Day: July 2, 2009

Marion Cotillard: Public Enemies press conference report

from Den of Geek! (UK) / by Michael Leader

Still best known for her Oscar-winning turn in La Vie En Rose, Marion Cotillard told the assembled throng in London about working on Michael Mann’s Public Enemies

At the recent press conference for Michael Mann’s summer crime blockbuster Public Enemies, the throng of scribblers and hacks were given the chance to chat with lead actress Marion Cotillard. Gracious and winsome, the French Academy Award winner was only fazed by a particularly energetic audio-sensing microphone hooked up to one of the many digital recorders placed in front of the stage.

The quick chat covered many bases, from how she decided to portray John Dillinger’s lover Billie Frechette, her in-depth research and preparation for the role, and her relationship with co-star Johnny Depp, and director Michael Mann. Check out the transcript below.

After La Vie En Rose, you must have been inundated with offers for other films. So why did you choose to go with Public Enemies?

Because I’m a great fan of Michael Mann, and when he asked to see me I couldn’t believe it and I was very happy. And I met him, and I read this beautiful script – I didn’t know anything about Dillinger, but I really fell in love with the movie, and the role.

How was it doing the American accent?

It was a technical issue. It was very hard, actually, and when I started, I thought it wouldn’t be possible at all. But I really tried to do my best. Well, fortunately, she’s half French – but she’s not supposed to have a French accent, though, because she lived in North Dakota and Wisconsin. It’s very technical, you really have to work and work, and practise. And it’s about using your whole face, jaws, tongue, body, in a total different way. And it was very interesting – I love the English language, it makes it easier. It was very interesting, but really, really hard. I would spend hours in front of the mirror with my dialect coach to observe my tongue [laughs]. Because, when you speak, you don’t think about all the things that happen in your mouth and your jaw, how everything reacts. And suddenly you start to think and to watch, all those things. And you realise that we have a totally different use of our tongue and jaw.

There are so many men in this film, how was it being one of the only women on the set? Did you feel excluded?

No, absolutely not. Michael Mann has a great respect for women, he is surrounded by women in his life. And I think that is why the women in his movies – all his movies, are very strong. They have a really strong personality, and they have a very special place in all his movies. So I felt really welcomed.

Michael asked you meet some real life gangster-girlfriends and wives. How was that?

They were actually convicts’ wives. Some of them were not with real gangsters. They were so generous to share their stories with me, their experience – and very painful experiences they had. And we spent a few hours together, and it was very emotional. Because they were emotional, going through the whole story of their life, and actually I have to say that more than the stories – the stories were important – but what they felt when they told me the stories, they went back through all those feelings – the fear, the extreme pain, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You are alone, some of them have kids. I could see and feel their pain and their fears – because you don’t know if your husband is going to be alive the next day. It helped me a lot – you know, you gather some emotions and feelings, and you learn a lot of things, and it creates your character. And those women really helped me.

You said you didn’t know about Dillinger at all. Of course, he’s an American folk hero – is he known in France at all?

I’m not very sure, but I think that my generation doesn’t know Dillinger. And I didn’t even know his name, actually. So, the first thing I read about him was the script, and then I read the book, Public Enemies. I didn’t do a lot of research about him. My research was more about the period, American history, the Indian history too, because Billie Frechette was half-Indian. Because I really wanted to know about American culture and Indian culture – I knew the era. I mean, I went to school, so I learned about the crisis of the 30s, and the crash of 1929, but I didn’t know that much about American history, and Indian history. I watched a lot of pictures of him, but my research was really on Billie Frechette – the 30s, the American and the Native American culture.

So, more generally – Dillinger isn’t known in France, but how about Johnny? Is he an honorary Frenchman?

Well, he’s known all over the world. And especially, he’s one of our sweethearts – husbands… Although, are they married? [laughs]. We do know about him, of course, and more about him because he’s Vanessa Paradis’ husband.

Do you think, as he’s the main star of the film, French audiences will flock to see it?

Well, I hope! [laughs]

Can you tell us about the process, about how you took the historical research, and your emotional research, and then built the character?

The first thing, the main thing about how I work is that I need to understand the character. So, especially for real people, everything I could read about her, and I met some relatives of her in Wisconsin, and they talked about her childhood. You can understand many things about someone, if you know how they were as a child. And Michael Mann is a perfectionist, and he gave me a lot of things. the first time I met him before I had to go back to do the screen-test – an hour after, someone came the hotel and gave me this big box, and inside this big box there were movies, music, some books, some information about the Menominees, about Indian culture. There were some newspapers from the ’30s. Many, many things. I love to work this way – this type of preparation, when you meet someone, and you have this special relationship, where you have to be this person for two months, three months, four months. And if you feed yourself, in a way, with all that information, you get to understand who she is, then you can be her.

You said the reason you took the role was to work with Michael Mann. What did you take from working with him?

I’ve been a great fan of his work. And, when I met him, right away, when I came in his office, I felt that there was a connection between the two of us. A really strong connection. and I’m always 100% committed to the character, the story I’m in and the director. With him, it was 1000%. I don’t know how to explain this, because it’s really hard – sometimes you don’t have to explain why you care and you love someone so much. I really love him, as a person, as a director. I wanted to be perfect for him. I wanted to give the best of my best of my best. I don’t know if I did, but I was really touched by him.

How different was it working on a Hollywood production, than working in the French movie industry?

You know, when you’re on a set, it becomes just ‘this’. There’s the same difference between an American movie and a French movie, that there is between a French movie and a French movie, or an American movie and an American movie. Because it’s a different story, it’s a different director. The industry in the United States is much bigger, but in France, there are also big movies, especially when it’s a period movie. Well, the set is a different time, so you really feel like you’re doing a movie. But then when it comes to the work, it becomes very intimate.

What was it like filming the [particularly intense, gruesome] interrogation scene?

The difficulty of the scene was that, when you have very emotional and violent scene to do, you really can’t think of the technique. And I had to keep this Mid-Western accent. So it was very difficult, as I had to give up the technique – like, really let it go – but at the same time, not think about it, but feel it. And, actually, I really kind of love extreme scenes. I would say that after this kind of scene I feel empty – but, also filled in…?


Fulfilled! Thank you. Fulfilled. I think it might be like when you do sport, and you have a competition like the 100m. And after that, you feel tired, and empty, but fulfilled because you did something that was intense. And it might feel the same way. And I really love it, so it’s not difficult.

Obviously, Christian Bale is quite into his method acting, and staying in character between takes – were there any others like that on set?

Well, I didn’t work with him. We had just this little scene. There’s an atmosphere in the movie, that even when you’re not rolling – especially in a period movie because we’re all dressed like in the 30s, and all the sets are of the 30s. I think that there’s something that stays in you – for example, if you have a German accent, and you may keep it in between the scenes, because it’s hard to get there. So when you’re there, it’s better sometimes to stay there, even when you’re not shooting, because if you totally get out of it, to come back is the same journey.

So, before, I did La Vie En Rose, I thought that it was dangerous to stay in character – more than dangerous, I thought it was kind of ridiculous, and I had a kind of judgement, because I didn’t know that it’s really hard to go back there. And after La Vie En Rose, my opinion – it wasn’t even an opinion, it was a stupid judgement, because I didn’t know what I was talking about – but, now I know, and I didn’t force myself, when I did La Vie En Rose, I didn’t force myself to stay in character. It was easy, and I couldn’t stop in between the takes because it was so much work to get there – the preparation in the morning, it was a whole process. So I really do understand this now.

Public Enemies is out this week.

Cotillard: Every day is magical

from AFP (UK)

Marion Cotillard has revealed her life is “magical” since she won an Oscar and her career took off.

The French actress scooped an Academy Award for playing singer Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose and said: “My life started to change when the movie was released and I had those beautiful opportunities to work with Michael Mann, to work with Rob Marshall.

“And I never thought, maybe it was a deep desire, but I was not aware of this desire of doing American movies – I so love it, I am so lucky and so happy to be able to work in a country where movies are such a marvel I would say, so I feel very lucky.”

Marion, who stars in new movie Public Enemies with Johnny Depp, says she still gets a thrill from acting.

“Every day is a magical day and I’m really aware of it and it’s still magical,” she gushed.

“I think when it’s taught to be like, ‘Oh yeah, well it’s just another day’, I think I would do something else. I think I would have to think about something else to do because this job has to stay magical.”

:: Public Enemies is out now

Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies Interview

from MoviesOnline (Canada) / by Michael

To understand Billie Frechette, Mann spent a good deal of time uncovering the history of the woman who became the singular love of Dillinger’s life. “I tried to figure out the life of Billie: what she was about, what she was doing and how she got by in the Depression,” he states. “She worked as a hatcheck girl at The Steuben Club; she was an ambitious young woman from a small town making her way in Chicago. What also is very significant is her upbringing. As a Menominee Indian, she was very much a second-class citizen, an outsider.”

Marion Cotillard, who won an Oscar® for her brilliant portrayal of chanteuse Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, was cast by Mann for the part. “After I saw La Vie en Rose, we met. That was it,” says the director.

As part of her preparation, Mann asked her to meet with a variety of gangster wives, girlfriends, strippers and bar girls to listen to the women’s stories of unfailingly standing by their often-violent men. “He wanted me to understand the feeling of being a convict’s wife and not knowing exactly what the next day would bring,” explains Cotillard.

As Frechette was French and Native American, the actress spent extensive time with a dialect coach and visited the Menominee reservation to learn about the world from which the gangster’s girlfriend came. There, Cotillard met with members of Frechette’s extended family and discussed the life and primary love of their ancestor. She was quite moved by what she learned about the woman…as well as about the man for whom Frechette went to jail and never betrayed. “It was very emotional,” she relates. “When you live a passion, a love like that, you will not turn your back at all the fear that comes from any situation to be with a man who’s a gangster.”

“The skills of Marion are extraordinary. The commitment, the absolute total commitment to the moment. How deep and thoroughly she would live the truth of a small gesture, a glance,” says her director.

Her on-screen Dillinger was one of many on set moved by her performance. “I was profoundly impressed by Marion’s commitment to Billie,” commends Depp. “She took so much care in playing her properly and giving Billie her fair shake. Marion worked unbelievably hard on the accent and was profoundly committed to the part. I like her very much, both personally and as someone to get in the ring with.”

We Say Oui Oui to Marion Cotillard!

from The New York Observer (US) / by Sara Vilkomerson

I saw Public Enemies last night—and plenty of critics have already weighed in about how cool and beautiful and entertaining the movie is (Rex Reed called it “one of the best movies of the year”). But here’s what I took away from it: my total and unabashed girl-crush on Marion Cotillard is still going and stronger than ever.

The 33-year-old actress (and, hooray to her being born in the mid-’70s!) first got noticed by sharp-eyed American audiences in Tim Burton’s 2003 Big Fish, and then again—by the very few people who saw it, anyway—in the Russell Crowe bomb A Good Year in 2006. She’s beautiful in that classic, old-fashioned way, with fine delicate bones (so French!) and coy kitten eyes. Of course, there has never been a shortage of beautiful women trying to make it in Hollywood. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, came La Vie en Rose and her incredible performance as Little Sparrow Édith Piaf. Everyone loves to to poke fun at how all a beautiful actress needs to do to win awards is to ugly themselves up a bit (see The Hours, Monster, Monster’s Ball), but Ms. Cotillard’s performance went beyond the cosmetic: The New York Times’ Stephen Holden wrote, “Marion Cotillard’s feral portrait of the French singer Édith Piaf as a captive wild animal hurling herself at the bars of her cage is the most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another I’ve ever encountered in a film.” Agreed! And for those who never got around to seeing the film—which, considering it only made a little over $10 million in the U.S, is probably most of you—all one needed to fall in love with Marion Cotillard was to see her sweep through last year’s Oscars, pristine in a white and silver Jean Paul Gaultier mermaid gown, to win the Best Actress statue and give one of the more charming acceptance speeches in recent memory: “Thank you, life … thank you, love! It’s true there are some angels in this city.” (For added charm, check out her singing in the press room of the Academy Awards.)

In Public Enemies, it’s 100 percent believable that Johnny Depp’s John Dillinger would risk imprisonment and death just to be with her (see the movie for the hottest come-on line in recent memory) and, not for nothing, the high-cheekbone quotient onscreen is rather overwhelming when they appear together. Plus, there’s just something about Cotillard, an understated and intelligent elegance that seems to belong in the turn of a different century. Is this the reason why she’s not part of the Us Weekly cycle of starlets? Whatever it is, it’s an appreciated whiff of fresh air, away from the interchangeable uber-toned, fake-breasted and extension’d brigade that seems to make up the heft of those glossy pages.

She’ll next appear in November in Rob Marshall’s highly (and I mean highly) anticipated Nine, with Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren (if it’s half as good as this trailer, we’re all in for a treat). Next year will have her starring in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight follow-up, Inception, co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, and Michael Caine. So, three cheers for the rise of Mademoiselle Cotillard!

Marion Cotillard Interview PUBLIC ENEMIES

from / by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Currently playing in theaters is director Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies”. The film is set during the Depression-era’s great crime wave and it’s the story of the government’s attempt to stop legendary criminals John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. This operation transformed the FBI into the first federal police force. By now you’ve seen the trailers and commercials, so you know the cast is filled with famous faces like Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum and David Wenham.

Anyway, to help promote the film, our partners at Omelete sent me to cover the international press day and I was able to participate in a small press conference with Marion Cotillard. While Marion doesn’t have a huge part, she absolutely holds her own against Johnny Depp, as she plays his love interest Billie Frechette. After the jump is what she had to say about the movie and a lot more. Take a look:

Question: What did you learn from Michael Mann in contrast to the other directors that you worked with?
Cotillard: I think I knew it before, but when I had to work on this Midwestern accent and it was really hard for me and part of my brain and my heart were always focused on this accent and I know he works on details and that’s what I love about him. I really wanted him to be happy with my accent so I worked hard. But knowing that it would never be a hundred percent perfect because I’m French I started learning English when I was twelve and it’s already late to really have a perfect accent and plus I started to learn English with a French teacher and it was more like, ‘Ze cat iz in zee garden -’ and ‘Chrees iz very happy to see you today.’ I mean it was really bad English. So, a Midwestern accent, before I wouldn’t know if this was Midwestern or southern. Now I kind of know where it is and even between British and American I didn’t really know. Now I really know. He was the one, because I was so focused on the accent all the time, to tell me, ‘You really have to let it go now. You worked hard and enough, but now you have to give heart and soul and flesh and emotions to Billie [Frechette] and then the accent will follow.’ I was sure, my brain was sure that if I would totally let it go and if I didn’t think about it would not be good. He was right, actually. It was when I really let it go, when I didn’t think about it that it was the best for everything. The character was there. She had flesh and bones and emotions. Also, a better Midwestern accent with a little flavor French [laughs].

Question: Did working with Johnny Depp help you as a French actress?
Cotillard: I don’t know. How can I answer this question? What exactly is your question actually? Is it that it helps that he knows French women? Maybe. I don’t know. How can I answer this question? I will try. I mean, he’s a very, very nice person. He was very nice to me because I was very stressed out. It was my first movie after two years. It was my first movie after ‘La vie en Rose’. It had been two years and I was very stressed out. I’m always very scared when I start a movie because I never know if I’m going to be able to do a good job or do a very bad job. He was very nice. That’s what I can say. Actually, we never spoke French because I really wanted to stick with the English, like I told you before, so that it was really getting into my brain. So I would not allow myself to speak French even with my boyfriend, my mother, my brothers. It was really weird but it helped me a lot. Even with some of my friends that have really, really bad English it was better than French.

Question: Aside from the accent, what were the other challenges in creating this Midwestern American woman when you’re French and the French are supposed to be very sophisticated? Can you de-sophisticate yourself to play this woman?
Cotillard: I don’t think that I’m that sophisticated. Maybe I’m not aware of it, I don’t know. I wouldn’t say that it was a challenge, but it was so interesting. I never thought that I would have to play an Indian, well half French, but an Indian woman in my life. I got to discover Native American history and American history. So it was more like I opened a box with a lot of treasures about a culture that is not mine, but that is so interesting. I met these people from Menominee Tribe and it’s an amazing culture. I met with really amazing people. I was very lucky to be in a situation that I had to be one of them. I had to be one of the American history which is amazing for a hundred percent French girl. But I would say that the only big challenge for me was definitely the accent and that the rest of it was…it was the accent and also, I mean it was the biggest challenge to let it go and not think about it than to actually work on the accent. I think that when you work you can get somewhere. But all the rest was just a joy.

Question: What do you love about acting and is there a particular moment in this film where you can really see that passion for acting?
Cotillard: I can answer the first question. The second, I don’t know how to talk about myself like this and say, ‘Look, there you can really see that I love acting!’ I wouldn’t be able to say that. But I think when I finally found this way to express myself it was a relief because I didn’t know how to do it before that. I’ve always known actors because my parents are actors on stage and so I lived in a very creative environment when I was a kid. All my life. When I was young and my parents job was to tell stories to people, that’s how they fed us. It was amazing. They would travel around the world, I remember. My dad was a mime and then he had his company and created plays for children and was very successful with it. So he went all around the world. They would come back from Peru with Peruvian clothes and I mean it was magical, traveling and telling stories that make people laugh or cry, having emotions. I’ve always wanted to do that. When I started and felt that it was my way to express myself and if I needed someone else inside of me, which is a character, to express myself that it was okay. Voila.

Question: Would you like to work more here in the states or is your heart still in France mostly?
Cotillard: My only goal, if I can put it that way because it’s not really a goal but more of a desire, is to work with great people and in a way to tell good stories. I don’t plan things. I’m so lucky to work in the United States and do American movies because when I was young my heroes were Gene Kelly, Charlie Chaplin, The Marx Brothers and they were all American. I mean, I watched French movies, too, but it was really that my culture of movies was American. I never thought that I would work here one day. I’m so happy that I’ve had the opportunity to do that. But I’m also French and I love French cinema, but I’ll not say that I have to do a French movie and then an American movie and then do another French movie. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I really want to live in the present time and I hope that I will have beautiful offers but maybe in Japan, too. Why not? I think you’re where you have to be and I’m not a person who wants to control things too much because I love surprises.

Question: How did you identify with Billie Frechette in terms of your own personal views of love?
Cotillard: On love. Maybe it’s related to what she lived, how she loved. But where I can relate with her…it’s not about love, what I’m going to answer, but it might be related in a way. She had a very tough life. She went through very tough things. The first thing is that she was Indian and at a certain point she was at that boarding school where people told her that it was bad to be an Indian, that it was bad to have this language she had, that it’s bad to be who you are. I think that’s surreal for a child. It might be really hard to understand and it might be kind of a trauma. Then she had a very bad wedding with some very bad gangsters. I mean, he was even bad at being a gangster actually. But she always looked at the positive side of things and she was full of life. I don’t know if you have this expression here with the glass half empty or half full. She would always see it half full. I think that’s a strength especially in that era, the ’30’s in Chicago, The Depression. It’s a very, very tough life that they had back then and in this area. So I can relate to her. I really have an amazing life compared to what she had, but to try to see the positive things in bad things. Then I see it related to love in many ways. She was in love with a bad guy even if I think he was not that bad, but she loved him.

Question: What were your expectations of working with Johnny Depp before you started shooting? Then once you started production did he surprise you in any way or exceed your expectations and did you learn anything from him? How was the whole experience?
Cotillard: I think that you always learn something from working with good actors. I had seen a lot of his movies before I worked with him. I think he’s an amazing actor because he can do so many different things and be authentic in each of those things. He’s a very – I think I always say funny guy, but funny guy means more weird. I should say fun guy. Yeah? He’s a fun guy. He really likes to have fun on set. When I say he’s a simple person it doesn’t mean like he’s…it means he’s really easy to talk with. He’s the same person with everybody which is an amazing quality when you have a special life like the life that he has. He’s a real gentle man. I didn’t know anything about him except his work. Most of the time I don’t expect things. I don’t project, like, ‘Oh, maybe he’ll be like this or like that.’ So it’s not about surprise. It’s just about discovering someone who’s a very nice person and a great actor.

Question: You have some very heavy emotional scenes in the film that look hard to do. How do you handle that type of scene?
Cotillard: Well, it seems weird, but I love it. I know that it’s weird to imagine that someone can find pleasure in feeling really deep pain, but I think it’s a way for me to express myself. I wouldn’t know how to explain it and I don’t think it’s really a need. It’s better to do things than to explain them. There are many people who can explain it. When I did ‘La vie en Rose’ there were many, many emotional states. She was very emotional and there were a lot of scenes that were very painful and I loved it. Not that I’m a masochistic person. After these kinds of scenes you feel empty and full at the same time and for me it’s an amazing feeling. I don’t know if I answered your question.

Question: How did Chris Nolan approach you for ‘Inception’ and who you play in the movie?
Cotillard: I can tell you that he called my agent and wanted to see me, a very simple way. But you know that I can’t tell you anything else [laughs].

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