Marion Cotillard is Billie Frechette

from Empire (UK) / by Philip Wilding

Marion Cotillard hadn’t even seen the Hollywood sign up close until she’d finished shooting the role that would go on to win her an Oscar, Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose.

“We ended filming in LA and that was the first time I’d been there,” says the actress whose credits include A Very Long Engagement and Ridley Scott’s A Good Year. Though it wasn’t until she’d scooped a slew of awards as the doomed diva that Hollywood came calling.

“I was out in California talking to directors and I met Mann. It was huge for me, I admire his films so much,” says Cotillard, calling from New York.

“i knew nothing about Dillinger, didn’t even recognise his name, but Mann is so passionate. May character’s (Billie Frechette, Dillinger’s great love) mother was a Menominee Indian so he took me up to Green Bay to meet the tribe. With someone real like Billie, you see the pictures, you read the things they said, the construction’s already done, but you have to remodel the house and make it yours.”

She’s equally as effusive about her co-star, Johnny Depp, as she is about her director: “He really cared about Dillinger – I think he loves him a little, you could feel that.”

With Broadway adaptation Nine already in the can (“I got two songs to sing!”), sweeping Sahara drama The Last Flight Of The Lancaster is set to wrap days before she’s due to start filming Christopher Nolan’s elusive sci-fi drama, Inception.

“He’s a genius,” she says warmly. “He’s so rich inside, he has so many things to say and tell.”


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