Lucy Boynton - Hollywood's Latest Golden Girl
New York magazine|August 19 - September 1, 2019

Hollywood’s latest golden girl Lucy Boynton plays the part of the ingenue.

Anna Silman

YOU’ VE HEARD of Method actors. Lucy Boynton is a Method dresser. At a pre-Oscars dinner last February, in the midst of Bohemian Rhapsody’s awards-season sweep, she paired a tweed Chanel dress with a white beret, dramatic turquoise eye shadow, and just a pinch of bloodlust. “My makeup artist Jo Baker and I talk about which character we want to be tonight,” Boynton says. “For this Chanel look, we decided it was ‘serial killer housewife.’ It’s very much about, How do you want to feel tonight? How do you want to look?”

When I meet the 25-year-old British actress on a warm summer afternoon in New York, where she is based temporarily for work, she doesn’t look as if she’s about to dump a vial of arsenic into her ex-husband’s Chablis. Rather, she possesses the precociousness of a character from a British children’s book. She has asked me to meet her at midtown’s historic Morgan Library; if she were to push open one of the bookshelves and lead me into Narnia, I wouldn’t be surprised. “This is exquisite. When can I move in?” she gasps, gazing at the rows of triple-tiered inlaid-walnut bookshelves lining the walls. I’m yammering away at full volume, yet Boynton never raises her voice above a deferential hush. “Imagine having a wedding here,” she whispers to our eager tour guide, who says that while they don’t technically do weddings, they could probably pull some strings for her. “Perfect,” she says, “because I want to have a wedding here, but I don’t want anyone else to.”

While most 20-something actresses slouch around in athleisure, Boynton looks like she could step behind a glass display case and become one of the Morgan’s exhibits (e.g., “Evolution of the Posh British Schoolgirl in the Popular Imagination”). Boynton is wearing red patent Mary Janes, tortoiseshell cat’s-eye glasses, a Dior shoulder bag, and a long white shirtdress. She resembles the granddaughter of a Hitchcock heroine as drawn by Tim Burton—all spindly legs and bright, inquisitive eyes. There used to be a button shaped like a creepy eyeball on the collar, she says, but it fell off. She describes a recent trip to a vintage store with her co-star turned boyfriend, Rami Malek. “I held up a dress and he said, ‘Why are you always trying to dress like a 12-year-old ghost?’ ” she says, pressing the tip of her nose so close to a framed Maurice Sendak illustration that it threatens to leave a smudge. “I was one of those kids who never wanted to grow up.”

Boynton began her career as a child actress in a series of films plucked from a prep-school syllabus. Her first role was as a young Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter, which she followed with adaptations of Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. After a hiatus from acting to finish high school—her parents, both journalists, insisted on it—she continued on this period-film route, embodying a New Wave bad girl in Sing Street and brushing up on her Agatha Christie for 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. But her biggest role came last year, playing Freddie Mercury’s fiancée, Mary Austin, in Bohemian Rhapsody. This September, Boynton will take a break from British period films to join the Ryan Murphy–verse in his new Netflix show The Politician, about a student-council election at a prestigious California high school.

While Boynton is hardly a household name, mention her in certain fashion circles and the response is fervorous. “Lucy Boynton is every designer’s dream to work with,” says Saks fashion director Roopal Patel. “She seems plucked from heaven,” gushes New York ironic-prairie-dress designer Batsheva Hay. For Bohemian Rhapsody, Boynton and her stylist Leith Clark riffed on the film to design a series of inventive, ’70s-inspired red-carpet outfits; that, coupled with tabloid attention—she and Malek are pictured in the Daily Mail every time they’re seen in public—helped elevate her status. Now, as Clark puts it, “when we reach out to a brand with an idea, nobody says no.” She doesn’t need a track record, because she looks the part of the oldest showbiz archetype: the white, young, thin, enigmatic Hollywood blonde. (Her natural hair color? “I honestly don’t remember at this point,” she says, laughing.) While the fashion world has praised diversity in recent years, women who look like Boynton remain the default canvas on which many designers envisage displaying their clothes.

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