Entertainment 'Promising Young Woman' Director Emerald Fennell Talks Pop Songs, 'Killing Eve' And 'The Crown'
21 best pop songs to test your speakers
"I've never believed that pop music is escapist trash. There's always a darkness in it, even amidst great pop music" – Thom Yorke.Frank Zappa once said, "I think pop music has done more for oral intercourse than anything else that has ever happened, and vice versa" – deep, coming from the Mothers of Invention.
'That's just asking for it,' says a sleazy man in a bar, as he watches an incapacitated woman slumped in a corner. His apparently non-sleazy friend offers to take her home and, as darker events unfurl, we discover Cassie was faking it all along. Deeply troubled by her friend’sat university, she is on a mission to seek revenge on predatory men. That’s the set-up for Promising Young Woman, a jaw-dropping, bleakly comic thriller written and directed by Emerald Fennell and starring on brilliant form.
Call the Midwife cast react to former co-star Emerald Fennell's Oscar nominations
Emerald's nominations include Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Fennell has been nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for her black comedy thriller Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan, who received a Best Actress nomination for her performance. The 35-year-old London-born actress, writer and director had previously played Nurse Patsy Mount in the much-loved BBC period drama for four years between 2013 and 2017. Her character began a relationship with Kate Lamb's Delia Busby, before pair eventually left Poplar to go travelling together.
‘When sexual assault happens, it’s not always the scary stranger,’ says Fennell. ‘It can be somebody you trust and, ultimately, it’s someone who doesn’t think they’re a bad person.’
Selecting a cast of actors we know and love – including The O.C.’sand GLOW’s – was crucial in testing our allegiances.
‘I told them, “You woke up this morning believing you are a good person. Somebody is going to come into your life and show you that you’re not. What are you going to do?”’
You’d never guess this-produced film was shot in just 23 days. As well as accomplished, it’s also funny, with 1990s romcom undercurrents.
‘The script might read as dark, but I wanted it feel [like] Cassie: fun, exciting, innocuous and safe.’ A soundtrack ofand helped. ‘Most of our budget went on the rights to [Hilton’s] "Stars Are Blind". Money well spent,’ says Fennell, of a lip-syncing scene that’ll leave you grinning. ‘Female-led pop is too often thought of as silly. I genuinely think "Toxic" is as good as anything by The Beatles.’
Promising Young Woman Is Going Straight To Sky Cinema And NOW In April
It’s been one of the most talked-about movies of the last year, and has made a major splash in 2021’s awards nominations – but UK audiences haven’t yet had a chance to see Emerald Fennell’s satirical revenge thriller Promising Young Woman. Since cinemas have been closed, the film – like many others – has continued to have its release date pushed back, and even though picturehouses look set to start opening again in the coming months, Fennell’s film is now heading straight to home viewing.
The script is smattered with noteworthy lines. Fennell’s favourite? When Cassie says: ‘Your daughter is kind of an idiot… But being smart never did a girl any good.’ This, Fennell explains, is the crux of the film. ‘The truth is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are or how hard you work. Some people are physically stronger; that dictates so much of how we live our lives.’
For Fennell, writing dark tales and working in movies was a dream that started young: ‘When I was seven, my mum asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I said, “I want to write stories about murder, or be an actress and live in America.”’ With a jewellery designer father and writer mother, a career in the arts was encouraged and accessible – a privilege she’s quick to point out.
After school at Marlborough College (a few years after), she studied English at Oxford. It was there that she was spotted by agent, Lindy King, who signed her immediately.
Every Marvel movie to watch before Loki debuts on Disney+
Every Marvel movie to watch before Loki debuts on Disney+
Fennell’s long-standing role as nurse Patsy in Call the Midwife captured hearts, but it was her involvement inthat solidified her place in the industry. She was promoted to head writer for season two, earning the show an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
‘We’d be shooting episode five, be in the edit for one to four, while pitching scenes for seven and eight,’ she says.
Her work ethic is palpable, and balancing it withhasn’t slowed her down. She gave birth three weeks after filming Promising Young Woman and was back in the editing suite three weeks later.
‘I can’t resist,’ she says. ‘Work, to me, is like a chocolate digestive – I can never just have one.’
That’s what saw her add the role of a young Camilla Parker Bowles into her repertoire, a character she’d asked her agent to look out for years before.
‘She’s always struck me as interesting – so much is written about her, but little about her. I discovered how funny and brilliant she is.’
Next, Fennell steps into the glittering world of musicals with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2021 take on Cinderella (due to open July 14).
Emerald Fennell: I can't please everyone
Emerald Fennell has come to the conclusion she can't please everyone with her passion projects.The 35-year-old actress wrote and directed the comedy thriller film 'Promising Young Woman' - which stars Carey Mulligan, Jennifer Coolidge and Laverne Cox - and she's aware that her passion projects might not receive universal acclaim.
‘The original story relies on making yourself sexy in order for somebody to like you. It’s not a great message, and it’s completely uninteresting.’ In this version, Cinderella is ‘a bit of dick’. And it’s not Prince Charming she falls in love with as, let’s face it, it’s hard to invest in people who only get married because he finds her shoe. ‘Above all else, it’s joyful.’ And if there’s one thing we need right now, it’s more joy.
'Promising Young Woman' is on Sky Cinema and NOW from April 16
Like this article?to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
In need of more inspiration, thoughtful journalism and at-home beauty tips? Subscribe to ELLE's print magazine today!
Snobs, no-shows and the best backgrounds: Our six key BAFTAs talking points .
It was yet another awards ceremony featuring winners accepting from their sofas - yet despite the lack of a full red carpet of celebs, this year's BAFTA Awards still made for an entertaining evening with moments of humour and emotion. © Other Nomadland director Chloe Zhao (top left) was the big winner of the night - but loses points for her plain background. Pic: BAFTA Everyone is talking about Nomadland, the night's big winner with four awards - best film, director, lead actress and cinematography - but there were plenty of other scene-stealers, too.