"This year we wanted to celebrate people from all around the world who are celebrating cinema, driving the conversation forward, and ultimately trying to create the landscapes in the movie world that they want to be in and what they want to pave the way forward for future actors," Britt Hennemuth, Vanity Fair's Senior West Coast editor, told ET.
The eight solo covers, and the group pic that was created via individual shoots, were taken on eight sets, across three continents, over 28 hours, with more than a dozen armed jewelry guards, 100 gowns and 200 pairs of shoes at their disposal, making the 28th annual issue bigger and better than ever before.
"We have performers from all around the world, and actually two of them, due to the spike of COVID over the holidays, were stuck in their remote countries. They were home celebrating Christmas -- Nicole Kidman in Sydney, Idris Elba in London," Hennemuth said. "So we had to pivot in the 11th hour and sort of figure out how to still include them though we were photographing them remotely."
Chilly London didn't stop Elba from posing in a hot tub convertible for his cover.
"We had PAs heating up kettles of water to fill it in," Hennemuth revealed. "We had to get it the perfect temperature, so there wasn't smoke rising, but so he could still be comfortable. At the end he joked that he never wanted to get out of the tub because it was so perfect."
Elsewhere, Kidman's shoot in Australia, things took an exciting turn when she won the Golden Globe award for her work in Being the Ricardos.
"While we were photographing Nicole Kidman in Australia the news was breaking in Los Angeles that she had won a Golden Globe, but she is ever the professional and so focused she refused to break even though apparently an assistant in Australia was sort of flagging her down like, 'You won! You won!'" Hennemuth recalled. "The publicist called me and said, 'Can you please pause the photographers from this Zoom shoot, so someone can really let her know?'"
"She took a few phone calls from loved ones, and her agent, and the people and directors sort of celebrate, and then, ever the professional, went right back to the cover shoot and kept working with us," she added. "It was kind of a fun fly on the wall moment for her to win."
Over in Los Angeles, tick, tick... BOOM co-stars Garfield and Rodriguez had "a lovely reunion" on the set of the shoot, while Cruz and Stewart, who have both modeled for Chanel, "had a lot of fun reuniting after a couple months of separation."
Garfield was "totally game" to be suspended in the air for his shoot, while Rodriguez and Cumberbatch posed separately from the tiger and swan that were included in their respective pics, Hennemuth said.
"Despite COVID, despite delays, despite everything, there was still a lot of togetherness for our eight stars, which is always sorta the special sauce you hope for with Vanity Fair," Hennemuth said, "to find these people who maybe wouldn't be in the same movies, wouldn't be in the same TV programs, but sort of exist in this fun cheeky reality that only Vanity Fair can bring you."
It all worked out as they had hoped, especially when the five performers in the Oscar race -- Cumberbatch, Stewart, Cruz, Kidman and Garfield -- all nabbed nominations.
"The five that were sort of in our mix and also in the Oscar race were all nominated, so it is very exciting to see all of them continue on in their campaign and awards race," Hennemuth said. "... Our fans are always hoping that maybe we get it slightly right with the people that are nominated and this year was definitely a lucky break."