Translation from Madame Figaro’s “Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet: Reality Show”‘s article from their February 2017 issue. Photos here.
In his new film, ‘Rock n’ Roll’, the actor/director and his partner, superstar and Dior ambassador, step onto the screen with insolent self-ridicule. A mockery of the star system, which they play for us in front of Jean-Baptiste Mondino’s camera. Exclusive photoshoot.
They are an emblematic cinema duo, one of those power couples unrivaled in France. Marion Cotillard, the Oscar level superstar – the only one to have imposed herself on Hollywood -, the inhabited actress, illuminated by James Gray or Nicole Garcia, the glamorous muse – and Dior ambassador. He, Guillaume Canet, her partner, successful actor with a brilliant director career that earned him a Caesar (Tell No One, 2006). Together for nine years now, the discreet couple have managed early on to evade intrusion in their private lives. That’s no longer really the case, the celebrity of Marion Cotillard having fueled curiosities and unhealthy rumors. The couple, still going strong, resists without difficulty: a second child will see the light of day in a few weeks.
Funny and cultivating a healthy self-mockery, Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet decided to laugh at their peculiar life as stars. That is the subject of the irresistible ‘Rock’n’Roll’, the fifth film directed by Guillaume Canet , and which marks his return behind the cameras after the half-success of Blood Ties, tribute to the New Hollywood of the 1970s. The secret to this crazy comedy? Mixing the true, the false, and the fantasy in a game of distorting mirrors, a jubilant farce that is also a fable squeaking about the habits of show biz, ambition and youthism. We find a Guillaume Canet in full midlife crisis, ready to do whatever it takes to become a cool actor again, under the gaze of his wife, who in turn learns the Québécois accent in “studio actor” for Xavier Dolan’s film.
In an exceptional photo session staged by Mondino, the two actors revisited, in their own way, the famous bed-in by John Lennon and Yoko Ono of 1969 (the press conference that took place in their bed). It is, as is the case with Rock’n’Roll, a delicious exaggeration of the start-system. Exclusive Interview.
Madame Figaro: In Rock’n’Roll, you break the myth of the glamorous couple of French cinema. Why play with your image?
Guillaume Canet: A young journalist pointed out to me one day that my life as a fourty year old father, in a couple for a long time, was neither sexy nor ‘rock’, compared to that of the younger generation. This gave me the idea of a comedy where that simple phrase triggers a disproportionate existential crisis. I push the neurotic trait that we all cultivate: the fear of aging, the desire to be seen as someone else, the need for recognition …
Marion Cotillard: When Guillaume told me about Rock’n’Roll, I thought that there was good material for very funny scenes. It was also an opportunity for us to really think about one’s image. Moreover, I was happy that Guillaume had found a topic that made him want to go behind the camera again, he is really a great director. Blood Ties, his latest film, which I adore, was harshly criticized. When your man is in trouble, you are affected in the same way. Seeing him excited about a project again moved me.
G. C.: After Blood Ties, I went through a period of doubt. I took a one year break during which I refocused: on horse shows, on family, on friends. Gradually, the joy of cinema returned. I worked on this film with great lightness, embarking all my relatives with me: my agent, my producer, my friends and, of course, my wife. I have heard so many ridiculous things about Marion and I, that I wanted to play with the image that people have of us, and also with the way we perceive ourselves.
Have you ever been hurt by a false image that people attributed to you?
M. C: After La Vie En Rose, an image of me that is very distant from what I am began to circulate. To protect myself, I retreated, which created another form of image, that of the snobish and cold girl, in which I did not recognize myself, either … People imagine us locked up in an ivory tower because they see us only during public appearances. The shift probably comes from there.
G. C: I regularly read aberrant stuff about us, for example that Marion lives in Los Angeles … People do not imagine that we live like everyone else, that we do our shopping, cooking, We take our son to school … In the film, I wanted to go from the real to the caricature, with this message: “Stop believing everything they tell you! ”
M. C.: I do not allow myself to be invaded by the negativity. I work on myself, I no longer take things personally. I learned to accept and live in the present moment. Since then, my balance is no longer conditioned by the eyes of others. It is liberating.
G. C.: I give little importance to the image that people can have of me, but I get very annoyed when some present Marion as this aloof person…
M. C.: … which I can be sometimes, but it’s not all I am! (Laughter.)
G. C.: I wanted to show Marion as I know her – with personality, funny, crazy – and this film proves it, because, as much an international star as she is, she did not refuse to do any the scenes. She possesses a sense of exceptional self-mockery.
Overexposure is the theme of this exclusive photo shoot for Madame Figaro. How do you manage the inconveniences of the media?
G. C.: We live in a time where everything we do is watched, even if it has no sense, no depth, no truth to it. At one point, I was living things viscerally. On the day of the birth of our son, for example, I was enraged when the paparazzi climbed our gate and spoiled that wonderful moment for us. Today, we learn to better preserve ourselves from all that is toxic. It was fun to convey this through this photo shoot. Today, everyone turns into a paparazzi with their cell phone. Some want to come in? Well, let them come in! That’s the whole idea of my film. It’s best that we open the door ourselves, play with the fantasy and laugh with it.
It is also a cruel comedy about youth. For actors and actresses, is aging really that devastating?
G. C.: We live in a strange society that does not want to see itself grow old. Appearance takes precedence over substance. On social networks, one must give a perfect image of oneself, personality matters. Everything is fake. The fear of aging is indeed palpable in our profession because people watch us age on the screen, and it can be destabilizing. Many actors and actresses, especially in the United States, do not resist this quest for absolute youth. They all end up looking like each other, no longer having any age or expression. That bothers me more than growing old!
In cinema, do roles diminish as age increases?
M. C.: It is more complicated for the actresses, I think. Age is almost considered a disease for women, while we speak of maturity for a man. In the United States, in action movies or blockbusters, we do not see heroines in their 40s very much, those actresses are handed the role of the thinking heads that stay behind a computer … But let’s be optimistic! There will always be screenwriters who will write strong roles for women over 40 years of age. Things are changing.
There are hilarious scenes in the film, especially when Marion Cotillard starts to speak in the Québécois accent to prepare a role …
G. C.: It’s a little revenge (smiles). For the nine years we have been together, I have witnessed her involve herself without restraint in the preparation of often complex roles – what I call in the film the roles “with an accent” or ” with disabilities “. Marion should not just be a spectator of the delirium of my character, and the accent allowed her to build a funny role.
M. C.: I am always more at ease with roles that are completely far from who I am, where everything has to be built from scratch. Body language has to be set in place, a way of breathing. I want to dive body and soul into a role. It invades me, and it is not always easy to balance this invasion with my personal life. In the film, of course, Guillaume exaggerates this. It’s pretty funny. We are in a magnified reality, I am a lot less of a nut than the Marion Cotillard in the film!
What do you see in each other?
G. C.: I feel sincere admiration for Marion, which nourishes my love for her. I admire her talent, her genius as an actress, the way she gets involved and shows emotion with remarkable intelligence Beyond the actress, I love the woman she has become – serene, confident, always thinking of others – and the way she raises our son. I think she has also done a great job on me. (Smiles.) I’ve changed a lot since we’ve been together.
M. C.: I’m lucky to live with a man who evolves in magnificent ways, it’s admirable and above all inspiring. He raises me up, helps me to accept myself. We’re nourishing each other. W actors possess highly developed egos that can quickly invade the entire space if they’re not kept in check. Guillaume does not allow himself to be devoured by the “monster”. He is benevolent and has a huge heart that makes everybody around him feel happy
What makes your couple strong after nine years?
M. C.: When we met, fourteen years ago, we began by being friends before being a couple. That is our strength. We always have so much fun together. We are partners in the true sense of the word. He is my best friend and the love of my life.
You will soon be parents to a second child. In what state of mind are you?
M. C.:I am anxious to give myself time and to live the moment fully. During my pregnancy, I had to promote five films – the agenda made it so… It’s time to refocus on the essential!
Rock’n’Roll, directed by Guillaume Canet. In theaters February 15.