13 July

Feature: Elizabeth Debicki for Net-A-Porter

“Iam wearing pajamas from the waist down,” admits Elizabeth Debicki, as we meet via video call for her PORTER interview. The Australian actor has been quarantining in Los Angeles since March and, after the initial “shock to the system”, she has “surrendered” to life in lockdown. “I haven’t baked any bread or read Tolstoy… I watched Normal People and Googled ‘how to make a spicy margarita’,” she says.

Despite suffering from a self-diagnosed case of ‘Zoom fatigue’, Debicki is still dismayed that she turned down social invitations before daily life became unrecognizable. “I can’t be the only one thinking: why the f*** didn’t I go to that dinner two weeks ago?”

After seven years of working non-stop, she concedes that “being forced to pause has been confronting”. It’s actually London that Debicki calls home, a place she feels is far-removed from LA and Hollywood; where she can hang out with friends, go to the theater and just generally “re-engage with the fabric of normality”. (However, over the last few years, as her career has kicked into overdrive, she has been splitting her time fifty-fifty between the two cities.)

Back in March, when it became clear that the global pandemic meant cities across the world were shutting down and international travel was grinding to a halt, Debicki made the decision to stay in the United States, recognizing that the London she loved would be off-limits for the foreseeable future. She’s reluctant to use the word “gratitude”, fearful that it could ring hollow, but acknowledges that, so far, this year has been all about “taking stock” and, ultimately, her outlook is positive: “I wake up every day and think: my needs are being met and my family is safe – how incredibly lucky, am I?’”

Debicki should be on the campaign trail right now, promoting Tenet, the latest release from celebrated British auteur Christopher Nolan. The secrecy that surrounds Nolan’s projects – which have included box office sensations Interstellar, Inception and Dunkirk – is legendary, and Debicki is not at liberty to discuss specifics. Asked whether this shroud of mystery adds to the sense that you’re creating something special on set, her answer is suitably enigmatic: “The extremity of the commitment and the focus – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.” Debicki’s own experience of filming sounds both personally and professionally formative. “Working with someone like Chris, it’s a golden ticket,” she adds, mercifully. “You know it’s going to be super challenging and you know there are going to be lessons for you. Sometimes you uncover them gently and sometimes they come and bite you on the ass – for me, it was a combination of both.”

She may have a self-deprecating sense of humor, but Debicki’s back catalogue is a testament not only to her talent, but also her seemingly endless range. In the last five years alone, she’s played an escort in Steve McQueen’s Widows (2018), an alien priestess in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), an arms dealer’s mistress in The Night Manager (2016) and the femme fatale – albeit with a twist – in Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). Although roles come at the mercy of directors, Debicki has been able to regain some agency in the process. “As an actor, your career is more defined by the things you say no to rather than the things you accept – you can carve your own path.” [More at Source]

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