“My career is not normal, but my life is pretty normal. I live with my husband [Mark Foster, of the band Foster the People] and my dog [a bulldog named Biz].”
In a cover story for the March issue of marie claire Australia, Garner reveals details of meeting the now famous grifter Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin).
During their meeting at the medium-security women’s prison, Anna bluntly asked Garner to show her how she would portray her. “How are you going to play me?” Anna said in her hybrid accent. “Can you do me right now?”
There was a beat of silence, before Garner parroted Anna’s question back to her. “So, how are you going to play me?” replied Garner, uncannily mirroring her accent. Anna burst into laughter.
“It was very intimidating, but when I just repeated what she was saying, she thought it was so funny,” says Garner. “I told Anna that it was my goal for people to see her as a person instead of a caricature. They don’t have to agree with what she did, but they should be open and willing to understand why she did it. People make mistakes and Anna is a person.”
The so-called SoHo grifter, who swindled New York’s elite out of hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2013 and 2017 pretending to be a German heiress, is a gifted linguist who speaks seven languages. Under her monotone German infliction is a hint of her Russian homeland, mixed with notes of her school-taught British English and a light touch of American learnt from watching reruns of Gossip Girl.
To become Anna for the Netflix series, nailing the accent was imperative for Garner.
“Once I got the accent down, everything clicked with the character. Anna’s accent tells an important story: she’s covering up who she really is. She was lying to herself about not being Russian, so much so that she lost it from her voice. Her Russian comes out for a millisecond when she’s crying or really tired or drunk.”
Taking on a real-life person was a challenge for Garner, but the actor can pinpoint the moment she knew she had successfully achieved her Anna.
“I remember imitating Anna’s [New York magazine cover] image with her eye makeup and spirit, and when I saw the photo, I didn’t recognise myself. It was so weird. That feeling doesn’t happen often.”
And while early awards buzz is building for Garner, the actor says she doesn’t pay too much attention to the noise.
“As an actress, all I want to do is a great job, and I feel grateful when people watch the work, the art. Yes, the awards are a nice validation, but they’re not everything. It’s always about the work for me.”
For the full cover story, pick up the March issue of marie claire Australia, on sale Thursday February 17.
Photography: David Slijper
Stylist: Alison Edmond
Hair: Bobby Eliot
Makeup: Sandy Ganzer
Julia Garner wears Swarvoski jewels throughout.