The first cut of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” was rumored to be around the four-hour mark, which means a lot of footage had to be cut in order to get the romance drama down to its 130-minute theatrical runtime. Recent interviews with stars Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps shine a light on a much-longer version of “Phantom Thread” that delves further into their characters, Cyril and Alma, and their relationship together.
Manville told The Film Stage that Anderson cut a prominent scene between Cyril and Alma in which the two characters begin to find common ground. In the theatrical version of the movie, Manville expertly charts her character’s gradual acceptance of Alma through her posture and glances, but Anderson had written and filmed a more overt scene in which it became clear Cyril was breaking with tradition and actually warming to one of Reynolds’ lovers.
“[It’s a scene] halfway through when Cyril starts to see that this relationship with Reynolds is slightly more serious than most of the other woman that have been in his life,” Manville said of the deleted scene. “It was in the country house and Alma finds his mother’s wedding dress that Reynolds thinks he lost.”
Earlier in the film, Reynolds tells Alma that his mother’s wedding dress as been lost (“I don’t know where it is know. It’s probably ashes,” he says), but it turns out Cyril was actually in possession of the garment the whole time and was hiding it from her brother. Alma ended up finding the dress at the Woodcock’s country home, forcing Cyril to explain herself and get Alma to keep the secret.
“Alma finds the dress and they have a kind of strange conversation about this wedding dress and then Cyril asks her to keep it quiet from Reynolds that she’s still got it,” Manville said. “But that went, and I could see why it would go, because actually you get that Cyril is warming to Alma just through the way Cyril is looking at her and smiling at her.”
Krieps, meanwhile, revealed in an interview that the original cut included a lot more of Alma’s backstory. One deleted scene featured Alma at a church where it was revealed that she had lost her mother. Anderson cut the scene and removed all traces of Alma’s backstory from the theatrical version.
“The backstory we had for Alma–which was in there much more, and they cut it out–was that she would be from Luxembourg and fled Germany during or after the war with her dad and brother and sister and the mother having died before,” Krieps said.
The actress also revealed that Anderson originally showed more of Alma’s life in the small town and not exclusively the moments where she appears opposite Reynolds.
“How I tried to create Alma was knowing about the war and learning how it was to live in the war and then after the war and then fleeing from a country to another country, being new in this country, and then trying to integrate because she was living in a little fisher village where she also had a boyfriend,” Krieps said. “It’s not in the movie anymore, but she had a little life there having become this British immigrant which to me was important because it made her this person so ready to accept rules from someone else, because that’s what she had learned coming to England, having to become part of the culture, which is not part of her culture.”
It’s a testament to Anderson and the actors that many of what would’ve been included in the deleted scenes is still telegraphed in the performances. “Phantom Thread” is currently nominated for six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film is now playing in theaters nationwide.