First of all, I agree that all three of these cover stars — Bridgerton’s Simone Ashley, West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler, and Alison Oliver, who is starring with Joe Alwyn in Conversations With Strangers, the newest Sally Rooney adaptation — actually ARE rising stars, which is exciting. (Especially Oliver, who does her profile and photo shoot with Alwyn, presumably as a way to bump up her profile a bit, given that her Hulu series isn’t out yet.) These three covers (well, technically, four — Rachel Zegler gets two, as hers is the newsstand cover) feel very traditional, which actually isn’t a bad thing. I mean traditional in the sense of “this feels like a magazine I’d pick up at the airport and read on the way to my vacation,” or “I can see reading this magazine down at the pool,” which IS the ideal for May. Not every magazine cover needs to scream THIS IS DIRECTIONAL AND WE ARE MAKING ART!!!!!!!! Sometimes they can just say, “why don’t you buy this very magazine-y feeling magazine? Wouldn’t that be soothing?”
The profiles are, on the whole, quite good. Simone Ashley’s is charming, and she’s wearing at least one dress in the editorial shoot that I am OBSESSED WITH. My favorite part of it is that Jonathan Bailey seems (respectfully!!!) obsessed with her, but this is a great bit:
When I tell Ashley that several Bridgerton fans I’ve talked with independently volunteered that the Duke’s butt was their favorite part of season one, she laughs. “No way. The Duke’s butt? Oh my God, that’s so funny.”
OF COURSE HIS BUTT! We are but simple folk.
I think the pull-quote that most people are going to use for Rachel Zegler, although her entire piece is good, is when she talks about how often folks asked HER about the sexual assault allegations faced by Ansel Elgort, even when he was present. She talks about it at length, and you should read it in context, but here’s a bit:
“It was a real gut punch, honestly,” says Zegler of being asked to answer for her male coworker. “I reverted back to this brain space I was in [back in] June of 2020, when the accusation surfaced. We were in the middle of the first wave of lockdown, and there was nothing to do but doom-scroll. Those days were some of the worst mental health days I’ve ever had. I was sitting there having just turned 19, on the precipice of what was promised to be the biggest moment in my life, and was being held accountable [by the public] for accusations that not only had nothing to do with me but were made about a situation that was said to have occurred [five] years prior to when I had met and worked with this person. With no thought to the fact that I was also 17 when I met this person, 17 when I worked with them, 17 and 18 when I had to do love scenes.”
Much has been read into what Zegler did or didn’t say about Elgort, with the internet desperate for clues into how she responded to the situation. Behind the scenes, she says, she was devastated. “[There is] inherent discomfort that comes with that realization that there are tons of people who think that you have to answer for the actions of an adult male who can speak for himself. It is so wildly disappointing at every turn, no matter how you slice it. No matter how many times I’ve tried to justify people’s concern when it comes to me in my brain, but then realizing that it comes from a place of me having to answer for that, and not them actually caring about whether or not I was okay, was really hurtful. And also paying no mind when it came to the conversation between myself and these other incredible women in my cast, without any thought process to our experiences as women in the industry who constantly find ourselves in close encounters with men in power, and a very iconic woman in Hollywood who has spoken about her experience with sexual assault. In the grand scheme of things with this woman who has come forward with these allegations, I cannot imagine what she had to go through. If I’m sitting here thinking that those days were traumatizing for me, I don’t pretend to know. I could never know,” Zegler says, finally adding, “I really don’t have anything to do with this conversation, and I’m looking forward to moving past it.”
Ugh, I bet she is. She seems very smart, and also like a young woman who is learning that she’s got to stay off the internet most of the time. (A good lesson for us all, I just typed into the internet.)
And, finally, although the Alison Oliver/Joe Alwyn piece is VERY much about their shared project — honestly, perhaps much too much, as it isn’t even out yet and none of us have seen it, so it’s hard to really tap into their Actorly Thoughts About Characters We Don’t Know — almost all the pull-quotes I’ve seen have been from Joe Alwyn which could be vaguely construed as being about Taylor Swift, which…I can’t blame Elle for going there. It’s the newsiest bits. Of course people want to hear about whatever’s happening with Swiftie. Like so:
I ask about the tendency for audiences to study artists’ creative choices—such as, say, acting in an adaptation of a Sally Rooney novel—for insights into their personal lives. Oliver admits she hasn’t yet experienced this equation in her career, but Alwyn gives what I read to be an understanding look. He’s already fielded an inquiry about whether Nick’s polyamory reflects on his relationship with Swift. (It does not.) “You choose projects and the thread there, of course it says stuff about you, but also you need to work,” says the actor, kind but cautious.
I cannot believe people have asked him if playing a polyamorous character means that he and Taylor are polyamorous. You guys, calm DOWN. Are you asking Robert Pattinson if he’s sexually enthralled by cats?