There is no one quite like Anjelica Huston. Daughter of John, girlfriend of Jack, muse to innumerable photographers and directors, she has prowled her enigmatic way through fashion and film as though “dipped in darkness”. So stated Tim Blanks, who interviewed her for AnOther Magazine S/S08, but former flame David Bailey demurred. “Not darkness, mystery,” he said, and indeed it is a bewitching sphinx-like charm that emerges from the account of Blanks' encounter with the actress.
Here, in an effort to know more about this most inscrutable of cinematic icons, we present her thoughts on some of the key figures in her life, from her demanding parents, via Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton, to Wes Anderson, the director for whom she is a constant inspiration.
...on her parents:
“I did a lot of things that, on reconsideration, I don’t know that I would have done, to please my father and make my mother happy. Hunting sidesaddle, that’s something I’d never do again. It was so dangerous. But I think he liked that.”
...on Guy Bourdin:
“He was a dangerous little cutie. I shot with him only once. He asked the make-up artist to do glamour make-up on the girls, and I saw this pale blue eyeshadow on my eyelids, and I looked at the other girls and they were so much prettier than I was – I looked so awful – I had a complete breakdown. So these two girls walked me round the square and when we got back in, Bourdin asked me what on earth the matter was, and I said, ‘If you have small eyes, they should be smaller, if you have a big nose, it should be bigger.’ He completely defused the time bomb that I was. And that was it. He laughed at me, then we laughed together.”
...on Helmut Newton
“I’d gone home after a shoot and I was sitting in Tony Kent’s apartment at three in the morning having some vegetable stew and I got a phone call from Vogue asking me to come back to the Place du Palais Bourbon to be photographed by Helmut Newton for the opening page. I’d always heard these stories about how cruel he was to girls and how he shouted at them and so forth but he was so sweet. He was doing these pictures with the red Polaroid eyes. We got on really well and I worked with him quite a lot during the period when he was doing things spilling from glasses. You always got crème de menthe or milk or something all over you.”
...on Jack Nicholson:
“Jack was a huge movie star and got a lot of attention and sometimes it was really hard to be around it, because it would come uncensored and very directly if I was with him or not. Girls literally threw themselves at him. And he was all boy. He wasn’t going to turn down anything interesting, particularly if I was away. And I was away a lot. Relationships are so mutable. There are moments when you think it’s more important than anything to stay together, but you drift in different ways. Ultimately, it’s terribly hard for me to break up with people, but Jack and I had essentially broken up a long time before we did break up. We weren’t living together, we were seeing other people, we weren’t discussing it with each other. A lot of the confrontational quality of our relationship – that confrontation that goes with knowing someone belongs to you – did not exist anymore. But the actual act of breaking up with Jack was huge, it was like breaking up with a parent, it was as hard as any death I’ve ever survived.”
“I’m always a lonely part in his movies. It’s really frustrating because I want to be one of the girls or one of the boys. Still, there’s a fantastic line in the Darjeeling Limited when the mother is asked why she didn’t come to the father’s funeral? and she answers, ‘I didn’t want to.’ Her whole character is expressed in that fantastically liberating line. That’s the way I want to feel, that I didn’t do something because I didn’t want to, rather than making up an excuse, like I had a tummy ache. I’m still working on that, I’m still hiding from the teacher.”
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