‘The New Look’ Star Maisie Williams Breaks Down Catherine Dior’s ‘Extreme Physical Transformation’ in Episode 5 | Video

“We tried to emulate the reality as much as possible,” the “Game of Thrones” alum said of herself and costar Ben Mendelsohn

Maisie Williams’ portrayal of Catherine Dior in Apple TV+’s “The New Look” involved lots of isolation, both personally and while filming the project.

The series centers on Christian Dior (Ben Mendelsohn) and Coco Chanel (Juliette Binoche) as they battle to harness the changing tide of fashion during and after World War II. As Dior grapples with the fact that he designs dresses for Nazis to make money during the war, Chanel struggles to avoid getting caught up in Nazi schemes even though she closed her designing doors to the Third Reich.

Catherine Dior’s plotline took some tragic turns after she was kidnapped by Nazis at the end of Episode 1. Catherine aided a resistance branch in Paris, running messages out to those in hiding and even offering to shelter Jews on the run in her brother’s quarters. Glimpses of her time away include scenes in which she is tortured and taken on transports to concentration camps, and though she remained off-screen for much of the first five episodes, she held constant space in Christian’s mind. 

Williams said she mirrored her character’s isolation in her own life, which helped approach the change in her demeanor upon Catherine’s return home to Christian at the end of the war. She was a shell of herself, but at least still alive.

“We really tried to live in that world. During the time that Catherine spends away from the show — even though she’s still very present in the show, but she’s not there physically, I underwent quite an extreme physical transformation and shaved my hair off and lost a lot of weight,” Williams told TheWrap. “When I returned to set to see Ben again in block three during Episodes 5 and 6, I could tell that even he felt like I looked very different. We had that familiarity before, and then we were separated for six weeks. We tried to emulate the reality as much as possible.” 

Williams credited Justine Picardie’s book “Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture” with helping her fill in the gaps of Catherine’s absence.

“That became my Bible for this project. There’s only so much of Catherine’s story that we could show, but what Justine does is really dive into the months and days that Catherine spent away and all throughout her life,” the “Game of Thrones” alum said. “It was just reading that book and meditating a lot and spending a lot of time alone and away from my life, away from my phone, away from my friends, away from my family. I just really immersed myself in her story and her reality.”

Of course, wardrobe factored into bringing Catherine Dior’s life to the small screen as well.

“We worked with the Dior archive, and they had a ton of amazing information about Catherine, also a lot of her dresses. A lot of the Dior archive exists today because of Catherine’s wardrobe,” Peters said. “She kept everything, and it was only after her passing in 2008 that a lot of these things were brought back into the house.” 

“In terms of inspiration for creating her as a character, she wasn’t hugely involved in the fashion side in her early years,” Williams added. “This was much later in her life. So for me exploring the early years [involved] a lot of great photographs, a lot of little letters and stuff that Dior have in their archive and then the book.”

The first five episodes of “The New Look” are now streaming on Apple TV+.


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