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Being a surrogate for Lisa Bonet is an intimidating task, but Crystal Fox does it with ease. In Season 2 of Big Little Lies, the actor (The Haves and Have Nots) plays Elizabeth, the no-nonsense mother of Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz). When she auditioned for the role last winter, Fox couldnt help but wonder if the part would ultimately go to Bonet, Kravitzs actual mother. “Thats all I kept thinking, theyll get her real mom,” Fox said in a recent phone interview. “Wouldnt you have thought that?”

But in the end, Fox did land the role, whisked in to play a concerned mom dealing with a depressed, traumatized daughter. In a chat with V.F., Fox talks about what it was like shaping the character, as well as her unbelievably cool real-life bonafides—like her special relationship with her aunt, Nina Simone, and her lifelong passion for motorcycles.

Vanity Fair: Did you meet Zoe and Lisa before filming?
Crystal Fox: I did not. I did get to meet Zoe, once I was cast, on the first day. We kind of bonded immediately because I was trying to read up a little bit more about her, and I read an article [where] she had mentioned Tyler Perry, who I am working with currently, and that she liked Nina Simone. Nina Simone is my aunt—so I figured, oh my goodness, shes into music, so I can bond with her over that. And we did.

Were you close with your aunt?
Fox: Yes. She is my true aunt. My mom is the baby girl, and Nina was the oldest girl. My mom was her road dog when she was traveling all those years, so we would spend summers with Nina. Then there was a 14-year gap that we werent seeing her, because she had left the country. When she came back, she came to Atlanta to perform somewhere, and I was so happy to see her. I think I was 18. She also gave me my first bottle of champagne, for my birthday. They had a surprise party for me. I went to her home [in France] and saw her the year before she died, which broke my heart—but I was grateful that I was able to get to Europe, because I had always wanted to go over there to see her.

Was Zoe overwhelmed when she found that out?
Fox: When I said it, she just grabbed her mouth and she was like, “Oh, my goodness.” And, evidently, she had just given the director some music with Nina on it, with my aunt on it. So it was good right away. It just eased our relationship.

What would you say is Elizabeths mindset when she gets called in to help her daughter in Monterrey?
Fox: Actors usually have to come up with their own backstory. For me, shes like a Berkeley professor from back in the day. She knows who she is, worth and all. I think shes always been a realist, and she cant understand why her daughter is [in Monterey]. What it is shes doing. Are you living your truth, or are you hiding? And, if youre hiding, why? It feels to me like shes walking into la-la land, and shes only going to give it a little bit of time before shes going to call it out, like I did in the first episode.

That scene where youre asking Bonnie “What are you doing? I havent seen one black person since Ive been here”—was it that blunt in the script?
Fox: No. It was important to [Zoe] to address her color and her being there, so I ad-libbed that. I let her know that I was going to say something like that, and they were like, “Okay, lets give it a try. Lets shoot that.” And for the longest, I thought that maybe it had got cut—until I watched it on Sunday. There were some other re-shoots that we did, and at one brief moment, someone told me they liked the scene. I literally thought it was gone. But apparently it didnt get cut [laughs]. So obviously, Im glad. Not only am I glad that they didnt cut it, Im glad that it landed.

Theres also another side to the character—she has these dreams, she has these crystals, shes placing her hands on her daughter while shes sleeping. What is going on with her and that side of her personality?
Fox: The spiritual side of her. I think shes an Earth mother. We didnt want to push it to voodoo, [but] when I looked up voodoo—what we know it to be is the dark sources. When I looked it up, in lands that have it, theres a white source thats healing and loving and light. And that is what I was bringing to my daughter, a healing. I wanted to bring healing energy.

Are you having watch parties for the show?
Fox: For episode one, I was out of town that day. I went to Austin for something else, a motorcycle rally. I ride a bike, so I rode down there and I thought, Ive never been to Austin—Ill go to Austin and Ill be in a cute hotel and Ill watch it there. And, up until Sunday, I did not know that they didnt have HBO. It was agony, but a friend of mine who lives two hours away came up and brought an adapter that he could connect to the back of the TV. It was perfect.

Did you just casually say you rode a motorcycle from your home in Atlanta to Austin?
Fox: Yes, I did. Im not a lifelong bike rider, but Im a lifelong bike lover. Ive been that way my whole life about motorcycles, and I dont know why. I didnt know anybody that rode. Eventually, I dated two different people that rode. In 2013, I took the class to see. I said, “If you take the class and youre scared, you wont do it and thatll just stop this madness.” Oh, no—it just made it worse. I loved it, loved it, loved it. I got the bike.

I dont get to ride as often as Id like, so that was just my first attempt to do that kind of distance. I absolutely loved it. Going was great, but coming back, I got stuck in a thunderstorm. That was not good, but I got off and got safe and I got back and it was fabulous.

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Not that I know anything about bikes, but what kind of bike is it? And how long did it take to make that trip?
Fox: Its a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo and all black. Its like this matte black. I really think its cool. They call it “denim.” And it took 14 hours. I did not do it in one day. I did it in two days, going and coming back. I try to be a badass as I get older.

I wanted to know about the choice behind Elizabeths hairstyle, because it seems like an interesting way to connote your relationship to Bonnie.
Fox: Mm-hmm. That was how I was rocking my hair, shaved off with these dreadlocks extensions. [Director Andrea Arnold] loved my hair. She thought it was the coolest, funkiest thing immediately.

Did you get to spend any downtime with the rest of the cast?
Fox: No, unfortunately I did not—but thats because everyone was working so much. I wouldve loved to, but I think we would have just gotten into way too much trouble together. Its an intimidating room to be in, but the people were absolutely available, wonderful, gracious, kind, giving, supportive, encouraging, everything. It was wonderful.

And, I just have to give a shout-out to this, only because I dont have favorites—but I adore Shailene Woodley. I love all of them, but I could just hug her all day long. And Laura Dern was kind enough to just greet me the first day I was there. She finished work and came in and welcomed me to the set. Everybody else that I met was just really great. I spent a little bit more time, I think, talking to those three—Zoe, Laura and Shailene—whenever we had a break. I just love them.

And you got to meet Meryl, right?
Fox: Yes, I did. First of all, she and Cicely Tyson are the basis of my intentionality as an actor, from the start of my career to now. So Ive met them both, and I feel like I could die and go to heaven. We had to go in and do a couple of re-shoots at the top of the year unexpectedly. I thought it would just be me and a couple of people doing some things, but Mrs. Streep was there the first day I was there. I was determined that day to get to meet her, and I did, and she was so gracious, so lovely, so kind to me. It was perfect.

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Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Photos: First Look Greta Gerwigs Little WomenThe March sisters picnicking on the beach. From left to right: Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth. Little Women tells the story of their modest, imaginative girlhood. Author Louisa May Alcott based the story on her own upbringing.Photo: By Wilson Webb/© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.Saoirse Ronan as Jo March, a heroine that has inspired Ursula Le Guin, Simone de Beauvoir, and Hillary Clinton, and Timothée Chalamet as Laurie, her best friend and closest confidant. “Jo is a girl with a boys name, Laurie is a boy with a girls name,” writer-director Greta Gerwig said. “In some ways they are each others twins.”Saoirse Ronan as Jo March, a heroine that has inspired Ursula Le Guin, Simone de Beauvoir, and Hillary Clinton, and Timothée Chalamet as Laurie, her best friend and closest confidant. “Jo is a girl with a boys name, Laurie is a boy with a girls name,” writer-director Greta Gerwig said. “In some ways they are each others twins.”Photo: By Wilson Webb/© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.Emma Watson as Meg, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, and Florence Pugh as Amy, in one of the amateur plays the sisters put on in their house. Revisiting the text, Gerwig was struck by how seriously the sisters took their creative endeavors. The second chapter of *Little Women* includes a detailed description of the play the girls perform on Christmas Day: *The Witch's Curse, an Operatic Tragedy.*Emma Watson as Meg, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, and Florence Pugh as Amy, in one of the amateur plays the sisters put on in their house. Revisiting the text, Gerwig was struck by how seriously the sisters took their creative endeavors. The second chapter of Little Women includes a detailed description of the play the girls perform on Christmas Day: The Witch's Curse, an Operatic Tragedy.Photo: By Wilson Webb/© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.Emma Watson as Meg, the oldest, who works as a governess to make ends meet. Meg is the only sister who remembers when the Marches were a rich family, and throughout the book, she longs for the pretty things her friends have.Emma Watson as Meg, the oldest, who works as a governess to make ends meet. Meg is the only sister who remembers when the Marches were a rich family, and throughout the book, she longs for the pretty things her friends have.Photo: By Wilson Webb/© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.Greta Gerwig, the writer and director, on set with Meryl Streep, who plays the sisters rich Aunt Josephine. The girls need her financial support, but have to put up with her disapproval of their unconventional, hardscrabble upbringing. Jo, her namesake, earns money by being Aunt March's chaperone—a job she hates.Greta Gerwig, the writer and director, on set with Meryl Streep, who plays the sisters rich Aunt Josephine. The girls need her financial support, but have to put up with her disapproval of their unconventional, hardscrabble upbringing. Jo, her namesake, earns money by being Aunt March's chaperone—a job she hates.Photo: By Wilson Webb/© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.From left to right: Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth. From left to right: Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth.Photo: By Wilson Webb/© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.Read More – Source

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