Day: February 15, 2008

Everything’s Rosy For Cotillard

from San Francisco Chronicle / by John McMurtrie

Marion Cotillard has had better days. Looking a bit pale, bundled up in a black cowl-neck sweater and slouching deeply into a sofa, she occasionally reaches for a cup of tea. With any luck, the drink will help fight off a cold that’s left her with a rib-rattling cough.

Behind her, outside the 12th-floor window of a downtown San Francisco hotel, the sky and surroundings are dull gray, streaked with heavy rainfall; it’s not unlike a typical winter day in Paris, which may make the 32-year-old Parisian actress even more homesick. She’s been away from her terre natale for a year and a half, doing publicity for the biopic “La Vie en Rose,” in which she plays Edith Piaf, and she says she longs to be back with her family and friends.

Not that she’s complaining.

“I can’t say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m fed up, baba baba baba,” she says in charmingly accented English, employing her equivalent of yada yada. “If I would say this, I wish someone would say, ‘Eh, hello! Do you know what’s happening to you? Do you know that people would love to be where you are right now?’ ”

Many people would indeed.

Last month, Cotillard won a Golden Globe for her tour de force performance as the tempestuous, hard-living and tragic chanteuse who died at age 47 in 1963. More impressively, she’s been nominated for a best actress Oscar. Astonishingly, in the Academy Awards’ 79-year history, only one actress speaking something other than English (Sophia Loren in 1961’s “Two Women”) has won the award.

Those odds don’t exactly favor Cotillard – and all the talk seems to be about Julie Christie in “Away From Her” – but Cotillard appears genuinely unconcerned about her prospects.

“I don’t think about the chances,” she says with an easy smile. “I want to appreciate the present time and really, to be nominated for an Oscar with a French movie is something so huge that I really don’t want to think about anything else.”

Before “La Vie en Rose,” Cotillard was little known outside France. She starred in the popular action-comedy franchise “Taxi,” but audiences in the States probably remember her best as the vengeful, cunning killer Tina Lombardi in “A Very Long Engagement,” from 2004.

When director Olivier Dahan approached Cotillard to play Piaf, revered as something of a demigoddess in France, she reacted as any sane actress would: “I was freaking out,” she recalls with a laugh, widening her big blue eyes. “I was like, ‘Wow, how can I do this?’

“I don’t have much confidence in myself,” she adds, “but I know one thing which helps me: I can work hard.”

That ethic served Cotillard well for a part that required her to play the diminutive Piaf as a ravaged, shrunken woman aged beyond her years – the actress’ hair and eyebrows were shaved as part of the extensive makeup work. And it meant spending countless hours lip-synching to match Piaf’s style of emotive singing.

As demanding as the role was, Cotillard says, “It was really a big adventure to be her. And I really fell in love with her. The cohabitation – that’s a word? – was going pretty good.

“So when she had to leave,” she adds, laughing, “I was alone.”

A trip to South America helped.

“I traveled in a country I’ve always wanted to go to, which is Peru,” she says. “And it washed myself. My mother went to Peru, and when she came back it was so close to her, so I wanted to go there.”

Both of Cotillard’s parents are stage actors. With their help, she got her start on the boards at age 5. TV roles followed in her teens. A career in acting wasn’t a given, Cotillard says, “but I considered so many things that I told myself maybe the best job to do a lot of jobs is to be an actress.”

Her younger twin brothers are in the arts as well – Guillaume is a writer and Quentin is a sculptor who has lived in the Bay Area for a couple of years.

Cotillard says her parents’ influence motivated her and her brothers to pursue their passions and try to do good in the world.

“My parents always told me that if you want something, you can do whatever you have to do to get it,” she says. “As long as it’s not against someone else.”

Cotillard may love acting, but listening to her, she’s most lively when discussing global inequality and threats to the environment. “There are chemicals everywhere,” she says, “and I track.” (At one point she rattles off an impressive list of scary-sounding chemicals that can be found in household products.)

A friend tired enough of hearing Cotillard simply complain about the state of the world and encouraged the actress to become an activist. She met with people from Greenpeace, and when she has the time, speaks on behalf of the organization.

In the meantime, however, there’s plenty of work to be done in Hollywood.

It was recently announced that Cotillard will play Billie Frechette, moll of the infamous bank robber John Dillinger – played by Johnny Depp – in “Public Enemies.” Michael Mann (“Heat,” “Collateral”) will direct.

Cotillard is already nervous about the film, and no, it has nothing to do with getting cozy with Depp, whom she met for the first time only a few days ago.

“When I see what I have to do with this movie, ‘La Vie en Rose’ is a piece of cake,” she says, laughing. “There’s no way she [Billie] has a French accent.”

Then comes “Nine,” in which Cotillard, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Sophia Loren will star in an adaptation of the Broadway musical. Directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago”), the film will give Cotillard the chance to actually sing, and not just move her lips, as she did in “La Vie en Rose.”

She can’t wait.

“If I had to go back to the lip sync – pfft!” She throws her hands up. “O la la, it is so hard to do. And to do the same again and again and again and again and again – at a certain point it’s just boring.”

‘La Vie en Rose’ star Marion Cotillard is in the Oscar spotlight

from USA Today / by Donna Freydkin

Marion Cotillard’s idea of a perfect way to spend an afternoon?

“Going to a museum. I love it. I think the last exhibit I saw was two years ago, here, in Santa Monica. So yeah, it has been quite a long time,” she says. “I don’t remember when I was home and had fun. I’m never in Paris. I haven’t been in Paris in so long.”

She can blame her breakthrough performance as legendary French singer Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, which has transformed the delicate French character actress into an awards circuit darling. And though all the attention is a bit jarring, Cotillard, 32, isn’t complaining.

Sure, Cotillard says in her accented but careful English, she’s “busy. Very busy. But it’s not busy forever. All this great news every day is something very, very special.”

And then, Cotillard does something an American actress would never dream of. She lifts up her hands and actually points out the tiny laugh lines around her mouth.

“I have some wrinkles here because I was smiling so much. The opportunity to share that movie like this — it has been amazing.”

But sharing the movie has meant flying all over the world both to promote it and to collect the prizes it has picked up. And that bugs Cotillard, an avid environmentalist who drives a Prius in Paris, travels to premieres and galas in hybrid vehicles and buys carbon credits when she flies.

“I try to do my best because I feel guilty,” Cotillard says. “The waste in Paris is unbelievable. Because I was living by myself also, I started to wonder about all this paper that’s falling in the trash can — I felt bad. That’s how I started to become that way. I always want to understand and know what I’m eating and what I’m buying.”

She applied that same hunger for information when she prepped to play Piaf, an abandoned urchin who became France’s most storied chanteuse. Along the way, Piaf’s only child died, and so did the great love of her life, boxer Marcel Cerdan. She became a heavy user of morphine. She drank. But on stage, she still sparkled.

Playing the French national treasure, who in her personal life wasn’t quite the petite jewel she was on stage and who died from cancer in 1963 at 47, wasn’t what intimidated Cotillard.

“I was terrified by the fact that I’d have to play a woman from age 19 to 47,” she says. “I was busy having stress with playing an old lady who was 47 looking 80.”

In person, Cotillard is flawless, with refined features and creamy skin. When she was playing the older, haggard, largely hairless Piaf, a woman ravaged by hard living and disease, Cotillard spent five hours in makeup each day. And she spent an hour each night removing all that latex and glue. Even more irritating? How she would slip into Piaf’s husky voice after she wrapped the film.

“It was not annoying for my friends; it was unbearable for me. She is someone who is very, very extreme, who has a very strong character, and when it stops, it took me a little while (to let it go).

“Well, not so little, I have to confess. When I shot the movie, off the set, my voice was more the voice of the character than mine. It took a little while for it to go up again.”

Does Cotillard ever worry that fame might lead her to become as demanding a diva as Piaf?

“She was tyrannical. You have to understand why someone can be mean. It comes from somewhere. She was abandoned as a child. Her biggest fear was to be alone. My childhood wasn’t like that. I don’t have that fear of being alone. I’m not afraid to be alone. I need sometimes to be alone.”

The few times she has been back in Paris, she has noticed how her life has changed.

“People recognize me a lot more than before. I can handle that, really. What I live is so intense and so magical that I can’t complain about anything.”

Spending the past few weeks in the USA has been something of a culture shock for Cotillard. One thing that has been particularly jarring is the media’s endless focus on the travails of Britney Spears.

“I never watch TV, but now that I’m here, I watch it, and it’s all about Britney,” she says. “I love Toxic. She has some great songs. I listen to Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Radiohead, some classical music. A lot of things, actually. The ones who stayed for a long time.”

It’s appropriate, then, that after she finishes Public Enemies with Johnny Depp, she’ll begin Rob Marshall’s musical Nine.

“My dream, since I was a child, is to do a musical. I never thought it was possible,” she says before quickly amending her comment: “I never thought it was not possible, either. That’s maybe what keeps the door open to magic.”

Cotillard has been around, but you might not know it

by Mike Clark

As French singer and onetime national institution Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, Marion Cotillard elevates an unwieldy biographical drama that’s predictably heavy on heartbreak. It’s a performance within hailing distance of the genre’s gold standard: Judy Davis and Tammy Blanchard in 2001’s Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.

Cotillard has a career stretching back 15 years — mostly in French theatrical and TV films, of which only a handful are on DVD. And her screen looks are so chameleonic that Rose admirers may not even recognize her from the handful of her movies that got significant U.S. distribution.

Here are two high-profile jewels and one undeservedly low box-office performer that are readily gettable:

Big Fish (2003, Sony, PG-13, $15; Blu-ray, $29). Coming off his worst movie (Planet of the Apes), director Tim Burton rebounded with one of his best. Albert Finney plays a lovable-to-some blowhard whose tall tales alienate his exasperated son (Billy Crudup). Cotillard plays Crudup’s wife (eventually very pregnant) and strikes an emotional chord with the old man, launching more yarn-spinning. This one’s about his courtship of Crudup’s mom (Alison Lohman and then Jessica Lange, brilliantly cast).

A Very Long Engagement (2004, Warner, R, $20). Appallingly, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s visually resplendent Amelie didn’t get 2001’s foreign-language Oscar despite five nominations overall. But his equally handsome follow-up, also starring Amelie lead Audrey Tatou, was almost as good. Cotillard appears relatively late in a small role she bit into hard enough to win a Cesar (France’s Oscar). As an imprisoned prostitute, she provides Tatou with a key clue to unveiling the shady mystery that led to her fiancé’s death in World War I.

A Good Year (2006, Fox, PG-13, $20). Modestly delectable but ignored or put down by both critics and the public, the movie of Peter Mayle’s novel reunited Gladiator’s Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott for two hours of good food, fine wine, shady trees and classy women. Cotillard, quite alluring, is the restaurateur who, after a bad start, captures investment banker Crowe’s imagination after his workaholic finds himself gradually seduced by a Provence vineyard.

Be in a movie with Marion?

According to The Daily Page there will be an open casting call for extras for Marion Cotillard’s upcoming movie ‘Public Enemies’: Saturday, February 16, at Monona Terrace in Madison

The film will be shooting in Chicago and around Wisconsin this spring. Locations in the state are set to include Manitowish Waters and Richland Center, with others sites scouted over the last month including Oshkosh, Milwaukee, Baraboo, and the Capitol in downtown Madison. Now the production is searching for people in the region to work as paid non-speaking extras for these shoots, with the open casting call from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Monona Terrace. “We are shooting in the Wisconsin area and need people with great faces for this 1930s period film,” begins an announcement from the extras casting agent. “We are currently looking for men no taller than 6’1″, women should be no taller than 5’8″, and no larger than a size 12. We are also looking for children of all ages.”

To see further details on how to prepare before going to the casting call be sure to read through the information on the afore-mentioned page carefully. Additionally, the article reveals that ‘Public Enemies’ will be shooting from mid-March through to June. Not sure for how long Marion is required on set for her scenes as Billie Frechette.