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Sunday, May 9, 2021

In London, Helen McCrory, Emily Watson, and Michael Sheen talk about their tortured characters

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The sound of one chandelier shaking the halls of Tate Modern was accompanied by strobe lights. Entering a somber, glassed-in room, I saw an opening on the wall and didn’t bother to look down. It was around 3 a.m. Sunday. Between morning and night in London, for the past month, I’d been granted a rare look into the lives of three members of the British acting aristocracy.

There was Helen McCrory, whose most memorable role may have been her sexy turn as Angelina Jolie’s fiancée in the 2011 Oscar-winning film “The Tourist.” There was Emily Watson, who starred as a wife plagued by grief in the foreign-policy-themed film “Captain Phillips.” And there was Michael Sheen, the Oxford academic whose mighto as Tony Blair will serve as the subject of another Tony award next month.

Sunday was the first time I saw all three together, in a one-time film event of sorts. Playing themselves, they joined actress Patti Smith for a benefit concert to show their support for prisoners of conscience in China. They were joined by Isabella Rossellini, Bryan Ferry, designer John Galliano and musicians Eddie Vedder and David Byrne.

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