Westwood and hanging out with creative collective the Misshapes (she’s been based in NYC since the early ’00s). Next, Deyn will co-star alongside “Handmaid’s Tale” actress Elisabeth Moss in “Her Smell,” an indie film about feuding female punk rockers by writer-director Alex Ross Perry.

Perry has made a name for himself as a sensitive and curious teller of women’s stories, via a quick succession of acclaimed, fantastically cast micro-indies: 2014’s nervous-novelist tale “Listen Up Philip” (with Moss and Jason Schwartzman), 2015’s deep dive into female friendship, “Queen of Earth” (Moss again), and 2017’s “Golden Exits” (with Chloë Sevigny, Schwartzman and former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz).

Deyn and Perry convened a meeting of their mutual admiration society on an April Saturday in New York.

 

Khaite sweater, $1,150 at Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave.; Pants, $690 at BodeNewYork.com; Earrings, $496 at SimonMillerUSA.com

Alex Ross Perry: Do you remember how we met?

Agyness Deyn: We met at — what’s that place called on St. Marks? It was Cafe Orlin! Wow, this might have been, like, four years ago. We ended up sitting down for about two hours chatting — drinking loads of tea. I thought it was just so fun. I remember when you spilled the tea — about the project you were working on, about stuff we were both working on, about life. The two hours went by and we were like, “S – – t, we’ve been sitting here for a long time.”

ARP: I remember feeling exceptionally encouraged and excited by it. The meeting was for a big movie that I was trying to make that never got made. But because I ended up having a lot of meetings, now I’ve essentially been able to cast anything I’ve made since then with people I [originally] wanted to put in that movie. The following spring, I saw Terence Davies’ “Sunset Song” and was completely blown away by your performance. What path did that character set you on?

AD: I think about Terence [Davies] regularly, probably weekly. I finished that film and thought, “Oh, I suppose that I am an actor now.” I said that to Terence, and he said, “Well, of course, you are.” I remember thinking someone believed in me a million times more than I believed in myself as an actor and as a woman. He gave me a huge responsibility to carry a film he’s been trying to make for 15 years. Making that film, I went from being a girl to a woman. His projection of what a woman is helped me embody what I had in myself.

 

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ARP: How did that change the bar you’ve now set for yourself?

AD: I knew that I wanted to play strong women with a point of view who have something to say. “Sunset Song” and “Hard Sun” are so different, but it was kind of a continuation. Elaine [in “Hard Sun”] is this damaged but strong and enigmatic woman who seems kind of genderless and walks to the beat of her own drum. I have a very English way of being apologetic. I didn’t have that kind of “F you” attitude, and [the director] drilled that out of me very quickly. It was fast-paced, the story matter was intense. It almost killed me, but it was exhilarating to play her.

ARP: I don’t know how long the shoot for “Sunset Song” was, but with [“Hard Sun”], suddenly you’re a sprinter who has to run a marathon without training for it. 

AD: Definitely. It was such a shock. I remember saying to Jim [co-star Sturgess] after we’d done the first two episodes, “We’ve got to do this again, haven’t we?” And he was like, “Yeah.” Like a marathon, you’re not sure how you’re going to save your energy and your feelings because you don’t know how much you’ll need at the end.

ARP: Now, you can’t just say yes to some TV show that won’t be satisfying.

AD: Exactly. I have the same sensation about the movie [“Her Smell”] you and I are doing together.

 

“Making that film, I went from being a girl to a woman … It almost killed me, but it was exhilarating to play her. ”

 

ARP: We’re not asking you to come in and be this mysterious, elfin, British model-type woman. There’s music lessons involved, there’s a certain theatricality involved. We’re setting up a series of extreme challenges. 

AD: I can’t wait. It’s funny because I know I’m so excited and so terrified before a job when I start dreaming about it. I woke up this morning after having a nightmare about actually being in the band: “Oh my God, oh s–t. I don’t know the song.”

ARP: The sort of all-encompassing logistical panic of this movie is something I’ve never really experienced. 

 

Rosie Assoulin overalls, $1,695 at ModaOperandi.com; Sweater, $325 at SimonMillerUSA.com 

AD: Where did you get the idea of making this film?

ARP: I wondered, what could I be doing that no one else would be doing right now? A lot of people can make something inspired by an era 50 years removed. Maybe I do a music movie about a disreputable genre no one’s really romanticizing in the same way yet. But it’s so much more about [the] identity of all these women in this movie — motherhood and sisterhood within these bands, and addictions and addictions to people. 

AD: I always say ’79 was such a great year for music in England, with the Clash and all these brilliant bands. It was amazing to be a young person and introduced to them by different friends. It shapes you as a person. So, it’s a fun way to explore it all again and also hear everyone else’s stories.

ARP: I’ve jokingly said this is a role you’ve been preparing to inhabit for your entire life, via modeling or acting. Maybe “mysterious, ethereal rock goddess” was a career path that may [have] eluded you, but now you get to use your lifetime’s worth of knowledge to be in this character.

AD: I remember seeing images early on of the Slits and the Raincoats — these young women just doing what they wanted. It was just so exhilarating to think like, “Oh, I can be that.”

 

 

ABOUT THE SPACE

We photographed Agyness Deyn at a lower-Manhattan pied-à-terre tucked inside the 1879-built Robbins & Appleton Building, with interiors designed by Mark Zeff. Commissioned by a Miami-based couple, the Bond Street residence showcases the duo’s diverse collection of special artworks by renowned creators such as Andy Warhol. The designer was charged with maintaining the raw loft’s distinct character while also creating intimacy for the couple and their teen children. Using ribbed glass and blackened steel, Zeff partitioned the 4,500 sqaure-foot space into wonderfully dramatic tableaus, including a glass-box study and an airy kitchen designed for entertaining.

 

 

On the cover: Blazer, $1,695, and pants, $1,295, both at RosieAssoulin.com; “Elsa” earrings, $740 at AgmesNYC.com

Photos by Martien Mulder; Styling by Danielle Nachimani, Hair by Seiji using Oribe Hair Care for The Wall Group; Beauty by Gianpaolo Ceciliato using Chanel Plaette Essentielle for Tracey Mattingly Agency; Bond Street Photo by Eric Laignel

 

Agyness Deyn Moves to L.A., Talks 2012 Film Debut

New York has lost one of its most treasured model citizens to Los Angeles. Agyness Deyn’s Twitter bio may still list New York as her adopted hometown, but the Manchester-bred beauty has officially moved to L.A. On Monday night, the supermodel mixed it up at an All Saints charity event for Not For Sale at the Music Box in Hollywood, where she and friend Chris Bletzer played music before a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert.

“I’ve been in New York for years, but I just needed a change,” said Deyn. The model said she’s moved to the East side of L.A., so don’t expect to see her walking around the streets of Santa Monica. You’re better off stalking her in Silver Lake (although we in no way endorse stalking). Deyn has been back in the news lately, particularly for narrating the intro to Rihanna’s smash video “We Found Love.”

But on Monday night, the blonde was more about rock burners than pop anthems. “I remember watching them years ago in England,” Deyn said of BRMC. “I always get off on seeing a girl drummer.” Next year, Dyen makes her film debut in an English remake of the 1996 Danish Pusher trilogy, which was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn of Drive fame. “She’s a troubled soul,” Dyen says of her character. “Drugs are involved.”

Agyness Deyn Revives Her Modeling Career for Dr. Martens

Save for the occasional overseas editorial here and there, English model Agyness Deyn’s remained elusive for the last two years. So while her latest stint isn’t stateside, we’re glad to see the 28-year-old back on the campaign-modeling trail in a new ad for iconic British footwear brand Dr. Martens.

Shot by famed photographer Gavin Watson, the above image from the First and Forever campaign features Deyn alongside Ash Stymest (which we featured as last year’s top male model here) in a pose that’s meant to conjure up a “first moment” memory, like a first kiss.

The Telegraph also notes that Dr. Martens will use social media to promote the campaign, allowing fans to share their personal first experiences (first pairs of Docs, first crush, etc.) through various channels. Stay tuned for more on this piece when the campaign officially launches next month.

New York Classics: Pre-Nell’s to the Darby

Damn Monday nights. A little while ago I’d use Monday nights to get rid of the idea that the weekend was over, and the next one so far away, by promptly leaving work and tossing back copious amounts of open-bar booze at some after-work affair. This would be promptly followed by a barrage of whiskey on the rocks at Lit Lounge, until I would promptly go to bed around 5 a.m. It made me feel better about participating in the workforce. These days, I’m a bit gun-shy about pulling the trigger on a Monday night. It’s dangerous when you’ve got some real responsibility, but I still get a little antsy. So I’m home in my gym clothes, still trying to look cute for my bf, who is clearly more interested in whatever spread sheet he’s glued to. Could be work, could be some kind of fantasy football thing, could be some kind of elaborate date plan he’s mapping out. Right. I pour myself a monster glass of wine and think about the fun things I could be doing if it wasn’t 10:45 already, and I wasn’t an hour away from looking decent.

The list, just to prove how strong my willpower is these days: Eric Richman’s game night at Soho House with a bunch of swells and tarts; The Swarovski Elements 22 Ways To Say Black Charity Auction, held at Phillips de Pury & Company, my invitation to which, judging by the guests who did attend (Halle Berry, Sofia Vergara, Julianna Margulies), I’m quite certain was a mistake in the first place; Women: Inspiration and Enterprise cocktail party hosted by Sarah Brown, Donna Karan, and Arianna Huffington, an event I’m not sure I was actually invited to, but rather a party-crashing friend bribed his way in somehow.

Instead, I’m sitting on the couch with the aforementioned monster Rueda, reading a book set in the ’80s where all these little party girls overrun Nell’s, and I’m thinking about how every generation of partiers is basically the same. Only the sets change. I’m sort of tired of old writers talking about “the good old days” of nightlife, without actually telling me what made the old days that good, so I decided to find out myself. What was Nell’s will soon be The Darby, with owners Scott and Richie, who are about to be as famous as Steve Rubell himself. (Don’t tell any of the older writers I said that, because until there is a movie made, that statement can’t be totally true.)

Part of the fun of sitting at any bar in the city is the realization that someone sat there before you. I’m talking about a hundred years before you. One of my favorite places to sit around and contemplate this is anywhere on the Bowery, with its flea-ridden tramps and easy women. There’s the Mike Lyons Restaurant that shuttered in 1910, which brought together politicians and musicians and people from all walks of life around the Bowery’s dance-hall days, before the Bowery was punk rock alley. The space that was Nell’s must be just as rich in sordid history. So this is becomes my Monday night: replacing uncomfortable shoes and cab fare with a quick history lesson near the eve of the opening of The Darby.

Birthdate: Nell’s opened in 1986, and the 246 West 14th Street spot was run by Rocky Horror actress Nell Campbell, presiding in see-through shirts and wacky Rocky outfits, though it was actually Keith McNally and then-wife Lynn Wagenknecht, who were probably responsible for the daily grunt-work of the operation. Before it was known as Patrick Bateman’s favorite spot, it was known for transforming nightlife. It was the trend that lead A-listers and other New Yorkers away from the giant discos popular at the time. It was also known as one of those places that actually turned away celebs. In the ’90s it had a rebirth as a rapper’s haven. Biggie Smalls shot “Big Poppa” there, and Tupac was a fixture.

image Nell Campbell

Neighborhood: 14th Street between 7th and 9th Avenues was once a community that housed mostly Spanish immigrants. Across the street from Nell’s was a famous speakeasy that thrived during prohibition called the Tammany Tough Club. Next to that was the Andrew Norwood House, an esteemed mansion built in 1847, whose exterior is a designated landmark. The mansion was sold after Raf Borello, the owner of the house, died in February 2005 after lovingly maintaining the estate for 29 years. What you see now is the members-only club, Norwood. Signatures: $200 black membership key rings given out to a lucky few, shabby-chic gentleman’s club interior, peep-hole door. Famous Patrons: Calvin Klein, Bono, Warren Beatty. Vibe: From the New York Times article “Glitz, Funk, and Victoriana Enliven New York’s Discos” published in 1987: “As if emerging from a Ralph Lauren ad, many here seem to inhabit a world blending bored detachment and grand theatricality. Black taffeta regularly appears next to faded denim, and English accents – both real and fostered – abound. An artist from New Zealand, lounging on a sofa with a cigarette, mused as to why he was admitted: ‘They go for people who look like they don’t care whether they get in.'”

Post Nell’s

NA Birthdate: Noel Ashman’s baby (and for who the club was so-named) opened the Bungalow-esque NA in 2004. Damon Dash and Chris Noth were some of the high-profile investors involved. Signatures: Resident DJ Mark Ronson spun, $1,086.25 membership fee, palm fronds. Famous Patrons: Ivanka Trump, Puff Daddy, Mischa Barton.

image Noel Ashman

Plumm Birthdate: In 2006, after a nasty investor battle, Noel reopens the spot with Michael Ault, who was known for Spy Bar. It was co-owned by Chris Noth, Samantha Ronson, Joey McIntyre, Damon Dash, Jesse Bradford, and Simon Rex, to name a few. Signatures: Purple, no membership fees, Lindsay Lohan, Agyness Deyn, and Joel Madden guest DJed, Tommy Hilfiger and Axl Rose got into a famous fight. Famous Patrons: See investor list. Vibe: Fashionable, purple, “My ideal mix would be an underground kid from Williamsburg, some models, a few European aristocrats, socialites, and a hip-hop mogul or two,” says Ashman.

The Darby Birthdate: Set to open, um, soon? It’s missed all of its perceived opening dates, no doubt because of the city and her licensing ways. Should be ready next month. Signatures: Butter/1Oak‘s Dream Team, Butter’s chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli Famous Patrons: So far Jay-Z threw Beyonce’s birthday party here, so there’s that. Vibe: “I want to bring back an old-fashioned sense of class from the ’50’s and ’60’s, like El Morocco, a place where you can dress up, have an amazing dinner and some music and entertainment,” Akiva told the Times.

Have a Beer with Aggy Deyn

Not only can you gain insight into model Agyness Deyn’s favorite things on her online magazine Naag.com, if you’re in NYC this summer, you can share a beer with her, too. Deyn is gearing up to play barkeep for the next two months for a pop-up pub sponsored by British fashion mega brand AllSaints. The insta-bar is set to open in the VIP area of Williamsburg’s Jelly Pool Parties concert series. “Based on their description, we’re imagining Guy Ritchie’s Punch Bowl—the venue boasts vintage fixtures, an old world bar, steel beams, and exposed brick walls—perfect for a quick-trip to London without that pesky airplane ticket,” says Refinery 29.

If you can’t make it to the Big Apple, don’t fret. Deyn and Naag.com cohort Fiona Byrne will be videoblogging live from the VIP area. AllSaints, a slightly goth high street staple, recently opened its fourth storefront in the states. (In its first two weeks, the retailer’s Soho outpost, its most recent, raked in $1m in sales, which beat neighboring Topshop’s initial profits.) But neither Deyn nor the new store will be the last you’ll hear of Allsaints stateside: The retailer is said to be planning 26 more storefronts for the US.

Links: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Jay-Z and Beyoncé All Know What Kids Like

● Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz really want people to see Knight & Day, so they’re mashing together everything they’ve heard people enjoy, like the leftovers tray in an elementary school cafeteria. Today, it’s viral videos and the World Cup! [Vulture] ● Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe called wrapping the films “devastating.” Also devastating? Typecasting. [People] ● When a boy becomes a man: this is Kim Kardashian messing up Justin Bieber’s hair, or his next six months of sexual fantasies. [Animal NY]

● Jay-Z and Beyoncé, noted lovers of indie rock, spent some time at Bonnaroo over the weekend, maybe doing more expensive drugs than everyone else. [HRO] ● Agyness Deyn launched an online magazine, which people tend to do these days, and it will likely direct you to expensive clothes and accessories, though your (ex-)boyfriend will never be in The Strokes, ever. [The Cut] ● Underground fight clubs speckle New York City’s seedy underbelly, with all of the blood and sweat you’d expect and none of the Brad Pitt. [CNN]

Aggy Deyn Channels Anna Wintour

It was back in February when I first noted that Aggyness Deyn would soon be channeling Anna Wintour’s editorial savvy. Now, said project has premiered: the major model has teamed up with longtime friend and former senior reporter at NME Fiona Byrne to launch an online magazine called Naag (the moniker being a combination of the two founders’ first names). It turns out Deyn’s Vogue avatar is actually Grace Coddington, as she’ll play Creative Director on the project to Bryne’s Editor-in-Chief. The content so far is definitely worthwhile, although by no means groundbreaking. There’s a glowing review of NYC lingerie shop Journelle, as well as a shout out to Naag’s new favorite drink: a Penny Drop at The Standard’s Boom Boom Room. Considering Byrne’s editorial background, music reviews, which include highlights of new bands Ganglians and Delorean, are one component audiophiles will want to follow. .

As for Deyn’s forte, fashion, there’s a solid, urban sportswear-themed editorial as well as a piece paying homage to a pair of $70 GAP jeans. A piece on Blair Waldorf-approved headbands likewise acts as a typical fashion rag accessories report. Overall, the site is well designed and well stocked in terms of sartorial and lifestyle content. But, again, there’s nothing revolutionary about the site or its presentation of information. Read: to stand out from the seemingly endless roster of freshly debuted fashion magazines—both online and print—Naag needs to pull out a lot more stops.

Aggy Gets Behind the Skinhead Trend

“She was my height my weight my size/She wore braces and blue jeans/She was my skinhead girl” goes the lyrics to Symarip’s 1970’s hit “Skinhead Girl.” Named after their cropped or shaven heads, skinheads are, more literally, members of a working-class subculture that originated in Britain in the 1960s. Their look has been subtly cropping up in fashion ads like Fred Perry, in Sartorialist snaps and now, thanks to bad-ass fashion chicks like Burberry model Laura Fraser, Alice Dellal and the newly shorn Agyness Deyn the downtown lifestyle is set to become the next high fashion beauty trend.

image Lori Petty in Tank Girl

Fashion-wise, traditional skinheads range from a more clean-cut, mod-influenced, 1960s style to less-strict punk- and hardcore-influenced styles, but the latest look is all about getting creative with a buzz (Think: Lori Petty in Tank Girl). Laura Fraser sports the Chelsea, a very short buzz on the top and the back, while Aggy went all the way with a total buzz. One of my favorite blogs, BeautyisaReligion.com, had predicted this trend would pop for 2010. Pastel hair can’t be edgy if everyone can do it, but not everyone has the balls to shave off their locks.

image (Photo: Bella Howard)

Agyness Deyn’s Acting Debut: Not Half-Bad

Here it is, folks! Supermodel Agyness Deyn has made her acting debut in a 13-minute short titled Mean to Me. Directed by Peter McGough and co-starring The Wings of the Dove star Linus Roache, the film has Deyn smoldering in decades-old pearls and a Zac Posen-designed gown. And, to my surprise and perhaps chagrin, she’s not all that bad hamming it up alongside Roache. In fact, in a way, I found her to be kind of magnetic to watch. But it’s certainly not the first time a model has tried her hand at thespianism. After the jump, a buffet of beauties who’ve graced — and perhaps disgraced — the big screen.

Agyness Deyn in Mean to Me. Model moment: Roache says with gravity, “We need to talk,” to which Deyn says, “Why don’t we have a little drink first… ”

Gisele Bündchen in Taxi. Model moment: When a cop played by Jennifer Esposito screams, “On the ground, now!” Gisele responds, “In this skirt? I don’t think so.”

Cindy Crawford in Fair Game. Model moment: Cindy yells, “I don’t know how to use a gun, Max!” to which her protector William Baldwin says, “You ever use a camera? Same principle: point and shoot.”

Tyra Banks in Coyote Ugly. Model moment: The world is her runway, even if her world is a gross New York bar.

Lily Cole in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Model moment: While flowing downstream in a gondola with Colin Farrell, Cole says, “You’re right. The world is beautiful.

Rie Rasmussen in Human Zoo. Model moment: It’s not that kind of movie.