Amandla Stenberg on the Real-Life Pain of The Hate U Give

“I cried every day, whether during a scene or on set.”

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Her performance in The Hate U Give, George Tillman Jr.’s adaptation of the best-selling YA novel by Angie Thomas, may have ultimately earned her glowing review after glowing review, but Amandla Stenberg cried every single day she was on the film’s set. If you’ve been keeping up with Stenberg’s career, which launched in 2012, with The Hunger Games, you’ll know that that was not because the 20-year-old actress wasn’t qualified the lead role of Starr Carter. The film is simply that moving—and Stenberg is, of course, right at its emotional center. Newly enrolled in an all-white private school in the suburbs, yet still living in what she’s sure her classmates would call the “ghetto,” Starr is still adjusting to her newfound double life on the night that she unexpectedly reunites with her childhood best friend—only to then witness a white police officer murder him shortly thereafter. It almost goes without saying, but her friend is black—just like far too many victims of police violence, which is just one of the facets of racism in America that the film tackles. For W‘s annual Best Performances issue, Stenberg reflects on the “eerie similarities” between herself and Starr—and, on a much lighter note, why she’s convinced that her longtime love for ’90s Leonardo DiCaprio was an early sign that she’s gay.

The film’s title, The Hate U Give, is a reference to Tupac. You’re quite young, but were you familiar with him before? I knew Tupac through my sister. She’s 12 years older than me, and she got me hip to hip hop growing up. We’d talk about Tupac and Biggie, and she’d give me lessons from the skreets. I remember listening to “Keep Ya Head Up” and really understanding those lyrics. And “California Love”—I feel like if you’re from California you inevitably end up loving that song and blasting it in high school.

Tell me about your character, Starr. Starr is a girl who’s code-switching between two different worlds, which is something that we all do—we present ourselves differently depending on the space that we’ve entered into. But she’s really challenged to choose what her true identity is when her best friend, who is a black boy, is shot in front of her at the hands of a white police officer. I was able to read the book really early on—before it was actually out, because, you know, industry illuminati stuff—and I fell in love with the character immediately. She’s multi-dimensional, she’s authentic, and she’s so unafraid to be truly herself, which she realizes through these really challenging, traumatic circumstances that reflect what’s happening in our world right now.

Could you relate to her? There’s an eerie amount of similarities between my life and hers. I grew up in South L.A.—and I’m very proud of that—but went to a school across town that was mostly white and privileged, so I learned to compartmentalize parts of myself just like she did. Learning the language of that school, but never being quite enough for it, is both Starr’s story and my own. It’s only since I graduated that I’ve realized how isolated I was, and how many messages it made me internalize.

It’s a very emotional movie. Did you get emotional making it? Yes! I was hella emotional the whole time. I cried every day, whether during a scene or off-camera but still on set. There’s this one scene that really got me: I don’t want to reveal too much, but you see the family and a few police officers, and then you see a little black boy with his hands on a gun. And this boy, TJ [Wright], was 10 years old when we were filming, and he just handled it like a champ. He had to cry in the scene, but he kept crying after they yelled cut because he understood the material. His mom had to stop herself from running over and holding her baby, because she knew that he was doing his best work and she was giving him the space and the freedom to do that. But just to see a mom see the pain that her kid is going through, and see that he has an understanding for societal structures and problems that are against him? I cried, for sure.

How have other people been reacting to it? We’ve had a lot of different reactions, which is exactly what we were hoping for, because the film isn’t for one particular group of people. Hopefully, it’s for everyone. There was this one older white woman who raised her hand at a Q&A and said, “I just didn’t know it was like this for you people.” And I was like, Wow—content really great; intention really great; delivery, eh, not so much. But her heart was in the right place, and at the end of the day, that’s kind of the response that we were hoping for.

Megan Lawless, Amandla Stenberg, and Sabrina Carpenter in *The Hate U Give* (2018).

Erika Doss, © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox

Amandla Stenberg and Algee Smith in *The Hate U Give* (2018).

Erika Doss, © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be an actress? I don’t really remember making the decision, but I’ve always wanted to do it. I was about four years old when I first started acting and doing commercials for Walmart, Kmart, McDonald’s. Looking back, those are all horrible brands. They’re all huge, corrupt conglomerates, but we weren’t woke back then. I was just trying to get that check.

Did you like going on auditions? I loved it and I hated it. Child acting is so weird. Sometimes I think back to things and am like, That was really bizarre, maybe children shouldn’t be in those circumstances. I remember doing this one commercial early on with someone who asked me if I was in SAG, and I was like, What’s that? What’s a SAG? He told me if I wasn’t a part of SAG, I couldn’t sit with him, and as a child, I was shooketh. But I got my SAG card eventually. I think it was from a McDonald’s commercial.

Did you have to do things like eat a million Big Macs? Yeah, because as a kid, you see food in front of you, you don’t think, “Oh, I’m gonna have to eat this over and over and over again.” I remember getting really sick on a KFC commercial—I almost threw up.

How old were you in The Hunger Games? I think I was 11 when we shot it, and 12 when it came out. That audition was probably the most nerve-wracking of my whole life. I was already the biggest Hunger Games fan—like a fan-fan-fan-girl. I remember kids telling me that the description of Rue in the book reminded them of me, and then I read it, and it became my favorite book. I was going on YouTube for castings and trying to see who might get the roles, but also just getting excited to see the movie as a fan.

And then you got the part. When you went back to school, did people make a big fuss? No. I went to a weird school with rich white people whose parents pulled them out of school once a month to go to the Bahamas. That’s an exaggeration—but not that much. Anyway, these kids’ parents were in movies, so they didn’t really care, which I think was for the best—I think I would’ve been an asshole if I’d been given that sort of attention that young.

What was the first outfit you wore on the red carpet? Oh my god. I think the first was for something Nickelodeon-related, when I was around 12. I wore this pink felt miniskirt from Forever 21 and a white t-shirt with puffy sleeves. And since everything was kind of tribal at that time, and it was okay because no one was woke yet, I had tribal earrings on. Studs and top-knots were both really in then, too, so I had a little top-knot on my head.

See Amandla Stenberg’s Transformation from Adorable Child Star to Teenage Activist and Burgeoning Style Icon

November 2011: For a very early red carpet appearance at the Nickelodeon TeenNick HALO Awards, Amandla Stenberg looked darling in a pink satin and lace one-shoulder dress. She completed this look with minimal accessories and low black peep-toe heels.

Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage

November 2011: The pre-teen actress looked angelic on the red carpet of BAFTA Britannia Awards wearing a white midi cocktail dress with gold scrappy sandals. The dress featured a sweetheart neckline and mid-length tulle skirt out of a fairytale.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For BAFTA Los Angeles

March 2012: Channeling the Little Mermaid at the premiere of “The Hunger Games” in Los Angeles, Stenberg wore an ombre mint green Collette Dinnigan sequined dress. She paired her dress with metallic scrappy sandals and a box clutch.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

November 2012: At the 2012 premiere of “The Twilight Saga; Breaking Dawn Part 2” in LA, the starlet posed on the red carpet in a nostalgic 90’s look. She opted for a multicolored H&M tea dress and clear jelly sandals.

Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

February 2013: Stenberg attended the 44th NAACP Image Awards wearing a beautiful frothy ivory frock, accessorized with gold glitter sandals and a headband.

Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

March 2013: The starlet went young and fresh for her look at the 2013 Kid’s Choice Awards. She opted for a vivid teal mini dress with a full skirt and sleek black peep-toe sandals.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

February 2014: In 2014, Stenberg debuted a bold style that she would soon come to favor while at the Costume Designers Guild Awards. She wore an oversized turtleneck, tailored black trousers, cool Mary Jane pumps and dark metallic lipstick.

Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

April 2014: Not giving up on her sweetheart style just yet, the star opted for a modern princess-like look at the Jimmy Choo 2014 launch of CHOO.08. She wears a tulle skirt, with a black satin crop top and yellow ankle-strap sandals for a pop of color.

Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Jimmy Choo

May 2015: At the Women in Film 2015 Crystal + Lucy Awards, Stenberg paired her new grey braided locks with a dark metallic grey frock. Keeping the focus on her new ‘do and dress she went for a barely there understated tan suede sandal.

Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

November 2015: Donning a futurist shiny blue Phelan dress with cutouts, the starlet looked chic and fearless as she posed on the red carpet of the “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” premiere. She kept the shine coming as she paired metallic silver Christian Louboutin pumps with this look.

Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

January 2106: Never shying from color, Stenberg paired a bright red lip and blue suede platforms with her fitted rose pink Stella McCartney polo top and maxi skirt at the designers Fall 2016 presentation .

Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage

January 2016: Channeling a vampy school girl, the actress paired a charcoal wool duster coat with a graphic t-shirt and plaid skirt for Glamour’s 2016 Women Rewriting Hollywood lunch. She completed her outfit with a pair of chunky olive combat boots and a deep burgundy lip.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Glamour

February 2016: The actress-turned-activist (and burgeoning style icon) arrived to the Marc Jacobs Fall 2016 show in full look from the designer: A red silk blouse, face-print pencil skirt and cool multicolored cross trainers. Her hair and makeup gave Princess Leia-went-to-the-disco vibes.

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs

April 2016: Returning to her retro menswear-inspired style, Stenberg attended the 2016 Black Girls Rock! BET event in orange Moschino pantsuit and chartreuse shirt look. She finished her look with a black leather lace-up shoe.

Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

May 2016: At the 2016 Met Ball, the starlet stunned in a 70’s-inspired merlot Calvin Klein satin wide-leg pantsuit. This three piece suit featured a bandeau styled top under the blazer and exuded power as it read playful conservative.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

August 2016: Stenberg went for a bohemian-inspired brown suede tank and skirt with red leather ankle booties at the”‘Morris From America” premiere and youth talent show. She accessorized with long box braids.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage

Last time we talked, you said your cinematic crush was Leonardo DiCaprio. Have you developed a new one since? Yes—and since then I’ve had multiple people ask me about my crush on Leonardo DiCaprio.. And then I have to be like, “Well, I’m gay, and so it might have shifted a little bit,” which makes people kind of lose it and ask about it again.

You can still have a crush on Leonardo DiCaprio and be gay. Of course. Well, I also feel like if you’re into ’90s Leonardo DiCaprio, you might be on the path to being gay. That might be your entry point: the femboy. Now when I look at all of the boys that I thought were hot when I was younger, they all look like pretty girls. I was just in denial that I really wanted them all to have titties.

So, who would your crush be besides Leo? Well, now I have to say a girl…

You don’t have to. It could be, you know, Timothée Chalamet. It could—he’s a very pretty boy. If you’re into Timothée Chalamet, you could be gay. It’s possible. It’s definitely possible.

Related: Timothée Chalamet in Conversation: A Raw, Honest Talk About Addiction, Recovery, and His Film Beautiful Boy

Best Performances: Featuring Nicole Kidman, Claire Foy, Rami Malek, and 29 of Hollywood’s Biggest Stars

Claire Foy wears a Burberry top, corset dress, socks, and shoes; Charvet scarf. Emily Blunt wears a Burberry dress, shirt, socks, and shoes; stylist’s own top.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Kiki Layne wears a Prada top and headband; Tiffany & Co. earrings. Jonah Hill wears The Row jacket, shirt, and tie.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Margot Robbie wears a Chanel cardigan and skirt; stylist’s own top. Michael B. Jordan wears a Calvin Klein 205W39NYC cardigan and vest; Brioni trousers.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Nicole Kidman wears an Armani Privé dress; Cartier earrings; Cornelia James gloves; stylist’s own veil.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Mahershala Ali wears a Prada suit; his own top and bracelet. Amy Adams wears a Givenchy dress and belt.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Eddie Redmayne wears a Givenchy shirt and pants. Rami Malek wears a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shirt.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Saoirse Ronan wears a Celine by Hedi Slimane dress.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at Art Partner; Makeup by Lucy Bridge for MAC Cosmetics at Streeters London; Manicures by Michelle Saunders for Essie at Forward Artists. Set design by Gary Card at Streeters London. Men’s wear editor: Sam Walker. Hair for King: Angela A. Perrantes; Grooming for Jordan: Carola Gonzalez for Malin & Goetz at Forward Artists; Hair for Jordan: Jove Edmond; Hair for Layne: Larry Sims for flawless at Forward Artists. Produced by Jeffrey Delich at Padbury Production; Production Manager: Lauren Sakioka at Padbury Production; Local Producer: Meghan Gallagher at Connect the Dots; Local Production Coordinator: Jane Oh at Connect the Dots; Photography Assistants: Sarah Lloyd, Tony Ivanov, Kyle Holmquist, Keith Coleman, Scott Froschauer; Retouching by Graeme Bulcraig at Touch Digital; Production Assistants: Michael Osborn, Nikki Patrlja, Dan Fleming; Fashion Assistants: Allia Alliata di Montereale, Nadia Beeman, Sharon Chitrit, Megan King, Brejon Golden, Jonnie Atkinson, Lindsey Hartman, Rosa Schorr; Set Assistants: Nicole McBride, Collin Lebrasseauer, Seth Powsner, Olivia Giles; Ballet Dancers: Morgan Quinn, Jaclyn Hamric, Corey O’Brien, Dominic Eustes; Tailors: Isa Kriegeskotte, Karla Yvette Miranda, Nastassia Bauta; Special thanks to Quixote Studios, Heirloom LA, Kitchen Mouse, Electric Avenue, Cast Partner.
Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased and Destroyer

“In Destroyer, I play a cop who’s been through a lot—she’s very American, very angry, distressed, and disturbed. I wasn’t the first choice for that role—it went to somebody else and she didn’t want to do it. I read the script and put my hand up and said, ‘What about me?’ ” Did the wardrobe contribute to the character? We took so long to find the leather jacket that I wear in pretty much every frame of the film. I became so obsessed with that jacket, I would wear it at home. I put it on first thing in the morning. My kids visited the set and were shocked at the way I looked. You know, I’ve been working as an actor since I was 14 years old. It’s a choice, but it’s also a calling. Sometimes, I kind of try to move away, but it always pulls me back.

Comme des Garçons coat, T-shirt, skirt, tights, and boots; headpiece by hairstylist Malcolm Edwards. Inflatable latex costumes by artist Sasha Frolova (throughout).

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Amy Adams in Vice

“My role in Vice is Lynne Cheney, Dick Cheney’s wife. It’s a huge responsibility to play a living person. I didn’t meet Lynne, and that’s interesting too—playing somebody who’s alive but whom you’ve never met. Plus, I age from 20 to 70 in the film, so that was another challenge.” Did her conservative politics affect your performance? I really just absorbed her point of view. Whether I agree with it or not doesn’t really matter. To get into character, I would have long debates about policy and politics as Lynne Cheney with our director, Adam McKay. I called him many names. I teased him about wearing shorts on set and how that was disrespectful. But I didn’t swear, because Lynne wouldn’t swear.

Valentino gown; Valentino Garavani earrings; Marc Jacobs boots.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots and On Chesil Beach

“This is the first time I’ve played any queen or monarch. Mary had to hold herself in a certain way when she was presenting herself at court, but when she was on her own, in her intimate quarters, she was quite different. I began to feel like a bit of a boss. A boss queen!” Did you learn any royal skills? Yes, I learned to ride. My horse in the film was also Wonder Woman’s horse—his name is Prince, and he is the biggest diva I’ve ever met. Prince doesn’t do anything for anyone, especially me, and had a nervous cough that you’d hear right before we’d do a take. Everything I did was for that horse, just to get his approval.

Balenciaga dress and shoes.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You

“The director of the film, Boots Riley, had been following me for quite a while before I finally met him. He handed me the script for Sorry to Bother You literally put it in my hands. I was like, Who is this strange person? When I read the script, I realized I had no idea how deeply strange he is. But his strangeness revealed itself to be another form of beauty.” Growing up, who was your cinematic crush? Jennifer Love Hewitt. I loved her. I couldn’t comprehend anything, except that she was beautiful. What’s your favorite Halloween costume? I’m always the Joker. Every year. Soon there will be a black Joker movie, and it will be me.

Maison Margiela Artisanal Men’s Designed by John Galliano suit; Tiffany & Co. earrings; John Hardy cross necklace; Chrome Hearts thick chain; Hoorsenbuhs long chain; Stanfield’s own rings.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Margot Robbie in Mary Queen of Scots

What was your first red-carpet outfit? I was 18. The Australian equivalent of the Emmys is called the Logies, and I was nominated. It was my big moment, the biggest thing that had happened to me. So I went all out on the dress: It was very short at the front, long at the back, lots of layers, bright colors, and shiny fabric. It was, like, orange, black, orange, black—with a big bow at the back. I had stipple-looking hair, and I was very tan. It was…a look. I don’t regret it, because I was 18 and having fun. I can dress boring for the rest of my life.

Staud coat; Giu Giu turtleneck; Vex Clothing tights; Urstadt Swan gloves; Manolo Blahnik shoes; stylist’s own veil.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Timothée Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy [which is about a father and his son, who is addicted to drugs] was a script they’d been trying to get made for 10 years. Every guy actor my age had gone up for it. I’ve been lucky, but a lot of the bigger Hollywood movies like Spider-Man, things like that, I didn’t get. So, for Beautiful Boy, I did a lot of research and read about drugs, and I brought the books to my first meeting with the director. I could see in his eyes that he was thinking, This kid is nuts. But I felt this movie—the subject of drug addiction—was so important. I wanted to make an anti-glorification-of-drugs movie. And I think we did.” Did you meet Nic Sheff, whom you play in the film? Yes. I met him a week before we started shooting. And there was nothing about Nic that fit my stereotype of an addict. That was the learning grace of this movie: Nic is alive and well, but the reality is, it’s a day at a time. You never really beat it. You lost so much weight. Was your mom worried about you? My mom was worried! I lost 18 pounds. First, I’m in a movie where I was having sex with a peach, and then it was like, “I got another movie!” She said, “Great!” And then I had to tell her what it was about.

Charvet shirt.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Claire Foy in First Man

Growing up, what was your favorite toy? I had a disgusting pillow until I was about 21. Shamefully, I took it to university. Do you get nervous before filming? Oh, yes, I get nervous. It’s a gradual process of trying to work yourself up to being brave enough to be on set. You always worry that everyone’s going to say, “Ooh, we’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake.” What was the name of your first pet? Thumper. And the first street that you lived on? I don’t know. So you’re a one-name sensation: Thumper is your porno name. Thumper it is.

Burberry cape; Falconiere bonnet.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Eddie Redmayne in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

What was the first record you bought? Bon Jovi. “Livin’ on a Prayer” is such a good song. I love a good emotional ballad. The greatest YouTube hole to go down is Leona Lewis when she was on The X Factor. Every week, she just came and delivered. Occasionally she’d take her shoes off. Do you watch other reality shows? I’m quite excited because The Hills, which is my original reality-TV guilty pleasure, is coming back. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Heidi Montag. Do you have a secret skill? Yes. I’m incredibly good at being early. I’m always the person who gets to the airport four hours early. I drive everyone crazy.

Dior Men jacket and pants; Urstadt Swan gloves; Givenchy boots.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Do you have a favorite movie villain? For me, it’s a tie between Heath Ledger as the Joker and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. Villains, like Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, are the most interesting characters. They are the ones you can empathize with—they want you to not like them, but you can still understand their motivation.Even though you’re the villain in Black Panther, do people on the street still say “Wakanda forever” to you? They don’t immediately realize that my character is not exactly pro-Wakanda. Midway through saying something, it registers: Oh, he wasn’t really with Wakanda. But by then they’ve already committed.

Is it difficult to act when you’re basically naked? I’m always naked. So, no.

Hermès sweater.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Joanna Kulig in Cold War

“The director, Pawel Pawlikowski, wrote the part of Zula for me. I knew that the inspiration for the character came from his mother. Zula is her real name, and, like me, she was blonde. I saw her photo.” Was that the hardest part about portraying the character? No. The hardest part was the dancing. In general, I have a problem with coordination. I spent six months in a Polish folk ensemble learning how to dance. We partied together, we drank together, and we’d dance for six hours during a concert. It was like a family, and I started to build the character of Zula. Soon, I had her thoughts and personality. And I finally learned how to dance!

Chloé dress; Louis Vuitton hat.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Elizabeth Debicki in Widows

“I was a dancer for many, many years, and I thought I was going to be a ballerina. When I was about 12, I went to a summer school for the Australian ballet and I was already taller than my teacher. So I remember saying to myself, I’m going to have to rethink this plan.” Did you audition for Widows? Yes, I put myself on tape in my friend’s garage. How glamorous! I remember wearing a lot of eyeliner. I picked out some hoop earrings. And, funnily enough, in the finished film, she ended up looking a lot like she did in my test.

Marc Jacobs coat; Noel Stewart headpiece; Cornelia James gloves; Falke tights; Vivienne Westwood shoes.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

“I took a break from making films. My son, Ian, was getting to the age, around sixth grade, when kids are starting to spread their wings, and everything that was being offered to me was outside of Los Angeles, except for TV. I didn’t want to travel to make films. So I like to say I was one of the first movie actors who made the leap into television.” Do they call Beale Street your comeback film? I like to use the LL Cool J song: “Don’t call it comeback. I been here for years.”

Givenchy dress; Graham Tyler hat; Linda Farrow sunglasses.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate

“I painted in a movie called To Live and Die in L.A., but it wasn’t about painting—it was more about counterfeiting and killing people. In playing Vincent van Gogh, painting was the key to the character. I had to know what I was doing. The director, Julian Schnabel, would say, ‘Hold the brush like a sword’ and ‘There’s no such thing as a bad mark.’ I began to think that painting is about making an accumulation of marks. Acting is the same: You create a character scene by scene. It’s a series of marks that start a rhythm, and that rhythm sends you where you need to go.” Who is your cinematic crush? Warren Oates. When I saw him perform, I thought, That’s not an actor, that’s a man. It kind of broke my heart to find out he was actually a trained actor.

Balenciaga coat.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie in Leave No Trace

“I play a girl who is with her father in the wild, far away from civilization. Since I live in New Zealand and couldn’t fly to America, I auditioned on tape. We had a lot of props: a bucket, a toothbrush, a sleeping bag, and a rabbit named Coco. I also ran through the New Zealand bush with a GoPro in my mouth and sent that off as well. I didn’t meet the director in person. Six months later, on Christmas, I found out that I had gotten the part.”

Moschino Couture dress; Capezio tights; Sergio Rossi shoes.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Steven Yeun in Burning

“I like filming death scenes. When I was on The Walking Dead, I had known for some time about my character’s death. I was really excited for that day—I was looking forward to getting my skull bashed in. In Burning, my death scene was really fun. That was the only time it snowed, which was unexpected, and it added some magic to the moment. Everybody fantasizes about what it would be like to die. If I could make a career out of being killed, it would be okay.” Do you have a secret skill? Yes. I’m really good at getting parking spots. I’m so confident that the spot is going to be there, that it’s always there. Right in front.

Gucci jacket, shirt, pants, hat, and shoes; Charvet tie.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade

“I have been acting since I was 5. My first job was doing the voice of Agnes, the youngest daughter, with the big ponytail on top of her head, in Despicable Me. I was in the sequel, but I was too old for Despicable Me 3, because I can’t do my 5-year-old voice anymore.” In Eighth Grade, there is a pool-party scene that is nerve-wracking. You wear a very awkward green bathing suit. Yes, it is anxiety inducing. I did not pick the bathing suit. They wanted a lime green one so my character would stick out. I still have it. I mean, I don’t go to the pool that much, but that’s my bathing suit now. I love it.

Gucci dress; Eugenia Kim hat; Sophie Buhai necklace.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Jonah Hill in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

In the film, your character, Donny, has a fantastic fashion sense. One of the things that inspired me was a photograph of Yves Saint Laurent in Morocco in the ’70s. I looked at it and was like, Oh, level-10 Marrakech! So Donny wears a lot of caftans and Moroccan stuff in the movie—kind of our Tom Petty and Yves Saint Laurent level-10 Marrakech. He also has a very calm, Zen outlook on life. Donny had conquered a lot of the things that were dark and demonic about himself, and he was able to be peaceful and calm. That was a joy to play. I miss being Donny— even his long blond hair. What was your most memorable birthday? My mom once sent a mariachi band to play my favorite song, “Feliz Navidad.” It was winter in New York and eight mariachis played my song. I was like, “Am I hallucinating right now?”

Raf Simons coat; the Row T-shirt and jeans; Paul Smith boots.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Kiki Layne in If Beale Street Could Talk

How did you find out you had the part in Beale Street? It was nine in the morning and Barry Jenkins, the director, called and woke me up. He just got to talking and didn’t introduce himself. Finally, he said, “Girl, do you even know who you’re talking to?” He went on to tell me that they were giving me the role! I was trying to rush him off the phone so I could really go crazy and cry and call my mama. What is your go-to karaoke song? “Drunk in Love,” by Beyoncé. Especially if you’ve got somebody that’ll hold down Jay Z’s part. That’s definitely the move. I feel like you have mood hair: Sometimes it’s long, sometimes it’s short—up, down. Oh, yeah, we gotta switch it up. You never really know how it’s gonna be: Will it be curly? Straight? And watch out when those colors start coming in!

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello dress and boots; Prada headband; Tiffany & Co. earrings.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Carey Mulligan in Wildlife

“Paul Dano, who cowrote and directed Wildlife, called me and said he was going to send me the script. I was kind of flattered that he thought I could play Jeanette.” She’s a tormented character. Did you have trouble shaking her off at the end of the day? No. When you’ve got kids, they expect you to come home and be Mom, not some weird drunk woman. At the end of the day, I take off that hat, leave that person at work, and come home and watch the Food Network. I love Chopped. They make disgusting things, but I do like Bobby Flay. Chopped and Bobby Flay are the perfect antidote to films like Wildlife.

Michael Kors Collection dress; vintage hat from New York Vintage, New York; Tiffany & Co. earrings; Carolina Amato gloves; Capezio tights; Jimmy Choo shoes.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Yalitza Aparicio (far left) in Roma

“The shoot for Roma lasted six months. We shot in chronological order. It was a very long process for me. I had not seen any of Alfonso Cuarón’s films. I actually didn’t know who he was. Alfonso asked me not to watch any of his films until we were done with the filming. He didn’t want me poisoning my mind with any images or ideas.”

Marina de Tavira in Roma

“I was the only actor in Roma with any previous experience. It was really challenging. First-time actors—and many of them were children—have a completely different way of working. Alfonso Cuarón would play tricks on us—make things happen that we were not expecting. That way, he made real life appear on set.”

From left: Valentino gown. The Row gown; Tiffany & Co. earrings.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns

“The hardest thing about playing Mary Poppins was learning how to dance. One day, you’re handed a hat and a cane, and I was like, Oh, my God. And, also, the initial idea of taking on a character that iconic was daunting. But once I got over my fears, it was deliciously fun.” What was your first red-carpet outfit? It was for My Summer of Love, and I was far too tanned. I was wearing a very bright yellow dress. I always laugh at how sweaty I looked. Horrible. Who is your girl crush? Rihanna. I mean, come on. She’s smoking.

Louis Vuitton coat; Eugenia Kim hat; Manokhi gloves.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

“The first thing I auditioned for I almost wasn’t allowed to audition for. I got a call from a casting director, and she asked to speak to the agent representing Rami Malek. I said, ‘Uh, speaking.’ She kind of laughed and said, ‘Call me when you have an agent.’ I go, ‘You’re already laughing—give me a shot.’ It was three lines in Gilmore Girls. I convinced her to let me read, and I got the part.” Besides in the film, have you ever sung any Queen songs in public? In Japan, with our version of the band, we dressed up in animal onesies and did “Bohemian Rhapsody,” like the original video. It was filmed, and I’m sure someone will get drunk and throw it out there into the ether.

Officine Générale pants; Atsuko Kudo Couture Latex Design gloves.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.