“I’m not going to read my press or anything,” she says. “I started reading some stuff yesterday, and I got in a dark mood. There’s this guy who, I’m sure, lives in a dark apartment and eats chips all day and had only nasty things to say.” Among his criticisms: She’s “edgeless” and “not Heidi.”
Part of the edgeless critique may be owed to Lindvall’s paralyzing fear of public speaking. She says she overcame it in time for the live finale. Also, if she comes off particularly stiff in the first few episodes, which she does, it’s because “a guy with a really thick British accent” was feeding her one line at a time via a bug in her ear. “I think because Heidi’s German, it’s better for her” that way, says Lindvall. “Finally, by the third episode, I was like, ‘You guys, I can memorize lines.’ ”
Lindvall also had to deal with producers insisting she wear sexy dresses and really big hair. “They actually wouldn’t let me wear my hair up because they said I looked too much like Heidi,” she says.
Lindvall’s No. 1 fear upon being discovered at 14 at a Kansas City fashion show, not far from where she grew up in rural Lee’s Summit, Missouri, was that she might become famous. “I told my managers, ‘I don’t want to be on the cover of any magazines.’ ” She wound up on the cover of every major magazine. Yet she couldn’t shake the thought that it might all be over soon. “Other girls would be like, ‘I made twenty grand on that show,’ and then go spend ten. And it’s like, ‘Well, how long do you think you’re going to be making that money?’ ”
What she hadn’t anticipated was getting pregnant quite so young, or going to the British Virgin Islands and meeting her future husband, a South African diver named William Edwards. They’re divorced, but he lives nearby and is still in the family’s life. Lindvall’s becoming an organic-food nut came from her great anxiety that if she didn’t work off the 75 pounds she’d gained while pregnant with Dakota she’d never work again. “I was always just one of those skinny rats that never really exercised,” she says. “That all changed. So I was running up these hills in the British Virgin Islands imagining Gisele’s ass.”
She wasn’t able to bounce back as quickly after Sebastian’s birth. “I went through the hardest time of my life, unfortunately for him,” she says. Her marriage with Edwards was ending, she’d moved to L.A., and in 2006 her younger sister, Audrey, also a model, was crushed by a truck while riding her bike back in Missouri. “I kind of fell off the face of the Earth for a little while,” she says.
The disappearing had certainly hurt her career, but she’d gotten enough clarity from Audrey’s death to just be happy with what she had. “I was like, ‘If all I do is catalogue, then all I do is catalogue.’ And then it didn’t happen that way—and I was like, ‘God, the universe is blessing me, thank you.’ I feel very, very, very lucky. You know, I’m not doing every Italian Vogue cover now. But I’m working with a lot of great advertisers.”
She’s also tried acting—but so far has landed only small parts. “I got close to getting some things, but you’re not getting any perks because you’re a model. And so for me to do this little part that takes two weeks to film—and they don’t give a shit about your time—it doesn’t really make sense.”
Lindvall recently read for the part of Glinda the Good Witch in Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful. When Robert Downey Jr. was set to play the Wizard—“he would have been the best Wizard ever”—the idea had been to cast “iconic women but not famous actresses” as the witches. After he dropped out, replaced by James Franco, “it’s disappointing, but they needed star actresses to carry off the witches. So I lost the Glinda role.” It went to Michelle Williams.
She still needs to work. She’s not like Natalia Vodianova or Stephanie Seymour, she points out. “They married rich husbands. They don’t have to worry about anything.” And the day when she’ll have to stop modeling, she knows, is ever closer. “We’re all going to get older, we’re all going to get wrinkles, we’re all going to lose our body,” she says. “It’s a part of life, and it could be a hard thing to embrace in this industry. You could get pretty sad. Especially if you’re living completely engaged in that whole world of fashion and then nobody wants you anymore and none of them were your real friends anyway. And then you go and, like, slit your wrists.”
She checks herself. “Just kidding … I’m not going to name names, but there are definitely some people that kind of lose their marbles.” She goes on: “Imagine a girl who loves opening all the shows, and suddenly she doesn’t get all those free clothes. She doesn’t get the money. She doesn’t even get invited to the parties anymore. And then what? Is she going to go work an office job? I would have a hard time working an office job.”
Even Dakota seems aware of a model’s shelf life, which is why he told her to do Project Runway. “My son’s so funny. He’s like, ‘Mom, you better do this job because your career is not gonna last forever.’ ”
But when the John Hardy QVC opportunity came up, Lindvall hesitated, even though its ecofriendly values were right in her wheelhouse. “I was just thinking, ‘Things are going really great in my career, and QVC is a major different direction,’ ” she explains. “I was thinking about how my brand image was going to be affected.” There’s a fear, she says, that if a model goes too commercial, Anna Wintour won’t want her anymore. But “Anna Wintour hasn’t put me in her magazine for a while now, you know, so …” She laughs. “For me, I mean—my manager is going to get so mad at me—I’ve already stepped into the boat. I’m doing Project Runway All Stars, for God’s sakes! I’ve gone commercial.”
Dakota comes in. He needs Lindvall to check out the progress on Gondor, and he’s confused about something he overheard her say about a “gay husband.” She explains that she was just talking about a friend.
Then it’s time to turn her attention to the dinner party. As people gather, Lindvall assures her guests, “I’ve got three years’ worth of food supply in the garage.”