Sure, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” might be the biggest movie arriving next month, but our most anticipated is easily “Phantom Thread.” Paul Thomas Anderson recently lifted the veil on the movie with its first trailer, which we know stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion designer in 1950s London, who finds his bachelor life interrupted by love. However, there’s much more to it than that.
“It’s not your standard love story. It’s more peculiar for sure. A lot of directors have tried and failed to make ‘Rebecca.’ I’m probably next in line, but it’s a different story,” Anderson told EW. “I’m a large aficionado of those large Gothic romance movies as the old masters might do them. What I like about those kinds of love stories is that they’re very suspenseful. A good dollop of suspense with a love story is a nice combination.”
“I had a story that was in search of characters, which is rare for me. I needed a man for this story. I needed a woman and another woman. It was good for the story for the man to be very strong-willed, stubborn, set in his ways, slightly fascist, creative, that kind of thing,” he continued. “That’s good because then you’ve got something you need to crack and to figure out how to crack. I think many people would agree, just like they would about the Golden Age of Hollywood, that the peak time for couture was in the early-to-mid 1950s. There were so many beautiful dresses that were made that are still referenced and spoken about and admired. I love the idea on a pure style level being able to have that around your story. That was appealing. And to work with Daniel, it would be nice to have a story — it’s been a long time since he’s played an Englishman. The more I saw the pictures of this era, it was just so much contagious. It was real syrupy, to get into that. It’s really easy to look good. I just made a movie with all of these dirty hippies with facial hair and stuff. It’s like, ‘Oh, god. Let’s do something with fancy people.’ ”
With filming wrapping this spring, many thought “Phantom Thread” might be ready in time for the fall festivals, yet the picture didn’t appear. So, what gives?
“…it was not a choice. This was the first film in a while that we finished and not had leisurely editing period on. We finished shooting in April. We’ll be finishing the film right at the finish line to its release, so there was no opportunity to go somewhere we might normally go, like New York or Venice or Toronto, all that kind of stuff. The film, quite simply, is not done,” Anderson said.
There is also one more thing Anderson would like to clear up — he’s not the cinematographer on the film, as reported early on.
“I should really clarify that. That would be disingenuous and just plain wrong to say that I was the director of photography on the film. The situation was that I work with a group of guys on the last few films and smaller side projects. Basically, in England, we were able to sort of work without an official director of photography,” he explained. “The people I would normally work with were unavailable, and it just became a situation where we collaborated — really in the best sense of the word — as a team. I know how to point the camera in a good direction, and I know a few things. But I’m not a director of photography.”
He further elaborates that there will be no cinematographer credit on the movie, but tips his hat to the work of his team, which includes gaffer Michael Bauman, camera operator Colin Anderson, first assistant cameraman Erik Brown, and grip Jeff Kunkel.
“Phantom Thread” opens on December 25th.