In 2018, Joe Alwyn attended the Cannes Film Festival for the first time. The actor was just months away from starring in three major films—The Favourite, Boy Erased, and Mary Queen of Scots—but he was being celebrated at the festival for a different reason: as a recipient of the 2018 Trophée Chopard, an award that officially labeled Alwyn as a star with a bright future in the industry. Four years later, and that prediction has come to fruition. On Wednesday night, Alwyn took the Cannes red carpet once again—this time, as the star of a film in competition at the festival, Stars at Noon, a romantic thriller from famed French director Claire Denis.
For Alwyn’s first time around—when he attended the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story with fellow Trophée Chopard honoree Elizabeth Debicki—the actor kept his suiting low key, wearing a classic black tux, possibly not wanting to stick out as a newcomer. For the Stars at Noon premiere, however, Alwyn’s progress since his last Cannes appearance was palpable in his stature, his confidence, and his clothes.
For the evening, Alwyn called on Hedi Slimane to design a Celine suit worthy of such an event. The result was a wool and mohair double-breasted coat in a light canvas. With the help of his stylist, Rose Forde, Alwyn opted to leave the jacket open to show off the black cotton poplin shirt underneath. In a conversation with W, Alwyn admitted he’s not “good at talking about” clothes, but it’s clear the actor knows how to show them off.
How did your relationship with Hedi and Celine come to be?
They were kind enough to offer to dress me, and I said yes because I love them as a brand. I love everything they make. I would love to wear more, if they’ll let me. The whole team there was so kind, particularly when putting together the look. It’s kind of cliché to say, but they’re just so cool.
Your look for the premiere was a bit of a departure for you, style-wise. Did you work with Hedi to come up with it?
A little bit. The suit was a nod to my character, who wears a cream suit in the film. So, we thought we’d play off that idea. We also wanted to do something little boxier, but with a nice silhouette.
What was it like to return to Cannes four years after winning the Trophée Chopard?
It’s really nice being here with a film. It was fun four years ago, but to be here as part of the festival with a film in competition is really cool. And particularly to be here with Claire [Denis]. She’s a filmmaker worldwide, but her significance here is obviously through the roof. It was the ultimate celebration of film, and to be back with an audience in a room, watching the movie, was really special.
What was the feeling like on the red carpet?
I think if you do those things as a group, it takes some of the anxiety out. And so to be with Claire and the rest of the cast, and seeing faces that I haven’t seen for the last seven months or so, was a really nice feeling. And then at the actual premiere, it was really warm and felt lovely. Again, I’d never been here with a film, so I didn’t know about the whole standing up at the end and someone running around with the camera in your face.
In addition to Stars at Noon, you also just starred in the Hulu adaption of Conversations With Friends. What made you decide to pivot to TV?
I wanted to be a part of the project for loads of reasons. I’m a big fan of Sally Rooney. I read both Conversations With Friends and Normal People right when they came out and I loved them as a fan, first and foremost. So when I heard they were making Conversations, and that [Normal People director] Lenny Abrahamson would be joining the project, I was excited.
Was there any pressure to live up to the success of Normal People?
I feel like there’s a degree of pressure and nerves with anything. Normal People was brilliant and loved, but I feel like there was a separation between the shows. It never felt like we were trying to make Normal People part two. I’m sure it will sometimes be viewed through the lens of comparison, but it’s very much an entirely different story. It’s not a sequel in any shape or form. There are entirely different characters with entirely different chemistry and intentions and complexities. I don’t think any of us felt we were trying to copy a blueprint.
You star in Conversations with Jemima Kirke, and you also have a new film coming up, Catherine Called Birdy, directed by Lena Dunham. Did Jemima give you any tips about working with her former Girls costar?
Well, I actually shot the movie with Lena right before we did Conversations. So no, no Jemima tips.
Any plans to work with Allison Williams and Zosia Mamet and complete the Girls quad?
[Laughs] Not yet. I’m working on it.