Cultural Conversion

from Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) / by Lisa Harvey


Renowned French actress Marion Cotillard has taken on more and more American movies and has just finished making Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. She talks about her life as an itinerant gypsy as she travels the world for her roles and what it was like to star next to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Johnny Depp.

So where are you based at the moment?

I live where I work, so I was African these past months but I am still from France, definitely.

Yes, it’s been a long time since I have been in my country. I love to travel, I miss my friends and family that’s all.

Are you fine with this gypsy kind of lifestyle?

For the moment, yes. I know that it will not be my whole life and one day I will like maybe take some time off and stay in my house with friends. I love to meet people, I love to meet different cultures I think it is, yes, it’s rich, the word is rich, so many things that I want to discover that I am very happy with this gypsy kind of life.

You stay in hotels?

Hotels, yes. When I did Michael Mann’s movie (Public Enemies) we were for four months in Chicago so I lived in an apartment there, because I am French so I need a kitchen to cook sometimes and to have I think a healthy life you need to you know have your home bedroom and make a bed in the morning.

So you are very particular about what you eat?

I don’t know, I love to cook, and French love good food. Well in Chicago you can really find very, very good food. It’s just that I like to know what I eat.

What was it about Public Enemies that made you think – I have to do it?

I didn’t know anything about the Dillinger case and before, well I read the script and I started to do some re-search about American history — this tough period of the Depression and the creation of the FBI and I thought it was so interesting.

I think that what I love in this story, in the movie, is that you can feel in each character the failure and the violence, the pain of this period. You can see it in Dillinger, you can see it in Melvin Purvis you can see it in [my character] Billie Frechette. You can see it in all the characters and I think it’s beautiful to make you feel what was this period was like.

Tell us about your character in the movie, she falls in love with the most cruel gangster in the world.

Not cruel.

Not a killer?

Oh no, he was not a killer. Not really.

She still loves him.

It’s just that guy spent 10 years in prison for a robbery for a mistake because he was young and because he was so hard.

America at that time especially where he lived it was so hard, I mean they had no money, they felt left aside by the government, it was really, really tough.

This guy tried to rob, I mean the grocery store, he knew the guy, he loved the guy it was just a really like a stupid mistake, a stupid thing to do. He spent 10 years because they wanted to make him an example. It’s terrible and instead of going to school he goes to jail, he knew nothing, he didn’t know any better.

You are doing more and more American movies. Is it something you did on purpose since in the French industry people were so jealous or envious of you, you needed to escape?

No, I have never thought of my work this way. I was in Los Angeles when I had this amazing opportunity to meet Michael Mann, I couldn’t believe it and I met him and I loved him right away.

I wanted to give everything I could to that guy and as I said before I loved the story because it was more than a gangster movie, he tells much more about just guns and robbing banks and I had met Rob Marshall [director of Nine] before and it was like that.

It was not, I have to do that and I have to do this. I couldn’t do something that I don’t believe in, I would be very, very bad at it.

So how much did the Oscars change you?

I think that what has changed, things in my life was the movie La Vie en Rose and the Oscar is like the proof of the change. It has changed.

Are you more confident now?

No, not, I am not more confident, I wish I could be but I am not.

It just brings me all the beautiful opportunities to meet some people that I loved for ever that I have admired forever and each time my American agent called me and said, this director would like to meet with you, this director would like to offer you a role, its magical each time.

I will not get used to it, it’s amazing.

How was it to star alongside Johnny Depp?

I was very, very nervous. I was nervous because it was my first movie after La Vie en Rose, not that it was the one after, it was more because that I hadn’t worked for two years. I mean I had work, publicity and everything but being on a set with someone else, giving life to someone, so I was very nervous, I was very nervous about the accent because I had to nail a mid western American accent which I think was impossible so.

You did a great job.

Thank you. But he was so nice to me. He saw right away that I was very nervous and he reassured me, he was very nice, he has a huge respect of people and things. He is a real gentleman, he is an amazing actor so I knew that when you work with an amazing actor it makes you be better than if you work with someone who is totally out of it.

You’ve said that the French are very proud of your performance but they want you to stay in France, to not stray away from France. Is that something you still feel?

I just don’t know it’s to stay in France, but it’s French like the underdog. And if you are too successful its weird.

Is France always the underdog in moves?

No, but they will find something to put you down if you are too high.

Are you a little afraid of that? Are you feeling that now?

This is a part of me that you have to protect not to be hurt by mean things. I do my job, I try to do my job the best I can. I love it, I am very happy of what happens, so I don’t want to destroy this by being hurt by bad energy.


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