• April 19, 2024

Amanda Seyfried Shines As Marion Davies In ‘Mank’ : NPR

Mank is a biography about the man who wrote Citizen Kane. But there is also a woman in the story: Marion Davies, a movie star and lover of William Randolph Heart. She is pictured above in 1932. General Photographic Agency / Getty Images hide caption

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General Photo Agency / Getty Images

Mank is a biography about the man who wrote Citizen Kane. But there is also a woman in the story: Marion Davies, a movie star and lover of William Randolph Heart. She is pictured above in 1932.

General Photo Agency / Getty Images

Citizen Kane is often considered to be the greatest movie ever made. The fictional story of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst did not win an Oscar for best picture in 1942, but did win an award for best original screenplay. Hollywood still loves a story about itself, and this year Mank, a film about Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, received 10 Academy Award nominations including “Best Picture.” It also received a nomination for Amanda Seyfried for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Marion Davies.

In real life, as in Mank, Davies was a star who lived a luxurious life with Hearst. She was born in Brooklyn and moved to Hollywood from the Ziegfeld Follies. In the 1920s, she became the siren of the silent films, ironing out her accent while dealing with speaking images.

“Marion was a really talented actress, she had incredible reach, she was really funny, and she could brighten up any scene she was in,” says Seyfried. “She was very unfiltered like me and she was very allergic to dishonesty which I absolutely am. You know, the Brooklynese was kind of at the end of the day when she took off her shoes and she grabbed your bottle of gin. She was just that she was, and you know she had no shame where she came from. “

Amanda Seyfried’s portrayal of Marion Davies in Mank earned her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Hide Netflix subtitles

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In Mank, Davies and Herman Mankiewicz have a fun, smart relationship. “Both like to drink. They felt very comfortable in the presence of the other,” says Seyfried. “I think they just shared a really nice, very pure, platonic relationship.”

According to Seyfried, Mank offers a more three-dimensional version of Davies than the cartoon Mankiewicz wrote in Citizen Kane. In one scene in Mank, she asks him not to make the film, which is obviously about Hearst. “I read the script,” she says. “It’s very great in its own way, Mank, and you are very much. I would have liked to have played myself 10 years ago.”

“It should never be you,” he protests.

“I don’t care for me, Mank. Really not,” she says. “But please, don’t kick Pops when he’s down.”

To get into the role and nail down Davies’ mannerisms, Seyfried would watch her old films, read her autobiography, and listen to old scratchy recordings. She says playing Davies was the ultimate dress-up dream. “There was no limit to what she could spend, and that’s how I was dressed,” says Seyfried. “You know, it’s like the Oscars every day.”

Oscar-nominated costume designer Trish Summerville built several glamorous outfits for her character, including a duchess satin and a silk palazzo pantsuit for a circus-themed party. She also made several dresses, one from creeping antique gold lamé.

“It’s a very nice dress, cut at an angle, has nice movement and reflects the light very well through the fabrics,” says Summerville. “But we decided it was a little sloppy and draped to show that she might be without a bra a lot. She has a little bit of carelessness.”

The film is shot in black and white. Summerville used sunglasses that weren’t too noticeable. Davies wears whites and light grays; Her coat is ice blue with a faux fur collar.

Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies and Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz in Mank. Hide Netflix subtitles

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Hairdresser Colleen La Baff, also an Oscar nominee, says she styled a hundred platinum hairpieces and wigs that were built for the character.

“We do what is called a wet set and an old-school wet set,” she explained. Using plastic rollers, the wigs were baked in the sun to dry. “You pop those rollers out and brush your hair pretty precisely, and then you groove in their 1930s waves.”

The Oscar-nominated makeup artist Gigi Williams drew Seyfried’s round eyes so that they looked more like crescents and her lips were more diamond-shaped, like Davies’. Williams says director David Fincher wanted her to look like a doll: big-eyed and approachable.

“David didn’t want the cartoon, pencil eyebrows 1920s-1930s,” she says. “He wanted you to just have a sense of time, but without a screaming arrow.”

Fincher, Oscar nominee for Best Director, says he was lured to cast Seyfried by the similarities she and Davies share.

“One of Marion Davies’ most noticeable physical traits is those eyes,” he says. Seyfried’s photogenic face made him light her up in a special way for a dinner party scene.

“It is the Marlene Dietrich light that is an upper light that lies in the middle of the bridge of the nose,” says Fincher. “And what her face rewards you for when you do that is … it’s so symmetrical and it’s so stunningly etched. When you got the light in the right place, you can see that over her left shoulder, over her right shoulder right profile, left profile, three-quarters, whatever. It will always look like the center of the universe. “

In Mank, Marion Davies’ character is also the focus of attention.

Nina Gregory edited this story.

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