You probably don’t know the name Vicky Krieps but you will soon.
The 34-year-old actress has starred in over 20 films but few of them have gone on to become what Phantom Thread has: a surprise awards season hit which also just so happens to be Daniel Day-Lewis’s final film.
What does that feeling do to an actor, knowing that the film has not only the eyes of critics and fans on it, but also the eyes of history?
For Vicky, there is no feeling – it’s just another day on the job.
‘I don’t get any particular feeling from [knowing it is his last film],’ she admits.
‘Maybe I get the idea of feeling honoured? Maybe it’s – I’m trying to find the word! – I am honoured but it’s more like an idea because it’s not a feeling, it’s not something you can have a feeling towards, it’s so weird to say someone is ending his work.’
Vicky is the least actor-y actor I have ever met; she says she didn’t know when Oscars nomination day was, she doesn’t consider preparing for her role, she doesn’t believe stepping in and out of character.
She doesn’t even know what she is doing next.
‘In character and out of character… I had never thought of this before,’ she reveals, ‘I decided not to think about it so I don’t know, I just did the movie and I went every morning and I was on set most of the time.’
‘I don’t really believe in definitions of things in general, so for me method is a word trying to explain something, but I think in the end it is acting,’ she adds.
‘You can do it like this or like that but in the end you meet in the same space. So if someone prepares a lot then it’s only to be able to move freely in the second, in that moment, when you have the scene, and I did the same but in a different way.
‘I didn’t prepare – I almost tried to not prepare, to forget everything I know, to move freely in the moment where the scene will be born.’
Phantom Thread was described as a love story by director Paul Thomas Anderson, but it’s no traditional love story.
Dark and twisted, it follows Day-Lewis’ Renyolds Woodcock, an acclaimed fashion designer in 1950s England, who hates the direction fashion is going (‘chic? Oh, don’t you start using that filthy little word’) but is content with his confirmed bachelor status, simply using women for inspiration and companionship.
One day however he meet Alma (Vicky Krieps), a strong-willed European who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover – and who disrupts Renyolds’ life completely by love.
The first time Vicky met Daniel – notorious for his method acting – was on the first day of shooting, as they filmed the first scene between Alma and Reynolds.
‘It was, I don’t know, it’s hard for me to relate to it now because at the time I was so in the moment,’ she admits.
‘I knew I had no way of preparing – how can you prepare meeting someone you had not met before? – so I was hoping it would work, and I remember when I saw him the first time… then everything was fine.
‘I saw him and I knew we would do this movie, and it would be fine. Straight away it was all about the work and the story of Reynolds and Alma.’
She lives in Berlin – ‘and when I am in Berlin I try to be away from movie stuff’ – with her partner German actor Jonas Laux, and their daughter Elisa, and has worked with the likes of Joe Wright, Roland Emmerich, and Anton Corbjin.
But this is her first major film that has introduced her to the wider audience of Hollywood in such a leading role.
Not that the idea of that is bothering Vicky.
‘No, it’s just a movie,’ she shrugs.
‘I don’t do my job because of my career, my career exists because of my job. So I just take every movie as a new challenge and I don’t think about the next or the one after.’
It’s an attitude rarely heard in Hollywood and even more rarely believed, but you sort of feel like for Vicky, life isn’t going to change at all.
Phantom Thread is out in UK cinemas on 2 February.