French actress Stacy Martin has been interviewed by Flaunt before, three years ago in October of 2015. She was in London at the time, and her Brady Corbert-directed film The Childhood of a Leader had just premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
When we reunite with Martin early this month, she is in Budapest filming for an upcoming project, and we are awaiting the wide release of her second Corbert film, Vox Lux.
Six thousand miles away, speaking to her via conference call from Los Angeles, I ask Martin what has been the biggest change since Flaunt had spoken to her last.
“Well, I have a job title, which feels like a big step,” she says. Since I am unable to see her, I am left attaching her soft, English-sounding voice to images of I’ve seen of Martin through screens: posh Miu Miu model, long-haired maiden naked in the Tale of Tales woods, and now, devoted older sister of Natalie Portman in Vox Lux.
“I sort of realized, not that long ago,” Martin continues, “that I have a job and that this is who I am. It’s nice! It’s quite reassuring.”
Now twenty-seven years old, Martin says she is more secure as an actor than she was back in 2015. At that time, it had been two years since she had appeared in her breakout film, Nymphomaniac, and though she was, as she explains now, excited about acting, she hadn’t yet begun to view it as something she could do long term.
“I was sort of the opposite of the child who has a life plan and studies and goes to med school and wants to become the best doctor in the world. I was more of ‘test and figure out day by day,’” she says.
Though, not having to test anymore has its benefits. Martin says her experience and certainty as an actor has allowed her to be more selective of what projects she chooses and what artists she wants to work with.
What Martin wants now, is to be surprised. In her newfound comfort in her identity as an actor, Martin strives to be uncomfortable. “[I like] not relying on the expected, and being surprised by people around me, by directors by actors,” she says. “When you’re surprised, I think, is when your curiosity is the most open and available. That’s when you can actually enjoy the process of creating something.”
So when Brady Corbert offered Martin the role of Eleanor in Vox Lux, she knew she couldn’t say no. She had read the script without knowing she was being considered for the part; after working with Corbert on Childhood of a Leader, Martin was excited to read anything he’d written. She was, as she says, “creatively in love with him,” after all.
And the script gave her the feeling she says she looks for when she’s choosing her projects. “You want to immediately have that gut instinct of sort,” she says. “It’s almost like butterflies. That butterfly feeling in your stomach when something exciting is about to happen and you’re not quite sure how and why but you know that it’s definitely worth doing.”
Martin’s Eleanor in Vox Lux is something of a mother figure. After nearly losing her sister, Celeste, in a traumatic tragedy, she gives up everything to try to help her live her life to the fullest. Eleanor’s story within Vox Lux, Martin says, is “that sort of internal battle of how much sacrifice can people put up with and what makes them love someone so much.”
Vox Lux is in theaters now. In the meantime, Martin has some more filming to do. Then, she will allow herself a break. “I’m hoping to have a holiday, and be a bit of a human being for a bit,” she says. “It's been a great year, it’s been really exciting, but I need to spend a bit of time home.”