In 1999, when The Sopranos electrified pop culture, people wondered if TV could maybe someday be as engrossing and artful a medium as the movies. It’s hard to imagine that kind of naivete now, but we were also freaking out about Y2K. Vanity Fair asked a dozen actors whose performances have impressed us this year to collaborate on photo shoots that would both celebrate the ever-higher peaks of Peak TV and chronicle this unnerving moment of self-isolation.
Here, you will find Sarah Snook, whose turn as Shiv Roy in Succession is a delicious portrait of a woman who wants her vicious father’s approval so much that she is almost willing to become him. You’ll find Zoë Kravitz, who delivers a magnetic, career high of a performance in High Fidelity, as well as taking on executive producing and writing for the first time. You’ll find Julia Garner, a stunning badass on Ozark, whose work has become deeper and more vulnerable than ever.
To create this portfolio, all the actors worked with photographer Jackie Nickerson over Zoom (read more about the collaboration on page 12). These standouts—and their peers across the industry—have given us all an arguably life-saving gift: a great reason to stay inside.
“I’d quite like to borrow Highgrove House, Prince Charles’s residence,” says Josh O’Connor, who portrays the royal landowner in Netflix’s The Crown. “It’s pretty big and has famously beautiful gardens, a fairly lush spot for isolation.” In the meantime, O’Connor seems to be nurturing his own green thumb. “I’ve been starting most days with an hour or two in the garden; it feels like the most peaceful place to be.” The series’ fourth season made the cutoff before production halted, promising fans an on-time release. As for the real prince? “He’s recovered now, thankfully, and I imagine he’s spending much of his time gardening…like me, actually…. Oh, dear.”