With its red lacquered paneling and leopard-print carpet, the Nines—a recently opened piano bar on Manhattan’s cobblestoned Great Jones Street—doesn’t need much to transform into a highbrow game club. Add a few Chanel chess sets and backgammon boards, along with a cast of recognizable revelers, martinis in hand, and the room is ready for play.
“I’m huge on games,” the actor Kristine Froseth explains from her Williamsburg apartment on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before decamping to the Bowery Hotel to get ready for the evening. The 26-year-old ticks through her personal canon. “If we’re going to include video games, I love Nintendo 64—that’s the best ever. The Mario Parties!” Froseth says. Card games are another must, even if the names of them often escape her. “And I remember Candy Land. I’d play that a lot with the family.” This is a woman who knows how to hang out and let loose, which explains her black Chanel bodysuit for the occasion—the ideal uniform for a round of Twister or charades. “It’s very comfortable, which is great for gaming,” Froseth adds. “You want to be your best self.”
Right now, onscreen in Showtime’s The First Lady, Froseth appears to have found that comfort zone, sharing the role of Betty Ford with her counterpart, Michelle Pfeiffer. In episode three, Froseth’s character appears in a long-sleeved leotard, her willowy limbs aloft as she leads a children’s dance class. (Ford’s training included a stint at Martha Graham’s New York studio; Froseth, meanwhile, underwent a whirlwind introduction to ballet for last year’s Birds of Paradise.) Slipping into the rest of Signe Sejlund’s late-1940s costume design—a layer cake of hosiery, slips, and tailored dresses—was a noted departure from Froseth’s off-duty sweats and sneakers, but the clothing proved “very informative,” the actor points out. “It was a little restricting, which was kind of perfect for that time.”
Ford was forthright about a multiplicity of issues surrounding womanhood, including the mastectomy she underwent shortly after her husband, Gerald Ford, took office in 1974. “She talked about abortion rights, which is obviously still a massive topic here and elsewhere in the world, and she was a big supporter of the ERA,” Froseth says, marveling at “how courageous and how vocal” the First Lady managed to be. “We just need to keep having these honest conversations. Knowledge and education, it’s just the most important thing.”
Later this summer, the actor appears in another anticipated project: Lena Dunham’s first feature in a dozen years. Sharp Stick centers around a 26-year-old virgin, played by Froseth, whose teenage development was interrupted by a hysterectomy at 15. “She’s almost kind of on autopilot; she hasn’t really lived,” says Froseth of the sheltered, quirky character. “And then she has this amazing reawakening of herself, and a sexual reawakening.” The narrative arc isn’t a tidy one. “Even at the end of the movie, she’s still working through it,” says the actor. “I think in life, we never really figure it out, maybe, but we’re constantly growing”—a lesson that also played out on set. Dunham, as a director, “just really allows you to fail,” says Froseth. “And it’s healthy, too, to give a few tries and maybe one of them will stick.”
But in the game of dressing up, invariably Froseth plays a winning hand, as seen this week. “The real starting point was the outfit,” says makeup artist Quinn Murphy. The actor’s unstudied pairing—sleek underlayer topped off with an ultraclassic pink tweed Chanel jacket—“reminded me of the Supers of the early ’90s, the Christy, Linda kind of look,” says Wilson, who let that defining era pave the way. He began by layering the new N°1 de Chanel serum and cream, which the house launched this year with an eye toward sustainability. “The scent is so subtle, which I love, and it really helps with the dryness of the spring—making the skin supple and moist and ready for makeup.”