Sarah Gadon On Playing A Queen, Getting Used To Stardom, + Hollywood Gender Roles

Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

chatting with the star of ‘a royal night out’

Rising star Sarah Gadon is the latest actress to play a British monarch on the big screen. In A Royal Night Out, she stars as a young Queen Elizabeth II who shares an unforgettable night out in London with her sister Margaret (played by Bel Powley), as the two princesses celebrate the end of World War II. Gadon’s portrayal of the naïve-but-strong Elizabeth gives the audience a keyhole into what it was like to be royal, young, and still tethered to familial obligation. Gadon got her big break opposite Julianne Moore and Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, and can next be seen next to James Franco in the Hulu original series II.22.63, a time-travel drama set around the assassination of JFK. We sat down with the Canadian actress who opened up about playing royalty, how she stays grounded as her star rises, becoming a fan of James Franco, and Hollywood's tricky relationship with gender.

When you read the script for A Royal Night Out, were you excited or intimidated?
Oddly, I felt such a personal connection to the story and the film because my grandmother was British and fought in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in WWII. My grandfather was in the British Royal Navy, and they met during WWII and fell in love. She was a war bride and they were in Trafalgar Square celebrating on VE night. This story is like a love letter to my grandparents and that time. When I was doing my research about Elizabeth and I was reading her biographies, one of the things that stuck out was the idea that they had been taught that when you fall and you scrape your knee, you don’t make a face. You don’t show your emotions—that’s a sign of weakness. That way of thinking was the absolute antithesis of how I was brought up.

I’m from Dallas and that sounds more like my upbringing.
I was just in Dallas! It’s so great! I’m doing this show for Hulu called 11.22.63. We shot in Dallas, and I had the best time. We shot in the Book Depository and the Grassy Knoll.
You’re starring opposite James Franco in this, right?
We have a romance, and all of my stuff is pretty much with him. There’s also George MacKay, Chris Cooper, and Cherry Jones. Franco directed one of the episodes, too, and he was one of my favorite directors. 
How so? 
I was not necessarily a Franco fan, but am now a Franco fan, because I think he’s so great. He’s done so many different things and I knew he was a good actor. In this, he’s playing a classic leading man and he sits so well in that space. We have this sweeping love story, and he’s so great in it! I was going through a breakup when we were doing that. I was like, This isn’t real. That’s a whole, other thing. We’d have these tender scenes and he’s like crying and weeping. I’m like, Who is this guy? I loved working with him because he was so present.
Now that you've played a queen, are there any similarities between being a queen and being an actress?
It’s the same thing in the sense that you are on this path, and being an actor is extremely competitive and is a difficult profession, but you have to have a sense of destiny—as corny as that may sound. You have to believe in that and know yourself and be very disciplined. I felt like I always knew that I wanted to be a performer and knew what it would take, like Elizabeth knew what her role was going to be like as Queen and prepared for that accordingly. When you think about Elizabeth, you think about the icon status and the facade that’s put up between the public and person. What I love about A Royal Night Out is that it’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a young girl transitioning into this woman. You really get to see how we’re shaped, how our experiences become intrinsically a part of who we are. 
As your career and profile rises, how do you stay grounded?
It’s an interesting time for you to ask me that because I did the campaign for Giorgio Armani cosmetics. It was the first time I thought of myself objectively as an image. Usually, when I’m working as an actor, I’m stepping into people’s lives and creating characters. This year, I spent a lot of time thinking about that because it felt very surreal. You go to a department store and see yourself at a makeup counter. It’s crazy. It’s hard to articulate or process that, but I think it’s important to keep a distance from it, as an actor and artist. I don’t ever want to not be human. It’s really important for the kind of roles I want to do to stay super-grounded. 
At the same time, as a successful actress, there’s the opportunity to have a platform to speak out for issues you believe in.  Is there anything you’re particularly passionate about? 
I feel like I say the things that I want to say and I don’t necessarily need to achieve another level of fame. I’m open about who I am and what I believe in. Somebody asked me earlier today about whether or not I thought it was tough for female actresses specifically. I think it’s a tough industry, period. That’s not to belittle the female experience. I’ve worked along so many incredible leading men and seen how they’ve been treated, as well. I remember I was doing Dracula Untold with Luke Evans, and physically, what he had to put himself through—with training and how in every scene the director was like, "You need to take your shirt off." You see what these leading men who want to be action stars go through. Often, people ask me about [the lack of] female roles, and the way to change that is to have more female writers and directors and by encouraging and mentoring female DPs. It’s about female subjectivity. If you don’t experience that, then it’s very difficult to create a strong female character.
Working on this film, did you find that the definition of femininity in the 1940s was different than today?
There was such strength to the women in the '40s. I don’t think people realize how many writers there were at that time in Hollywood. They get buried under all the other ways we choose to remember that time in Hollywood.
Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.