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This great news just came in via Variety:
The Hollywood Film Festival has tapped Marion Cotillard to receive its Hollywood Breakthrough Actress of the Year Award.
Kudo will be presented at the festival’s Oct. 22 awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton.
The org cited Cotillard’s performance in Olivier Dahan’s “La Vie en rose.” Previous recipients of the Hollywood breakthrough honors include Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley and Naomi Watts.
Everyone who has had the pleasure of seeing Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose already (the film has just opened in the UK and USA) will agree that her performance is worthy of every award out there. So it will come as no surprise to us that Marion Cotillard has been awarded the award (Swann d’0r which means Golden Swan) for Best Actress at the 21st Cabourg Romantic Film Festival in France on June 16. This is certainly the first of many more to come. Congratulations!!!
Awarded the Best Actor trophy was Guillaume Canet. The 2 visited the festival before – also together – in 2003 to promote Love Me If You Dare.
Considering Marion Cotillard hasn’t signed up for a new project to follow up ‘La Môme’ yet and her statement that she would like to take a break for a while you may find the following interesting: A local newspaper reports her saying at the festival that she still has “a ‘hunger’ for new roles and more beautiful stories to tell”. Isn’t that a relief?
Many thanks for the help with the pictures goes once again to Mariana!
from Back Stage West / by Sarah Kuhn
Even before taking on the role of Edith Piaf in the biopic “La Vie en Rose,” Marion Cotillard felt a connection to the iconic French singer. Cotillard often uses music to prepare for particularly emotional scenes and has a few of Piaf’s songs in her play list. “I had a personal relationship with her songs, which have helped me a lot for other movies,” the French actress said. “But I really didn’t know anything about her life. I had to discover everything.”
Director Olivier Dahan had Cotillard in mind for the role from the beginning, even as he was writing the screenplay.
Cotillard, meanwhile, felt an immediate bond with the filmmaker. “When we met, magically, something very natural, something obvious appeared,” she said. “We understood each other. … On the set, we had the same vision of Piaf without talking. We never talked about the script; we never talked about the character. Of course, we talked about Piaf — but like two fans.”
In preparing for the role, Cotillard did extensive research, learning all about the singer’s colorful life. The film follows Piaf’s journey from her poverty-stricken youth through her blazing stardom and tragic later years. Cotillard read books and studied old footage, but she also did a lot of “inner work” to capture Piaf’s distinctive essence. The result is a ferocious performance that doesn’t merely mimic Piaf; Cotillard inhabits the role so fully, it almost seems she’s channeling the legendary singer. “I didn’t want to imitate her,” she said. “I never tried to have the same voice or to move like her. My aim was to understand her heart and try to understand her soul.”
The Paris-born Cotillard got her start in a 1993 episode of the TV series “Highlander” and became well-known in France after winning a lead role in the Luc Besson-penned film “Taxi,” which spawned two sequels she appeared in and landed her a nomination for most promising actress at the 1999 Cisar Awards (the French equivalent of the Academy Awards). She considers her role as vengeful prostitute Tina Lombardi in 2004′s “A Very Long Engagement” a breakthrough of sorts, as it netted her a Cisar for best supporting actress, gave her the opportunity to work with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and got her noticed on an international level.
Cotillard likely has other great opportunities ahead of her, but one thing is certain: Playing Piaf is something she will remember forever.
from FilmStew.com / by Brett Buckalew
It’s already a strong year for female lead performances. Too bad the Academy generally only has eyes for the fourth quarter.
The last four months of each year is a time for the film industry to quit its summertime tomfoolery and start putting out the serious-minded prestige films that get the Academy’s attention.
All one needs to do is look at the recent Oscar winners in the acting categories to confirm the legitimacy of this seasonal trend. Last year, only one of the four victorious performers – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine’s Best Supporting Actor – had a film that was released before September. The year before, all four acting category winners did their prize-winning work in the fall-winter period.
There’s no reason to believe that 2007 will play out any differently. Javier Bardem seems to have at least a nomination secured for his villainous turn in the November release No Country for Old Men, thanks to the acclaim his performance received at the film’s Cannes Film Festival premiere. And a number of other actors – including Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) and Halle Berry (Things We Lost in the Fire) – are generating Oscar buzz for films that no one has even seen yet.
It’s only fair to give the fourth-quarter-release award-season hopefuls the benefit of the doubt and assume their work will indeed be trophy-worthy, but still, there’s a major downside to favoring their chances: doing so overlooks the quality work that actors have turned in during the first eight months of the year.
Will Chris Cooper’s arguably career-best work as a tormented, neo-conservative FBI turncoat in Breach be recognized with a Best Actor nomination? Will Robert Downey Jr.’s typically excellent performance as a crime beat reporter who falls into a self-destructive spiral in Zodiac earn him a deserved slot in the Supporting Actor category?
And what of all the great, fearless lead-female performances that have graced the screen throughout the first half of 2007? Carice van Houten gave real urgency to a Dutch-Jewish resistance fighter’s struggle for survival during WWII in Black Book, though the film’s sexually risqué touches may freak out older Academy members. Julie Christie played a cheated-upon spouse’s descent into Alzheimer’s with sensitivity and ambiguity in Away From Her, but the similarly themed, more accessible The Notebook didn’t land any nominations for its cast three summers ago. Meanwhile, a de-glamorized Ashley Judd is in a movie (Bug) that will be seen as too dark, while the endearing Keri Russell is in one (Waitress) that will be seen as too light.
Add Marion Cotillard’s performance in La Vie en Rose to the list. One advantage she has that these other early-’07-release leading ladies don’t have is that she’s playing a historical figure – revered mid-20th-century singing star Edith Piaf – which certainly worked wonders for last year’s lead-acting Oscar winners, Forest Whitaker (Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland) and Helen Mirren (Elizabeth II in The Queen). Factors that slightly diminish her chances are that the film is French-language (actors speaking in a foreign tongue are rarely recognized by the Academy) and, of course, that it opened in early June instead of late November.
If Cotillard’s staggering embodiment of Piaf isn’t rewarded with at least a nomination at year’s end, it won’t be for quality-based reasons. As with every great portrayal of an existing person, Cotillard’s performance works because she finds the vulnerable humanity within the larger-than-life icon.
Standing at a tiny 4’ 8” (her stage name, “Piaf,” translates to “sparrow”) and with a body that had an unfortunate tendency to attract disease (a case of conjunctivitis that befell her as a little girl left her temporarily blind, and she died of cancer at the tragically early age of 47), Piaf was a commanding stage star possessed of an incongruous physical frailty. Cotillard, whose natural beauty in real life has been on display in American films like Big Fish and A Good Year, not only commits to the character’s wobbly physicality but has the creative audacity to suggest that Piaf’s heart was just as fragile.
The actress enlarges her eyes to near-dinner-plate size, using them to aid her interpretation of Piaf as someone constitutionally incapable of concealing her emotions. Those massive peepers seem constantly on the verge of tearing up in rage, sadness, or delight. Cotillard also gives Piaf a fierce, raspy cackle of a laugh that erupts out of her, sometimes against her better judgment.
But given the nature of show business, Piaf wouldn’t have risen to fame if she didn’t also have a strong, diva-like will, and Cotillard gets that just right too. Whether criticizing the pastrami sandwich at her lover’s (middleweight boxer Marcel Cerdan, played here by Jean-Pierre Martins) favorite deli for being not haute cuisine enough for her refined palate, or carelessly sloshing around her champagne glass at a dinner party held in her honor, Cotillard’s Piaf is someone who needs to perform and assert her dominance even off the stage.
As a film, La Vie en Rose doesn’t quite keep up with the grand showmanship and emotional complexity of the performance at its center, but it has a few impressive tricks up its sleeve. Writer-director Olivier Dahan’s evocative visual design and refreshingly unconventional fractured-chronology storytelling flow go a long way towards keeping the feeling of musical-biopic fatigue at bay.
Though other recent examples of the genre, such as Walk the Line and Ray, have been just as well-crafted as this one, the fact that all three of them strain to cram decades of their respective subjects’ life into just two hours and change leads to the conclusion that maybe it’s time for a more inventive, more focused approach. Look at Gus Van Sant’s ingenious study of a faux-Kurt Cobain figure, Last Days, which kept its timeframe limited to, well, the last days of a tortured musician.
But just as Ray and Walk the Line led to Oscar victories for their respective stars, Jamie Foxx and Reese Witherspoon, it’d be nice to see La Vie en Rose follow suit and nab a Golden Guy for Cotillard. That’s one musical-biopic trend I wouldn’t quibble with.
from The Telegraph (UK) / by Benjamin Secher
Actress Marion Cotillard talks to Benjamin Secher about her performance of a lifetime as legendary French singer Edith Piaf
‘The first time I heard Edith Piaf sing, I cried,” says 31-year-old Marion Cotillard, who plays the legendary French singer in a heartbreaking new biopic, La Vie en rose. “I was so moved – and so impressed that in only three or four minutes she could tell a whole story that would make me cry.”
Piaf certainly had a handle on misery. During the 47 years of her short life, she lost almost everyone who mattered to her: her parents ran off to the circus when she was a baby, leaving her to grow up in her grandmother’s brothel; her only child died of meningitis; and the love of her life, boxer Marcel Cerdan, was killed in a plane crash only two years after they’d met.
Yet somehow, despite all this, she soared from the filthy Parisian streets of Belleville to the glitzy heights of stardom, touring the world with a clutch of show-stopping tunes delivered always in that miraculous, seismic voice: it shook her birdlike frame, held audiences spellbound, and transmuted the gloom that enshrouded her life into musical gold.
In trying to shoehorn the full turbulent Piaf story into a single film, director Olivier Dahan was always going to have his work cut out. But if his beautiful, big-hearted epic occasionally strains at the seams, it is more than redeemed by its main attraction. Simply put, Cotillard, as Piaf, gives the most remarkable performance you’ll see on film this year.
Whether portraying the scruffy teenage ingénue – spotted singing on a street corner and ushered on to the stage of his nightclub by Louis Leplée (played by an avuncular Gérard Depardieu) – or the ageing diva, crippled by arthritis and addicted to morphine, Cotillard’s extraordinary turn seduces the eye and assaults the heart.
In the flesh, the Parisian actress is gentle, softly spoken, telling funny self-deprecating stories in her slow, careful English. But on screen, she is a titan: boisterous, bruising, flamboyant, and so utterly steeped in the spirit of Piaf that it’s hard to imagine any other actress filling the part.
“Ah, but I was not the one the financiers wanted to see in this role,” she confides in her smokey whisper, a smile flickering across her face. “And it’s not very hard to guess who they would have preferred. Frankly, if I’d had to cast someone to play Piaf, I would also have chosen [Amélie and Da Vinci Code star] Audrey Tautou instead of me: she’s far more bankable.
“But in the end Olivier [Dahan] was sure he wanted to make the film with me,” she adds. “So the financiers went away, leaving us with less money, less time to shoot, but the chance to make the movie we wanted.”
Cotillard is already something of a star in her own country, thanks to an award-winning supporting role in A Very Long Engagement, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2004 follow-up to Amélie, and regular appearances in Luc Besson’s blockbusting Taxi franchise. On this side of the Channel, her face is less familiar – you may have spotted her fleetingly in Tim Burton’s Big Fish or opposite Russell Crowe in A Good Year – but with La Vie en rose she seizes a place in the acting top rank. Whispers of an Oscar nomination are already in the air.
She saw the star-making potential of the role the moment she read the script. “I was prepared to fight for this part,” she says. “I was ready to do almost anything.”
One thing she didn’t have to do was sing. Although Cotillard is a talented chanteuse, and already knew Piaf’s music back-to-front having long ago acquired the habit of listening to it in her trailer whenever preparing to act a particularly emotional scene, Dahan was committed to using Piaf’s own recordings for the soundtrack.
“Her voice was unique,” says Cotillard, who convincingly lip-synchs her way through the film’s big numbers. “So it was obvious that for me to try to learn that voice in the three months we had would have been crazy, impossible.”
“Actually,” she adds with a mischievous cackle, “I do get to sing one song in the film. But it comes in a scene where Piaf is drunk and sings like hell – which I guess is why they kept my voice for that one.”
Cotillard insists that she was undaunted by the prospect of taking on the mantle of a French national treasure, an iconic figure whose funeral, attended by 40,000 fans, brought central Paris to a standstill.
“Actually I was far more afraid of playing an old lady,” she says. “I know what it feels like to be a 30-year-old woman who has achieved things as a performer. But I have no idea what it is to be old – to be 47 but look 77 and be about to die. All I knew was that I had to be very precise in my performance, especially for the death-bed scene. That sort of thing is so fragile, if you get it just slightly wrong you end up looking ridiculous.”
For the physical transformation, Cotillard was given plenty of help from the special-effects team – by the end of the film, her beauty is all but concealed beneath a thick cake of pallid make-up that took six hours to apply – but for the singer’s emotional development, she drew on a painful memory from her own childhood.
“I was inspired by a great uncle who used to live at home with us,” she says. “I still remember him perfectly, all the movements of the person he was just before he died: the way he walked, the way he behaved, and that horrible life you lead when you are ill inside. For the old Piaf, I took all of that.”
To capture Piaf’s peculiar blend of infirmity and silliness, Cotillard also took on the mannerisms of a four-year-old girl she knows. The result, a striking combination of physical frailty with emotional volatility, makes Cotillard’s Piaf a far from straightforwardly sympathetic character. The flip side of her contagious joie de vivre is a selfish capriciousness: she casts off lovers like dirty stockings and, as her fame grows, neglects her old friends, or humiliates them in front of her starrier new acquaintances.
“When I started reading about her life I discovered a bright side and a dark side,” says Cotillard. “Some aspects of that dark side I initially found very hard to accept – like the tyranny that she could use over people. But then I realised that her selfish behaviour was motivated by her desire to keep people around her. She was so scared to be alone. And once you understand that, you stop judging her.”
In preparing for the role, Cotillard read and heard many stories about Piaf – few figures in French popular culture have generated quite so much myth and rumour -but one source she grew to trust more than any other was the singer’s old friend, Ginou Richet, who offered her a surprising insight into Piaf’s character. “Ginou shared with me many things that she thought would help me to understand Piaf,” says Cotillard.
“But above all she described her as a happy person. Yes happy. Even though she lived such crazy tragedy, such huge tragedy, Piaf loved to have fun. She loved life.”
• La Vie en rose (12A) is released on June 22
from The Star Ledger (US) / by Stephen Whitty
French actress faced challenge in playing Piaf
“You have to struggle,” the slight, saucer-eyed star says, leaning forward and speaking in an intense French accent. “You have to have your heart broken. That’s the reality of life and if you are protected from this sadness, then how can you grow? How can you recognize real happiness when you see it?”
It is a rhetorical question, but it is also the credo of someone who is at peace with themselves. Who has embraced life in its totality — its childish pleasures, its adult ecstasies, its lifelong disappointments. And yet who can say honestly, at any time, yes, I lived each day to the utmost. Who can assert, I regret nothing.
Someone like Edith Piaf.
Or someone like Marion Cotillard, the 31-year-old actress currently sitting in a frigidly air-conditioned New York hotel room, talking emotionally about the woman she’s just played in “La Vie En Rose.”
She’s not the only one feeling passionate about it. The film — which just opened Friday in New York — has played in Europe to high praise. American critics are already hailing Cotillard’s work as a breakthrough — not just in her career, but in the art itself. More than a few are calling it the year’s first performance to feel like Best Actress material.
Director Olivier Dahan is pleased by the acclaim Cotillard is getting, but unsurprised.
“I wanted her from the very beginning,” he says. “I didn’t know so much about Marion, I wasn’t a fan — I had seen her in maybe three movies. But one of them, I didn’t really like, I don’t even remember it, but she was playing with a lot of soul, and that is not so common. And when I began to plan Piaf, Marion came very quickly to my mind.”
What came to Cotillard was elation — and then a strange kinship.
“I didn’t know anything of Piaf’s life so I began studying,” she says. She read books that detailed Piaf’s miserable childhood — abandoned by first her mother, then her father, raised in a brothel, turned out on the street, hustling centimes to survive. She studied films of Piaf acting, singing, giving interviews and quickly becoming France’s own Dietrich and Garland and Holiday all rolled up in one.
“And I began to feel close to her,” Cotillard says. “I felt a connection. I think every human being experiences one day, on some level, to be abandoned by someone, something. And that Piaf felt this, and felt a necessity to share that strong emotion, to take what she felt and offer that to an audience — that, I thought, was beautiful.”
Still, Cotillard couldn’t quite keep her own anxieties from creeping in.
“After I felt I knew her, I did not feel so scared of playing an icon,” she says. “But I was scared of playing an old lady. Even if she was not that old — she was only 47 when she died — she looked as if she were 70. And that was the scary part, to find the voice she had at that age, and the behavior and yet the energy that she still had. I was scared it would not be realistic. I was scared that people would say, ‘Oh. my, what is she doing? Where are we going with this?’”
Where Cotillard seems to be going with this — after a career best known to Americans for supporting parts in “A Good Year,” “Big Fish” and “A Very Long Engagement” — is an entirely new level. Where she’s coming from is a family tradition that always treated acting as not only a calling, but a profession.
“My parents are stage actors and I remember when I was a little girl watching them, seeing them tell stories to so many people they didn’t know,” she says. “And when I was very young, my father, he had a theater troupe and they performed plays for children and went to many places in the world. And it was fascinating to me that all these adults could make their life telling stories, making people laugh, making them cry. They did it all with such passion and the passion was contagious and for me, the fascination is still there.”
She grew up mostly in the countryside and, she says, she didn’t particularly fit in.
“In school they would ask the question, ‘What do you want to do for a living when you are an adult?’ and I would answer ‘Actress,’” she says. “And they would say ‘No, that’s not a job.’ And I would say, ‘But my parents are actors!’ And they would say again ‘No, that’s not a job, being an actress. What do you want to do for a living?’… It was only when I moved to Paris that I felt I was not an alien.”
The good parts were a while in coming — she made her debut at 18 in an episode of TV’s cosmic swashbuckler “Highlander,” a credit that she greets with giggles when reminded of — but she kept at it. Her parents were supportive, but didn’t hide the difficulties ahead.
“They never tried to protect me and my brothers from the experiences we had to live, and I think that’s very courageous for a parent,” she says. “To have that strength not to overprotect or interfere in some things which are hard to live, but necessary, you know? Because you have to live many experiences, and not only good ones, to be an actor. To be a human being, too — it makes you grow up.”
Cotillard was also lucky enough to be growing up at a time when French filmmaking — led by a new new wave of filmmakers including Luc Besson and Jean-Jacques Beineix — were starting a sexy, stylish rebellion. Influenced more by American movies and comic books than Cahiers du Cinema and Marxist theory, their “cinema du look” filled the screen with eye-catching cinematography, fantastic plots, extreme action — and new faces.
And eventually one of them was Cotillard’s.
“It is a great thing, because more and more French directors are allowing themselves to move outside of this very specific universe, this very specific way to tell stories,” she says. “There is more and more freedom in the cinema and that’s very exciting for the actors, because there is now all these doors you can open.”
The doors Cotillard was opening — including roles in “My Sex Life…Or How I Got Into an Argument” and all three parts of the Besson-written trilogy “Taxi” — led to the United States. Not surprisingly, standing on the other side were often among the most open-minded of American directors. Abel Ferrara, the wild man of indie cinema, cast her in “Mary,” a story of religious obsessions; giddy fantasist Tim Burton put her in his dreamy “Big Fish,” a movie about strange sealife, circus sideshows and an old man’s tall tales.
“Abel, he is such a character, and he sometimes makes movies for zero money, but he lives for this, to share things, to share his passions,” she says. “And Tim, he is so passionate, too. I remember the first day of shooting the movie, he was just jumping like a little squirrel everywhere, so excited, shouting ‘I want it to begin, I want it to begin!’ He could not wait. And it was my first day, being on the set with my idol to do his movie, and I could not wait, too.”
She couldn’t wait to have her first big American co-starring part either, in “A Good Year.” Still, the fact that her leading man was Russell Crowe did give her at least a moment’s pause.
“I knew his reputation, of course,” she says. “And he knows that all the people know his reputation. But he is an amazing actor. When you play with him, you forget about the camera, you forget about the crew, you become the reality, and when you have that as an actor, that’s a marvel. And what I saw on the set was a very simple guy, very nice, very funny, very kind. So what I saw did not match with the reputation he has.” She shrugs. “But, well, voila.”
And now — voila — she is in “La Vie En Rose.” Full of feeling and startling mimicry, it’s the sort of performance that’s won Oscars for American stars like Sissy Spacek in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and Reese Witherspoon in “Walk the Line.” Yet there is a difference, and for some critics (and, eventually, nominating voters) it may be a crucial one — those actors sang their own songs. Cotillard lip-syncs hers.
Dahan — an almost stereotypical French bohemian, with a backwards-facing beret and a never-ending stream of cigarettes — brushes the topic aside.
“From the beginning, I wanted Piaf’s songs to play in the movie,” he says. “That for me was fundamental, to have the real voice. Marion is a good singer, actually, and she loves to sing, and she would sing even as we did the scenes, and it was good. But in the end, I replaced it with the voice of Piaf. To me, it was never possible any other way.”
Yet Cotillard — who has written and performed her own music — is less sanguine.
“I was disappointed not to have this possibility, yes,” she admits. “But with the time we had to prepare the movie — which was only three months, which is nothing to prepare such a movie — I knew that it was not possible. And so we used Piaf’s own recordings — except for the beginning, when she is singing in the street, because there are no recordings of those, and we found another singer who did an amazing job. And then I heard her voice and how it all sounded I knew it would be perfect, and I could not hold on to the frustrations.”
Besides, this single Parisian has — as her parents trained her — learned to accept things as they come, and learn from them, and move on. Sometimes those things have been informative and inspiring, like her work around the world on behalf of Greenpeace, conservation and ecology. Sometimes they’ve been exciting and enriching, like her difficult and devastating work in “La Vie En Rose.”
And sometimes, like the jobs that lie before her — perhaps an American project that’s “too early” to talk about yet, perhaps in a homegrown film she describes only as “very, very French” — they remain tantalizing question marks. Which sometimes is the best thing of all.
“I see differences in every movie because all the directors are different,” she says. “And that’s what I like in this job, you travel in so many universes and every time is different. It’s still to me the fascinating profession it was when I watched my parents, and an amazing process. It’s like a circle that I need. When I play, I feel I empty myself. And then, as it goes on, I fill myself again.”
From the streets of the cutthroat Belleville district of Paris to the dazzling limelight of New York’s glamorous concert halls, Edith Piaf’s life was a constant battle to sing and survive, to live and love. Raised in abject poverty, surrounded by hookers and pimps, Edith’s magical voice made her a star on both sides of the Atlantic. Her passionate romances and friendships with the greatest names of the period — Yves Montand, Jean Cocteau, Charles Aznavour, Marlene Deitrich, boxing world champion Marcel Cerdan — made her a household name as much as her memorable live performances and beautiful renditions of songs she made famous internationally, “La Vie en Rose”, “Milord”, “Hymn to Love”, “Non, je ne regrette rien” and many more. But in her audacious attempt to tame her tragic destiny, the “Little Sparrow” — as she was nicknamed — flew so high that she could not fail to burn her wings.
About the Production
JANUARY 22, 2004, 3.46 PM
Writer-director Olivier Dahan recalls: “I wanted to make a film about what drives an artist. I was in a bookstore flicking through a book about Piaf when the idea suddenly came to me. I immediately sent a text-message to Alain Goldman. Five minutes later, he gave me the green-light. He was right with me from the get-go. In fact, he got back to me so fast, I wondered for a moment what I’d got myself into!”
Alain Goldman says: “I was keen to work with Olivier again. We’re very close, professionally and personally, but I didn’t have anything lined up with him. Then, on January 22, 2004, at 3:46 pm, I received a text-message from him, which read, “A movie about music and love. A tragic, romantic blockbuster. French subject matter, international appeal. A major film about Piaf.” That sums up the movie perfectly. I kept that message, that initial impulse, as a reference. During the writing process, and even further down the line, if we strayed away from it, we could go back to that basic precept. I immediately sensed that we would make the movie, that it would probably open up perspectives and that Olivier’s text-message would remind us that we had believed.”
Olivier Dahan adds: “For me, Piaf is the perfect example of someone who places no barrier between her life and her art. The fusion between your existence and work is the very foundation of a true artist. Like everybody else in France, I knew some of her songs and something about her life, but no more than that. She was the ideal “in” for me to talk about what concerns me. The spark came when I saw a photo of her, as a young woman, walking in the street with her friend Momone. Few people have ever seen what she looked like so young. The prevailing image of her is from the 50s and 60s — the frail icon in the black dress. That photo gave me a glimpse of somebody completely different, who wasn’t yet Edith Piaf and who intrigued me. I pictured a kind of bridge between the prevailing image and that photo of an uncut diamond.”
MORE THAN A STORY, A FABULOUS ENCOUNTER
Alain Goldman says: “Filming a celebrated life is always a long process. Vatel and 1492 taught me that it takes roughly a year to research and digest all the necessary information, and find an interesting narrative form. At first, Olivier, who is very visual and intuitive, didn’t want to write the film. I had to convince him to do it. I needed his precision, his grasp of what is essential. I knew he’d have some very personal things to say in the film — things which he alone could express. It was his unique vision of Piaf’s life that interested me.”
Olivier Dahan explains: “I read everything ever written about her, published or not, from her lifetime to the present day. At the same time, I started to write, combining what stood out for me in my reading and what I wanted to express beyond the question of Piaf’s life. I think I have a good idea of what an artist feels — whether it’s Piaf or any other. Apprehension, anxiety, desire… I didn’t want to make a bio-pic, but I did want everything that was in the movie to be real. It’s just that, at certain points, especially concerning her childhood, which she rarely discussed, I extrapolated, using the few elements at my disposal.”
Alain Goldman remarks: “As the script took shape, I saw how Piaf’s life was even more dramatic than one of her songs – a tragedy with a little bit of everything! Abandoned and raised in a brothel; blind, briefly, in childhood; on the road with her father, before winding up in the Pigalle district of Paris at the prey of a pimp. And just when her career takes off, she is accused of murder and has to start back at the bottom. The greatest novelist couldn’t have dreamed up a better story. Piaf is one of those rare performers with universal appeal — men, women, young, not so young… And not because she appeals to baser instincts. She elevates us. Her voice fascinates people across social and cultural barriers. Everybody can identify with her. Piaf is an icon, a beacon and we need her more than ever today. Her unique stature goes far beyond our borders. That’s why the film has brought interest from so many countries, including English-speaking territories that often remain impervious to French movies.”
Olivier Dahan observes: “During my research, I accumulated lots of facts and, above all, the confirmation of my initial intuition. Piaf is undeniably the archetype of an artist. Generally, when artists begin to self-destruct, their art regresses. In that sense, Piaf is an exception. As her body waned, her art rose higher, became purer. That’s pretty rare. Even in decline, everything was there in her voice and her will to sing and perform as never before. She never gave up.”
He adds: “I don’t believe in the tormented artist. Like everybody else, Piaf clearly had happy times, even when you would least expect. I don’t agree that being unhappy is a prerequisite to being a great artist, or even an artist. On the contrary, you have to work at not being unhappy. In many biographies, the subject’s childhood is skimmed over. Yet, those early years condition the rest of our lives. The key often lies in childhood.”
The director explains: “Almost every scene we shot, including the dialogue, comes from the first draft. I reworked the structure of the script, but not the content. The opening scene is exactly as I began the script. In her writing and speech, Piaf expressed herself very well. I used her words for the dialogue. She went straight to the point without any verbiage. I read her correspondence, including the unpublished letters, and I was struck by the quality of her writing, her honesty and acute judgment.
“Despite the fact that she was hugely famous, for me, the subject of the film was very intimate because I put into the film exactly what I wanted to say. I never felt overwhelmed by her stature. I wanted to paint a portrait. Telling her life-story didn’t interest me per se. The events I show help to build up the portrait. I always tried to be truthful, respectful, connecting with her, without idealizing her. She never idealized herself or her art. When I was writing, I made a point of not meeting anybody who had known her personally. One day, Ginou Richer, who was Piaf’s best friend for twenty years, got in touch. I sent her the script, thinking that this was the real test. She called me to say that I wasn’t wrong about the character. I saw the whole process as a kind of dig, piecing something together without knowing whether the result would be exactly how it was. Even so, my approach wasn’t that of an archeologist but — I hope — that of an artist concerned not to misrepresent people and events. I wanted to express things about the character that were true and exact, in my own way, without betraying her or having to choose between the two approaches. All that I wanted to express freely, through her or with her, had to come out of her real life.”
BEYOND THE ICON, EMBODYING THE PERSON
Olivier Dahan says: “I approached casting the film intuitively. There are a lot of characters and, for each one, my choice went beyond professional considerations. It was gut feeling. Beyond their talent as actors, they all move me.”
He adds: “I didn’t know her personally, but I immediately thought of Marion Cotillard to play Piaf. I saw her in several movies that showed she had the dramatic talent that was vital for the role and that few actresses possess.
“Piaf is an icon. Her face, voice and silhouette are instantly recognizable. For audiences to accept what I was trying to say, there had to be a likeness between the actress and Piaf. Marion is prettier but there is a definite resemblance when you look at early photos of Piaf. I sent her the script and then we met. We didn’t have much time, so we didn’t really do any tests, just a half-day for make-up. However, I asked Marion to research the part in the same way I had, by reading books and watching old footage. I think that she approached the character intuitively, like me, and that was the best way to do it.”
Alain Goldman remarks: “Olivier immediately sensed that Marion bore a marked resemblance to Piaf in the years when it was impossible to hide your true self. Marion did an amazing job. Not only did she get into the mind of the character, she also got into her skin. By some strange miracle, she began to speak just like Piaf, down to the tiniest inflection. She captured her movements, including the stiffness caused by the arthritis in her hands. Marion went way beyond imitation. She brought an incredible power and humanity to her work. When I saw her as Piaf for the first time, even before Didier Lavergne’s magnificent make-up was complete, I just stopped in my tracks. I knew it would work.”
Olivier Dahan explains: “We were pressed for time, so we had to perfect the make-up during the shoot. We hadn’t gone far enough. I stopped shooting for a day to try out various ideas. Didier Lavergne did an incredible job. He said that such heavy make-up would be impossible to film in close-up. I kept urging him on until he got the right result. It was a joint struggle. I had told Marion that, however much make-up she was wearing, it was her I wanted to see. I didn’t want imitation. It was imperative that Marion should not be overwhelmed. I wanted her and Piaf to join together.”
The director continues: “It was the first time I had such a strong relationship with an actress. We shared the same perception of Piaf. We fed off each other. It’s Marion’s voice we hear singing on certain occasions but most of the time she mimed. Miming to Piaf is complex. It’s not just about cranking up the music and singing away. Marion practiced hard to get the breathing and rhythm right. She succeeded in embodying the character while capturing her soul. She makes her come alive.”
THOSE WHO MATTERED TO HER
Alain Goldman says: “The film isn’t a jaunt through Edith Piaf’s life. One of Olivier’s brainwaves was that he distinguished between those for whom Piaf mattered and those who mattered to her. It is her heart that leads us along. The film is an emotional journey — movie with something to say, not a docudrama.
Olivier Dahan recalls: “It wasn’t about running through her hits and, even less so, through the long list of her celebrity acquaintances and lovers. I focused on the people who helped her build herself, which is why we see her manager and his assistant, but not Montand, Azanavour and other greats of the age. I was interested in the private Piaf, the woman, not the public icon. Marlene Dietrich is the only exception to that rule. I also wrote the scene when she met Chaplin, who told her that she had achieved through her singing what he had achieved through movies. As a matter of fact, Marion plays a lot of scenes like a silent movie actress. Like Chaplin, Piaf created a character. She intentionally created a myth and had no qualms about making things up, especially to reporters who swallowed stories that are still accepted at face-value today.”
Clotilde Courau plays Anetta, Edith’s mother, who abandoned her child for a career as a singing artist.
Olivier Dahan says: “Clotilde has a small but crucial role. It’s a very difficult part. Piaf’s mother frequently asked her daughter for money and Edith, despite her bitterness, always helped her. She’s the only one in the family not to be buried with her.”
Jean-Paul Rouve plays Louis Gassion, a traveling showman. The director comments: “I have known Jean-Paul for a long time and I really wanted to work with him. I like the sensitivity that he physically brings to the part.”
Sylvie Testud plays Momone, Edith’s friend at the beginning of her career.
Olivier Dahan recalls: “I didn’t know Sylvie and she was a revelation to me. I had seen her in other movies but they give a false impression of her. She’s very funny. As an actress, she’s as good as she is simple and unpretentious. I like the perspective she has on everything.”
The director adds: “I didn’t know Gérard Depardieu personally. Alain suggested him to me. He plays Louis Leplée, who gave Edith her big break. From our very first meeting, we got on well. Gérard is similar to Piaf. He doesn’t distinguish between life and art. They intermingle.”
Alain Goldman adds: “I got to know Gérard on 1492. In my career as a producer, he was the first actor I signed up for a film. When we got back from the shoot in Costa Rica, he predicted that we’d work together for twenty years. Ever since, I ask him to participate on each of my projects, even if only for a few days. Making a film with Gérard is not just making a film, it’s writing a small page of movie history.”
Pascal Greggory plays Piaf’s manager, Louis Barrier.
Olivier Dahan says: “I had worked with Pascal before. He called me and I completely rewrote the part for him. On Ginou Richer’s advice, he was also the only character I altered. She told me one of the secrets to the character. Louis was madly in love with Piaf and they even dated in the early days. It’s not mentioned in any of her biographies. It shows the character in a new light and Pascal was right to insist.”
The director remarks: “The only part I auditioned was the one for Marcel Cerdan, the boxing world champion. I needed an actor who had a certain likeness and could box. I had known Jean-Pierre Martins for a long time but I hadn’t thought of him for the part. He used to play with a band called Les Silmarils, and I directed a video for them about twelve years ago. After a couple of rehearsals, he had made the part his own.”
Emmanuelle Seigner plays Titine, the prostitute who becomes very attached to Edith.
Olivier Dahan remembers: “I met Emmanuelle to discuss another project that never got made, so I grabbed the chance to work with her. Piaf really was raised in a brothel, but I made up the character of Titine from a factual basis. I thought that prostitutes, with their maternal side, must have liked having a little girl live with them.
Olivier Dahan recalls: “The film wasn’t easy to finance. Alain had to work very hard to secure funding. None of the potential backers seemed inspired by a film about Piaf. So, we had a very short prep time, maybe 3 — 4 months. More than ever, I had to rely on my intuition. There were no read-throughs or rehearsals, which I don’t like anyway. On set, just like when I’m writing, it’s the first draft — spontaneity — that I’m looking for. We had such a frantic schedule that I only saw some sets for the first time the day we were shooting there. The art department worked round the clock. Occasionally, the paint still wasn’t dry on the sets when we started shooting.”
Alain Goldman says: “Every decision was an artistic one. That was the line we had fixed for ourselves and I’m glad we stuck to it. My company carried all the risk. We were constantly at the mercy of running over budget or schedule, and, boy, did we! But the film was so enthralling that we owed it to ourselves to give it every chance to succeed. Some backers pulled out. I have no ill feelings, but it was tough sometimes to hold on. Luckily, TF1 came through for us. The end result is entirely down to Olivier’s talent, but I’m pleased we hung on in there to make it possible for him.
Olivier Dahan adds: “The shoot was spread over four and a half months in early 2006. We shot mostly in studio in Prague, with a few weeks in Paris and Los Angeles. The scenes in New York were shot in studio. Obviously, the film required lots of period sets. Some of them, such as a hallway in a hotel with a view of New York, were built for a single scene or even a single shot. There was a huge variety of sets of all sizes. The film goes from handcarts to limousines as Piaf went from early 20th century rural to mid-20th century urban. I didn’t want to reenact it, but to immerse the audience in it. The narrative had to be impressionist, not linear. I wanted to intertwine various periods, skipping from one period to another by associating ideas or images, like when memories flash through your mind. Olivier Raoux, the production designer, was superb. On top of that, the finesse and chiaroscura of Tetsuo Nagata’s lighting gave me stunning precision visually. It was the first time I had worked with him and I was mesmerized by his mastery of light.”
The director continues: “We began with the scenes in the brothel, with little Manon Chevallier playing Edith aged 5. For the scenes when she’s 10, Pauline Burlet took over. Every scene, from Edith’s childhood through Marion’s scenes, have the same intensity because she was the same person, though at different stages in her life. I applied the same approach to directing the two little girls as I did to directing Marion.
The director adds: “I spent a long time pondering how I should approach one of the big moments in Piaf’s life — which has been told over and over — when she learns that Marcel Cerdan, the love of her life, has been killed in a plane crash on his way to be with her. I imagined the scene as a sequence shot that would sum up her life in some way — happy that morning, broken that night, but on stage even so. The scene was shot on a specially designed set. We rehearsed it and blocked it for a long time.”
On the subject of the soundtrack, the director says: “I let my instinct and senses choose the songs. Some, of course, were automatic choices. I also wanted to hear Piaf sing in English, to lose the image of the French icon. As an artist, she belongs to no one in particular but to anybody who listens to her. Every artist’s ideal is to attain universality.”
Olivier Dahan adds: “Making this film took about three years. Three very eventful years. A lot of people gave of themselves not just to make a film that would get good reviews and do good box-office, but to make a film together that would worthy of the person whose story it tells and of our ambitions. I can still remember evenings spent with friends from the crew in the apartment I had in Prague. On the other hand, I have very few memories of events on set.”
Alain Goldman remarks: “If the groundwork has been done and everything goes to plan, a producer is not much use on set. I went by for the pleasure of watching all these talents at work — Olivier, Marion, the crew and Gérard Depardieu, whom I’d describe as a kind of older brother for me. We were all working in the same direction, inspired by Piaf and Olivier. Watching the movie now, there’s no sense of it being Edith Piaf’s illustrated life story. Strangely enough, you feel as if you knew her personally. It’s definitely the most moving film I have produced.”
Olivier Dahan concludes: “This is definitely the film that gets closest to what I am. For me, the story is always just a pretext, a means of communicating the feelings that I can only express in pictures and sound. I trained in art school, not film school. I try to have a painter’s approach, not in the visual sense, but in terms of the creative process. Over the years, I try to keep it simple, to get better by digging as deep as possible into my own self. Actually, while it tells and respects Piaf’s story, this film is very autobiographical. If my own life were made into a film, it would be no more truthful than this one. The evidence shows that Edith Piaf had faith. Personally, I’m still looking. I’m lacking that inner voice that would guide me. Unless, of course, it is intuition…”
by Marion Cotillard
In my early 20s, I really got into a number of singers of “la chanson réaliste” movement and I listened to a lot of Fréhel, Yvette Guilbert, Aristide Bruant and, of course, Edith Piaf. More than the others, her songs moved me because she sang of pure, true, absolute emotions with a voice that got you in the guts. At the time, I knew almost nothing about her, but I already knew by heart songs like Les amants d’un jour, L’hymne à l’amour and La foule. On several occasions since then, I’ve listened to her songs just before a scene in order to reach a vulnerable, emotional state. Piaf helped me as an actress long before I got the chance to play her.
Very early on, my agent told me that Olivier Dahan was writing a film about Piaf and had thought of me for the part, but experience has taught me not to pay too much attention to rumors like that until you have the script in front of you. In the next few months, from time to time I’d hear other rumors or push the whole thing out of my mind, and then one day, Olivier asked to meet me. We got on right away and felt very comfortable with each other, as if it was obvious that our paths would cross one day.
Before that meeting, I had glanced over a few photos of Piaf. I didn’t want to be presumptuous and invest too much energy in a part I hadn’t even been offered, but I couldn’t help setting out to find her. When I realized that Olivier really wanted to make the film with me, I couldn’t wait to get started. He gave me Jean Noli’s book about the last three years of Piaf’s life. My admiration for her only increased when I found out what kind of life she had had.
At the time, the script was longer, but already quite exceptional. Olivier had built an intimate, balanced, very human portrait of Piaf. His screenplay was full of powerful moments, life-changing encounters, breakups, desertions, hope and love. A regular movie only ever has one scene that reaches that pitch. This one is full of them. In fact, I think it’s probably her intensity, in the good times and the bad, which explains why she only lived to forty-seven. It was an extraordinary role but I soon realized how demanding it would be to play Piaf from her early days to her death. I had never been given a role like that before. Nobody had ever asked me to play a woman like that, a life like that. It was all very new to me. I was nervous but I never felt a glimmer of doubt. That’s probably down to not ever feeling any doubt in Olivier’s mind. He had faith in me and that’s all I needed. The other thing that stopped me totally panicking was that, although I imagined it would be difficult, but I never imagined just how difficult!
In October 2005, right after I finished shooting Ridley Scott’s A Good Year, I got down to work every day. I would open the script, read these amazing scenes and close it immediately, hardly daring to think what was awaiting me. A little voice told me to open the script back up and read some more because one day soon I would be in La Brasserie Julien playing that scene. Or in the apartment on Boulevard Lannes reading Non, je ne regrette rien for the first time, and I would have to play that scene. Or I had be lying on her death bed and I wouldn’t be able to back out! So I’d read some more of the script, with my heart pounding. Many times, I’ve been so apprehensive I feel like calling up a director to tell him to find another actress. But on this film, even when I was a nervous wreck, never, not once!
From the very beginning, I said that I would need to work with a coach. It wasn’t about physical issues or needing reassurance, but I wanted somebody at my side to set out to meet Piaf with me. I’d already worked with Pascal Luneau and he showed me something that was absolutely vital. I had so much admiration for Piaf that some aspects of her were incomprehensible to me, especially the tyrannical aspect. Pascal helped me realize that my admiration prevented me getting to the bottom of her. Losing that admiration didn’t mean not liking her anymore, but reaching another level. I stopped making myself so small in comparison to her and that’s when I got a handle on everything I didn’t like in her personality. Eventually, I came to really love her because I realized that the only thing she couldn’t bear was to be alone. She would go to any lengths not to be alone, even if it meant tyrannizing the people she loved.
We never worked on the physical aspects of the character — the way she walked, move, spoke — and then, the first day on set, I heard “Action!” and this voice I had never heard before came out of my mouth. In fact, my preparation had focused totally on observing and immersing myself in Edith Piaf. I watched so many tapes and listened to so many interviews that they ended up feeding a kind of inner process. From the start, I knew I didn’t want just to imitate her. My aim was to make enough room within me for Piaf to feel at home, without me disappearing completely. I had to welcome her in so that we could get on and create something together.
Part of being an actor is inviting characters in or summoning them up to share with you what you are. When you play Phedra, you kind of call on her. Of course, when you play someone as powerful and present as Piaf, it’s even more overwhelming. Some people may find all that a bit mystical, but all I can say is that after spending so long watching, listening to and loving her, I often had the impression that she was there. I was so deeply steeped in the way she moved and spoke, down to the tiniest inflections of her voice, that it was as if she existed within me. I arrived on set to meet up with her again! I’m not putting any mystical or esoteric spin on all this, it was just an encounter, an extraordinary encounter. Something of her recreated itself in me. It lasted only as long as we were shooting. At certain moments, you felt her presence. I often felt like we were working together. And then, you leave your ego to one side and just go for it. It’s frightening but absolutely thrilling. The first scene I had to play like that was set in the apartment on Boulevard Lannes, when Charles Dumont brings her Non, je ne regrette rien. I found myself speaking and moving as if Piaf were inside me. Even if we had to do it again and again, even though it was tough, that’s when I realized that I was going to get a great kick out of playing her.
The make-up tests where sheer hell and a lot of make-up artists fell short! Each time, we had to start over with somebody new. That phase caused me so much worry because the results never came up to our expectations and I knew that, however good my performance was, if the make-up didn’t work, it would be impossible for the audience to believe in it. Didier Lavergne did an amazing job, despite having less time than such a huge challenge usually requires. The make-up still took a certain time to get right and we had to shoot certain scenes again.
Playing Piaf when she was younger was less of a problem because I didn’t have such heavy make-up. On set, Olivier uses few words but they are all spot-on. He directs visually, by describing things. That may seem mechanical, but it’s totally intuitive for him and it worked perfectly for me. He offered us some magical moments, like the sequence shot when Piaf finds out that Cerdan is dead. I knew the dimensions of the set by heart — a long hallway that I had to prowl up and down. We had all rehearsed the scene. Everybody had to be in exactly the right place. There was a real buzz of excitement — exceptional, positive energy. We couldn’t afford to put a foot wrong because it would mean having to start all over again. When I woke up that morning, I thought of Roberto, the steadicam operator, and Chris, the focus puller, and I said to myself that we were going to waltz together. When the scene was in the can, we all had the most wonderful feeling.
The crew members were the first to see my transformation and, to be honest, I felt a kind of stage-fright because I admire them all. I was especially nervous of the scenes when I played Piaf in her later years. I’ll never forget my first scene with Pascal Greggory, Marie-Armelle Deguy, Elisabeth Commelin and Jean-Paul Muel. They were all wonderful. We were all headed toward exactly the same goal.
I like to sing, but the technical process of miming to a tape was the hardest thing for me, simply because I wanted it to be perfect. I worked with a singing teacher to learn how Piaf sang — her body and tongue movements, and breathing. It was so complicated it nearly drove me insane. If I had tapes of her singing a particular song, I analyzed her performance. I noticed that being in rhythm isn’t enough when you’re miming. Your breathing is vital. I would jot down the exact moment when she took a breath, then I’d put the music on and film myself singing to camera. I spent whole nights taking notes on what not to do! I wanted it to be Piaf.
There were some truly amazing moments on this film, like when we were shooting at the Olympia concert hall in Paris, when Piaf makes a wonderful return to the stage with Non, je ne regrette rien. Ginou Richer, who was very close to Piaf, was in the audience. It felt incredible being with her on set. It must have been strange for her. When I arrived on stage to sing that song, with Ginou there, it was absolutely magical.
I’ll never approach a part in the same way again. Piaf taught me so much. In terms of my work, I think I’ll enjoy it even more than before because now I know that characters truly exist in their own right. I’ll have a way to bring them even more intensely to life.
Edith Piaf MARION COTILLARD
Momone SYLVIE TESTUD
Louis Barrier PASCAL GREGGORY
Titine EMMANUELLE SEIGNER
Louis Gassion JEAN-PAUL ROUVE
Louis Leplée GÉRARD DEPARDIEU
Anetta CLOTILDE COURAU
Marcel Cerdan JEAN-PIERRE MARTINS
Louise CATHERINE ALLEGRET
Raymond Asso MARC BARBE
Marlene Dietrich CAROLINE SILHOL
Edith Piaf aged 5 MANON CHEVALLIER
Edith Piaf aged 10 PAULINE BURLET
Director – Writer OLIVIER DAHAN
Adaptation and dialogues OLIVIER DAHAN and ISABELLE SOBELMAN
Producer ALAIN GOLDMAN
Associate producer CATHERINE MORISSE-MONCEAU
Director of Photography TETSUO NAGATA A.F.C
Production Manager MARC VADE
1st Assistant Director MATHIAS HONORE
Production Designer OLIVIER RAOUX
Costume Designer MARIT ALLEN
Film Editor RICHARD MARIZY
Casting Director OLIVIER CARBONE
Sound Engineer LAURENT ZEILIG
Sound Mixer JEAN-PAUL HURIER
Sound Editor PASCAL VILLARD
Postproduction Supervisor ABRAHAM GOLDBLAT
Composer CHRISTOPHER GUNNING
Music Consultant EDOUARD DUBOIS
Prague Production Facilities OKKO PRODUCTIONS s.r.o
MARC JENNY / OLDA MACH
London Production SONGBIRD PICTURES LIMITED
1st Assistant director OLDRICH MACH, Jr
2nd Assistants director VOJTECH HLAVICKA
UK Casting Director ALEX JOHNSON
Children’s coachs HARMEL SBRAIRE
Script Supervisor VIRGINIE LE PIONNIER
Production manager MICHAL PRIKRYL
Coordinator ELIZABETH BOORN
Accountant MARC PARIS
Production Coordinator Czech Republic DENISA MURINOVA
Unit Manager Prague ZDENEK FLÍDR
Unit Manager Paris THIERRY CRETAGNE
Asst. Unit Managers TOMMY KERNE
Camera/Steadicam Operator ROBERTO DE ANGELIS
Focus puller CHRISTIAN ABOMNES
Photographer BRUNO CALVO
2nd Unit Director of Photography GILBERT DIT BERTOT LECLUYSE
2nd Unit Camera/Steadicam Operator MATHIEU CAUDROY
Sound assistant JEAN-BAPTISTE FAURE
Asst. Set Designers STANISLAS REYDELLET
Prop handler ANTOINE GALINIE
Set Dressers CÉCILE VATELOT
Location Managers FRANCK ROUCHES
Fitter FRÉDÉRIC DEVILLERS
Key Painter JEAN-NOËL DELALANDE
Costume Supervisors DAVE CROSSMAN
Wardrobe Mistress NATALIE HUMPHRIES
Casting extras BRIGITTE FOURCADE
Key Make-up Artists DIDIER LAVERGNE
Make-up Artists GABRIELA POLÁKOVÁ
ELISA MARIA COSTA ELLIS
Key Hair Stylist JAN ARCHIBALD
Hair Stylists BARA KICHI
Key Grips GASTON GRANDIN
Gaffer PATRICK CONTESSE
Backup Film Editor YVES BELONIAK
Sound editors GAEL NICOLAS
Dialogue Editor CHARLES AUTRAND
Music Editor KATIA BOUTIN
Director 2nd unit SÉBASTIEN CAUDRON
Boom Operator DIDIER LESAGE
Foley Artist PHILIPPE PENOT
Boxing Consultant ALAIN FIGLARZ
Edith Piaf singer JIL AIGROT
Vocal Artistic Director MICK LANARO
Edith Piaf singer as a child CASSANDRE BERGER
Singer MAYA BARSONY
Recording Sound Engineer STÉPHANE REICHART
Pianist ALCEO PASSEO
Accordionist FRÉDÉRIC FORET
A French — British – Czech – coproduction LEGENDE – TF1 INTERNATIONAL
TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION
OKKO PRODUCTION s.r.o
SONGBIRD PICTURES LIMITED
With the participation of CANAL+ and TPS STAR
In association with SOFICA VALOR 7
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
A GOOD YEAR by Ridley SCOTT
2006 DIKKENEK by Olivier VAN HOOFSTADT
FAIR PLAY by Lionel BAILLIU
TOI ET MOI by Julie LOPES-CURVAL
SAUF LE RESPECT QUE JE VOUS DOIS by Fabienne GODET
2005 MARY by Abel FERRARA
EDY by Stéphan GUERIN-TILLIE
LA BOÎTE NOIRE by Richard BERRY
MA VIE EN L’AIR by Rémi BEZANÇON
CAVALCADE by Steve SUISSA
2004 UN LONG DIMANCHE DE FIANÇAILLES by Jean-Pierre JEUNET
Best Supporting Actress, Cesar 2005
NARCO by Tristan AUROUET & Gilles LELLOUCHE
L’ÉCOLE by Lucille HADZIHALILOVIC
BIG FISH by Tim BURTON
2003 JEUX D’ENFANTS by Yann SAMUELL
TAXI III by Gérard KRAWCZYK
2002 UNE AFFAIRE PRIVÉE by Guillaume NICLOUX
2001 LES JOLIES CHOSES by Gilles PAQUET-BRENNER
Nomination for Most Promising Actress, Cesar 2002
LISA by Pierre GRIMBLAT
2000 TAXI II by Gérard KRAWCZYK
FURIA by Alexandre AJA
1999 DU BLEU JUSQU’EN AMÉRIQUE by Sarah LEVY
LA GUERRE DANS LE HAUT PAYS by Francis REUSSER
1998 TAXI by Gérard PIRÈS
Nomination for Most Promising Actress, Cesar 1999
1996 LA BELLE VERTE by Coline SERREAU
COMMENT JE ME SUIS DISPUTÉ (MA VIE SEXUELLE) by Arnaud DESPLECHIN
1994 L’HISTOIRE DU GARÇON QUI VOULAIT QU’ON L’EMBRASSE by Philippe HAREL
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
2006 L’HÉRITAGE by Gela BABLUANI
2005 LA VIE EST À NOUS ! by Gérard KRAWCZYK
LES MOTS BLEUS by Alain CORNEAU
2004 VICTOIRE by Stéphanie MURAT
CAUSE TOUJOURS ! by Jeanne LABRUNE
TOUT POUR L’OSEILLE by Bertrand van EFFENTERRE
DEMAIN ON DÉMÉNAGE by Chantal AKERMAN
2003 DÉDALES by René MANZOR
VIVRE ME TUE by Jean-Pierre SINAPI
FILLES UNIQUES by Pierre JOLIVET
STUPEUR ET TREMBLEMENTS by Alain CORNEAU
2002 AIME TON PÈRE by Jacob BERGER
TANGOS VOLÉS by Eduardo de GREGORIO
LES FEMMES… OU LES ENFANTS D’ABORD… by Manuel POIRIER
UN MOMENT DE BONHEUR by Antoine SANTANA
THE CHATEAU by Jesse PERETZ
DEAD MAN’S MEMORIES by Markus HELTSCHL
2001 JE RENTRE À LA MAISON by Manoel de OLIVEIRA
JULIES GEIST by Bettina WILHELM
CE QUI COMPTE POUR MATHILDE by Stéphanie MURAT
2000 LA CHAMBRE OBSCURE by Marie-Christine QUESTERBERT
LES BLESSURES ASSASSINES by Jean-Pierre DENIS
LA CAPTIVE by Chantal AKERMAN
SADE by Benoît JACQUOT
LUCIE by Guillaume NICLOUX
JEDERMANNS FEST by Fritz LEHNER
1999 KARNAVAL by Thomas VINCENT
MARÉE HAUTE by Caroline CHAMPETIER
JEU D’ARTIFICE by Eric JAMEUX
ANNALUISE ET ANTON by Caroline LINK
1998 THE MISADVENTURES OF MARGARET by Brian SKEET
SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION by C. S. LEIGH
IN HEAVEN by Michael BINDLECHNER
1997 LES RAISONS DU CŒUR by Markus IMHOOF
1996 LOVE ETC. by Marion VERNOUX
BEYOND SILENCE by Caroline LINK
1995 LE PLUS BEL ÂGE by Didier HAUDEPIN
COUPLES ET AMANTS by John LVOFF
1994 ÉTERNELLES by Erick ZONCA
1998 JE VEUX DESCENDRE
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
2006 PARDONNEZ-MOI by MAIWENN
LA TOURNEUSE DE PAGES by Denis DERCOURT
2005 GABRIELLE by Patrice CHÉREAU
2004 ARSÈNE LUPIN by Jean-Paul SALOME
2003 SON FRÈRE by Patrice CHÉREAU
RAJA by Jacques DOILLON
24 HEURES DE LA VIE D’UNE FEMME by Laurent BOUHNIK
2002 LA VIE PROMISE by Olivier DAHAN
NID DE GUÈPES by Florent Emilio SIRI
2001 UN ANGE by Miguel COURTOIS
2000 LA CONFUSION DES GENRES by Ilan DURAN COHEN
2000 LA FIDELITE by Andrzej ZULAWSKI
1999 JEANNE D’ARC by Luc BESSON
LE TEMPS RETROUVE by Raoul RUIZ
POURQUOI SE MARIER LE JOUR DE LA FIN DU MONDE ? by Harry CLEVEN
1998 ZONZON by Laurent BOUHNIK
CEUX QUI M’AIMENT PRENDRONT LE TRAIN by Patrice CHÉREAU
1997 LUCIE AUBRAC by Claude BERRI
1994 LA REINE MARGOT by Patrice CHÉREAU
COMME UN AIR DE RETOUR by Loredana BIANCONI
1993 LA SOIF DE L’OR by Gérard OURY
VILLA MAURESQUE by Patrick MIMOUNI
L’ARBRE, LE MAIRE ET LA MEDIATHÈQUE by Eric ROHMER
1988 LA COULEUR DU VENT by Pierre GRANIER-DEFERRE
LES PYRAMIDES BLEUES by Arielle DOMBASLE
1985 LA NUIT PORTE-JARRETELLES by Virginie THEVENET
GRENOUILLES by Adolfo ARRIETA
1983 PAULINE À LA PLAGE by Eric ROHMER
1982 LE CRIME D’AMOUR by Guy GILLES
LE BEAU MARIAGE by Eric ROHMER
CHASSE-CROISÉ by Arielle DOMBASLE
1979 LES SŒURS BRONTÉ by André TECHINE´
1978 FLAMMES by Adolfo ARRIETA
1976 DOCTEUR FRANÇOISE GAILLAND by Jean-Louis BERTUCELLI
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
LE SCAPHANDRE ET LE PAPILLON by Julian SCHNABEL
FOUR LAST SONGS by Francesca JOSEPH
2005 BACKSTAGE by Emmanuelle BERCOT
2004 ILS SE MARIÈRENT ET EURENT BEAUCOUP D’ENFANTS by Yvan ATTAL
2003 LES IMMORTELS (Os Imortais) by Antonio-Pedro VASCONCELOS
CORPS À CORPS by François HANSS
2002 LAGUNA by Denis BERRY
STREGHE VERSO NORD by Giovanni VERONESI
1999 BUDDY BOY by Marc HANLON
LA NEUVIÈME PORTE by Roman POLANSKI
1998 PLACE VENDÔME by Nicole GARCIA
1997 NIRVANA by Gabriele SALVATORES
1997 RPM by Robert YOUNG
1996 LA DIVINE POURSUITE by Michel DEVILLE
1995 POURVU QUE ÇA DURE by Michel THIBAUD
1994 LE SOURIRE by Claude MILLER
1992 LUNES DE FIEL by Roman POLANSKI
1989 IL MALE OSCURO by Mario MONICELLI
1988 FRANTIC by Roman POLANSKI
1986 COURS PRIVE by Pierre GRANIER-DEFERRE
1985 DÉTECTIVE by Jean-Luc GODARD
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
L’ÎLE AUX TRÉSORS by Alain BERBERIAN
2006 NOS JOURS HEUREUX by Olivier NAKACHE & Eric TOLEDANO
BUNKER PARADISE by Stefan LIBERSKI
LE TEMPS DES PORTE-PLUMES by Daniel DUVAL
2005 MADAGASCAR by Eric DARNELL & Tom Mc GRATH
(Melman’s voice in French)
2005 JE PRÉFÈRE QU’ON RESTE AMIS by Olivier NAKACHE & Eric TOLEDANO
2005 BOUDU by Gérard JUGNOT
2004 UN PETIT JEU SANS CONSÉQUENCE by Bernard RAPP
UN LONG DIMANCHE DE FIANÇAILLES by Jean-Pierre JEUNET
PODIUM by Yann MOIX
RRRrrrr!!! by Alain CHABAT
2003 MOI CÉSAR, 10 ANS 1/2, 1 m 39 by Richard BERRY
2003 MAIS QUI A TUÉ PAMELA ROSE ? by Eric LARTIGAU
2002 MON IDÔLE by Guillaume CANET
JOJO LA FRITE by Nicolas CUCHE
2002 MONSIEUR BATIGNOLE by Gérard JUGNOT
Most Promising Actor, Cesar 2003
ASTÉRIX ET OBÉLIX: MISSION CLÉOPÂTRE by Alain CHABAT
2001 TANGUY by Etienne CHATILLEZ
2000 LE PETIT POUCET by Olivier DAHAN
1999 KARNAVAL by Thomas VINCENT
TRAFIC D’INFLUENCE by Dominique FARRUGIA
1998 SÉRIAL LOVER by James HUTH
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
2002 MON IDOLE by Guillaume CANET
LA MENTALE by Manuel BOURSINHAC
UN MONDE PRESQUE PAISIBLE by Michel DEVILLE
EMBRASSEZ QUI VOUS VOUDREZ by Michel BLANC
LE NOUVEAU JEAN-CLAUDE by Didier TRONCHET
2000 EXIT by Olivier MEGATON
PROMENONS-NOUS DANS LES BOIS by Lionel DELPLANQUE
LA PARENTHÈSE ENCHANTÉE by Michel SPINOSA
EN FACE by Mathias LEDOUX
1999 DETERRENCE by Rod LURRIE
MILK by William BROOKFIELD
1998 LE POULPE by Guillaume NICLOUX
HORS JEU by Karim DRIDI
1997 MARTHE by Jean-Loup HUBERT
FRED by Pierre JOLIVET
1996 LES GRANDS DUCS by Patrice LECONTE
1995 L’APPÂT by Bertrand TAVERNIER
ÉLISA by Jean BECKER
Suzanne Bianchetti Prize 1995
Nomination for Most Promising Actress and Best Supporting Actress, Cesar 1996
1995 TOM EST TOUT SEUL by Fabien ONTENIENTE
1993 POLSKI CRASH by Kaspar HEIDELBACH
THE PICKLE by Paul MAZURSKY
1993 MAP OF THE HUMAN HEART by Vincent WARD
1990 LE PETIT CRIMINEL by Jacques DOILLON
Best Actress, European Film Awards 1991
Nomination for Most Promising Actress, Cesar 1991
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
2005 L’EMPIRE DES LOUPS by Chris NAHON
2003 LAISSE TES MAINS SUR MES HANCHES by Chantal LAUBY
MUSIC (Member of the band LES SILMARILS)
2003 “4 Life”
2000 “Vegas 76″
1997 “Original Karma”
2007 LA VIE EN ROSE by Olivier DAHAN
ASTÉRIX AUX JEUX OLYMPIQUES by Frédéric FORRESTIER
MICHOU D’AUBER by Thomas GILOU
2006 QUAND J’ÉTAIS CHANTEUR by Xavier GIANNOLI
2005 OLE by Florence QUENTIN
COMBIEN TU M’AIMES ? by Bertrand BLIER
BOUDU by Gérard JUGNOT
JE PRÉFÈRE QU’ON RESTE AMIS by Olivier NAKACHE & Eric TOLEDANO
2004 LES TEMPS QUI CHANGENT by André TECHINE
36, QUAI DES ORFÈVRES by Olivier MARCHAL
NATHALIE… by Anne FONTAINE
2003 TAIS-TOI by Francis VEBER
BON VOYAGE by Jean-Paul RAPPENEAU
2002 ASTÉRIX ET OBÉLIX: MISSION CLÉOPÂTRE by Alain CHABAT
AIME TON PÈRE by Jacob BERGER
2001 LE PLACARD by Francis VEBER
VIDOCQ by PITOF
CONCURRENCE DELOYALE (Concorrenza sleale) by Ettore SCOLA
102 DALMATIANS by Kevin LIMA
2000 LES ACTEURS by Bertrand BLIER
VATEL OU LE VERTIGE by Roland JOFFE
1999 UN PONT ENTRE DEUX RIVES by Gérard DEPARDIEU & Frédéric AUBURTIN
ASTÉRIX ET OBÉLIX CONTRE CÉSAR by Claude ZIDI
1998 LA PAROLA AMORE ESISTE by Mimmo CALOPRESTI
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK by Randall WALLACE
1997 HAMLET by Kenneth BRANAGH
THE SECRET AGENT by Christopher HAMPTON
XXL by Ariel Zeitoun
1996 UNHOOK THE STARS by Nick CASSAVETES
BOGUS by Norman JEWISON
LE PLUS BEAU METIER DU MONDE by Gérard Lauzier
1995 LE GARÇU by Maurice PIALAT
LES ANGES GARDIENS by Jean-Marie POIRE
ÉLISA by Jean BECKER
1994 LA MACHINE by François DUPEYRON
MY FATHER, THE HERO by Steve MINER
UNA PURA FORMALITA by Giuseppe TORNATORE
LE COLONEL CHABERT by Yves ANGELO
1993 GERMINAL by Claude BERRI
HÉLAS POUR MOI by Jean-Luc GODARD
1992 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE by Ridley SCOTT
1991 MON PÈRE CE HÉROS by Gérard LAUZIER
TOUS LES MATINS DU MONDE by Alain CORNEAU
MERCI LA VIE by Bertrand BLIER
1991 GREEN CARD by Peter WEIR
1990 URANUS by Claude BERRI
CYRANO DE BERGERAC by Jean-Paul RAPPENEAU
1989 I WANT TO GO HOME by Alain RESNAIS
DEUX by Claude ZIDI
TROP BELLE POUR TOI by Bertrand BLIER
1988 DROLE D’ENDROIT POUR UNE RENCONTRE by François DUPEYRON
CAMILLE CLAUDEL by Bruno NUYTTEN
1987 SOUS LE SOLEIL DE SATAN by Maurice PIALAT
1986 LES FUGITIFS by Francis VEBER
TENUE DE SOIRÉE by Bertrand BLIER
JEAN DE FLORETTE by Claude BERRI
1985 POLICE by Maurice PIALAT
1984 RIVE DROITE, RIVE GAUCHE by Philippe LABRO
LE TARTUFFE by Gérard DEPARDIEU
FORT SAGANNE by Alain CORNEAU
1983 LES COMPÈRES by Francis VEBER
LA LUNE DANS LE CANIVEAU by Jean-Jacques BEINEIX
1982 LE GRAND FRÈRE by Francis GIROD
LE RETOUR DE MARTIN GUERRE by Daniel VIGNE
1982 DANTON by Andrzej WAJDA
1981 LA CHÈVRE by Francis VEBER
LA FEMME D’À CÔTE by François TRUFFAUT
LE CHOIX DES ARMES by Alain CORNEAU
INSPECTEUR LA BAVURE by Claude ZIDI
JE VOUS AIME by Claude BERRI
LE DERNIER MÉTRO by François TRUFFAUT
1980 MON ONCLE D’AMÉRIQUE by Alain RESNAIS
1980 LOULOU by Maurice PIALAT
1979 BUFFET FROID by Bertrand BLIER
1978 LE GRAND EMBOUTEILLAGE by Luigi COMENCINI
LES CHIENS by Alain JESSUA
LE SUCRE by Jacques ROUFFIO
PRÉPAREZ VOS MOUCHOIRS by Bertrand BLIER
1977 LE CAMION by Marguerite DURAS
DITES-LUI QUE JE L’AIME by Claude MILLER
1976 BAXTER, VERA BAXTER by Marguerite DURAS
RENÉ LA CANNE by Francis GIROD
BAROCCO by André TECHINE´
1900 by Bernardo BERTOLUCCI
LA DERNIÈRE FEMME by Marco FERRERI
1975 MAÎTRESSE by Barbet SCHROEDER
SEPT MORTS SUR ORDONNANCE by Jacques ROUFFIO
1974 VINCENT, FRANÇOIS, PAUL ET LES AUTRES by Claude SAUTET
STAVISKY by Alain RESNAIS
LES VALSEUSES by Bertrand BLIER
1973 LES GASPARDS by Pierre TCHERNIA
DEUX HOMMES DANS LA VILLE by José GIOVANNI
1973 L’AFFAIRE DOMINICI by Claude-Bernard AUBERT
1972 LE VIAGER by Pierre TCHERNIA
LA SCOUMOUNE by José GIOVANNI
AU RENDEZ-VOUS DE LA MORT JOYEUSE by Juan Luis BUNUEL
NATHALIE GRANGER by Marguerite DURAS
1971 UN PEU DE SOLEIL DANS L’EAU FROIDE by Jacques DERAY
LE TUEUR by Denys DE LA PATELLIÈRE
1970 LE CRI DU CORMORAN LE SOIR AU-DESSUS DES JONQUES by Michel AUDIARD
2007 LA MOME / LA VIE EN ROSE (and sc.)
2004 CRIMSON RIVERS II : ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE
2002 GHOST RIVER (and sc.)
2001 TOM THUMB (and sc.)
1998 ALREADY DEAD (and sc.)
1994 BROTHERS : RED ROULETTE (and sc.)
2000 MEHDI CHAREF BY OLIVIER DAHAN
About Mehdi Charef’s film MARIE-LINE
Ten portraits of American musicians in their hometown
Since 1992, various music videos for the following artists: Raphaël, Johnny Hallyday, Renaud, Florent Pagny, Zucchero, Stéphane Eicher, The Cranberries, etc.
from Reelz Channel (US) / by Heather Huntington
Our interview with the explosive star of La Vie en Rose.
You may not think you’ve seen Marion Cotillard before, but you’d probably be wrong. The stunning French actress has actually crossed over to American film a while ago, including roles in Big Fish and A Good Year.
This Friday she takes on her biggest challenge yet in the impressionistic biopic about the turbulent life of Edith Piaf, the French songstress famous for such songs as “La vie en rose”—from which the film takes its name.
Cotillard first heard about La Vie en Rose before it was even written. “My agent called me one day and he told me that [director] Olivier Dahan, that I didn’t know at all, was about to write a script about the life of Edith Piaf and he was thinking about me,” says Cotillard. She decided not to get her hopes up until the script was really offered to her, which it was when Dahan completed it a year later.
“When I finished the script,” says Cotillard, “what I had just read was–I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that I had this in my hands.”
Although somewhat daunted by the role, she jumped at the chance. “I haven’t imagined that one day I would play a whole life,” explains Cotillard, who portrayed Piaf from her teens to her death at age 47.
By all accounts, Edith’s Piaf life was incredible—from growing up in her grandmother’s whorehouse to singing for her dinner in the mean streets of Paris to fame and wealth as a singer of international renown. And Cotillard feels that Piaf was easily her most challenging role to date. “I didn’t try to imitate her. I wanted to understand her inside,” the actress explains. “There’s a very technical part–reading, watching, listening. I watched her a lot, the movies she did as an actress, the interviews, her personal images, like the Super 8 intimate footage of her. And I tried to understand who she was.”
But as humble as Cotillard may be about her process, the transformation she had to undergo to embody Piaf was dramatic—both the character to her physicality, particularly later in life when Piaf was ill. “I had a body prosthetic to make [the hunch in her back] a little bigger. And a prosthetic on the face and a lot of latex,” she says. “At the end I had that bald cap with the few orange hairs. But it’s–I really liked it. Even if sometimes I wanted to kill all those people around me, touching me, touching me! And all those smells!”
La Vie en Rose is full of Piaf’s songs, and most of the recordings Dahan used were Piaf’s own. “The only part I sing myself was because she was drunk and she sang like hell. And they decided, I don’t know why, to keep my voice!” Cotillard jokes.
For the most part, though, Cotillard lip synched the musical scenes. “The lip synch is a very, very difficult thing to do. It is very technical. You have to be very precise, very accurate. Everything counts. Your whole body, your whole body is involved in the process of doing a good lip sync,” she recounts. “It was important for us that make it this almost perfect, because if it’s not, the audience will just come out from the movie for that long. And you can’t do this.”
La Vie en Rose opens this Friday, June 8, 2007, in limited release.
from Ioncinema.com (US) / by Benjamin Crossley-Marra
If you met Marion Cotillard in person you probably wouldn’t draw any association with France’s beloved icon Edith Piaf. Marion is tall, demure and extremely striking. Edith was diminutive, held a slight hunchback never bothered to carry herself in an overly lady-like manner. But a peculiar aura surrounds them both. This aura is what director Olivier Dahan must have felt when he chose Marion to portray Edith Piaf in his latest film La Vie en Rose.
When Marion walks in the room all eyes immediately lighten up and everyone becomes transfixed with every word that drops from her mouth. When Edith Piaf sang at concert halls the audience felt as if she was singing each song just for them. It’s this energy that makes Marion the perfect choice to portray this legend.
Cotillard was born in France in 1975 and made her mark on French cinema in 1998 starring in Luc Besson’s Taxi. Since then she has appeared in a number of notable films including Jean Pierre-Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement and Ridley Scott’s A Good Year.
Dahan chose Cotillard to play Edith prior to meeting her and steadfastly refused to consider anyone else. His intuition proved ingenious, as Marion’s performance is certainly one of this year’s best. She manages to channel Piaf with such ferocity and emotion it’s hard to believe that young Marion is under all that make-up.
Piaf was not an easy part to play. From the time she was seventeen to her untimely death at age forty-seven her life went through several dramatic changes. She was raised on the streets, became involved with underworld clubs, contracted arthritis at an early age, become addicted to morphine and suffered cancer in her later years. All this required extreme physical demands from the actress.
I met Marion in New York to discuss her performance, her life and her views on acting.
Q: How hard was it to transform into Edith? What was the process like?
MC: Well it’s not so hard…it’s just work and trying to have fun with something vertiginous. There are some technical parts which are hard like lip-syncing. But there was also a technical part about the character. Of course because I didn’t know anything about Edith’s life I had to read a lot of books and watch a lot of her work that’s available on film. The most important thing was to try and understand who she was and I guess, really, this is not something technical or a process that you can explain. In discovering the life of a person you find some things you like and some things you don’t. I think it’s looking at the things you don’t like and then abandoning your judgment that you will truly find someone else’s heart and soul.
Q: What was your favorite experience while making this film?
MC: There are so many things, but I was so afraid I would not be able to manage Edith, as her character got older. She died in her forties but looked like she was in her seventies. I was so scared but then I found my marks and when we started shooting it felt so good to be able to play like this. Ironically, I felt like I was a kid again playing pretend. It felt liberating because kids playing pretend don’t try to be good actors, they just play and have fun. Once I found out how to play with this character at that age I began to have a lot of fun with it. Especially when she’s older and in California, I loved shooting those scenes.
Q: A lot of darkness surrounded Edith’s life. Was it sometimes hard to leave all that drama back on the set at the end of the day?
MC: I have never used, nor will I ever use, my personal life to feed a character. I don’t want to do that because I think it’s dangerous for me to think of sad events in my life to achieve certain emotions. I’m not the person who will be sad about someone’s life and go into that kind of emotional state. I see Edith’s entire life and, yes, parts of it were sad but she was also a very “living” person. As an actress it gives me great pleasure playing tragedy because it involves huge emotions where you can express a lot of things and really let go.
Q: What do you draw from to achieve the emotional state of the character then?
MC: I think that it’s as if you take – the emotion you give to the character of course it’s your own emotions – but it’s as if you take the technical side of what the emotion is and apply it. This is really hard to explain because emotions are not really that technical. I think people who are close to their emotions can project them. When I first read the script I had an emotional reaction because it touched me so deeply, so I used that emotion in bringing Edith Piaf to life.
Q: Are you afraid to be stuck with Edith Piaf?
MC: I think those things only happen when you think about it too much. For example, when I first got into movies in France I had great success playing bimbos. But I never believed that I would be put in a box. I think if you have that inside of you it won’t happen.
Q: But Edith Piaf is a very iconic character.
MC: Yes, but it’s not so much about her being an icon. It’s not a matter of the subject it’s a matter of you and what you want to do. I want to have a lot of other amazing journeys and I am ultimately responsible for whether I’m in a box or not. I’m sure of this.
Q: What were your first impressions when you met with Olivier Dahan?
MC: I had read the script before I met him. When I read the script I was speechless, I couldn’t believe Oliver would think that one person could portray her for a majority of her life. I didn’t think one actress would be able to do all those scenes. But I had just read my dream role, so when I met him it felt very natural. From our first meeting we both shared the same vision for Edith. I loved the sense of intimacy that Oliver had put into the script. From that meeting on we never really talked about his script or the character again. We just shot it.
Q: What did you learn from the experience of playing Edith?
MC: It’s hard to explain with words what you’ve learned for yourself because it’s a feeling that you will keep forever; once you’ve had that experience of letting go. To abandon yourself to the point of being one with what you’re searching for. Maybe I feel stronger in a way?
Q: A lot of younger people have come out to see the film in France. What connections do you think they are making with Edith Piaf?
MC: It’s the story of an amazing woman who shared her emotions all her life and who wrote the most beautiful love songs. For her time she was (actually) kind of punk rock (laughs). She was very modern and I think even today’s youth can pick up on that. Even now with shows like American Idol (we have several variations on that in France) many of the contestants choose to sing Piaf. I think it’s because the songs break through generations and are universal. Of course they don’t actually know her life. But her life was so intense and so beautiful that I think it can touch everybody.
Q: You’ve worked with a lot of interesting directors including Ridley Scott and Jean Pierre-Jeunet, is there a particular director whose process you prefer?
MC: Well I like to work in different universes with different directors. It’s like human beings: you can’t really say what type of human beings you prefer exactly. What I really like are strong universes with strong imaginations like Jeunet, Dahan and Tim Burton. So it’s kind of hard to answer that. It’s always different because all of those directors are unique in their own way. That’s one of the things I love about this job is the opportunity to be invited to so many places
Q: Do you have any favorite songs by Piaf?
MC: Yes, many, but I especially love Padam, Padam. I also really love La Foule and several songs that are not available anymore. I listened to everything I could when doing research.
Q: Are there any other iconic women that you find fascinating you’d like to play?
MC: Each time I hear that question the first name that comes to my mind is someone I can’t do because it’s Aung San Suu Kyi. For obvious and emotional reasons I can’t. But I think a movie has to be done.
Q: Would you consider producing or directing it?
MC: Yes, definitely. I could express many things through directing, I’m not ready yet, but I guess that one day I will have that experience.
Q: Would you do the Aung San Suu Kyi film as a documentary or narrative feature?
MC: That’s a good question, I don’t really know. She’s still alive and she’s still in prison in her own house. You know I think this story is terrible…really, it touched me and because she couldn’t visit her husband who had cancer…it’s so horrible. I love that woman really, she’s a strong, strong, lady. Fighting against the army and everything.
Q: If you made the film do you think you could change things?
MC: Oh I don’t know, so many people sign things and so many people try to make things happen. But I think that maybe movies can put things in people’s minds more effectively.
Q: Are you writing yourself?
MC: Yeah I try, but writing is…wow…you really have to concentrate. I’m the kind of person that has an admiration complex. I tend to admire other people then get self-motivated. You think that maybe there’s too much ego in a way, to think that you would be able to write like…I don’t know, I’m trying.
Picturehouse Films releases La Vie en Rose in theatres this coming Friday, June 8th