Introducing our Best Performances 2020 portfolio.

The movies of 2019 were unusually reflective, almost melancholic. When the neon lights go on near the end of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, an ode to the late ’60s in Los Angeles, it’s as if a bright beacon from another, happier planet were saying, “Don’t forget this place in all its glory.” Instead of Tarantino’s usual pop perspective, the film is awash in emotion—a kind of longing for a time when theaters played double features all day and movie stars did not have social-media accounts.

The Irishman, a portrait of a paid killer, is steeped in regret, and Little Women, which tells the story of the four March sisters, is a wistful exploration of female empowerment in the 19th century. Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, as reinterpreted by the writer-director Greta Gerwig, is largely concerned with the protagonists’ struggle to find meaning in their lives. They are poor, they are female, and they endure many setbacks. In a way, the struggling writer Jo March in Little Women is a sister to Megyn Kelly, played by Charlize Theron in Bombshell, a film about the women of Fox News. In both cases, a woman’s personal victory is hard-fought and comes with no small number of challenges: Every win has an undercurrent of loneliness.

Marriage Story, written and directed by Noah Baumbach, is about the end of a relationship, but it is strangely romantic. A once-happy couple is suddenly at odds and must navigate a messy divorce; Adam Driver plays the confounded and then determined husband, and Scarlett Johansson the wife who imagines a bigger, more independent life for herself. The disconnect between them mirrors the profound and disturbing divide between people in America today. As it is in the movie, it is truly an irreconcilable split.

Other remarkable and emotional performances: Cynthia Erivo seized by the spirit of Harriet Tubman in Harriet; Joaquin Phoenix transforming from Arthur Fleck into the title character in Joker with pain, subtlety, and some remarkable dance moves; Jennifer Lopez fleecing rich men in Hustlers; Eddie Murphy flexing his comedic muscles as the determined filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite Is My Name. Even superheroes felt existential angst: In Avengers: Endgame, Chris Evans, as Captain America, longed for a simple, nonheroic life. He wanted to face his death without the aid of a magical shield. In 2019, that vulnerability felt like courage.

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The end of the decade coincides with our 10th edition of Best Performances. This year we salute 29 actors who risked baring their souls in one way or another, reflecting the turbulent moment we’re living through. Our aim was to convey true emotion and vulnerability, while welcoming 2020 with hopes for a new beginning.

Scroll to the end of this feature to view a slideshow of the entire Best Performances portfolio, and click here to see our nine exclusive covers.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Laura Dern

Marriage Story and Little Women

In Marriage Story, I play a divorce lawyer named Nora Fanshaw. She uses fashion to convey power. We knew immediately that she definitely always wore very high Christian Louboutin pumps. And the physicality of always showing my arms and breasts informed the character. Almost all of the time she’s kind of touching herself.

Did you like her?

I did not have to like her. Divorce lawyers represent trauma, and that’s hard to like. But I did empathize with her: She wanted to represent women who’ve always gotten the raw end of the deal.

In your career, was there a moment when you realized you were an icon?

Oh, no. The outside perception has always been confusing to me. I was Bruce Dern’s daughter, or so and so’s girlfriend, or my kids’ mom, or a sex siren, or the girl next door, or David Lynch’s muse. I just kept allowing labels to be applied to me. People have no idea who I really am. So there is no real label that fits—instead, for me, it’s about art.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Stacey Morris at Criterion Group; Skin by Vera Steimberg at Criterion Group; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Eddie Murphy

Dolemite Is My Name

The first time I saw Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite, I was 15 years old. My brother told me to see it, and we thought it was crazy and funny and “What is this?” That’s the universal response to Dolemite.

Rudy Ray Moore, whom you play, had extreme fashion taste. Did that help you portray him?

Yes, the costuming gave the character a pulse. Except the shoes. Those platform shoes, it was more like a throbbing feeling. When you’re in your 50s and you put on platform shoes, your feet are saying, “Take these off me.”

What was the first record you bought?

Richard Pryor’s That N**r’s Crazy comedy album. That album is why I’m a comedian. It was, Oh, that’s who I am. There is no me without Richard Pryor.

Growing up, whom did you have a crush on?

Pam Grier’s were the first adult titties I ever saw. It was in the same theater where I saw Dolemite. I was 13 or 14, and it changed my life. And then, years later, I worked with her in a film. It was a little strange—I almost wanted to tell her, “Do you know that your titties were the first titties I ever saw?!”

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Zoey Deutch

Zombieland: Double Tap

I was 3 years old when I decided I wanted to be an actress. I was really getting into my made-up storylines of my Barbie and her dream boat crashing and her breakup with Ken, but my parents were very hesitant about letting a 3-year-old act professionally. Finally, they let me try out for a part on a Disney sitcom called The Suite Life on Deck. I played Zack’s girlfriend, and Zack was played by Dylan Sprouse.

Were you nervous? Dylan was a heartthrob!

Yes. I have a sweating under the armpits problem, and they would put me in these tight shirts. We had tapings in front of a live audience, and there would be five people with blow-dryers trying to dry me off. Other than the sweat, it was great.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Scarlett Johansson

Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit

When I was 9 years old, working on a film called Just Cause with Laurence Fishburne, we were traveling on a plane somewhere for the film, and he said to me, “Do you want to be an actor or do you want to be a movie star?” I didn’t know what the difference was. I felt like, You can be both, right? And I realized then that you have to keep pushing further and further to stretch yourself to uncomfortable places. If your end goal is to be a movie star, well, that’s different than acting.

Growing up, did you ever want to be a Disney kid?

No, I wanted to be Judy Garland! I saw adult things at way too young an age. I watched Chinatown when I was 9. Patrick Swayze was my biggest crush. He still is. And David Bowie in Labyrinth. They opened my eyes to sexuality! Whoa! They both looked great in extremely tight pants.

Do you have a go-to karaoke song?

I’ll do a song from Queen if I’m feeling particularly feisty. I like “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Do you know all the words?

Of course! Are you kidding? I was a kid actor: I do all the parts.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Grooming by Amy Komorowski for Oribe at Forward Artists.

Adam Driver

Marriage Story, The Report, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Noah Baumbach, the writer and director of Marriage Story, and I have been friends since I was cast in his film Frances Ha, in 2011. We’d have dinner, and the conversation always evolved into what project are we going to do next? For a while, we talked about a movie version of Company, the Stephen Sondheim musical. It’s kind of a weird musical, and we couldn’t figure out how to film it. Eventually, Noah wrote Marriage Story, which he saw as a love story told through the lens of a divorce. And I sing “Being Alive” from Company in the film.

You never watch your movies. Have you seen this one?

No. I can’t do it.

When you auditioned for Juilliard, which scenes did you choose?

The opening monologue of Richard III, because it was the only Shakespeare play I knew. And a monologue I can’t recall from a random book that I found at Barnes & Noble. And you had to sing a song, and I chose “Happy Birthday.” I said if I wasn’t accepted, I would go live in Central Park, build a hut or something. Luckily, they let me in.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Margaret Qualley

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Was ballet your first love?

Yes, I thought I was going to be a ballet dancer. There was a dramatic moment when I realized I was dancing for all the wrong reasons. I just wanted to be perfect, and I never will be. I was in class and I started crying. And I quit for years. Now I love dancing again, although not so much ballet.

What did you do for your audition for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood?

I read the lines, and then they asked me to do something extra, so I sang “Always Is Always Forever.” I’ve got a bad voice, I don’t know why I did that to myself.

Growing up, what was your favorite film?

The Turning Point, a ballet movie. And Center Stage, with Ethan Stiefel. I had a big crush on him because he rides a motorcycle in the film. Then, when I left home at 14 to go to ballet boarding school, it turned out that he was the dean!

What was your first email address?

It was givemesomesugar@hotmail.com. I was 9 years old. I wasn’t giving anyone any sugar at all. It was my sister’s weird idea.

Who was your cinematic crush?

Adam Sandler. I loved Happy Gilmore and Big DaddyPunch-Drunk Love is arguably my favorite movie. I thought Adam Sandler was just a dream.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Willem Dafoe

The Lighthouse

My part in The Lighthouse was described in the script as “an old man,” and I said, “I’m not that old, do you really want me to play this part?” The director said, “Grow a beard.” And I knew I wanted to have funky teeth. There are pleasures to having a big beard. It’s fun to pull on, and you start to chew on the mustache.

When you told your parents you wanted to be an actor, were they supportive?

They had lots of kids, and I was toward the end. My older brothers and sisters had it very tough, but by the time my parents got to me, life had worn them down and they were soft and sweet. They said, “We wish you luck. Write when you get work.”

Do they like your films?

My father, who was a conservative guy, loved Wild at Heart. There was a thread of humanism and generosity in my parents.

What would you do if you weren’t an actor?

I fantasize about doing something in nature, like being a farmer.

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Elle Fanning wears a Salvatore Ferragamo dress; De Beers Jewellers necklace; Chanel gloves; Wolford tights; Jimmy Choo shoes.
Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Elle Fanning

Teen Spirit

One of my first obsessions was Marilyn Monroe. I discovered her when I was 7 years old. I dressed up as her in The Seven Year Itch and went and tried on all her bras at an auction of her personal things. I was totally in character. It was very amusing for everybody. I also love gum, and I have a gum wrapper obsession. Dubble Bubble wrappers. Bazooka wrappers. I would chew the gum and then save all the wrappers in shoeboxes under my bed. I have thousands. I also had a wishbone obsession. When we had chicken, we would play the wishbone game, and if I won, I’d keep the bone in my purse. The wishbones gave me good luck.

What was the first piece of clothing you bought yourself?

My first big purchase was at Chanel in Paris. I was allowed to get one thing, and I chose a floor-length jeans skirt. My mom was surprised, but she liked that it was a daring choice. I loved that skirt. And I still have it.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Florence Pugh

Little Women and Midsommar

I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was 6. Back then, on my way to school, I would pretend that my home had been burned down, and I’d have a single tear as we turned into the school. I was a very dramatic child.

You play Amy March, often thought of as the meanest of the sisters in Little Women.

Yes, she’s the bitch. But I love Amy. She’s so naughty and delicious. In books, I’ve always been interested in the naughty child, so playing Amy was a total joy for me. And I got to eat in every scene.

When you began acting, did you have an audition outfit?

I would always try to wear something bright and colorful. I’d go with some big flower or wacky hairdo. So then they’d go, “Oh, yeah—remember the girl with the weird hair.”

Your breakthrough role was in Lady Macbeth. There were quite a lot of sex scenes.

Yes! When do you ever see a woman go out of her way to find sex and enjoy it? She was so used to being bound up and kept indoors. Every time she’s naked, the audience says, “Yeah—go, girl.”

Growing up, did you have a favorite film?

I loved Romeo + Juliet. I fantasized about getting married to Leonardo DiCaprio about a hundred times. But mostly, I really wanted to be a boy. For many, many years of my life, I really wanted to wee standing up.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Kristine Froseth

Looking for Alaska

The first thing I ever auditioned for was Looking for Alaska, and I booked it. I felt a lot of pressure because there are so many expectations and opinions online about my character, Alaska. People are fascinated by her. She’s mysterious.

What posters did you have on your bedroom walls?

Horse posters. I used to ride and be in that world. Horses were my life. I did have a crush on Shia LaBeouf. And now I have a crush on Steve Carell. I love him in everything.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Grooming by Barbara Guillaume for Armani Beauty at Forward Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Adam Sandler

Uncut Gems

When was the first time you thought about being a performer?

As a kid, I enjoyed screaming stuff out at a movie theater and getting a laugh. I always liked to be a fool, I guess. But I never really thought about this being my job until around 17, when I was applying to colleges. My brother said, “Maybe you should be a comedian.”

Were you interested in comedy?

No. I was obsessed with athletics. Skiing, baseball, football. I had ski posters of guys doing flips and some musicians on my walls. No women on the bedroom wall. Although I did like Elke Sommer. When I watched A Shot in the Dark, I used to say, “Wow—who’s that lady?” And my father would nod along and say, “Yep, that’s a good-looking woman.”

A lot of men identify with you.

That’s good to know. I’ve heard from guys some stuff like that. I’ve heard from some women, “You remind me of my brother.”

In Uncut Gems, you play a jeweler trying to survive in New York’s Diamond District. Did you buy any jewelry for your wife or daughters while you were on 47th Street?

I kept calling them and asking, but they said, “Nah—that’s okay.” My character’s name is Howard, and I got a nice diamond necklace with a big howard on it. My wife wears it to every Uncut Gems screening or premiere. People are probably asking, “Who is this Howard guy, and why is this lady with Adam Sandler?” But she looks cute in the Howard necklace.

Do you enjoy love scenes? Jennifer Aniston has said that you’re a good kisser.

Even if I was not great at that, she would try to protect me. I’m never excited for romantic scenes, but my wife loves the women I work with. She’s always saying, “Come on, make sure you kiss the best you can.”

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Skin by Stacey Panepinto; Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Brad Pitt

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and Ad Astra

The first time I read Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, I was summoned by the wild and wonderful Quentin Tarantino to his house. We went out on his back porch and there was a pretty clean script, and I read it. Several weeks later, I was called back to the house, and that same script was dog-eared, coffee stained, and spaghetti sauced. So many people had been through it. Quentin was on the search to find two guys who would match up well.

Do you have a karaoke song?

No. I sing very badly. Animals flee. I can start stampedes. As a kid, I had the rock star fantasy, but I couldn’t sing or play any instruments, so I had to go to the next best thing.

Where was your first kiss?

Her name was Lisa. It was in her garage. Fourth grade. She was one street over, and I ran home afterward. I was pretty excited—the anticipation was a bit nerve-wracking. A few kids were already in on it.

Did you always want to be an actor?

I wanted to be Evel Knievel or Muhammad Ali. On Wide World of Sports, I saw this ski jumper who wiped out in horrible defeat. I had my sights on something like that. Yeah—it looked cool. That was it for me.

Did you go to your prom?

I went to two proms! I wore a white tuxedo. Pinned on the corsage. And I danced. I had a 20-year hiatus where I didn’t dance at all, and now I kind of see dance as my future. I know I’ll be throwing arms out of joint and dislocating things, but yeah, I feel like I’ve got the green light in my soul to explore dance. I don’t know what that means yet, but I’m feeling moved by the spirit.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Grooming by David Cox for R+Co at Art Department.

Joaquin Phoenix

Joker

I love musicals. The other day I was watching part of Bye Bye Birdie and feeling so happy. There’s a lot of Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Joker. I saw that movie when I was 14 or 15, and I’ve always been jealous of that performance.

Do you have dance training?

Yes. And I worked with a choreographer for Joker. Normally, I don’t like talking about character with anyone other than the director, but the choreographer gave me a vocabulary that informed the role. I wanted to go from joy and euphoria to something painful. Dance gave me that language. And hunger.

Did you have trouble shaking off the character at the end of the day?

Well, I was living like a hermit because I was on an extreme diet. You can’t really socialize when you’re not eating or drinking.

Were your dreams different?

Yes. I was always dreaming about food. I’d dream that I ate a huge meal. And I’d wake up feeling so guilty.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Grooming by Sydney Sollod at The Wall Group; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Shia LaBeouf

Honey Boy

My first audition was for Oreo O’s cereal. I was 10. More than anything in the whole world I wanted to be an actor. I was a theatrical child—my dad was in a motorcycle club, and I would entertain his friends at my house. It was an off-color group, and I’d memorize Lenny Bruce routines and perform them for the guys. Bruce used to talk about his parents fucking all the time. It was a good routine for a kid with a bowl cut.

Was your first kiss on camera?

Yes, on the set of Even Stevens. The producers knew I had a crush on this girl, and they wrote a scene where we kissed. I was nervous. I matured late that way.

Having been in movies your whole life, can you still get lost in a film as an audience member?

It depends on the performer. I don’t like plot at all. For instance, I love the film The Sandlot. I like people movies.

What was your best Halloween costume?

I was a sexy nurse. I was genderless. But I did have a skirt on. And I did have a beard.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Coree Moreno for Kevin Murphy at The Visionaries Agency; Makeup by Terrell Mullin for Pat McGrath Labs; Manicure by Gina Oh.

Cynthia Erivo

Harriet

I’m from London, but I was very familiar with Harriet Tubman. I learned about her in history class at primary school. I only just realized that is not a regular occurrence: I think I was lucky and was meant to learn about her—sort of like kismet.

You have one of the greatest singing voices of all time. What is it like to bring down the house on a Broadway stage?

Like being on a big tidal wave. It feels like everyone is rooting for you.

What is your karaoke song?

“We Don’t Need Another Hero,” by Tina Turner. Sometimes people get annoyed because I truly am a singer. I don’t dumb it down at all. If I like the song, I want to do the song justice. It’s always nice to dazzle.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Antonio Banderas

Pain and Glory

Pedro Almodóvar called me on the phone and said, “I’m going to send you a script, and it’s filled with references to our lives as filmmakers.” He didn’t say, “I am inviting you to portray an alter ego of myself.” What surprised me the most is that the script was unbelievably simple, almost sacred, as if Pedro had gone to a monastery to write. It was like a confession of things he wanted to say and never had before.

Do you remember the first time you met him?

Yes, I was 19 years old, and I was having coffee with some friends in a terrace near a theater. Suddenly, a guy appeared with a red plastic briefcase and took over the table. He was funny, fast, ingenious. He looked at me and said, “You have a very romantic face, and you should do movies.” I asked my friends, “Who was that guy?” And they said, “His name is Pedro Almodóvar. He made one movie, but he will never do another one.”

Were you ever shocked by Pedro’s ideas?

In Law of Desire, I have very explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes. That created a huge scandal. My character also kills somebody in the movie, but that was considered fine. That contrast shows how stupid we are in terms of morality when we watch movies: Sex is upsetting, but extreme violence is okay.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders

Camila Morrone

Mickey and the Bear

The first job that I booked was a small role in James Franco’s film Bukowski. I had to make out with a 13-year-old kid. I think it was his first kiss. I was 15. I became so nervous on set that I actually fainted when James Franco came to direct me.

Both your parents are actors.

Yes. And I’d go to every audition with them and sit in the waiting room. I would pass time looking at Justin Bieber on my phone. I was a big Belieber. I sent in audition tapes to be in his movies. I recorded myself singing “One Less Lonely Girl” so I could be one of the fans in his documentary. I dropped off my DVD at the post office, and I never heard back.

What was your favorite Halloween costume?

I was a really sexy ghost covered in a white duvet, with two holes for my eyes. At the party, all these girls were dressed in lingerie—sexy bumblebee, sexy nurse—and I was in this massive duvet. It actually caught on fire and then I had to take it off. So I was a sexy nothing.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Dakota Fanning

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

When I was little, I auditioned for Kill Bill to be the bride’s daughter, and I didn’t get the part, but the desire to be in a Quentin Tarantino film always stuck with me. So last year I wrote Quentin a note saying that I was a fan. I knew that he was making Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, and I sort of abstractly knew what it was about. Then, a few months later, I got a phone call that he wanted me to come in and read with him for the part of Squeaky Fromme, one of the Manson girls. I kind of dressed the part for the audition: I wore jean shorts and a white halter top. I figured I’d give myself every chance in the world to get the role.

Initially, you were going to act opposite Burt Reynolds. Unfortunately, he died before production began.

Yes, but Mr. Burt Reynolds did a rehearsal of the script. He could not have been nicer, and he was rhinestoned to a T. He had on a sparkling blazer—he still had the looks and the charm. You could tell that Quentin was overjoyed to be in the room with Burt Reynolds. We all were.

You are not really recognizable in the film.

I dyed my hair a kind of orange red, and I wore brown contact lenses. When I first went up to set, no one really knew who I was. I could see them putting it together. I liked getting to be scary, to have such a foul mouth and to yell at Brad Pitt. I never wanted it to end.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders

So-dam Park

Parasite

I have been acting for 10 years. When I heard that Director Bong wanted to see me, the film, which became Parasite, didn’t even have a title. When I was younger, I was afraid to watch Director Bong’s earlier, more frightening films. To be honest with you, I am scared of them even now.

What do you think of Los Angeles?

Last night I went to Koreatown, and I felt like I was at home. We went to the Governors Awards for Parasite, and I saw Charlize Theron. She was standing right next to me, and I got nervous. I loved her in Mad Max: Fury Road. At the time of that film, my head was actually shaved too. I played a part where I became possessed by the devil. When I started acting, I wanted to do musicals. That chance hasn’t come yet.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders

Chris Evans

Knives Out and Avengers: Endgame

The first time I sang onstage was in the sixth grade. It was my first play. I sang a song called “Don’t Want No Real Job,” and the popular girl in school magically liked me. I had a lead role, and we began dating during the play. When the play ended, she dumped me. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this equation: I had to get more leads.

Was she your first kiss?

Yes. You’d walk into the woods and kiss and come back, and everyone’s like, “Oooh.” So we did that.

Did you have posters on your walls?

We visited New York and I bought a giant, giant, giant poster of Sandra Bullock. I put it on the ceiling of my bedroom. Not that Sandy’s not cool, but that’s a loser thing to do.

What’s your secret skill?

I can jump really high. When I was a kid, I did tae kwon do, and we would have jumping contests.

Does that come in handy when you’re playing Captain America?

You do find ways to use it.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Waves

In Waves I play an athlete. That was challenging for me because I don’t like sports. And I can’t play sports very well. I had never wrestled before, but for this part, I did three months of wrestling training. My coach would say, “Kelvin, be a man,” and somehow being yelled at made me feel stronger.

Now you can be a superhero!

I’d love to be a superhero. I love the Green Lantern. I just like green—it’s my favorite color. And he has a sick suit.

Your parents are both musicians.

Yes, but my dad wanted to find a sport for me. I got my black belt in Korean martial arts when I was 13. I’m a lethal weapon. I can go to jail if I tap you.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Adir Abergel for Virtue Labs at SWA-Agency; Makeup by Kate Lee at The Wall Group; Manicure by Michelle Saunders

Charlize Theron

Bombshell

It was very stressful on my vocal cords to do Megyn Kelly’s voice in Bombshell. Megyn has a very deep register, and I started having a really hard time. I ended up having to go see a specialist. Poor me.

How did you feel about wearing nude hose to play a Fox News anchor?

Colleen Atwood, our costume designer, has won four Academy Awards, so when she tells me to put the nude hose on, I put the nude hose on.

What was your first nude scene?

In 2 Days in the Valley, with James Spader. I didn’t know about merkins until after I did the scene. I wish I had known about merkins then. Live and learn.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Danielle Priano for PSxDanielle at The Wall Group; Makeup by Scott Barnes for Scott Barnes Beauty at SixK.LA; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Jennifer Lopez

Hustlers

I was a little nervous about doing this movie because I had never played someone this dark or complicated. I liked that Ramona, the character I play, and the other strippers were looked at as equals to their patrons, the guys on Wall Street. Ramona reminded me of that girlfriend we all have who is exciting but can also get you into trouble. You always miss that friend when she’s gone, but when you get together, you worry you might find yourself in some crazy situation. That’s Ramona.

When you started out as a dancer, did you ever think of stripping for extra money?

I did. There was a moment in my life when my friends, who were also dancers, told me about making thousands of dollars at clubs in New Jersey. They said, “You won’t need to be topless.” It sounded awfully good when I was broke and eating pizza every day, but I never did it.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Awkwafina

The Farewell

I was both happy and nervous when I found out I got the part in The Farewell. The movie involved various firsts for me: One, it was a drama, and two, I would have to speak Chinese. Being dramatic in Chinese caused me a lot of anxiety.

What was your first acting job?

A show on MTV called Girl Code. I was one of the girls, and we’d just talk and talk. For the audition, they put me in a room and asked me about boners and things like that. I killed it.

What was your first red-carpet outfit?

It was for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. I didn’t know where to get a gown, but my friend Jessica Nguyen had made dresses out of scuba material, so I borrowed one of them. Diving gear is smothering. I was very sweaty—I might’ve had a couple of droplets on the tip of my nose.

What was your first obsession?

I played the trumpet, and I would get Broadway songbooks, learn the songs, and then go watch the show. I was obsessed with a Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate.

Your video “My Vag,” an ode to your vagina, went viral. How did your family react?

My grandmother definitely thinks the best thing I’ve ever done is “My Vag.” She tells me I have to make things as good as “My Vag.” Or else, what am I doing? And she doesn’t think I’ll top it.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Larry Sims for Flawless at Forward Artists; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders.

Jodie Turner-Smith

Queen & Slim

The first job I booked was on True Blood. I played a blood siren. I was naked, covered in blood, with a pussy ’fro. For the audition, they said they were looking for diverse women who had to be comfortable with nudity, and I thought, Check, check: I have a chance to get this part.

Were you nervous?

It was sticky—the fake blood is made of corn syrup, and then they put this K-Y Jelly on top of that. I was so excited about doing my first acting job, and I thought it was all great!

Who was your first crush?

It was Pacey from Dawson’s Creek! I was a very young teenager.

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Beanie Feldstein: Hair by Mark Townsend for Dove Hair at SWA-Agency; Makeup by Katey Denno at The Wall Group. Billie Lourd & Kaitlyn Dever: Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicures by Michelle Saunders*

All photographs by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves.

Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, and Billie Lourd

Booksmart

Who was your first crush?

Billie Lourd: Kobe Bryant. I loved the Lakers. I would wear the jerseys all the time. Purple and gold.

Kaitlyn Dever: Chad Michael Murray: A Cinderella Story, Freaky Friday! He had the long, hot boy bob.

Beanie Feldstein: My first crush was Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice. She’s a Jewish girl trying to make her way. I loved “Sadie, Sadie” because I wanted to marry her. When I was 3 years old, my mom made me a replica of Barbra’s leopard outfit in the film. Including the hat.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Billie Lourd: My mom told me, “If life isn’t funny, then it’s just true, and that’s unacceptable.” That’s how I try to live. That’s why I jump off boats or into pools and throw my body underwater, because it’s funny and it’s fun and life should be both.

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Photograph by Juergen Teller; Creative Partner to Juergen Teller: Dovile Drizyte; Styled by Sara Moonves. Taylor Russell: Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; Makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Michelle Saunders. Produced by Emanuele Mascioni at MAI Productions; Local Producers: Ilona Klaver at MAI Productions, Carisa Barah at MAI Productions; Photography Assistants: Karin Xiao, Dean Podmore; Retouching: Catalin Plesa at Quickfix Retouch; Menswear Editor: Jenna Wojciechowski; Fashion Assistants: Allia Alliata di Montereale, Nadia Beeman, Alex Assil, Tara Boyette, Camilla Ross, Lexis Milisic, Derek Ezra Brown, Rosa Schorr; Production Assistants: Nicolo Carlson, AJ Cronk, Sam Miller, Ben Greer, Gabriel Hercules, Jorge Espinoza, Riley Smoller, Jacob Rannochio, Kenyon Solomon, Nathan Paul; Malcolm Edwards’s Hair Assistants: Lewis Stanford, Alexandra Adams, Vanessa Gomez; Sam Bryant’s Makeup Assistants: Claudia Savage, Ellie Tobin, Wendy Martinez; Michelle Saunders’s Manicure Assistants: Pilar Lafargue, Mimi Wilson; Tailor: Isa Kriegeskotte; Tailor’s Assistants: Nastassia Bauta, Nina Maluda; Special thanks to The Andaz West Hollywood, The Chateau Marmont, Sunset Collection LLC, and Kumon Math and Reading Center of West Hollywood.

Taylor Russell

Waves

Did you always want to act?

My mom said that when I was a little kid, I would stay in my room and talk to myself. I always liked being alone and doing different characters. When I would watch movies, I would go to my room and recite every line that I remembered. I guess that means I’ve always wanted to act.

What was your favorite Halloween costume?

Probably being a ladybug. And when I was 15, I was Michael Jackson. I never did the sexy Halloween thing. When I was younger, I felt like I was invisible, in a good way. And I still think that way. I don’t feel safe in the way I used to feel, but I still have that invisibility somewhere, in some part of me.

Do you have a secret skill?

I can sew. I’ve made boxer shorts. But I didn’t do the little front peekaboo pocket. I felt I didn’t need that. They were just for me—not for anybody else.