Daily Mail has this great article on Ginnifer … she talks about her new film Killing Kennedy along with her life in Hollywood and what she wants in life.
Jackie Kennedy, a woman we consider modern and independent, fascinates us to this day. Actress Ginnifer Goodwin nailed her iconic look for a new film – but it was by listening to reels of old interviews that she really got inside the head of the First Lady…
ONE of the most photographed women of all time, so famous that her first name sufficed, and married into the closest thing America has to a royal family, Jackie predated Diana by a quarter of a century as a beloved icon beset by tragedy. On 22 November it will be 50 years since Jacqueline Kennedy was widowed, when Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot from the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, assassinating John F Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States. The anniversary will no doubt be marked by heated discussions of legacies, conspiracy theories and curses, feeding a never-abating fascination with the assassination.
But a new film, Killing Kennedy – starring Rob Lowe as John F Kennedy and Ginnifer Goodwin as Jackie – focuses largely on the domestic drama, the marriage between the handsome, idealistic young president and the most stylish First Lady in American history; the golden couple whose three-year spell in the White House came to be known as Camelot.
‘I hope that in the film we really humanise them as a couple,’ says Ginnifer, when we meet in her apartment in Vancouver, Canada, where the US TV show in which she stars, Once Upon A Time (UK viewers can find it on Netflix), is filmed. ‘I don’t feel they have been fully humanised in other films.’ Actresses who have previously portrayed Jackie include Katie Holmes, who played her in The Kennedys, and Jaclyn Smith, who played her in the 1981 film Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, about the years before her marriage to JFK.
Playing a woman whose face graced thousands of magazine covers the world over must be nothing short of intimidating. But Ginnifer seems to be taking it all in her stride. The perkily pretty 35-year-old is today sporting her now trademark pixie crop, but with a brunette bouffant wig is transformed into an eerily accurate Jackie (who was just 34 years old when her husband was shot). ‘Really? I’m so glad you think so, because I just didn’t think I resembled her at all,’ says Ginnifer. ‘But our hair and make-up team did an amazing job, and I would sneak on to set earlier than I was supposed to so we could have extra time playing with the eyebrows to get them right,’ she laughs.
And while Ginnifer openly admits to her own love of fashion – today she is wearing an APC T-shirt, an Isabel Marant cardigan and lace-up Sonia Rykiel pumps – her wardrobe is minute compared with that of the former first lady.
In her first year in the White House, Jackie spent $145,446 on fashion – that’s £89,000, almost 50 per cent more than the $100,000 (£62,000) annual salary her husband earned as president – and her celebrated style (A-line dresses, pillbox hats, column gowns and elbow-length gloves, by Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and Oleg Cassini, who custom-made many of her outfits) is reconstructed with an assiduous eye for detail. ‘Everything that I wear in the film was an exact copy of an outfit of Jackie’s,’ says Ginnifer. ‘The lengths they went to to replicate some of the dresses and gowns for just a few seconds of film was amazing.’
The one personal detail that Ginnifer chose not to emulate was Jackie’s voice, which her co-star Rob Lowe has described as ‘Marilyn Monroe mixed with helium’. It is an accent borne of privilege, from the wealthy New York society in which Jackie grew up. ‘She sounds like a little girl,’ says Ginnifer. ‘So I toned it down so as not to distract the audience; nobody talks like that today.’
But a far bigger challenge than matching the physical aspects of the former first lady was the task of trying to find the woman beneath the public image, a challenge that Ginnifer threw herself into wholeheartedly. ‘We are showing the Kennedys behind closed doors and, of course, no one knows quite what that was like. So I decided to take the things that she said about herself, rather than what others said about her, and base my Jackie on those,’ she says.
Magazine articles and interviews, she discovered, were far more informative than books or biographies. ‘Arthur Schlesinger [the late American historian and intellectual] did an interview with her that consisted of eight and a half hours of audio recordings, and that was enormously helpful because it was all in her own words,’ says Ginnifer. ‘Most of the interview was her talking about JFK, and it gave me an amazing insight into their marriage. She said all kinds of fascinating things, such as: why would she have her own opinion about things such as politics, when Jack [as John was known] would always have an opinion and his would be a better one than hers?
‘We think of her as being so poised and elegant, and she was, but she also seems to have had a girlishness about her, certainly when Jack was around,’ says Ginnifer. And perhaps it is partly this quality that casting directors spotted in Ginnifer too – not only is the actress fresh-faced and youthful, but refreshingly chatty and brimming with energy and enthusiasm.
‘We also think of Jackie as being very modern and independent, in a 2013 kind of way,’ she says. ‘And although she was ahead of her time in some ways, she actually considered herself “exceptionally Victorian” – and those are her words. She felt that her life was about “being the best wife and mother” that she could be, and “the kind of wife that Jack would want”.’
The film certainly does not paint the president as the husband Jackie would have wanted him to be, however, not shying away from the issue of his much-documented philandering. But it does portray, nonetheless, a genuine love and tenderness between the couple. The film even explains the ‘Camelot’ tag, as JFK is seen playing the soundtrack to the 1960 Broadway musical in his office, and Jackie quotes his favourite line from the show: ‘Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.’
The dramatised historical reality of Killing Kennedy is a far cry from Ginnifer’s current project, Once Upon A Time, a fairy-tale TV drama in which she plays Mary Margaret Blanchard, an incarnation of Snow White; she is currently filming the third season. ‘I get myself a new cat for every season,’ she jokes, glancing over at her three kitties who are happily snoozing in the afternoon sunshine. (The cats, she assures me, travel everywhere with her, relocating back to LA when she does.) She is making light of the issue, but the show does involve a rather arduous nine months of filming each year in Vancouver. ‘I don’t think of it as home,’ she admits, ‘but it is a lovely place to find yourself on location.’
She has the helpful bonus of having her fiancé, 31-year-old Joshua Dallas, as a co-star, too. (Joshua, though American, spent much of his 20s in the UK with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the English National Opera and was recently in the film Thor.) ‘We have friends here, we have created lives and routines here, but home for me is definitely still LA.’ She paints a picture of a very settled life. ‘I take a lot of ballet classes. I love to embroider, to go to
old movies and play Scrabble with my friends and family,’ she says. ‘I love to read. I like to go to bed early. I am not much of a party person – I don’t have a Hollywood bone in my body.
‘When I was in my early 20s I loved being shipped off anywhere, for any project, for six months at a time, but now I’m older, nine months of the year away from home is hard,’ she says. But she’s not feeling sorry for herself. ‘I love being up here and I love this project, and I hope it continues for many years, but every year that goes by, I realise that I am ready to be in one place,’ she says. ‘My whole life is split between Vancouver and LA, and I am ready to have my wardrobe in one place, not two.’
Ginnifer was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, where, she says, she was ‘one of those obnoxious people who, as a child, decided acting was what I really wanted to do. I just don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an actress.’ Her parents were supportive and ‘super arty. I remember my grandmother taking me to the opera when I was little, and we would always have ballet and singing lessons.’ Her mother Linda was a calligrapher, a teacher and finally a computer scientist, and her father Tim worked in the music industry; her sister Melissa is now a visual artist and an animator.
While studying at Boston University’s School of Theatre, aged 18, she spent a semester studying Shakespeare with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. ‘I remember the first day I landed in London, I was so scared; I knew nobody,’ she says. ‘And then, by the end of my time there, I was travelling around Europe by myself. I flew to Venice for a week and lived in a convent, during Carnival, on my own, with no money. Travelling and living abroad just gives you so much confidence.’ Later in her studies she returned to London for semesters at Rada and Lamda, the two most prestigious drama schools in the capital.
‘It was incredible,’ she says. ‘I went to see West End shows every night. And I remember going to see Mikhail Baryshnikov dance. There is so much cultural richness in London; it is such an alive place – I love everything about it,’ she sighs.
Her big break, ten years ago, was Mona Lisa Smile, her first film, also starring Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kirsten Dunst. This was followed by the Oscar-winning Walk The Line, in which she played Vivian Cash, Johnny Cash’s first wife, whom he left for June Carter, played by Reese Witherspoon. Then came Big Love, the TV series about a modern-day polygamous Mormon family, in which Ginnifer played Margene Heffman, one of three ‘sister wives’, along with Chloë Sevigny and Jeanne Tripplehorn, and which was ‘the best project that I have ever been a part of. I was devastated when it ended.
‘But that show made me a terrible snob: it was so brilliantly written that I now have no patience for scripts where you cannot see the potential on the page,’ she says. ‘People always say a script will be “brought to life in a magical way”, but for me that has proven wrong time and time again,’ she says.
She has also starred in frothier films including Something Borrowed and He’s Just Not That Into You. In the latter she played Gigi, a highly strung single girl desperate for a man. ‘Gigi is the closest I’ve ever come to playing myself,’ says Ginnifer. ‘I’m not good at the “game”. I’ve been known to Google-stalk, and I’ve certainly caught myself flirting in such a way that I feel nauseous afterwards when I think of what I said,’ she laughs. ‘But I don’t think romcoms are my genre. I like watching them, but period drama is where I am happy.’
She pauses for thought. ‘I’ve just realised that the projects I really love, they all have the same thematic tone and take place in mid-century America,’ she says. ‘I am fascinated by the fact that at that time in America, women really did have different versions of themselves – there were all the different layers, the expectations, the repression. I love to play women who have to pretend to be something other than what they are. The years before women had the rights and opportunities they have now – those are fascinating times to play.’
However, she readily acknowledges that though the landscape may look very different today in terms of women’s opportunities, as a sex we face new challenges. ‘This evolution, as far as Western society and culture and women goes, has taken place over a really short period of time,’ she says. ‘And it is so frustrating to me, and all of my friends, that our bodies have not evolved to keep up. I am 35 years old, and all my friends are saying, “Oh my God, we have to have kids now or it’s going to be too late.” They are rushing to try to make sure that happens, whether that is getting pregnant or, if they are single, freezing their eggs or looking into other options.’
While Ginnifer herself is in a long-term relationship, the career-motherhood dilemma remains a thorny one. She does not, she says, set any store by those medical experts who preach that it’s possible for women to conceive successfully well into their 40s. ‘There are so many things we can do in later years; if only we could have kids later too! So there are a lot of tough decisions to make.’
Becoming a mother is something she’d like to do in the next few years. ‘I want it all. And I think I am lucky – I have almost everything I want.’
- Reading I am going through, and this sounds very pretentious, my Hemingway period. I read
The Sun Also Rises and it changed my world. Now I am on For Whom The Bell Tolls.
- Watching Breaking Bad, but I am very behind. And I can’t wait for The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey to come back in the States.
- Listening To Lou Doillon – I love her album Places – and Amos Lee’s album Mission Bell. And I finally found Joni Mitchell’s Blue on vinyl.
- Favourite Beauty Product I love Crème De La Mer The Eye Balm Intense – I can’t live without it. And I was never into brightly coloured lipstick until I came across Nars Semi Matte Lipstick
in Schiap, the brightest pink on the planet. When I am not wearing any make-up and I’m about to get papped, I slap that on – it is so distracting that you don’t notice anything else!
- Favourite Designer I am wearing a lot of Sonia Rykiel and Comme des Garçons at the moment.
- Favourite City to visit London – I miss Liberty and teatime.
- Holiday I really want to go somewhere extreme and different, such as on an African safari.
- Stuck in a Lift with Shakespeare. I would hope that he would speak in iambic pentameter and l would leave the lift with a new sonnet.
- Saving For My hypothetical future children’s college tuition.
- Splurging on Clothes, always clothes. Those children can always sell them to go to college.
- Biggest Indulgence Cheese – I probably spend more on cheese than I do on clothes and shoes. My favourites are cheddar and emmenthal – and I love camembert.