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THE KATE UNKNOWN
On the eve of her shocking divorce announcement, Katie Holmes opens up about Suri, her ambitious career plans and—in so many words—life after Tom.
She suggests we meet at Gemma, the coolly hip trattoria below The Bowery Hotel in the East Village. Known for its well-dressed clientele as much as its mind-numbing wait times, the spot’s not exactly a neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall to have a quiet chat about life.
Yet, on this scorching weekday mid-July afternoon, it’s empty.
No sooner than a black SUV quietly pulls up to the curb is Katie Holmes delivered inside.
As she swiftly makes her way through the room, head down, sunglasses on, I’m reminded why she was cast to play Jackie 0 in last year’s mini-series The Kennedys.
Today, the 33-year-old star towers almost six feet tall in heels, with a thick, beautiful dark-brown mane that trails halfway down her back.
She tells me she has just returned from one of her many recent trips to Iceland to visit her husband at the time, Tom Cruise, 50, who was on location filming Oblivion.
Yes, she explains, they see each other often and that she’s “very happy,” but talking about her relationship, I soon realise, is not at the top of her list.
In between questions about Cruise, she is her girlish, exuberant self, launching into tangents about other aspects of life: travel, paparazzi, dinner parties and, of course, her favourite subject, her now 6-year-old daughter, Suri. Holmes is captivating, unpretentious and instantly likeable, falling into helpless bouts of giggling (possibly exacerbated by a “very strong” cup of coffee, into which she pours no fewer than four sugars).
While she may not have been bragging about her five-year marriage, it certainly didn’t seem as if she was standing at the edge of a precipice, either. But, back in L.A. the following morning, there it was: a paparazzi photo of Holmes leaving our interview under the headline: Enough! Katie Finally Breaks Free!
The rumours were confirmed, and follow-up requests for a statement were met with a cryptic “no comment” while rags started churning out everything from reports that Cruise was planning to send Sari to Sea Org (the Scientology boot camp in the middle of the Pacific) to allegations that their marriage contract had simply expired. Twelve days after filing, the couple settled the terms in a true Hollywood-style quickie divorce.
Going back over the tapes, there were signs: Holmes was certainly very aware of herself, laying a couple cards on the table but never showing her whole hand. Most noticeably, the one name decisively absent from her lexicon: Tom Cruise. She never actually refers to him by name over pages and pages of transcription.
The proverbial “we” refers to Holmes’ real life-partner Suri. She reminds me that she’s also a mother to Cruise’s adopted children from his previous marriage to Nicole Kidman, and that Bella, 19, and Connor, 17, are around “a lot.”
Do you think having children brought you closer together?
“I don’t know. I mean…I don’t know. People have been having babies a long time.”
Do you think you’ll have any more children?
“I don’t think so because I feel like I want to be there for Suri at every step. So, no.”
Or, at least, not with Tom Cruise. Holmes has been with Suri not just at every step, but at seemingly every waking moment.
“Today, we went and got bagels at our place and then we went to art class, which I love,” she says.
“Hers [paintings] are better than mine. It’s amazing. I love seeing what she creates. It just makes me so happy.”
Transportation is always an issue; they’re two people capable of closing down entire city blocks for a visit to FAO Schwarz.
“I don’t take the subway. I used to, but it’s a little crazy with, you know, now. I bet a lot of kids take the subway…we’ll get there.”
Dreams of an independence day seem to be sincere for the girl from Toledo, Ohio, who still loves The Gap, sewing pillows and claims to make an excellent chicken pot-pie from scratch.
That day may still be a long way off, however.
This month, Holmes and her business partner/ close friend /stylist, Jeanne Yang, plan to present the fourth season of Holmes & Yang at The Bowery, just a few floors above where we’re seated.
The two met on a photo shoot and were reconnected years later through Cruise (Yang has been his stylist for years).
“We laughed about the fact that sometimes people don’t do women any favours in terms of the way clothing is made,” says Yang. Their solution, while keeping the cut and design high fashion, was to incorporate stretch, Spanx-like fabric into the lining of certain garments.
“I think women want to feel sexy, but they don’t want anyone to know that they’re trying,” says Holmes, adding, “A lot of women in high-profile jobs want to look as powerful as they are, and they want it to be effortless.”
They’ve made steady progress between bicoastal offices, keeping the collection hand-crafted in N.Y.’s garment district with the sweaters now constructed in L.A.
Some pieces this season may look familiar: The sheer-sleeved navy dress Holmes wore to the Mission: Impossible III premiere has been reinterpreted as has the ruffled, leather-bodice halter dress she wore on the Tropic Thunder red carpet.
The silhouettes are characteristic of the duo.
Yang, a self-described classicist, says Holmes brings “fresh, young, interesting twists.”
Yang references a six-ply cashmere sweater with stretch silk-crepe backing—the perfect piece for crisp California evenings.
“You have the warmth of a Loro Piana and yet you don’t have the thickness of a big sweater.”
The project seems to be both a creative outlet for Holmes and one of personal empowerment.
The fall lookbook is filled with quotes that embody the sentiment behind each piece.
For example, the words next to said navy dress read, “Don’t mistake my sheer sleeves for weakness…there are guns underneath.”
While putting the finishing touches on the collection (available at well-edited designer stores such as Barneys New York and Just One Eye), Holmes remained in the Big Apple this summer to film an as-of-yet-untitled project with her friend writer/ director Christian Camargo (with whom she collaborated on 2008′s Broadway run of All My Sons).
Set in Kent, Connecticut (she did, in fact, ride the train to get there), the film is a retelling of Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull.
Of the role, she says, “My character is a mother, and she’s at an important time in her marriage.
The way that she and her husband interact is very blunt.
It’s not something that is an obvious love story, but in the end they’re happy together.”
During her downtime, Holmes says she has been co-writing her first feature film, Molly, a mother-daughter tale in which she also plans to star and produce.
The single mom, an ex-dancer (like Holmes, who still takes ballet lessons with Suri and has her dance charity Dizzy Feet), struggles to raise a 10-year-old in Astoria.
Haven’t we just been talking about this?
“Oh, no, this is a story on its own,” she assures me.
So will Suri be playing the daughter?
“Yeah, we’re going to age her up,” she jokes.
“No no no no no.”
She can’t stay in N.Y. forever and has plans to return to L.A. this fall for some face time (in the divorce settlement, she also reportedly retained the Montecito spread she shared with Cruise).
“It’s important to be there. You have to be around the business.
There’s stuff you’ve got to do.” New York may be closer to her family in Ohio, but she’ll always have a life in California, and time here is never without visits to the Brentwood Country Mart and Gjelina in Venice.
“I like to go there with my girlfriends and really eat.
Like, a whole pizza.”
L.A. is where it all began, when Holmes arrived on the scene and into our hearts as the bright-eyed, bubbly Joey Potter on “Dawson’s Creek.”
“I’m ready to take on some more challenging roles.
I feel like I worked so much at such a young age that I really wanted to have life experiences,” she says, as if checking off a list.
She adds, “So, now I feel more balanced, like I have more to bring to the table.”