Editor's Letter: The Making of the 2022 Best Performances Issue

Sara Moonves with Jonah Hill.
Sara Moonves with Jonah Hill.

I’ve always been a huge movie fan. One of the things I’ve missed most during the pandemic is going to an actual theater, so when Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg invited me to a screening of House of Gucci, I jumped at the chance. It was a rainy Friday night, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to sit back and enjoy the big screen. I loved watching Lady Gaga as Patrizia Gucci, and an unrecognizable Jared Leto as her homely cousin-in-law. The glamour, the drama, the fashion—I loved it all.

Tessa Thompson.

Makeup artist Daniel Sallstrom with Alana Haim.


When we started planning our annual Best Performances portfolio, we discussed with photographer Tim Walker how we would bring that level of glitz and fantasy to the pages of W. Walker shot 35 of our favorite actors in Los Angeles over three long days. The highlight of the experience for me was witnessing them and our creative teams coming together. When I asked Jude Hill, the 11-year-old newcomer in Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, who his idol was, he said Jake Gyllenhaal. By pure coincidence, Gyllenhaal was just arriving on set, and surprised Hill while he was being photographed. The picture of Hill smiling, on page 125, was taken at the exact moment when Gyllenhaal walked behind the camera to say hello.

Tim Walker.

Performances were powerful this year. They included Benedict Cumberbatch as the brother-in-law from hell in The Power of the Dog, and Denzel Washington as Macbeth in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Kristen Stewart transformed into Princess Diana in Spencer, and Jennifer Hudson became Aretha Franklin in Respect. Characters were big and bold, as were the stars who played them. Director Paul Thomas Anderson escorted Cooper Hoffman, the lead in his great film Licorice Pizza, to our set. Anderson sat next to me and Hirschberg on an apple box, as we watched Walker capture Hoffman. It was a real pinch-yourself moment to have all that talent in one room. The next day, we shot Hoffman’s breakout costar, Alana Haim, wearing what we dubbed “Cher hair.” Passing’s Ruth Negga channeled Hitchcock’s The Birds with her blonde wig and Miu Miu jacket. Kirsten Dunst became a different kind of housewife from the one she plays in The Power of the Dog, watering the faux flower beds that set designer Gary Card had built.

Filippo Scotti with Lynn Hirschberg’s dog, Zora.

Photo assistant Antonio Perricone with Haim.


Elsewhere in our first issue of the year, we pay tribute to the great Shonda Rhimes. Culture Editor Brooke Marine examines Rhimes’s huge career in television, from her early days on Grey’s Anatomy, to the latest season of Bridgerton, to her much-anticipated series Inventing Anna, with Julia Garner, who was on our cover last fall. In our Collections Selection feature, we collaborated with one of the great designers of this generation, Jonathan Anderson, tracking his innovative work at Loewe through the years. It was Anderson’s idea to have the magnificent performer Justin Vivian Bond be his muse in this story. Anderson tells writer Eric Wilson that he chose Bond because he knew she would be able to make his past collections look new again; judging from photographer Jack Pierson’s images, that is certainly the case.

A view of the wardrobe.

In “Ahead of the Pack,” photographer Campbell Addy, stylist Harry Lambert, and writer Jenny Comita team up to spotlight the young avant-garde designers who are pushing boundaries, inspired by everything from retro-future anime to the artist Christo to the metaverse. “Tour de Force,” shot on the streets of Paris by photographer Tim Elkaïm and styled by Brian Molloy, focuses on sculptural shapes, featuring must-haves from Proenza Schouler, the Row, and Giorgio Armani. And finally, the dream team of Rafael Pavarotti and Ibrahim Kamara take the clothes of the season—including Miu Miu’s barely there bralette and miniskirt, and Dior’s light-as-a-feather dress—to another dimension, this time on the one and only Naomi Campbell.

A selection of hairstylist Ali Pirzadeh’s wigs.

Whether in movies, television, or fashion, this past year’s Best Performances brought us excitement and a sense of escape—something we could all use a lot more of. Here’s to a healthy 2022. Happy New Year, and enjoy the issue!


Sara Moonves

All images Courtesy of W Staff.