Saturday, September 23, 2017

Elisabeth Moss interview / The Mad Men actress talks reunion, theatre and women in Hollywood

Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss interview: The Mad Men actress talks reunion, theatre and women in Hollywood

Mad Men might be over yet Moss’s career is anything but
James Mottram
Friday 29 May 2015 15:00 BST

Life after Mad Men might seem like a daunting prospect. One of the defining television shows of the past decade, after the final episode unspooled recently, you could forgive its stars for worrying about where next.
Not, though, if you’re Elisabeth Moss. The blonde haired, blue-eyed actress, who played the glass ceiling-shattering ad exec Peggy Olson, has just finished a run on Broadway in a revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles. It left her with glowing reviews, a Tony nomination and the “re-assuring” feeling that Peggy isn’t the last meaningful character she’ll ever play.
Today, she’s been running around New York like a mad thing, taking meetings: the life of an actress – some twenty-five years into her career – who no longer needs to audition. She’s in high spirits, assured, confident. “Obviously I’m very sad that the show is ending, but at the same time, there is this massive silver lining to it,” she says. Namely, the golden handcuffs of a seven-season show are off, with Moss’s schedule finally her own. “It’s very liberating to be able to have the freedom, where I can go, ‘Oh, yeah, I want to work with this filmmaker. Let’s collaborate on something.’”
Chief among them is her work with Alex Ross Perry, a striking new voice in cinema whose third film Listen Up Philip is released in the UK next week. The film stars Jason Schwartzman as an arrogant New York writer about to publish his second novel. Moss plays his long-suffering girlfriend, aspiring photographer Ashley, who becomes increasingly exasperated by Philip’s behaviour. “I thought it was funny, brave and cool,” says Moss of a deliciously scripted film that feels like a distant cousin to mid-period Woody Allen or early Wes Anderson.
Elisabeth Moss attends the 'The Heidi Chronicles' Media Day at the Baryshinkov Arts Center in New York City
“I feel like Alex just bypasses all of the conventional ideas of what you’re supposed to do with your script,” she adds. Indeed, from the voiceover (read dispassionately by Eric Bogosian) to the way the narrative switches focus from Philip to Ashley to Jonathan Pryce’s fellow author, Perry does everything screenwriting class tells you not to do. Moss was immediately sold. “I enjoy a Hollywood film as much as the next person. I love romantic comedies, and I love when everyone ends up happy at the end, but I think it’s also important to show other kinds of stories.”
Already, the 32-year-old actress has worked on a follow-up film with Perry, Queen of Earth, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year. This time, the focus is fully on her in this John Cassavetes-inspired tale about a woman, grief-stricken at the loss of her father and nursing rejection from a boyfriend, who begins to mentally unravel. Co-starring Inherent Vice’s Katherine Waterston, it is an uncomfortable watch, far removed from the arch nature of Listen Up Philip, as Moss becomes more paranoid and hysterical throughout.

Compared to the largely buttoned-down Peggy Olson, it’s a startling transition for Moss, who is also credited as a producer on the film – her first behind-camera experience. She calls it “accidental”, saying it came about after Perry asked her for input into casting and locations. “To be able to be a part of the decisions and have a say is fantastic,” she nods. “I know a little bit about this business! And to be able to have some creative control in what you’re making [was great]… I’m definitely interested in doing it again.”
Curiously, Moss never directed on Mad Men, unlike several of her colleagues (Jon Hamm, Jared Harris and John Slattery shot episodes). “That is one of those things where I loved my place on the show and I felt like it was such a gift and such a pleasure to have my position and to play Peggy. I couldn’t ask for anything more and I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to see behind the curtain. I loved my place on that. I was particularly happy to remain there.”
I ask Moss whether she could conceive of another series of Mad Men – a 10-year reunion, perhaps. “I don’t think so. I think we’re big fans and I think Matt [Weiner, the show’s creator] is a big fan of leaving the party while people still want you around. Of course never say never, but I feel like we did what we wanted to do with that show. I can’t believe it went as long as it did,” she says. “It’s fine to have a story that ends when it ends and let someone else come up with a new show that everyone loves.”
Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs starring in the Heidi Chronicles
Moss didn’t even have time to grieve; when the final episode was shot last year, she packed up her belongings in Los Angeles, moved them back to New York and then headed straight to Belfast, where she joined the cast of High-Rise, the anticipated new film by acclaimed British director Ben Wheatley. Adapted from the JG Ballard novel, this tale of a 1970s tower-block and its elitist residents, co-starring Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans, is a further example of how Moss is making it work without the crutch of the Hollywood to lean on.
Landing in Ireland, Moss immediately shed Peggy to play Helen Wilder, pregnant wife to Evans’ character. “I had a pregnancy belly the whole time. And then these hippie-ish maternity clothes,” she laughs. “I was really quite surprised to get the job because it was mostly British people. There’s no way they’re going to give it to this American girl, although I am half-British and I do have British citizenship.” As it turns out, Moss’s father Ron actually hails from Birmingham. He left when he was 30 for Los Angeles and never came back. 
Moss was raised in Laurel Canyon, with her younger brother Derek. Ron was a trombone-playing jazz musician (and later a manager, looking after Clint Eastwood’s jazz-star son Kyle). Moss’s mother Linda played blues harmonica. While Moss initially wanted to be a ballet dancer, watching her parents struggle to make a living put a career in the arts into perspective. “It allowed me to not be one of those Hollywood kids. There’s nothing harder than being a musician,” she notes. “It’s a very difficult life and it’s not glamorous.”
It taught Moss that discipline and dedication were the only real ways to strive for success. “The harder you work, the better you’ll be,” she shrugs. “So those kinds of things really helped me to not be as skewed by the business and not be too taken up by the superficial side of it. There was always something more important than that. And in my mind there was something far more difficult than acting, which was either ballet or music – you have to practise for hours every day. And that’s how you make it. That kind of discipline was very grounding I think.”
Moss started young; an agent saw her in a ballet when she was six and suggested she try out for commercials. From there, she worked steadily as a child actor, from TV show Picket Fences to playing Harvey Keitel’s offspring in the film Imaginary Crimes. By the end of the decade, she was acting opposite Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, but it would not be until she won the role of Zoey, youngest daughter to Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet in The West Wing, that Moss began to make an impression. It led to Mad Men, to Peggy and five Emmy nominations. 
A scene from Girl Interrupted starring left to right Brittany Murphy as Daisy Elizabeth Moss as Polly and Angelina Jolie (Columbia Tristar/COLUMBIA PICTURES)
Certainly, Moss makes a mockery of the idea that there are few decent parts for women. She was stunning in Jane Campion’s New Zealand-set programme Top of the Lake, winning a Golden Globe for her work as a troubled detective.
“I have come up in this business at a really fortuitous time. I think it is true that the roles for women are less than for men, but I also think it’s changed a lot, and I’ve seen it change over the last decade of being on Mad Men, where you now have so many shows on television that are led by women. I don’t think it’s all solved. I don’t think it’s quite equal yet. But it’s so much better.”
She cites the ITV drama Broadchurch – one of her “favourite shows in the entire world”, as she puts it. “You could never just have David Tennant in that now. You have to have a great female lead.” While she evidently admires his co-star Olivia Colman, “I would totally just watch the David Tennant version,” she giggles.
Moss has been married, briefly, to actor-comedian Fred Armisen, noted for his work on Saturday Night Live, but the union lasted less than a year. Relationships seem secondary to work right now. She recently completed Truth, a tale set around the last days of CBS news anchor Dan Rather, co-starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett. “That was one of those things – you get an email and it says: ‘There’s this film with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford...’ And you’re like, ‘Yes! Yes!’ How many times do I say, ‘Yes!’ to this.” It’s yet another prestige project on a CV that’s looking increasingly classy. Mad Men might be over. Moss’s career is anything but.

Friday, September 22, 2017

‘The Snowy Day’ Captured in New Stamp Series

United States Postal Service

Pictures of the Day / 21 September 2017 / The earthquake

Pictures of the Day / 23 June 2017 / Hurricane Maria

Pictures of the Day: 23 June 2017

Pictures of the Day / 23 June 2017 / Woman

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Margaret Atwood and Elisabeth Moss on the Urgency of The Handmaid’s Tale

Portrait of Elisabeth Moss and Margaret Atwood shot at the Time Inc. Photo Studios in New York,
March 18, 2017.
 Ruven Afanador for TIME. 

Margaret Atwood and Elisabeth Moss on the Urgency of The Handmaid’s Tale

Eliana Dockterman
Apr 12, 2017

Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel about a society with a plummeting birth rate, in 1984. In the book, a totalitarian American regime strips women of their rights and forces those who are fertile to become “handmaids” to bear children for wealthy men and their barren wives.

Atwood challenged herself to only include events in the book that had happened in history. The result was a tale about the future that can, at turns, feel all too contemporary. The story includes an environmental crisis, restrictions on abortion, marches for women's rights and Americans fleeing to Canada.

Elisabeth Moss / The actress whose very presence is a guarantee of quality

 Elisabeth Moss starring in The Handmaid’s Tale. Photograph: MGM/Hulu

Elisabeth Moss: the actress whose very presence is a guarantee of quality

The new television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is further evidence that the Mad Men star has a talent and range few others can match

Sarah Hughes
Sunday 21 May 2017 00.05 BST

hen the idea of a television adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s feminist classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, was mooted, the key phrase attached was “with Elisabeth Moss playing the lead”. The 34-year-old’s involvement was a small but clear signal of reassurance to fans of the source material: this was an adaptation to trust.

Next Sunday, British fans will get a chance to judge whether their faith was well placed as The Handmaid’s Tale arrives on Channel 4. In the US, the series has been rapturously received, hailed by the New York Times as “unflinching, vital and scary as hell”.
The biggest plaudits, however, were saved for Moss, who plays Offred, the title’s handmaid and a woman reduced by a repressive and patriarchal society into sexual enslavement, her old name removed, her new one the signifier of her owner, making her literally Of-Fred. The Boston Globe was impressed: “With The Handmaid’s Tale, Moss establishes herself as one of TV’s best dramatic actresses.”
In truth, she’d done that already. Twice. As Peggy Olson, the dowdy Catholic secretary turned go-getting copy chief on Mad Men, Moss became the no-nonsense heroine for a generation of cable TV watchers. Then, with Mad Mencoming to an end, Moss ensured she would not be consumed by the role that defined her.

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men
Photograph: Jaimie 

Going to New Zealand, she took the lead in Jane Campion’s bleak, bruising Top of the Lake, a dark, dense story about a violent, closed-off community, which returns for a second series this summer. Moss will again play troubled detective Robin Griffith, with Campion full of praise for her star: “She does a very Elisabeth Moss thing, which is… show strength and vulnerability at once, and also mystery.” Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was more succinct, stating in a Guardian profile that the only two things you need to know about Moss were that she “never gives a bad take and is a rubbish drinker”. Small wonder New York magazine recently named her “the Queen of Peak TV”.

The down-to-earth and outwardly easy-going Moss prefers to play down the praise. “I wish I was super-serious, anguished. I see those actors and I am like, oh God, they are so cool and they seem so interesting,” she said. “I don’t take acting that seriously. I love my work but I do not think that I am saving the world... I am a Valley Girl.”
She wasn’t entirely joking, although beneath the sunny exterior lurks a more complicated soul. She was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1982 and grew up in Laurel Canyon. Her British father, Ron, was a jazz musician and music manager, her American mother, Linda, a harmonica player in blues bands. She and her younger brother, Derek, were raised in a relaxed environment where the arts had more value than a traditional education.

“My earliest memories are at the Blue Note in New York or backstage at different theatres or different clubs,” she told the Guardian. “We grew up with musicians coming over jamming. We had tons of instruments. So holidays were always like, 50 people would come over and there would be a jam session with everyone playing jazz. When I was 12 I didn’t know about Nirvana or Oasis or any of those people. I was listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Gershwin.”
There was, however, a strange wrinkle in this idyllic picture of bohemian freedom – the family were Scientologists and Moss, raised in the church, remains in it today. “I feel it has given me a sanity and a stability that I’m not sure I would necessarily have had,” she told the Times in 2010. In recent years, perhaps mindful of reputation (hers and the church’s), she has become more reticent about her religion: “I said what it meant to me and anyone can go and look at that if they want to know what I feel. But now it’s private, off limits.”
If Scientology and music were two crucial poles of her upbringing, the third, and in some ways most important, was ballet. As a child, she pursued dual careers, taking roles in commercials and made-for-TV movies while training as a dancer. At 15, she chose acting, noting it was the easier option. It was certainly the right one. By 17, she was playing the daughter of the president (Martin Sheen) in The West Wing; by 19, she had moved to New York to star in a play; at 23, having already been acting professionally for more than a decade, she was cast as Peggy in Mad Men.

“In my mind, there was something far more difficult than acting, which was either ballet or music,” she told the Independent in an attempt to explain why her work came so naturally to her. “You have to practise for hours every day. And that’s how you make it. That kind of discipline was very grounding.”
She is an actress of great control who can say a lot while seeming to do very little and whose performances Campion describes as “coming from the inside out”. Yet alongside this restraint comes a natural warmth, which makes even the most closed-off character appear sympathetic. It’s a skill that has stood her in particularly good stead on The Handmaid’s Tale, where Offred hides her resistance to the new regime behind the blank face she presents to the world. She can snap quickly out of a role once off stage and in the wings. “I barely hang on to it while we’re filming,” she admitted to New York magazine. “I am totally that person that they yell ‘cut’ and I’m making jokes and doing stupid stuff. It’s fake to me to be any other way.”
Away from the camera, she is relaxed and a little goofy with a reputation as a joker. “She’s not one of those actresses who is walking around with her headphones on listing to Nine Inch Nails to get into a scene,” Mark Duplass, who worked with her on The One I Love, told New York magazine. “She’s joking around causally and then you yell ‘action’ and her heartbeat goes up to 150 beats per minute.”

Elisabeth Moss starring in The Handmaid’s Tale

Having spent most of her life working, she admits to being occasionally emotionally naive; in an otherwise lighthearted Q&A, she stated that her biggest secret was “I tend to fall in love a little bit too easily sometimes”. A short, unhappy marriage to comedian Fred Armisen, which lasted less than a year amid reports that Armisen thought he was marrying Peggy Olson, not Elizabeth Moss, seems to highlight that truth. “Looking back, I feel like I was really young,” she told New York magazine. “It was extremely traumatic and awful and horrible. At the same time, it turned out for the best. I’m glad I’m not there. I’m glad it didn’t happen when I was 50. Like, that’s probably not going to happen again.”
Perhaps because of this she now prefers a quiet life, renting apartments in New York’s Upper West Side and West Hollywood, LA, and hanging out at a handful of familiar haunts. She says she prefers staying in watching TV to going out but is also a committed shopper. “Whenever she likes something, be it food or clothes or shoes, she orders heaps of it,” noted Campion. “I remember her apartment in New Zealand was piled with boxes. She does girly-girl very well.”
A self-described “card-carrying feminist”, Moss ran in trouble last month after appearing to suggest that The Handmaid’s Tale was a story about “human” rather than “women’s rights”. Always sensitive to perceptions, she was quick to clarify,stressing that she had merely wanted to highlight “the different problems we are facing – the infringements on a lot of different human rights OBVIOUSLY, all caps, it’s a feminist story”.
It was a rare misstep from a preternaturally poised actress and unlikely to be repeated in the near future.


Born Elisabeth Singleton Moss in Los Angeles, California, 24 July 1982. Her parents were both musicians and she was raised a Scientologist.
Best of times
As Mad Men’s Peggy Olson, she was nominated six times for a best actress Emmy. She has yet to win.
Worst of times
A whirlwind romance with Fred Armisen resulted in a marriage that collapsed in under a year.
What she says
“When someone puts up the gif of Peggy walking down the hall with the box and the cigarette and connects it to International Women’s Day or the Hillary Clinton campaign, I’m always like, ‘Damn, that’s so cool’.”
What they say
“She’s a little bit like a Mona Lisa. There’s a lot that she’s not showing you.”
Jane Campion

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Like a hook into an eye / Ten essential works by Margaret Atwood


The release of MaddAddam at the end of August only confirmed what many people already know. Already a legendary figure in the Canadian literary scene because of works like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood has written dynamic works of poetry and fiction for about fifty years. They deal with the creation and maintaining of identity in worlds both isolated and oppressive. They turn sexist preconceptions on their head. They unabashedly challenge the very DNA of language. Here are ten of Atwood’s finest works. Let us know what you think!
1. The Edible Woman (1969)
Atwood’s first major novel introduced many of the themes that the author would deal with for decades. About a woman who loses touch with reality after her marriage, the title refers to her irrational belief that the foods around him are taking on human qualities. While not a wholly feminist text, it prefigures the stronger positions Atwood would take in the future.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Margaret Atwood / The Handmaid's Tale / Quotes

Margaret Atwood 
The Handmaid's Tale 

Margaret Atwood / Two Quotes

Margaret Atwood

by Margaret Atwood


The basic Female body comes with the following accessories: garter belt, panty-girdle, crinoline, camisole, bustle, brassiere, stomacher, chemise, virgin zone, spike heels, nose ring, veil, kid gloves, fishnet stockings, fichu, bandeau, Merry Widow, weepers, chokers, barrettes, bangles, beads, lorgnette, feather boa, basic black, compact, Lycra stretch one-piece with modesty panel, designer peignoir, flannel nightie, lace teddy, bed, head.

Men and Women

She even had a kind of special position among men: she was an exception, she fitted none of the categories they commonly used when talking about girls; she wasn't a cock-teaser, a cold fish, an easy lay or a sneaky bitch; she was an honorary person. She had grown to share their contempt for most women.