CULTURE

How Dominic Cooper Handles Playing a “Half Good, Half Evil” Character on the Hit TV Show Preacher

“You’re that person so often, more often than you are yourself.”


Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

Although Dominic Cooper is best known for playing sunny characters in films like Mamma Mia!, his role on AMC’s Preacher gives him the opportunity to explore his dark side. And that’s just one of the perks of having a career in TV today. Here, the 40-year-old British actor explains how he went from the London stage to two of Hollywood’s most divergent projects—and why he will always love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Did you always want to be an actor?

No, I didn’t always want to be an actor. When I realized there was little else opportunity for me when I was at school, I fell into the drama department and discovered something that I did have a passion for, and luckily they were very good at the time so they managed to get me involved in the school productions. One of which was Cabaret. I played the emcee. It was quite a fun production, and then those teachers knew certainly more than I did about the possibilities of it being a career and the possibilities of it going to drama school. I didn’t know anything about that and luckily I managed to apply for a drama school the day before all the applications were due, and I managed to get into one. There was only one in the end because I had left it all too late, like everything.

And so that changed your life, no?

Yeah. I suppose so. The director of the play I did directly out of drama school was Nicholas Hytner. I did two plays with him, and then Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials and a Mark Ravenhill play. Then straight after that came History Boys. That was so all extraordinary lucky. Then I suppose I got involved in the film world via History Boys, which also became a film.

Actually, I haven’t spent much time in New York since History Boys was on Broadway. I’ve maybe been here once or twice, so every time I come back into the city I do have very fond memories of that particular time and I’m always very aware of how lucky and how quickly that propelled the group of boys into the world of television and film. We didn’t really know how lucky we were, to live in New York and be in a hit on Broadway. There’s nothing more magical than that,

Cooper wears a Giorgio Armani shirt.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

Tell me about your new show, Preacher. How did that role come about?

Preacher is based on a very dark comic book, with a lot of humor to break up the darkness. I wasn’t a comic book kid, but I know someone who had a brother who wore black leather jackets, had a lot of piercings, and would never come out of his bedroom. We once broke into that boy’s room, and he had Preacher.

When I heard about the script, I looked at the comic again. On one of the covers, I saw this drawing of a head. I saw a demonic, demented, psychotic person staring back at my face, and I thought, That’s sort of me.

Seth Rogen is one of the producers of Preacher. When I went to meet him, he had huge hair and a massive beard. He was in a haze of marijuana smoke. He was trying to explain to me that the show would have people with assholes as faces and other people would sort of have sex with meat. I thought, No—this isn’t for me, thanks. But, obviously, I had inhaled so much of what they were having that I was mesmerized. I signed up straightaway. And I’m not regretting it. Now it’s three years in, could be seven.

When you play a dark character like this, does it effect you? Do you carry him home with you?

No. It does with some projects, but not so much with this. It can because you’re that person so often, more often than you are yourself, I suppose, if you’re doing 14-hour days and the turnaround is so quick. You’re in front of the camera all the time, and you’re just being that person. With my character [in Preacher], he is very conflicted. He’s half good and half evil, and the reason that entity can retain itself within him is because that is what he is. He has exactly that from his childhood and from the damage caused by the death of his parents.

He is full of hatred and bile and anger, but is also a very godly person who’s desperately trying to redeem the wrongs of their past. The things that he does, even to the people he loves, can be malicious and ill-natured. It’s really fun to play.

What were your favorite TV shows growing up?

Knight Rider, Magnum, A-Team. I also liked Twin Peaks, the original Twin Peaks.

What about movies? Which movies made the biggest impression on you as a kid?

Weird Science. I am a big John Hughes fan. I liked Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Trains, Planes and Automobiles; and Back to the Future. Seeing Ferris Bueller drive my favorite car in the world, having the day off school…I know they’re really obvious to say, but that was when I first started going to the cinema. They weren’t the films that had a massive impact. I remember watching early Mike Leigh films and finding them much more emotional. I think that’s what ultimately, along with plays and things, got me wanting and realizing the impact that this could have on people as an art form.

What kind of car is your favorite?

It’s a Ferrari California, which was the first Ferrari—I found this out only yesterday—that Mr. Ferrari was pushed into making, because he was a racing driver, for the American public, and they were going to buy cars because he needs to make more money for Ferrari. I can’t believe that’s true, but apparently it is. That’s why it’s called California. It’s stunning.

What do you drive now?

An old Austin-Healey Sprite. An Austin-Healey has got a little bit more delicate grill and bumper, but it’s like a miniature version of that Ferrari. When I originally had one about ten years ago, it was my pretend thing to be Ferris Bueller.

Katherine Langford, Aubrey Plaza, Evan Peters and More Stars Who Prove Television Is Better Than Ever

I was born in Oakland, California. Since I was a kid, I have been acting in plays. The only musical I’ve ever done is Hamilton. Even the early versions were really great, but I’ve made a lot of stuff I think is great and nobody cared, so the success of Hamilton was definitely a surprise.

You won the Tony for best actor in a featured role in a musical. You wore a Comme des Garçons Homme Plus suit to accept it.

That whole night was out of body. For a month, I had been campaigning for something I didn’t know I wanted. And I loved that suit. I’ve gotten to wear a lot of Comme des Garçons’ art pieces, and they’re pretty wonderful.

Had you already been cast in Black-ish?

Yes. The Black-ish creator, Kenya Barris, pitched me the idea of playing Rainbow’s brother. Rainbow is liberal, freethinking, a doctor, and a mom. I told him, when I watched the show, I’ve always been Team Rainbow! I’m from the Bay Area. I really get that hippie shit for real.

What movie makes you cry?

Wonder made me cry. Yeah, I was in the movie! Sitting there, in the premiere of my first film, and I’m weeping. That wasn’t a good look.

What was your first pet’s name?

Kasha. He was a sheltie. When I was born, my parents had six German shepherds and one sheltie. They all had Hebrew names: Shlomo, L’Chaim, Mezuzah, Delilah, etc. So, Kasha.

And what street did you grow up on?

Forty-Fourth Street.

So your porn name is Kasha 44?

Not bad. It’s good for futuristic Internet porn.

Diggs wears a Bottega Veneta suit, shirt, and tie.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

13 Reasons Why was the first thing I’d ever done. Living in Perth, Australia, I didn’t have a big social media presence. Then the show aired, and overnight it blew up. I spoke to Selena Gomez, a producer of 13 Reasons Why, and she said, “The message of the show is really important.” So I went through a wave of being like, “Social media is really cool.” But when I read what some people were saying on it, I took a step back. I’ve not stopped posting, but I am careful about my output into the universe. What is your favorite karaoke song? I don’t do karaoke much because I end up screaming. But on my birthday, they just baited me with Gaga the whole night. “Yoü and I” killed me. I love an anthem: something that will rally the troops.

Langford wears a Valentino cape and blouse.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris

I’m named Aubrey after a song from the group Bread in the ’70s. My mom was really young and she just liked the song. I looked it up in a baby book: My name means “ruler of the elves,” so I’m a queen elf. I was always interested in being an actress. The week I left the East Coast for Los Angeles, I was cast in two films and in Parks and Recreation. My whole life changed overnight. In all those projects, I was the dream girl of all the nerds, so when I read the script for Legion, I thought I was going to play the female lead. But they offered me the part of Lenny Busker, which was originally written as a middle-aged man. Lenny becomes the psychic mutant villain of the show. I was interested in showing I can do unexpected things.

Is it fun to have superpowers?

Yes! I can kill people just like snapping my fingers! That’s a good feeling: minimal movement for maximum destructive effect.

Plaza wears a Paco Rabanne dress.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

I always watched a lot of TV. As a kid, I’d gorge on Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. When I was 12, I was offered a part on One Life to Live and turned it down. I was nervous about developing bad acting habits as a child. Even at 13, when I did the pilot for My So-Called Life, I knew it was unusually excellent material. It’s so rare to be on an immediate and exact parallel with the character you’re playing. It was a relief to blast all of my teenage grievances out into the world. When Homeland came around, I was scared. My character, Carrie Mathison, is very troubled. To play somebody wrestling with a bipolar condition in very high-stakes circumstances seemed rather fatiguing. But, ultimately, it was too good to ignore. It’s that classic thing: If it scares you, you don’t really have a choice.

Growing up, did you have any TV crushes?

Yes. I had a crush on the kid from the show Mr. Belvedere. And Ricky Schroder. And the Coreys: Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. There was a hotline, something like 1-900-Corey. I was in a crummy mood one day after school and I kept calling it. A month later, my dad got the bill. He was like, “Claire, did you call this weird hotline number?”

You were in Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio. At that time, he was everyone’s biggest crush.

Yes. That was problematic. I couldn’t really have a crush on the guy I was professionally having a crush on! Quite a few gay men have talked to me about the fact that when they were kids watching Romeo + Juliet, they were confused about who they wanted to kiss. It was all about Leo! And I completely understand.

Danes wears a Proenza Schouler dress.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

The shaved head was a big deal. On the one hand, it was cool. When you’re bald, rain feels like a head massage. I’d walk in the rain, and people would look at me like I was crazy. I’d be smiling—so, so happy to have the water hit my naked head. But on the other hand, people stared at me, wondering whether I was sick. Some would even laugh at me, without knowing whether I was or wasn’t sick. It was hurtful, but their attitude taught me something about compassion. In the end, being bald was the best thing I ever did—being different changed my life. I wanted to embrace my baldness and, hopefully, inspire people. And, now, that’s become my message to the world.

Millie Bobby Brown wears a Calvin Klein 205W39NYC dress; Calvin Klein Jeans turtleneck.

Beauty note: Go lighter than air. Garnier Fructis Sky-Hi Volume Mousse delivers next-level lift for hair with staying power.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan; Styled by Melanie Ward.

In the Ryan Murphy world of American Horror Story, I have been Tate Langdon, who was crazy; Kit Walker, who was abducted by aliens, which made him crazy; Frankenkyle, a college fraternity guy who gets in an accident, dies, and is sewn together and brought back to life as a monster; Jimmy Darling, who had lobster hands and was part of the freak show; Mr. March, who was a serial murderer; and, in the latest installment, Kai Anderson, a totally insane, megalomaniacal cult leader. Now, in Pose, I play a yuppie in 1987 New York. I get bit by the wonderful bug of the transgender underworld. Pose is more of a love story, but, at this moment, we still don’t know how it ends. I may still go crazy.

Did you ask Ryan Murphy to finally give you a non-insane part?

I go into each job saying, “I don’t want to play anybody crazy again.” But then Ryan calls and tells me, “You’re playing this Charles Manson–esque person who sucks people into a cult and controls them with ‘pinky power,’ ” and I say, “Okay! Sure!”

Peters wears a Bottega Veneta sweater.

Alasdair McLellan

Is it hard to act when you’re naked?

Here’s the trick: You have to look at a sex scene as an opportunity to express things that can be expressed best when people are making love. Or fucking. Or whatever. But, in fact, I’m a sex worker in The Deuce, so I have to pretend to fuck someone I’ve just met. And then another guy. And another. So what’s expressed in those scenes is somebody who’s doing a transaction. Then it’s fine to act naked, because all these other things are going on in your mind.

Did you watch any ’70s porn films to prepare for the role?

Yes, I watched some Lasse Braun movies. He was a very playful Italian porn director. But I haven’t seen Deep Throat. I did read the autobiography of Tina Russell, a pretty famous porn star in the early ’70s, when the mood was “we are all fucking and free and we love it.” I do believe in showing that kind of sexual freedom. On the other hand, she wrote that book when she was in her early 20s and was dead less than a decade later of alcoholism. So, for The Deuce, I’m into that combination of things: They’re both true.

Gyllenhaal wears a Marc Jacobs trenchcoat.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

I had been offered a lot of parts where I would play the villain, and that was not interesting to me. When my agent called and told me that The Looming Tower was about 9/11, I immediately said I didn’t want to do it. I assumed they wanted me to play a terrorist. But, in fact, I play a real American FBI agent who was fighting against al Qaeda, against evil. I was like, Whoa. Yeah. Finally!

Where were you when the planes hit the World Trade Center?

I was in Belfort, France, my hometown. I was shopping when the first plane crashed into the first tower. We didn’t know whether it was an attack or an accident. I ran into a huge store, and it had a wall of TVs. And then the second plane crashed in front of my eyes. I thought that it would be World War III. And it has changed the face of the world.

Rahim wears an AMI Alexandre Mattiussi jacket and sweater; his own ring.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Melanie Ward; Hair by James Pecis for Oribe Hair Care at Bryant Artists; Makeup by Aaron de Mey at Art Partner; Manicures by Megumi Yamamoto for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Stefan Beckman at Exposure NY. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

When I auditioned for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I wore this yellow shirt that I thought was adorable, but they asked me to change my clothes for my second audition, so I guess it wasn’t as adorable as I thought! The costumes are a huge part of Midge, my character. Her outer appearance is something she takes an enormous amount of pride in. Between the corset, the petticoats, the tights and the beautiful dresses, hair and makeup, I feel completely transformed when I walk out of my trailer. That’s my favorite part about being an actor. It always has been.

Mrs. Maisel does stand-up comedy. Were you nervous about being funny in front of an audience?

Comedy is terrifying. It’s probably the worst thing i could imagine anyone doing to themselves–and also the most exhilarating. But I would absolutely not attempt stand-up as myself. Nope. No. No. No. Never. Even as Midge, I do a lot of power posing in my dressing room to gain confidence.

Brosnahan wears a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello dress and boots.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

For as long as I can remember, I knew something about my life was meant to be meaningful, that I’ve got something to do here,” she says. “I don’t know how I knew, but I was sure I’d make an impact.

Letitia Wright wears a Calvin Klein 205W39NYC shirt, turtleneck, and pants; her own shoes. Beauty: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup in Color 11.0, Brow Tamer in Dark, Sin Afterglow Palette, Hi-Fi Shine Lip Gloss in Midnight Cowgirl.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan; Styled by Marie Chaix.

A long time ago, I was in a miniseries called Taken that Steven Spielberg produced for the Sci Fi channel. I hadn’t really done anything else on TV until The Alienist. We shot the show for almost seven months in Budapest, Hungary, which became my home. I sobbed hysterically when I had to leave my life there.

Were you also attached to your character’s corset?

I didn’t get quite as attached to the corset. But one of the most important things about The Alienist was the costumes. I fainted during my first fitting. I had just gotten off the plane and was swollen and jet-lagged. They put the corset on, and I said, “I’m going down!” I had to sit. But I got used to it. My body completely changed. For better or worse, the corset puts you into the character. It affects everything you do: breathing, walking, sitting, standing, and definitely eating.

Do you watch television?

Yes! I’m obsessed with The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Some of the best TV I’ve ever seen was the breakup of Arie and Becca on last season’s Bachelor. That’s what I’m trying to figure out: With reality television, if it’s all set up and fake, then they’ve got the greatest actors in the world.

Fanning wears a Gucci dress, headpiece, and body chain.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

Preacher is based on a very dark comic book, with a lot of humor to break up the darkness. I wasn’t a comic book kid, but I know someone who had a brother who wore black leather jackets, had a lot of piercings, and would never come out of his bedroom. We once broke into that boy’s room, and he had Preacher.

When I heard about the script, I looked at the comic again. On one of the covers, I saw this drawing of a head. I saw a demonic, demented, psychotic person staring back at my face, and I thought, That’s sort of me.

Seth Rogen is one of the producers of Preacher. When I went to meet him, he had huge hair and a massive beard. He was in a haze of marijuana smoke. He was trying to explain to me that the show would have people with assholes as faces and other people would sort of have sex with meat. I thought, No—this isn’t for me, thanks. But, obviously, I had inhaled so much of what they were having that I was mesmerized. I signed up straightaway.

Cooper wears a Giorgio Armani shirt.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

Before I was an actress, I wanted to be a basketball player. Growing up in Boston, I practiced all the time. I wouldn’t leave the court unless I made 100 free throws and 100 lefty layups. My friend Phoebe and I would hustle men—we would act like we didn’t know how to play, and then we’d play two-on-two with guys and bet money. We would often win.

I went to college in New York, at Barnard, and that’s where I discovered acting. My first job was playing a waitress from Staten Island on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Eventually, I moved to L.A. I was sick of being a broke, struggling auditioner, so I wrote SMILF.

The optics of SMILF are very autobiographical. Like my character on the show, I play basketball, and I, too, have a baby daddy who’s married to a beautiful blonde actress from Australia. But then the show veers off in a million crazy directions.

Your toddler son on the show is so cute.

Those are twin girls playing my son. They’re the most beautiful humans who have ever lived and will ever live.

Won’t it be awkward when you’re in year 20 of the show and your son looks like your daughter?

It’ll be GILF then. Grandmothers! Actually, we may want to say he was really two girls. That would be a great story to tell!

Shaw wears a Michael Kors Collection coat; her own jewelry.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Marie Chaix; Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlando Pita Play; Makeup by Francelle for Lovecraft Beauty at Art + Commerce; Manicures by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Nicholas Des Jardins at Streeters. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.

When they sent me Yellowstone, I freaked out because the show’s writer-director, Taylor Sheridan, is my favorite living writer. I went to the store, got a cowboy hat, and gave it my best. I made a tape at home, mostly because I didn’t want to go in and screw it up in front of a casting director. Taylor called me two days later, and I was so nervous, all I could do was giggle.

You grew up in Dayton, Ohio. That is nothing like Darby, Montana, where you film the show.

Well, growing up in Ohio, I hunted and did stuff like that. In Montana, there are hardly any people. Just land. You’ve got to figure out your outdoor activities real quick or you’re going to be in trouble.

Where was your first date?

I met my first girlfriend at church camp. My dad’s a pastor. I went to Christian schools and Christian everything until I moved to New York. My first girlfriend’s dad was also a pastor. We weren’t really allowed to date, but we were a little sneaky. We found a way.

Grimes wears a Simon Miller jacket; Everest Isles shirt; AG T-shirt; his own necklace.

Photograph by Alasdair McLellan. Styled by Melanie Ward; Hair by James Pecis for Oribe Hair Care at Bryant Artists; Makeup by Aaron de Mey at Art Partner; Manicures by Megumi Yamamoto for Chanel at Susan Price NYC; Set design by Stefan Beckman at Exposure NY. Produced by Leone Ioanou at Pony Projects; Production Coordinators: Christopher McCann, Michaela McMahon-Dunphy; Photography assistants: Lex Kemberly, Simon Mackinlay, Peter Smith; Fashion Assistants: Melina Brossard, Victor Cordero, Margeaux Cohen, Justin Hsiung, Fiona Green, Ali Kornhauser; Tailors: Christoforos Kotentos, Hwa Park; Production Assistants: Rafe Andrews, Sam Thompson, Bram VanderMark; Special Thanks to Milk Studios, Pier59, Dishful, Noz, Mr. Paris.
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