MILAN — “We’ll see if I die.” No panic — this is just the normal thought of a star of a popular Netflix show. While she will start filming the next series of “Ozark” in May, Julia Garner is regularly checking with the show’s runner if her character Ruth Langmore will survive or not. “He says I’m not [dying], but we will see.”
Garner was in Milan on Wednesday to celebrate the launch of the Pirelli 2019 calendar, mainly shot in Miami by legendary photographer Albert Watson. Garner is one of the four female protagonists of the iconic calendar, along with Laetitia Casta, Misty Copeland and Gigi Hadid.
“I was in the middle of shooting episode nine or 10 for season two [of ‘Ozark’] when I was doing this and I was so worried because I looked so ugly in ‘Ozark‘. I was saying to myself ‘how will I look good for Pirelli?’” said Garner, referring to the sloppy and dirty look of her character. “Jason Bateman [‘Ozark’s’ protagonist] actually asked me if I was going to be in a racing car for Pirelli.”
In Watson’s images, which the photographer described as “cinematic, since they were also shot in a 16:9 format, basically, the idea was to make film stills, […] four short movies portraying dreams, hopes and aspirations.” Garner, who has just finished filming the TV series “Modern Love” and “Dirty John,” is portrayed as a botanical photographer trying to organize successful photography exhibitions around the world.
“It just seemed the wrong time to take a bunch of models to the beach and have them take their tops off. I moved away from the idea of a Playboy pin-up calendar made with good taste by a great photographer. However, anybody who knows my work knows that I don’t have problems photographing naked women,” said Watson, explaining his decision to assign a specific role to the female cast, where Casta is an upcoming painter and Copeland, a professional dancer herself, is a ballerina trying to make her own way in the industry while dancing in nightclubs to pay her bills.
“Gigi Hadid came on board right at the last minute because initially we had Monica Bellucci and then unfortunately her schedule didn’t enable her to be with us,” said Watson. “We switched over to Gigi Hadid and it actually worked out well. While the first three women had ambitions to be famous and wanted to be successful in what they pursue, I wanted one slightly different. What I was looking for was a Paris Hilton, someone who was famous, rich. Someone who was not trying to make it, because she was already there. I wanted Gigi Hadid to play this kind of socialite, but I wanted her to have dreams and aspirations as well, in a different way.”
In some shots, taken in New York, Hadid was portrayed with Alexander Wang, who plays the part of her best friend, while Copeland and Casta’s male partners were interpreted by ballet dancers Calvin Royal 3rd and Sergei Polunin, respectively.
“On Dec. 10 here in Milan I’ll debut my own ballet show, ‘Sacré’,” said Polunin, who during an interview on Tuesday was sporting a full Dolce & Gabbana black denim look, matched with a pair of the brand’s sneakers. “I like the clothes actually, I’ve been wearing their jackets for many years and I like to help people recovering. When people are down, you have to help them getting up,” he said, referring to the recent social media tornado that hit the fashion company following the ad campaign rolled out in China and Gabbana’s derogatory comments on Instagram. Polunin also revealed that he is starting to consider launching his own fashion brand.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Copeland put the focus on the diversity of the cast enrolled by Watson and Pirelli.
“As a black ballerina for me it is extremely important to bring on board people representing all of us,” she said, referring to her and Royal’s presence in the calendar. “When I was 16 and I was starting ballet, I would have never thought to achieve so much. I really want to be an example and role model for black women in America.”
Copeland also highlighted that this year’s Pirelli calendar is “a symbol of where women are now, standing for themselves, supported by their men, important, with something to say.”
“I think that Albert [Watson] portrayed us in a different way, more profound, more intelligent I would say, trying to focus more on what we have inside rather than just on our aspect,” Casta added.
On Wednesday night, the calendar was officially presented by Halle Berry during a gala event held at the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca art exhibition space. “I just finished filming,” said Berry, referring to the “John Wick 3” movie that hits theaters in May and which also stars Keanu Reeves. “And I’m working on my directorial debut.”
Hadid, who didn’t attend the press conference earlier in the day, happily posed in front of the photographers in an elegant black Zac Posen dress – but didn’t so happily talk to reporters covering the event: She refused.
Among the personalities at the gala Brazilians Isabeli Fontana and Ana Beatriz Barros, models Eva Riccobono and Georgina Grenville, as well as fashion designer Marta Ferri.