Photography by Nick Thompson
Styling by Leith Clark
Earlier this year, Lucy Boynton was in a frigid New York City—which was then still as bustling as ever—filming the much-anticipated second season of Netflix’s The Politician. Today, she is firmly parked in London, having spent most of the summer riding out the quarantine alongside longtime boyfriend Rami Malek.
“It’s a strange feeling to look back on that time which was so recent,” she tells me over the phone. “I mean, we wrapped at the end of February, when the mutterings of COVID were becoming a real thing in the headlines. It’s strange to feel like we’re in a very different world.”
Season two of The Politician sees Boynton return as Astrid Sloan—lead character Payton Hobart’s icy ex-rival—who at the end of season one renounces her privileged upbringing and moves to New York City to strike out on her own. It isn’t long before Astrid finds herself entangled in Peyton’s political (and personal) drama once again. “It’s always a kind of fun rainbow of situations that [series creator] Ryan Murphy puts us all through,” she says.
Like Astrid, Boynton is thoughtful, complex, and slightly mysterious. Here, she opens up to L’Officiel USA on being a woman in Hollywood, where she finds inspiration, and how she learned to question the status quo.
L'Officiel: This season of The Politician deals a lot with the struggle between old and new ideas. What are some outdated ideas you’ve seen in your industry that you think we should move on from?
Lucy Boynton: There’s still a long way to go in how pretty much everyone’s stories are written who aren’t predominantly white males, but now that we’re coming into those conversations hopefully that changes.
I think it’s still been a bit of a slow process, but you get into creators like Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, who write The OA, and Brit talks very openly about how she wasn’t seeing any roles that she wanted to play that interested her so she wrote and created them for herself. I think that there is this new ownership, taking it upon oneself to create the material that you are not seeing.
L'O: The show features a cast largely made up of strong women, which even now is rare. What was it like to work in that sort of environment?
LB: It was really exciting, and kind of sad that you note how different it does feel. I think it should be acknowledged that these sets that are built with these brilliant women are more of a rarity. Just to be around people like Judith Light—the word inspiring sounds like such a cliché but it’s the one that immediately comes to mind thinking of her. She’s just so completely involved and invested in the present and in her current world, and she’s so curious about everyone. She's so kind and generous with her thoughts and experiences and questions. The opportunity to work near someone like her is such an education. It provides these clear markers of what you could hope to be or be around in this industry.
L'O: You’ve mentioned that a lot of what you know about feminism originally came from your sister. What is something she taught you that you still keep in mind today?
LB: That’s such a good question, I was with her yesterday for her birthday talking about that and I was kind of analyzing what she has taught me in her birthday card!
I think just questioning everything around you slightly more. I think we all have previously found it quite easy to just accept the world as it was. Growing up, when I was at an all-girls school, I don’t think we questioned the world and the systems and what we were taught enough. I think the generation below me definitely does now, but when that wasn’t so common it was definitely my sister who encouraged me to just take a second and question everything and surround yourself with people who know better. She would always have a stack of books to recommend. Her curiosity of the world and her attempts to learn from everyone have always been a continuous encouragement.
L'O: You’ve become known for your red carpet looks. Has fashion always been something you were interested in?
LB: It wasn’t something I used to be too concerned with, as my sister will tell you. My fashion growing up was not anything that was cool or influential in any way! I think the costuming process in the industry really started to get me excited by clothes and the different periods I got to investigate through costumes during a project.
Working with my stylist Leith Clark was a real game-changer as well. The fashion industry can be a very intimidating, daunting entity, but I've enjoyed getting to experience it with her and making it more about what I appreciate about costumes, like how you can alter how you feel or want to feel, and making it really about a form of expression.
L'O: Where do you get beauty inspiration from?
LB: [My makeup artist] Jo Baker is definitely the source of all inspiration in terms of beauty looks. She is amazing and has made it so much more fun as well because she has unleashed the opportunity to do anything with it. At these events, you know people are looking to judge, and you can’t help but feel quite out of place at those things, so having an opportunity to take ownership of yourself and just do it for you has been very liberating.
L'O: You’re set to play Marianne Faithfull in an upcoming biopic. What drew you to that project?
I wasn’t that aware of her story beyond how we all know her, as this iconic figure of the 60s at the center of changing London and the rock and roll scene. During the first few days of researching her when I first got the script in, it was so fascinating and quite relevant to a lot of the conversations we’re having now of how much power the media has in portraying people, and specifically how the media portrays women.
The more you find out the more fascinating she becomes. When you realize the family that she’s come from, and the way that she was brought up, and who her ancestors are, you see that this woman was never going to have a quiet life. There’s layer after layer to uncover, so I couldn’t be more excited.
Hair and Makeup Alexis Day using Chanel Les Beiges Summer of Glow and Monat Haircare
Producer Alexandra Oley