Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s acting portfolio boasts roles like a bonnet-wearing 18th-century aristocrat in Belle, a violet-haired pop star in Beyond the Lights, and a futuristic astronaut in The Cloverfield Paradox, to name a few. It’s impossible to predict whom the 35-year-old is going to play next—and that’s just how she likes it. “No one wants to be stuck in a box,” Mbatha-Raw says. “I have a short attention span and want to keep myself interested. Variety is the spice of life, and I never want to get bored.”
At our New York City shoot, she is in full-on storytelling mode, assigning personalities to the many hats she tries on. An oversize green Mulberry topper is “very My Fair Lady,” a straw-bow Delpozo style is appropriately dubbed Minnie Mouse, and a wide-brimmed Elie Saab design is so “Anne of Green Gables” that Mbatha-Raw jokes she should go get some honey from her bees as she poses.