Stacy Martin, the 30-year-old British-French actor and front-row regular, has long been a muse of Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière. It comes as no surprise, then, that she’s the ambassador for the house’s new pre-fall 2021 collection—an eclectic mix of printed jackets, thigh-high boots and acid-bright chain-link bags that she wears in a series of portraits shot by the designer himself.
“Stacy has innate elegance and an inspiring personality,” says Ghesquière. “I have a lot of respect for her career path, her bold choices and the roles she takes on.” Over the past decade, since her breakout performance as a sex addict in Nymphomaniac (2013), she’s proven her fearlessness and versatility time and time again. She played a queen in the gothic fantasy Tale of Tales (2015), a soft-spoken tutor in the coming-of-age saga The Childhood of a Leader (2015), a mysterious observer in the dystopian epic High-Rise (2015) and the sympathetic sister of a raging Natalie Portman in the nightmarish drama Vox Lux (2018). But, 2021 is set to be the year her career kicks into overdrive, with a flurry of new releases that range from a ghost story to her first TV show.
To celebrate the launch of Louis Vuitton’s latest collection, of which she is the star, we caught up with Martin to discuss her post-pandemic plans and how she tried to conquer her fear of horror movies by starring in one.
What was it like being shot by Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton’s pre-fall 2021 collection?
Nicolas has such a unique vision and he always surprises you. We [shot the collection at] this beautiful French castle about an hour and a half from Paris. The architecture was very traditional, but then you’d enter this bathroom—it’s in one of the pictures—and it looks like a David Lynch film. It was like entering another dimension. As a photographer, he knows exactly what he wants.
What was your favourite look?
I loved the shoes. I’m not usually a slides person, but I think lockdown’s changed me. I spent most of that shoot in slides and I thought: ‘This is amazing!’ Also the look in the bathroom, with the violet background. All those elements come together to create something really exciting.
Beyond fashion, you have lots of projects landing in 2021, including the 1970s-set thriller The Serpent, in which you play the ex-wife of serial killer Charles Sobhraj. It’s out now in the UK and will be on Netflix globally later this year. Was this the first time you worked on a TV show?
It is! I always thought, ‘TV is very specific and I’m not really into that.’ I was a bit too arrogant on that front [laughs]. It’s changed a lot. Now, there’s more freedom given to directors, and platforms such as Netflix can afford to take risks. I’m also morbidly obsessed with true crime and the story of Charles Sobhraj is so dark. [My character] Juliette is someone who’s aware of his nature. There’s a moment in the show when you can see there’s love between them and it’s heartbreaking. I’ve been in that situation in my teens where I was like, ‘I love you but you’re so wrong for me!’ It was on a different level because it wasn’t with a murderer, of course, but I think we can all relate to it.
What has the response been like so far?
Something I’ve found funny is that because this is more conventional [than what I’ve done before] and it’s on TV, I’m getting more family members saying: ‘Oh my god, congratulations. What a great part.’ It’s lovely but at the same time, I’m like: ‘I’ve been doing this for seven years and only now are you acting like I’ve had a breakthrough.’ But, it is nice that they get to see what I’m doing, especially for people like my grandma. I don’t think I’d show her Nymphomaniac for example.
Probably wise! Another film that was recently released is the sci-fi drama Archive, in which you play a robot created by a scientist who wants to bring his wife back to life. What drew you to it?
It was gruelling in a way that I was craving to experience. Before this film, I was reaching a point where I wanted to do something different and push the boundaries of what other people thought I could achieve. [Archive’s director] Gavin Rothery spoke to me about how the film would look and how little CGI he wanted on set, and I loved that. I thought, ‘I’m going to go for it!’ I’d arrive on set after hours of makeup looking nothing like myself. I reassessed my whole way of working.
You also had two films that premiered at Sundance in 2020 and are expected to be released this year: the horror movie The Night House and the drama The Evening Hour. What was that like?
It was my first time at Sundance and looking back now, it feels like a few lifetimes ago. I love both films. The Night House was a crazy shoot. I don’t watch horror movies—they freak me out. But, I spoke to [the director] David Bruckner and I thought maybe doing a horror movie would be a great way to end my phobia. I really liked the story and the role. I wasn’t sure if [my character] was real or not, and then at one point, David said: ‘You could be a ghost.’ I had insomnia for the rest of the shoot [laughs]. I was staying in this beautiful hotel that was very The Shining-esque.
Then, at the 2020 Venice Film Festival, you premiered the French thriller Lovers, which is due to be released soon. We’ll also see you in the biopic Louis Wain, about the British artist known for his cat paintings, and Brady Corbet’s period piece The Brutalist. What more can you tell us?
[In 2019], I was part of the jury [at Venice], so I now know how that works and where they sit. Lovers meant so much to me, so sitting there during a pandemic, knowing that the jury and Cate Blanchett were to my left [watching]—it was a lot to take in and such a joy as well. With Louis Wain, it’s a very eccentric film and we had an incredible time. I never thought that me, Sharon Rooney, Andrea Riseborough and Aimee Lou Wood would get to be in the same family. None of us are cat people though, which when you have 20 cats on set is hilarious. And The Brutalist is quite epic. It looks at a foreigner trying to integrate and how he’s made to feel welcome and unwelcome—something that still resonates today. Brady shows us how little has changed in some ways.
Are there any specific types of projects that you’d be keen to work on in the future?
An action movie that requires training would be fascinating. I’d also love to work on a TV series on a more long-term basis because the character work required is so different from film.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the pandemic is over?
Being on set. The first lockdown was kind of great for me because I didn’t have to be anywhere and I thrived from having that time off. Now, with the third one in the UK, I just miss my job.