“First of all, fame is weird,” laughs actress Julia Garner, 29, down a crackling phone line from Los Angeles. Catapulted to stardom for her gutsy portrayal of Ruth Langmore in the Netflix series Ozark, she remains charmingly un-starry. “I am not going to be [like] ‘Oh, it’s amazing.’ No, it’s weird and I don’t like it.”
While it may sit uncomfortably, fame clearly has its upsides for Garner, who was invited to join the family as the face of Gucci Guilty and its latest iteration Elixir in March this year. The actress was also sat in the front row during the recent debut show by creative director Sabato de Sarno, and before that, starred in the perfume relaunch campaign alongside rapper A$AP Rocky and actor Elliot Page.
Of the whole experience with Gucci, she says: “It’s been so wonderful. First of all, the fragrance smells incredible, and then shooting the campaign was such a memorable few days. Rocky is amazing and Elliot is incredible, and I am such a fan of both of their work. I wish I could give more of an interesting answer, but it’s been a dream, truly.”
First launched in 2011, Gucci Guilty was re-released earlier this year, with an updated bottle and its signature notes of the citrusy mandora fruit and pink pepper, accords of bergamot, violet, rose and geranium, with a base of amber and patchouli. Choosing to partner with Gucci was easy, Garner explains. “One of the reasons why Gucci is such a dream brand – and I have loved fashion since I was a little kid – [is because] I always felt that Gucci was forward thinking and for diversity. They always push the norms, and I am personally attracted to that.”
What drew her in, she explains, was the brand’s authenticity, backed by the trio of strong and very diverse characters in the campaign. “I mean, authenticity? It’s everything. Any actor, writer, storyteller or even fashion designer wants to move people, and I think the first step to moving somebody is always telling the truth in an authentic way. I am interested in telling the truth and hearing the truth.” She also talks about how a scent can transport us through time, back to a cherished moment or event. “It’s not a fragrance, but I have two early memories of smell,” Garner explains.
“My mother is of German heritage and she makes really good schnitzel, so I always remember that smell. My father is a painter, and his studio is in my parent’s basement and you know how paints smell; I am very familiar with that smell.”
Like many actors, Garner is in tune with her emotions and places value on remaining emotionally available, no matter what. “I think openness is key; I think in society when certain things don’t go our way, we feel shame and start closing up and getting self-conscious. When you have that openness, it’s more fun and more free.”
When it is explained to Garner that most interviewees prefer to evade any conversations about emotions, she laughs. “That’s the problem with society right now. You ask a deep question, and they don’t want to get so deep, [this is] something they should probably be working on in therapy, to be honest!”
Garner may be known for playing tough characters such as the ruthless Langmore or the con artist Anna Sorokin in Inventing Anna, but it is easy to see why she was chosen to front Gucci Guilty. Like the scent, Garner is soft and flowery, but with a dash of peppery spice, and it is little wonder she was hand-picked by Madonna to play her in a biopic.