Kick and Play: Retro Sneakers For Comfort & Style

Comfort is key. Whether you’re the over-booked weekend eater that has a Saturday schedule of breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dinner or you’re planning on going to Sunday brunch and staying put for half the day, having something on your feet without the worry of tired feet is important.

The easiest solution? Go old school.

THE KICKS:

Vans Rata (to the left)

When a sneaker is too casual for you, allow me to introduce you to a pair of atypical Vans. Known for slip-ons and low-cut lace-ups, the Vans Rata is a unique pair that you can pair with shorts and jeans but still get away with keeping them on at a warm-weather brunch with your non-denim rolled up and no socks.

These Vans have an extra-cushioned sole, and slowly form to the imprint of your foot as you wear the shoe in – a big plus if you plan to wear them regularly. And why not? They work with almost everything. Tired of wearing the same round-toed dress shoe to work and looking ordinary when you meet up for drinks later? This should solve that. If you’re that espresso junkie with your feet up at a coffee shop for hours, the thicker, softer lining on this kick will surely help.

Be mindful of the fact that the Rata comes in a variety of colors and fabrics. But for the best look and comfort, stay away from hemp and canvas, and stick to suede or nubuck (pictured above). They are built better for longer wears, last longer, and give off a much cleaner aesthetic. Good price, great fit, fantastic daily wear.

Available at most Van’s retailers, $60 to $75.

Some recommended finishes: Dachshund brown fleece, pig suede + nubuck

New Balance 1300 series (photo credit: Angel Gonzalez/Vagrant Sneaker)

Nike

I get it. For many people, the consensus is that New Balance shoes are for the 60+-year-olds that spend early weekend mornings doing cardio in the mall. Or the Steve Jobs wannabes.

But the 1300 series changes that. The narrow New Balance sneaker features a rare blend of premium leather, suede, and mesh that results in a good-looking sneaker in almost any color. With its loose laces and popped tongue, the sneakers work with nearly anything, tucked in jeans or cords. The retro vibe on the heel gives this shoe an all-around nostalgia and a perfect addition to all closets.

The best color available now? The grey and navy pictured above, but the good thing about NB is they are always releasing good color combinations on the regular.

Available at most retailers, or New Balance . Find them here. $129.99 to $159.99.

THE PLAY:

Burma Superstar, San Francisco, Ca.
At first glance, Burma Superstar appears a little suspect. A plain dining room with old-fashioned furniture usually is a no-go, right? However, give this low-key restaurant a chance and experience an incredible fusion of Asian food that make long waits and cramped space well worth it. Any foodie – high maintenance or simple – will speak highly of the tea-leaf salad. The renowned salad is a mixture of fermented tea leaves, fried garlic, diced shrimp, and sunflower seeds crafted meticulously to satisfy anybody’s palette with a refreshing, flavorful start to any meal. Other standouts: Samusa soup, coconut rice, sesame beef, and Burmese curries. Easy to get seated for two, but great for big parties if planned ahead.

Escuela Taqueria, West Hollywood, Ca
We all love our fancy dinners, but sometimes, dim lighting, good music, and ridiculous tacos are much needed. Enter Escuela, a small taco shop that defines itself both by its look and food. This taco shop takes décor to a new level with an extensive use of chairs and shoes. But the extra attention to detail doesn’t stop there – the tacos here are legendary. Sure, you get your standard chicken, shrimp and carne asada, but poblano chilies, lobster, and a variety of pork and beef options on the menu guarantee one damn good night of food. But it’s the refined and unique attention to your meal that makes this place so rad. All meals come with delightful pickled cactus and habanero coleslaw.  Something else worth mentioning: Cucumber mint agua fresco. Want to make it a party? Bring your own beer, tequila, or wine.

Café Mogador, New York, NY
One thing about restaurants in New York is their revere for authenticity – the look, the feel, and the food. Café Mogador does this with a vibe that screams Middle Eastern – from the bohemian interior, to the rural feel of both inside the restaurant and on the busy outdoor patio. Yes, the café is open for dinner, but bless your soul by having brunch here. Start with a decadent cup of Turkish coffee and indulge with spicy Moroccan eggs benedict, fantastic pastries, maple almond granola, or a pretty amazing frittata. All are big winners at Mogador. And in the event that you haven’t tried eggs with hummus, it’s most certainly always a good choice. Inspired with flavor and energy from North Africa, this is a must-visit brunch spot in New York. And hey, for what it’s worth, there always seems to be good-looking people here.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.  

4 Out of 5: Connie Wang on New York

Connie Wang is the global editor of Refinery29. She lives in the East Village. This is her take on four places she likes, and one place she doesn’t.

RECOMMENDED

YO-C Salon – "I used to go here out of convenience (it was 10 feet from my apartment), but I’ve gotten consistently awesome haircuts courtesy of my stylist Reiko, even when I manage to royally eff it up from the random hair stories I research. Only a wizard would be able to turn a half-grown-out perm puffball into something actually attractive."

Quickly – "I usually hate hot pot meals, but I’m really into how clean and simple the shabu shabu is at the Chinatown location. I get a double lamb meat platter with an extra helping of enoki and tofu skin, but it’s a pretty mix-and-match affair for those who are picky about what they want in their dashi."

The Future Perfect Manhattan – "This is a heaven for interiors nerds. I come here to ogle the too-expensive furniture that looks like it was built by elves on acid, and to indulge in cheap thrills like animal butt magnets and gold Buckyballs."

The Wooly – "This space is the home of many Refinery29 parties (and only partially because we’re a team of people who gets off on getting wasted around floral wallpaper and pink couches). The only hassle is actually convincing yourself to make the trek down to the Financial District, but it’s definitely worth the haul."

NOT SO MUCH

Café Mogador – "I don’t get it. Is there something I’m missing? Cafe Orlin down the street has basically the same menu without the wait time, and my eggs never get overcooked."

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living.

EDITORIAL ● Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief – Ray Rogers, Café Mogador (NYC) – Hummus, crack-caliber coffee, and outdoor patio for primo people-judging and “novel writing.” ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, Babettes (East Hampton) – Don’t let the word “organic” turn you off . ● Executive Editor – Chris Mohney, Pegu Club (NYC) – OCD cocktail heaven. Pith helmet and ivory cane optional. ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, The Jane Hotel and Ballroom (NYC) – Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill.

● Editor-at-Large – James Servin, The Raleigh (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont. ● Staff Writer – Ryan Adams, Republic (NYC) – Minimalist fave and only vaguely communist, which is more fun than the full-bore thing. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Wurstküche (LA) – Hey, sausages! Downtown hipsters with a secret inner-manly-man are pleased. ● West Coast Editor – Matt Diehl, Cole’s (LA) – The 100-year-old buffet-style cafeteria comes back as something new (but the French dip stays). ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, La Esquina (NYC) – Day and night, eating, meeting and playing. ● Paris Correspondent – Dana Thomas, Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel (Paris) – Posh sips & historic ambiance at the Ritz. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Tokyo (Montreal) – Buy one for the buff bartender while you’re at it—he’s a starving actor. Cayte GrieveCafé Asean (NYC) Foster Ethan KamerLa Superior (NYC) – Quite possibly the best little taqueria this side of town. ● Editorial Assistant – Eiseley Tauginas, Alta (NYC) – Alta, as in “high,” as in “haute,” at this sexy Village tapas spot. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Sripraphai (NYC) ● Editorial Interns – Annie Clinton Moto (NYC) – High-flavor food with dungeon loos. Sure, Moto’s for metros, but it’s hot anyway. Delia Paunescu Schiller’s Liquor Bar (NYC) – McNally’s successful entrée into the LES mess. Desiree Pais, Lit (NYC) – Rock bar du jour for hos and bros of the ain’t we the shit? set. Alexandra Vickers, Colette (Paris) – Art, style, music, sex and water.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Five Leaves (NYC) – Café posthumously funded by Heath Ledger does justice to the work and hype put into it. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Brandy Library (NYC) – Highbrow mixology, let us know when it’s time to dust off the antique bottles on the upper shelf. ● Design/Photo Interns – Angela Chen, Dinosaur BBQ (NYC) – Roadhouse bringing southerners to Northern Manhattan. Krista Quick – Ottobar (Baltimore) – What can we say, this place rocks.Jeremy Jones – Tokyo Bar, (NYC) – Schizo décor and food, but decently done all the same.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Fashion Director-at-Large – Elizabeth Sulcer, China Grill (NYC) -Heaping plates of Asian fusion amid fashionable environs. ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Bondi Road (NYC) – Wizards of Aus in NYC, we like your style. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Per Se (NYC) – Advanced gastronomy at the Time Warner Center. Thomas Keller pulls out all the stops. ● Fashion Interns – Samantha Shaw, Chez Janou (Paris) – Boisterous southern bistro near the Place des Vosges. Julien Blanc, La Esquina (NYC) – Fairly authentic Mexican and one of the city’s best-known “secret” bars. Laura Watters, Café Habana (NYC) – Scarfing roast pork is so much better when Mary-Kate is watching, longingly. Lindsay Abrams, Sketch: Gallery (London) – Quirky soho hot spot. BlackBook magazine Founder – Evanly Schindler, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Café Select (NYC) – SoHo café marries Swiss Alpine to downtown design, garners Next Brunch Place status. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Lucky Strike Lanes (NYC) – Scenester bowling from the dudes behind Marquee and Tao. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick of Drew Patrick Law, Dutch Kills (NYC) – Modern-day antique saloon from New York’s cocktail kings. ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Motorino (NYC) – Belgian-bred Mathieu Palombino’s Billyburg pizza joint serves up personal pan-sized genius, one pie at a time.

ADVERTISING ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Gascogne (NYC) – Southern French cooking without the Southern French ‘tude. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Botanica (NYC) – Dive that must be working some kind of Santeria to keep prices down in this excessive nabe. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, La Piaggia (Miami) – Keep your feet in the sand and your hand on the rosé glass at this waterfront café francaise. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, Blind Tiger Ale House (NYC) – Beer bar institution finds new home, devoted crowd. Kristen von Bernthal, Pure Food and Wine (NYC) – Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Perennial (Chicago) – This could easily become Chicago’s summer hotspot for years to come. ● Andrea Forrester, Mirai (Chicago) – Thumpin’ music and bumpin’ elbows don’t deter crowds from gathering for some of the city’s finest sushi. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Gjelina (LA) – New Venice, new American hotspot takes on Hollywood posturing and tude. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, 15 Romolo (San Francisco) – Bourbon & Branch without the passwords and financial types. Shawn O’Meara, Suppenküche (San Francisco) – Fun place, hearty food. Check the diet at the door. Sales Coordinator – Claire Pujol, Fat Baby (NYC) – Dank in a clean way. Do not enter without skinny jeans.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Kingswood (NYC) – Creative Aussie eats. Feel like king of the W. Vill woods. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, Bozu (NYC) – Sunken Japanese paradise. Delectable sushi, incredible drinks. ● Interns – Rebecca Hill, Chicago Brauhaus (Chicago) – One of the last of Chicago’s great German restaurants with live oompah bands and an Oktoberfest menu year-round. Delna Joshi, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. Brianne Murphy, Beauty Bar (NYC) – Kitschy theme bar serving up mani/drink combos under a row of hair dryers. Elizabeth Pirozzi, Pink Elephant (NYC) – Gangsters, models, and house. Where one goes, the others must follow. Monica Dybuncio, Cha Cha Cha (San Francisco) – The Haight’s never-ending Caribbean party where Santerias and sangria rule. Emily Pflug Presidio, Delfina (San Francisco) – Overly moussed males, technophiles, and high-class hipsters collide in this local fine dining favorite. Lea Abeyta, The Annex (NYC) – Grown-up newcomer from Dark Room boys. Tiswas Saturday, Interpol’s Paul B holding down Wednesday. Joanna Rubinstein, Bar Breton (NYC) – Fleur de Sel’s tastes of Brittany now available in brasserie form. Marie Baginski, East Andrews Cafe & Bar (Atlanta) – Label toters run amok at Buckhead restaurant-bar and pack the place on Thursdays and Fridays. Megan Kunecki, Blender Theater at Gramercy (NYC) -New indie rocker hosting artists you put on your iPod for show while you’re really listening to “Since U Been Gone” again. Jay Kassirer, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique. Suhee Eom, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. Jaime Marie, Sueños (NYC) – Sweet dreams of organic tequila and make-your-own-tacos really can come true! Rana Razavi, Sanctuary (Miami) – Swank rooftop bar and the promise of hanky panky in the pool.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Yerba Buena (NYC) – Petite hot zone with wide range of Pan-Latino small plates. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Beast (Brooklyn) – Small plates and top brunch, come get lost in Prospect Heights. Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Developer – Dan Simon, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (NYC) ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Manuel’s (Austin) – Immaculate cleanliness, smart design, and Wine Spectator-designated mole don’t come cheap even for the downtown lunch crowd. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, Pacific Standard (NYC) – Mellow, big-hearted Slope pub keepin’ it pacific. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Stone Park Café (NYC) – White on white, Williams-Sonoma, Maclarens, fish sandwiches, and burgers. ● Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Centolire (NYC) – Mangia, mangia, and then ride up and down in the funny glass elevator until the hostess kicks you out.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS ● Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Eric Gertler, SoHo House (NYC) – Members-only decadent den where you may find scruffy English rockers or snaggle-toothed English bankers. Guess which is more likely. ● Joe Landry, Local (LA) – Anything goes, as long as it’s not beef. ● Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. ● Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. ● Barry Rubenstein, Shun Lee Café (NYC) – Haute Chinese and dim sum on a glossy, ’80s-fabulous set. ● Jack Sullivan, Blue Ribbon (NYC) – Bromberg bros brasserie takes care of Soho’s after-midnight crowd.
Brian Wilson Tickets Capital One Bank Theatre at Westbury Tickets Westbury Tickets

Rachel Weisz Is In Bloom

Darting through the Sahara with a preserved corpse. Murdered at a crossroads in Kenya. Kicking ass alongside conmen brothers and their explosive sidekick in Prague. The edgy and earthy Rachel Weisz hasn’t exactly been easy to track (or pin) down. But with a young son at home, an Oscar on her mantel and three new movies in the can, the daring and elusive actress takes a minute to consider her illustrious career, all the while trying to make sense of the condom shorts on display at Manhattan’s New Museum.

Like most major stars, Rachel Weisz understands that scandal shines brighter than Academy Award polish, and that tabloid gossips would kill to replace the Narciso Rodriguez gowns in her closet with skeletons. But there are no addictions in her past. There are no tapes documenting torrid affairs with boldface, bald-headed studio executives. One cannot even recall a single of her awards-show acceptance speeches colored by too much red wine. Weisz can’t be blamed, then, for wanting to shake things up. “Believe me,” she says. “I get it. I’m living with a nice man, and I have a nice job and a happy family, blah, blah, blah… ”

Far from Hollywood, a diorama of desperation and loaner implants, Weisz has created a home in Manhattan’s East Village with her fiancé, Darren Aronofsky, the director of fantastically unconventional fare such as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and this year’s The Wrestler. With their 2-year-old son, Henry (Weisz wrote one of her two university theses on the ghost stories of Henry James), they live in a townhouse amid the tattooed punks and NYU co-eds who occupy the tattered streets near St. Mark’s Place. Weisz often dines at Café Mogador, a Moroccan restaurant (where she also conducts the majority of her interviews). On rare nights out, she stops in at Zablozki’s in Brooklyn, the no-fuss beer den owned by Aronofsky’s best friend, Ari Zablozki, and Angel’s Share, a lounge above St. Mark’s Bookshop that serves “the best lychee cocktails in the world.”

But there is another Rachel Weisz, an actress who exudes subtlety and strength. Watching this woman onscreen is not unlike angling through a swarm of tourists at the Louvre for a better look at Mona Lisa’s smile: take one step, and in an instant, her tenor changes dramatically. She is quicksilver, and has shifted effortlessly between a thrill-seeking Egyptologist, a prostitute, a pickpocket, a blue dragon, a policewoman (and her twin sister) and a writer with a penchant for graying men. In each case, she commits to the fiction, mocking vanity through her own game of make-believe—“like pirates,” she says, “or smugglers.”

Over the next few months, Weisz will star in three studio releases, including this month’s grifters’ yarn The Brothers Bloom, featuring a stacked deck of actors like Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rinko Kikuchi. In director Rian Johnson’s absurdist wonderland of theft, betrayal and card tricks, Weisz plays Penelope, an idiosyncratic heiress in search of adventure. Weisz raps, juggles, skateboards and crashes cars (many cars) as she sets off on a journey with two conmen brothers and their monosyllabic arsonist-sidekick Bang Bang. Adjectives in the realm of “lovely” and “electric” do not do Weisz justice.

Later this year, she will star alongside Susan Sarandon and Mark Wahlberg in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones, based on Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel about rape and murder, and Agora, a historical epic directed by celebrated Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar. (On the set of Agora, co-star Max Minghella nicknamed the actress “Dr. Weisz” because, he says, she is “such a deeply curious person. It really is a shame that she’s such a bloody good actress, because she would have made a champ psychoanalyst.”)

As it turns out, she also would have made an outspoken art critic. Crossing New York’s Bowery, a sociological zoo of homeless missions and luxury hotels, we approach the New Museum. “You must check out the work of Thomas Ruff,” Weisz says, holding open the entrance door. “He’s a German artist who takes pictures of Internet porn and then blurs them digitally. He blows up cropped arms, legs and genitals so that they’re heavily pixilated and almost look like Grand Master paintings. I own a little one he did that shows a girl with her panties falling down,” she adds, her crimson cheeks betraying a slight blush.

Without question, the most cherished pieces in her collection have been created by punk icon Raymond Pettibon. “I think he’s a poet,” she says, walking through an exhibition devoted to the urbanization of modern-day China. “I bought Darren a piece from a series that Pettibon did on surfers. It’s a picture of Jesus on a surfboard and it says, ‘Proof that everything is rideable.’” Her big eyes grow bigger when describing “Untitled (Aretha),” a red block made from amber that could easily be mistaken for a monster Jolly Rancher. It was created by her friend, conceptual artist Roni Horn, and Weisz swears it’s “the sexiest block you’ve ever seen… but it’s Aretha Franklin!”

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Crossing the main floor of the museum, Weisz shrieks at a pitch normally reserved for scratch-ticket winners and newly engaged sorority sisters. “Viagrate! Is Viagra called Viagrate in China? Wait, is that a joke? Condom shorts! They’re entire shorts with a condom on the end! This must be jokey stuff, like from the joke shop.”

The elevator doors open onto the fifth floor of the gallery, into what looks like an Israeli refugee camp. Spray-painted phrases like “Terror Error” share space with Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubby that Jerry Falwell accused of homosexuality. “It’s all very Tracey Emin-ish,” says Weisz. And she’d know. In 2003, she reprised the role of Evelyn, her stage character in Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things, for the writer-director’s film adaptation of the same name. As the calculating art student who manipulates and transforms an impressionable loser into a handsome but miserable bachelor, Evelyn is plucked directly from the pages of the Turner Prize–winning artist.

“I’ve met her,” says Weisz, quietly. “She’s very scary. She came to see the play, and I met her in the bar afterward. She’s an amazing character, very… provocative.” It’s clear from Weisz’s raised eyebrows that “provocative” intrigues her.

In The Brothers Bloom, Weisz’s character Penelope tells Adrien Brody’s Bloom that “a photograph is a secret about a secret… the more it tells, the less you know.” It’s a statement that Weisz considers over fish tacos at Café Habana, a Cuban diner in Manhattan’s NoLita. Privacy, she thinks, might actually work against her; the less one offers up, the more ravenous media vultures become. “Have you ever heard the saying, Happiness writes white? It’s a good expression, isn’t it? It means that if the story is too happy, no one will ever be able to see it on the page.”

While not exactly blemish-free, Weisz’s biography still reads whiter than most. She was raised in the north of London, in Hampstead Garden Suburb, by Edith Ruth and George Weisz. Her mother was a teacher, and later became a psychotherapist who saw clients in her home. Her father, an inventor, was born in Hungary but later fled to England to escape Nazi persecution. Weisz has chosen to safeguard the details of their relationship, which ended in divorce when she was still a child. “I think everyone’s family is like its own planet,” she says, adding, “Some are just more ‘nanu-nanu’ than others.”

“Writers have always been interested in my parents and in my teenage years, which I find so weird, especially now that I’m in my late thirties,” she says, her tone suddenly more serious. “That’s always made me feel infantilized, like they are talking to me as if I were still 10 years old. I’m made to feel as if I were Annie in the musical.” People are hungry to dig up the past, she notices, as if her parents’ failed marriage might somehow shed light on who Weisz is now, the roles she chooses to inhabit.

“It’s very atavistic… is that the right word? That this happened or is like this because of that?” But might there be some truth to that line of thought? Weisz chooses her words carefully. “It’s such a hard thing to sum up. The best way to describe my parents and our family is… operatic. Everything played out in a very melodramatic way, as if we were the stars of a Tennessee Williams play, which is not actually that good for acting. It would be good for opera, but sadly, I can’t sing. If I had a million-dollar voice, I could nail opera, because I understand that emotional level of living. But with acting, you have to learn that it’s all about very quiet, internal moments. I think I was pretty crap at acting in the beginning because I was too operatic, and it’s taken me a while to learn how to tone that down.” (It’s worth mentioning here that Weisz will inhabit the role of Blanche DuBois this summer in a London production of A Streetcar Named Desire.)

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I don’t think anyone can push me harder than me, professionally,” says Weisz, considering a nearby plate of sautéed spinach. “If that person exists, I’d love to meet them.” She smiles, waiting for suggestions. What about Lars von Trier, the notoriously prickly director of Dancer in the Dark and Dogville? “Oh, I would love to work with him!” she says, tugging slightly on her upturned black turtleneck. She imagines the possibility for a minute. “Actually, I don’t do too well with conflict in work. Some people like that sort of thing. They create conflict and that’s how they get their energy up. I’d rather have friends.”

She does not at all sound like a scripted pageant contestant with a knife in her hand. Glowing reports from her peers and friends don’t hurt, either. Of her experience with Weisz on the set of The Brothers Bloom, Rinko Kikuchi says, “Rachel’s concentration is very intense. She has this magic that puts everyone under her spell.” Hugh Jackman, with whom Weisz starred in the time-travel love story The Fountain, seconds the sentiment. “Rachel is fearless,” he says. “She has a razor-sharp wit, brimming with creativity.”

Looking back on his experience with Weisz while filming The Fountain in 2004, however, Jackman is reminded of one particularly awkward moment: “There was a scene that called for me falling into the bath with Rachel. I was fully clothed, and we started to kiss, which was meant to be the end of the scene. Darren, who was sitting no less than three yards from us, never called cut, but like good pros we carried on until my pants started coming off, which is when we started laughing. Darren screamed, ‘Why didn’t you take his pants off, Rachel?’ And she yelled back, ‘Because I was shy!’” Remembering this exchange, Weisz says, shaking her head and laughing, “My husband the pornographer.”

Even Ben Stiller, her co-star in Envy, the 2004 stinker about fecal evaporation, says, “We were always laughing together. She was definitely the highlight of an experience I’ve almost altogether blacked out.” Peter Jackson, the director of The Lovely Bones, offers: “Some people think of Rachel as a beautiful movie star with an air of fragility about her. However, having played laser tag against her with my son, and seen her running around wielding a gun, I can tell you—she’s not that fragile!” Paul Rudd, who starred opposite Weisz in The Shape of Things, agrees: “Rachel has an ability to stare at you and, in seconds, you feel as if she’s detected all your bullshit.” Hugh Grant, who played Weisz’s love interest in the romantic comedy About a Boy, says, “Making a film with her aroused more jealousy and rage in my male friends than any other girl I’ve ever acted with.”

“Oh, baloney!” says Weisz, when met with this grocery list of high praise. “I think this is what’s referred to as ‘blowing smoke up my ass.’” Despite international acclaim and trophies to go with it, the New York transplant has little interest in brandishing her good fortune. “The whole thing about going home,” she says, “is that everyone already hates you, so you have to be the opposite of boastful. Nobody wants to hear you lord your success over people, so you do yourself down.”

A graduate of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, Weisz majored in English Literature, where she founded the Talking Tongues theater group. It wasn’t long until her scene-stealing debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, which quickly led to starring roles in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, not to mention a searing career-high in Fernando Mereilles’ Big Pharma epic The Constant Gardener, for which Weisz took home the 2006 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

As Tessa, the dead wife of Justin Quayle, a low-rung diplomat played by Ralph Fiennes, Weisz ransacked the film in fewer than 20 minutes. While trying to understand and confront his wife’s murder, Justin goes up against an unethical drug corporation and the suspicion of Tessa’s infidelity. Instead of coddling the role of victim, Weisz delivered a staggering and ambiguous performance that was widely heralded as the year’s best. “I was blown away by her commitment to the situation,” says Stiller, “and the fact that she wasn’t trying to make us like her.”

Weisz admits that the prizes thrown her way since the release of that film have had a significant impact on her career. “I spent my twenties chasing down parts. I sort of miss the fight. It’s weird to have a good thing fall into your lap, or two good things and then be forced to choose.” Weisz laughs, absorbing what she has just said. “I should have such problems, right?”

Despite having been born time zones away, Weisz is now a proper New Yorker, and as such, there are no drivers named Dudley or Jeeves waiting for her behind tinted windows, nor does she sport the oversize sunglasses typical of an actress hoping to avoid recognition. “I’m not Tom Cruise,” she explains. “I don’t get hassled.”

Instead of focusing on the art of celebrity—which, she insists, is anathema to credible screen performances—Weisz would rather clock time in films that make her proud. “I remember watching a television interview with Gael García Bernal, and he was asked about the difference between being a celebrity and being an actor. He said, ‘It’s apples and oranges, really.’ And that is so true,” she says, matter-of-factly. “It’s a categorical error to talk about the two things in the same breath.”

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[Also check out our interview and photos with Rachel Weisz from 2003.]

Photography by Nicolas Moore, styling by Marcus Teo.

The Rick’s Cabaret Guide to New York

Where do the dancing girls of publicly traded flesh palace Rick’s Cabaret like to hang when they aren’t putting themselves through school? Sure, you saw the stripper interviews yesterday, but wouldn’t you rather get intimate with the source material? After the jump, the Rick’s lovelies page throuh our “notes” regarding where the ladies kick it when they’re not working the pole. Can you get a Pulitzer for blue balls?

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Jennifer’s Picks:, Son Cubano, Little Branch, Bourgeois Pig, Boss Tweeds, Le Souk

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Becky’s picks: Dos Caminos, Blue Water Grill, La Zarza, Lil’ Frankie’s, Rick’s, Kum Gang San, Wildwood, Ace Bar, Mason Dixon, Boss Tweeds, Little Branch, PDT, Lucky Cheng’s

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Jazz’s picks: Cielo, Pink Elephant, Esperanto, Cafe Mogador Suzy’s Picks: 7B, Niagara, The Box, Apothéke, Big Wong King, Rick’s

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