Interview by KAREN FRAGALA-SMITH
"I TRY TO FORCE DOORS.
I WOULD NEVER FIT A CHARACTER"
The summer of 2017 will be remembered as the season that strong women took over
themovies, rescuing our collective unconscious from cruel and unjust global powers
by gifting us two hours of respite from the news cycle - one film at a time - as
we marveled at our heroines' courage, dexterity and tight abs. Gal Gadot in Wonder
Woman; Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Cara Delevingne in Valerian and
the City of a Thousand Planets; Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde; and Sofia Boutella
in The Mummy - all wildly disparate roles that had four things in common: Brains,
Beauty, Brawn and Badassery.
Music has always been a tremendous part of Sophie's life; she released her
But no discussion of the fierce women of this summer's box office would be
complete without mentioning actress Elodie Yung, who stars opposite Ryan
Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek in the new action comedy
The Hitman's Bodyguard. A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Yung is best
known for playing Elektra Natchios in the second season of the Marvel
Universe and Netflix series, Daredevil, and she reprises this role in the new
Marvel series, The Defenders, which released on August 18. Like the aforementioned
strong female characters, Yung has brains (she has a law degree
from The Sorbonne in Paris and studied acting at London's Academy of
Music and Dramatic Art); Beauty (Naturellement!); Brawn (she's a black
belt in karate) and Badassery (keep reading, you'll see). But unlike her sociopathic
character Elektra, Yung couldn't be more pleasant - or fascinating -
to talk to. On set of her TWELV editorial photoshoot in New York
City, she took a few moments to chat with us about her journey from television
in Paris to acting school in London to the silver screen in Hollywood,
and how it all started with a fake CV.
In The Hitman's Bodyguard, you share the screen with some
legendary actors - Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, and Salma
Hayek - and you more than hold your own with them. Were there
any moments throughout the shooting process that you felt a bit intimidated?
I was just thrilled to be a part of a project with such amazing
actors. Growing up, I had the biggest crush on Gary Oldman, so
when I met him I was a bit like "Oooooh! Gary Oldman!" But
I learned a lot by being on set every day with them and watching
their work and how serious and passionate they are. When it
comes down to my work, I feel like I am in my element. Now,
if you asked me if I am comfortable at a dinner with all of them,
then this is where my social anxiety would kick in. But I feel at
home on set, so I'm confident there.
In Netflix's new series, The Defenders, you reprise your role
as the sociopathic villain, Elektra from Daredevil– what was it
like to join forces with Sigourney Weaver against The Avengers?
It was fun to play a villain and work with Sigourney. She's such an
amazing actress and a kind woman, and very helpful. She really
plays with you. But neither her or I would define our characters
purely as villains. I don't think you can portray your character
well if you define them as evil. She definitely has darkness in her,
but I am looking for her humanity. This year, Elektra is almost a
new character because she doesn't remember her past. She is a
blank canvas. I approached her as if she were an amnesiac. Her
memories come back slowly. I wanted to make her true nature
reemerge but without anyone knowing it, because she's not in a
safe place to express it.
Many of your characters have a certain toughness and physicality,
which you make totally believable, even as a petite, beautiful woman.
Does this come from your own toughness growing up on the outskirts
of Paris? What was your upbringing like?
I enjoyed my childhood, but aspects of it were tough. My parents
went through it, but they were never tough with us. Their attitude
is more like "Life is tough, but let's enjoy it." My mom
is French and Italian and my dad is from Cambodia. He escaped
during the war and was the only survivor from his family. The
first job he landed in Paris was at a supermarket, pushing the
carts, and that's where he met my mom. She was working there
as a cashier. When you meet them, you would not think they are
tough people. They raised us to say, "Despite everything, let's
The character Elektra is remarkably athletic, and her fighting
includes elements of Muay Thai, Krav Maga and Capoeira. What was
your training regimen for the role like before you started shooting?
When I learned that I was coming back, I started training in Los
Angeles weeks in advance. And when I came on set, I trained
with the stunt team. They try to build your muscles so you don't
get hurt on set. I do my own stunts and all the choreography, and
then I have a stunt double, Lauren Kim– who is the best– who
does all the crazy stuff. My character is kind of a weapon, so I
wanted to be as fit and strong as I could.
"I JUST WANT
TO WORK WITH GREAT
DIRECTORS. I WANT
TO MEET GREAT
ARTISTS AND WORK
WITH PEOPLE THAT
How did your parents respond when you told them that you wanted to pursue
acting after law school? Were they apprehensive or supportive at first?
My parents are quite supportive of anything we've done, my siblings
and I. My mom was a bit more careful but she understood
that it was something I was testing out. A friend of mine was making
money doing commercials and she said, "Just say that you are
an actress. You can get into my agency probably." So I made a fake
CV and I got representation, and from there I was cast in [the
French series] La Vie Devant Nous. That was my first job. After
that, I continued my training in London.
You were already a respected TV actress in France when you came to the
United States– what made you want to pursue a career in Hollywood?
I never thought of it this way. What I wanted was to train in
London after I did the series in Paris so I could challenge myself
as an artist. I wasn't fluent in English at the time, and I thought it
would be a great thing for me to explore Shakespeare in English.
After that, I had the chance to audition for The Girl With the
Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher. [She was cast as
Lisbeth's friend, Miriam Wu.] That was my first real audition
in English. So that brought me here. But it was never "Bye, bye
France, I'm going to Hollywood." Never!
What actors or actresses do you admire or wish to emulate in your career? Is
there anyone in particular you would want to collaborate with on a project?
I have a lot of admiration for Isabelle Huppert and Juliette
Binoche. I love Jessica Chastain as well. They are very different,
but you can see that they explore their own humanity in their
characters. They are able to do a complete change from one part
to another. You can see that they are very curious. They are seeking
the human side of those characters and themselves. I admire
that a lot. There is something very raw about these women that is
very appealing to me.
Do you feel like your cultural background and unique look has been an asset
or a challenge for you in casting decisions?
I am a bit of a weird case. Here, people perceive me as French and
in France, I am half-Asian or sometimes I have heard that I am not
Asian enough. There's always something and I don't pay attention
to anything. I love acting so much. I'm not going to stop at
one, ten, twenty people telling me "You're too much like this" or
"You're not enough like that." My team is well trained. I tell them
"Just get me in the room, get me the audition, even if they're
looking for a blonde American woman," because once I'm there,
maybe I can bring something different and change someone's
mind. I try to force doors. I would never fit a character on paper.
Would you ever be willing to "ugly up" for a role, as Charlize Theron did in
Monster, if it were needed to play a character?
Yes, please! I just want to try as many characters as I can and tell
as many different stories as I can.
Where do you hope to be five years from now? Do you have any interest in
directing or producing?
I just want to work with great directors. I want to meet great artists
and work with people that I admire. There is something that
I am kind of writing that I would love to accomplish in the next
five years, but it's on the side, it's a personal thing. My real passion
is acting. It's what drives me. If I can work with Barry Jenkins
[Moonlight] and share the screen with Jessica Chastain, then I
can die happy.
A NYC SUCCESS STORY
I met Hissa on a rainny Sunday morning of October
2011 in an obscure coffee shop in East Village. He had brought with him a copy of the
incredibly beautiful VIRGINE magazine and said "If you help me, together we can create
and publish a magazine that will make this one pale by comparison. What do you say?"
I said I would, and we did.
What is TWELV?
"TWELV is a collective
Creative Movement for a thoughtful audience who shares the same passion for fashion,
art, music and charity."
— Hissa Igarashi, Editor-in-Chief.
TWELV's vision is to combine a creatively common perspective for an audience that
has a refined taste, but is a bit tired of the usual high-end fashion magazines.
This includes the "in-the-know" - the city and international tastemakers who express
themselves as a real movement through music, fashion and art. TWELV features the
most dynamic mix of band reports, actor interviews, behind-the-scenes coverage
of art in progress, and of course, fashion.
TWELV donates 12% of magazine sales to charities such as the World Food Program
USA (WFP USA), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP). TWELV also collaborates with fashion brands to create
unique items for sale, with the profits going directly to several other charitable
EDITOR IN CHIEF
was born in Hokkaido, Japan and raised in Tokyo. His interest in movies and music
led him to study fashion design at Yohji Yamamoto's alma mater, Bunka Fashion College.
Upon graduation, Hissa organized several fashion shows while working as a stylist's
assistant for magazines & celebrities in Japan. He later moved to New York, where he
assisted world-renowned stylists Joe McKenna, on shoots for magazines like Vogue
Italia and Paris Vogue. Hissa began styling independently in 2007, and is currently
based in New York and Tokyo.
TWELV's Fashion Stories
TWELV's fashion stories are monthly releases
that contain interviews and/or photo shoots with celebrities, introduce fashion concepts
and promote cultural trends; we use them as part of our social media engagements.
Blonde On Blonde
Break On Through
Candy Store Rock
Carmen and Carmen
Claire De Regge
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Den Danske Pige
DKNY (Dazed Kid New York)
Don't Cry Dior Homme
Exit Door, Jill Stuart
Fade To White
Falling Up Bo
Full Metal Black
The Girl Next Door
The Golden Child
The Gummy Bear Bed
Hey Ho, Let's Go!
ICB by Maria Karas
In Between, Bobby Pin Jewelry
In The Woods
Jason Wu Kei
Just a Boy
La Strada 16R
Love Me Two Times
Maggie Grace, Blue Velvet
My Own Story
Never Talk With Strangers
New Girl On The Block
New Modern KTZ
Nicholas Sarah Paciotti
Painted In Black
Paris Texas Alice Eve
To The Exit
Walk This Way
Wild Thing, Charles Warren
magazine (2011) is published by Marbles & Marbles International Inc. and, since 2014,
has been a fully digital publication - TWELVmag.com.
All Rights Reserved. Both editorial and advertorial placements in the magazine are subject
to restrictions which grant the publisher the right to reject any content deemed
inappropriate. When third party content is placed in the magazine, the sponsors do so
with the understanding and agreement that the publisher will not be held liable for any
claims, such as defamation, violation of privacy, or copyright infringements that may
arise from such content. If you want to know more about TWELV, are interested in advertising
in the magazine, or if you have questions or comments about this page write
me. — DJS
Facets of SARAH PAULSON
Sarah Paulson is an American
actress who has starred in numerous films, televisionshows, and
theater productions. Consistently, she has played a vast variety of
charactersand roles. Moreover, her ability to play such a varied range
of characters has ledto her participating in an assortment of projects
including the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave.
"I HAD ALREADY LIVED THROUGH ALL THOSE THINGS THAT LANA HAD LIVED THROUGH BECAUSE I HAD PLAYED THEM ALL."
Paulson's history of transforming
herself from role to role seems to havemade her a perfect fit for the
FX anthology, American Horror Story,in which she and all the cast members
take on new characters each season.Her performance in the second season
of American Horror Story:Asylum as the character Lana Winters won the
Critics' Choice TelevisionAward for Best Supporting Actress in a
Movie/Miniseries. Fromseason to season Paulson, along with an incredible
cast, has stunnedaudiences with her dramatic performances and her
malleability as shetransformed herself from character to character.
After having the opportunity and pleasure of chatting with Sarah Paulson
about her career and American Horror Story, I am now even more
eagerly awaiting the next season of American Horror Story: Freak
Susan Schell: How did you first know you wanted to be an actress?
Sarah Paulson: I think I knew that before I even came out of
the womb, if such a thing is possible. I just have many memories
from the time I was really small and before anybody could
possibly know what a vocation was or what a calling was, all I
wanted to do was act. It manifested itself as me playing all kinds
of imaginary games as a child; I would direct my sister around
and create entire fantasy worlds. I would pretend to be from
other countries when I would go into shopping malls when I got
older. I pretended to be blind from time to time just to see if I
could convince other people that I was - there were all kinds of
acting things that I would do. From a very young age I think it
was something that I always knew I wanted to do.
Was there ever an alternate career path you could have seen yourself in
SP: There was a moment in time when I was younger, before
I knew that you could even be an actor, I mean I didn't even
really know what it meant [acting] but I knew I was drawn to
that kind of stuff but I didn't know you could make a life doing
that, but I'm a huge animal lover. So there was a moment where
I thought I could be a marine biologist or a veterinarian. But
very quickly I realized that to do those things, you have to be a
scientist or a doctor. That idea went out the window because my
math skills would not allow for either of those things to come to
fruition. Also with my love for animals I don't think I could ever
do anything like perform surgery on them, or have to euthanize
them, or anything horrible. I don't know, I would have to be the
kind of vet that just sits and plays with the animals in their laps
and that would be that.
What did you think when you first read a script for American Horror
SP: In terms of the second season, because in the first I only had
a few episodes so I read my scenes for that, I didn't really know
what was going to happen in the second season. I remember the
scripts were hand delivered to my hotel in New Orleans where
I was shooting Twelve Years a Slave and I got the first four episodes.
It had my name on it printed in red, watermarked with
my name across it so that nobody could steal a copy without
knowing where they got it and my character's name was in bold
on the binder "Lana Winters." I just read the first four scripts in
about two hours and couldn't believe that I was going to get to
"BEING ABLE TO CHANGE MYSELF PHYSICALLY THAT WAY AND PUT ON
ALL THOSE PROSTHETICS AND CHANGE MY WALK. IT WAS VERY EXCITING ..."
play that part. I continue to feel
that way today. I mean that wasonly four episodes in and I had no idea
where it was going to end up so needless to say I was very, very excited.
What has been your favorite character you played in the series thus far?
You definitely have to express a great range of emotions while playing
Lana Winters, was she one of the more challenging characters to play?
Well it was very challenging and then there were also aspects
of it that were easy. The part of it that was easy, and I use the
term easy very loosely- I don't mean it was easy, I just mean that
there were just certain things that lent themselves to helping it
along in terms of its level of the weight of difficulty of it that I
had to carry. Which was that we shot it all sequentially essentially.
It was 13 episodes, the beginning, middle, and end to this
woman's story. She starts out as this plucky thirty-three-year-old
reporter who wants to be taken seriously and ends the series as
an eighty-year-old woman. So the fact that we were telling the
story in that way and that it wasn't a movie where I had to start
at the end as an old woman before I had experienced or played
any of the things that happened prior to that. By the time of the
season finally I had already lived through all those things that
Lana had lived through because I had played them all. That was
incredibly helpful in terms of making it something that was possible
to execute. I think it would have been very difficult had
it been a movie for me to do all of that because it would have
all been out of order, we would have done it a different way. I
think part of why I was able to do it was because I really felt like
I was experiencing it all and it was all happening to me at the
same time. It was one of the unique experiences where I really
felt that connected to a character. You couldn't really find that
blurred line between where she stopped and I began, as well as
In your career you've played a varied assortment of characters, do you
feel that has helped you transition from character to character, season to
season of American Horror Story?
I just think that it's one of those great gifts that I felt like in
the beginning of my career I used to think it was a real problem
for me that I would play all these different parts and that
no one would really remember me specifically for one thing.
I was doing different things all the time and I think lots of times
you can get famous or well known for doing one specific kind
of thing or a movie, or TV show, or character that is a massive
hit. Because of the nature of American Horror Story where we
change every season, the audience doesn't ever get used to you
playing one person. As an actor you are constantly stretching
yourself trying to do something different every year. So there
is a built in comfort zone there where the audience is excited to
see you play something different and you are as well excited to
see if you can pull it off, so everyone is kind of all in it together.
I know later in my career and where I sit now, I think it's a very
big blessing that that my face is rubbery enough or whatever that
it allows me to sort of play different people and not have someone
go "oh I don't buy that one!" In the beginning I remember
thinking if I could just figure out what it is that I do that can get
jobs so that I was working, I would love to figure out what that is
and it ended up being the opposite of that. The very fact that I
could play a myriad of different parts meant that I was going to
have more opportunity to continue to play different things and
that I wouldn't be pigeonholed in playing one kid of girl/woman/
Is it refreshing to take on a new character each season? Or is there a
comfort in sticking with the same character?
I don't know, I think I've been too much of a gypsy character
actress that I think if I had to go to work and put on the same
outfit everyday that it might make me insane. I had a little bit of
that in Asylum [season 2] because every time I was in the asylum
I wore the same dress every day. There came a point where I was
like "ah, I need to get this thing off" but I knew it would end because
there were only thirteen episodes. If I signed a seven-year
deal to play the same character for seven years and I knew I'd be
wearing suits everyday because I was playing a lawyer I wonder
if I would be able to handle that, I've been so spoiled with this
other way of working.
Do you have any special tricks or things you do to mentally prepare
yourself before you have a tough scene?
No, I feel like the writing is good on the show and we have great
directors, the other actors are so extraordinary that you just kind
of buckle up and play that game in your mind of "what if?''- what
if this was real, what if this was happening? These stakes are
real, everything is real. What would you do? What would she do?
And if you are looking at Jessica Lange's face when you are acting
you don't have to do much to try to create realities that aren't
there, you are getting an awful lot right back at you.
I heard that you are playing a two-headed woman in this upcoming
season, what is that like as an actress? Is that like taking on two characters
Yes, I can't really talk about it but it reminds me of the Lana
Winter's time in terms of the challenge that lies ahead of me
with this one. It doesn't have the kind of Coven [season 3] ease,
once again I'm being asked to really go there. That is just the
kind of challenge I like and it is why I'm on American Horror
Story. I hope they never let me leave; I'd leave there kicking
What is next for you? Any upcoming projects?
Yeah, I have a movie called Carol coming out with Cate Blanchett
and Rooney Mara that Todd Haynes directed that I finished a
couple months ago. I don't know when it will be out but it was a
very exciting thing to be a part of.
Styling: Hissa Igarashi
Story: Susan Schell
Photography: Chen Wu