Actress Mia Goth and Luca Guadagnino reenact her Suspiria audition

By
Photography Mark Peckmezian
Stylist Emma Wyman

Published September 13, 2018

 

Mia Goth is unpindownable yet familiar; down-to-earth yet seemingly not of this world. There’s a sense of mystery attached to the 24-year-old actress, which has served her well in her short but already varied career: in Lars von Trier’s controversial erotic drama Nymphomaniac (2013), Baltasar Kormákur’s mountain-climbing white-knuckler Everest (2015), and Gore Verbinski’s Lovecraftian thriller A Cure for Wellness (2016). But nowhere has her alluring out-of-timeness been put to such good use than in Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming remake of Dario Argento’s ’70s horror classic Suspiria, in which Goth stars alongside Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton as a young dance student who uncovers a paranormal terror lurking beneath the school’s prestigious façade. On a shaky phone line from Rome to Los Angeles, Goth and Guadagnino reenact the Skype call that led to her most demanding role yet.  

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LUCA GUADAGNINO: Mia.

MIA GOTH: Luca!

GUADAGNINO: Mia!

GOTH: Luca!

GUADAGNINO: Where are you right now, Mia?

GOTH: You know what? I’m actually in the exact same room where we had our first Skype conversation about Suspiria three years ago.

GUADAGNINO: At which point I already knew that you were the only Sara for me. I remember the first thing we discussed was that even though Sara comes from a high-end family, she is in essence a frumpy, simple, sweet character.

GOTH: I remember you also referencing Picnic at Hanging Rock [1975] as one of the movies  you wanted me to see in terms of the vibe of the character. I thought that was extremely helpful. I remember being in your apartment in Varese when we spoke about Sara’s history—about how she would walk and how she should talk, about how she would hold herself given the world that she comes from.

Cape, Sweater, and Shoes by Gucci. Dress and Socks by Miu Miu

GUADAGNINO: How did you feel about building this kind of emotional and psychological journey while at the same time making a genre movie?

GOTH: There were, of course, moments when it felt like we were making a horror movie, like when we were in the corridor with the holes in the ground—even filming that was terrifying. But at the end of the day, it felt like we were making a movie about characters. Those are my favorite kinds of movies, where the plots are quite small and character-driven. You were very focused on my performance. And I loved that, because you have such passion and you wear your heart on your sleeve. That made it easy to trust you, Luca.

GUADAGNINO: To be honest, there were times when I felt like, “Oh my god, I’m pushing Mia a bit too far.”

GOTH: You pushed me probably more than any other director I’ve ever worked with. It was frustrating at times, but rewarding.

GUADAGNINO: You were so committed to having Sara be a dancer. I remember when you were training with Damien Jalet, our wonderful choreographer, how you stepped into that room. You were possessive of your role as a dancer, and in time you became one. I can’t see the difference between you and the real dancers in the movie.

Dress by Dior

GOTH: It was really important for me to integrate myself with those girls and that world. I felt like the more I could literally step into their shoes, the more honest my work would ultimately be. These girls train like athletes. They’re in the studio six, sometimes seven days a week, for ten-hour days. It’s definitely the most intense thing I’ve ever put my body through. The girls were extremely valuable to me. They shared their entire world—how they hold themselves, how they walk, how they train, and what they eat.

GUADAGNINO: You mention learning from this group of women. In general, apart from Call Me by Your Name, I’ve mostly focused on portraying female characters. But particularly in Suspiria, we were really immersing ourselves in the world of the female, one in which creation and damnation and power are intertwined. Do you feel as though Suspiria mirrors our times and the importance of female empowerment?

GOTH: It’s a very timely film, one that comes at an important moment for women in film. It’s completely terrifying and bizarre at times, but it’s also very much a celebration of women and their strength.

GUADAGNINO: Suspiria is set in 1977, and you have such an amazing ’70s face, which is a huge compliment because that time in cinema and fashion is so important to me. There are so many great icons of the ’70s—like Twiggy and Shelley Duvall—and I think you bring me that with your physicality. I have a great nostalgia for that period, when movies had stars who were so full of complexities. You embody that energy for me. 

GOTH: I think some of the best films ever made are from that period. And I remember, too, when we were filming Suspiria and we were on set, you would sometimes reference Shelley Duvall. That really helped me understand what you were after. I have heard that comparison many times before and I always take it as a huge compliment.

Top, Skirt, Tulle Dress, and Floral Dress by Prada. Boots by Attico

GUADAGNINO: You live in L.A., but you’re of British and Brazilian descent, right?

GOTH: I’m Canadian! My father’s Canadian.

GUADAGNINO: Oh, sorry! I was sure you were British.

GOTH: I was raised there, but no. I’m still trying to figure it all out, to be completely honest. I’ve never really felt like I’m from anywhere. My name is actually Mia Gypsy—my mum said she named me that because of everywhere I’m from. She felt that I’d always be roaming from place to place, and I’ve always felt like that. I’m in England and I don’t feel British, in Canada and I’m not Canadian, and I’m definitely not considered Brazilian in Rio, so that’s also translated into the work that I do. Being an actor is a nomadic profession, and I just try to feel at home wherever I am at that moment.

GUADAGNINO: Are you preparing yourself for Venezia?

GOTH: You have no idea. I’m also completely terrified and nervous. But I’m so excited to show Suspiria to the world.

GUADAGNINO: We’re going to have a big party together.

GOTH: And I’m going to give you a big hug.

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Hair: Tomi Kono at Julian Watson Agency
Makeup: Asami Matsuda at ArtList
Production: Carly Hoff at Webber Represents
Photography Assistants: Jordan Walczak and Merimon Hart
Fashion Assistant: Jessica Aurel and Marcus Cuffie
Hair Assistant: Yukie Nammori