on 1 Jan, 1970
from The London Paper (US) / by Stuart Mcgurk
The Oscar-winning actress talks Piaf, Public Enemies and why her relationship with Guillaume Canet is private
Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard is not totally comfortable with her superstar status.
The 33-year-old Parisian shot to fame courtesy of her gong-scooping turn as French songbird Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie En Rose, and she’s back on screen this week, carousing Johnny Depp in Michael Mann’s Depression-era crime picture Public Enemies, playing gangster’s moll Billie Frechette.
“It still feels something like an adventure,” she smiles, “working with Michael Mann, and playing Billie. I love her. It’s totally different, but inside of me, it’s the same. For me, this job is all about trying to understand someone, so you can be that person.
“And the great thing about working with Johnny Depp is that you can see that while he’s a movie star, he’s also a very normal person.”
Cotillard craves normality. She has been a notable figure in France for some time, coming to public attention via the Luc Besson-produced Taxi trilogy and, in 2003, she appeared in Love Me If You Dare alongside Guillaume Canet. The pair began dating and, since then, they have been treated like a French “Brangelina” by their nation’s press.
As a result, she will not discuss her boyfriend. “I get nervous that things I say might be misunderstood, or misinterpreted,” she says.
In person, she is demure. Her large dusty-blue eyes twinkle and she’s effervescent at times, but reins herself in quickly if she thinks she’s saying too much. She looks stunning in her dark green Dior dress, but insists she has no passion for fashion. “Honestly, it’s not important. If it were left to me, I’d be wearing jeans and T-shirt!” she says.
Which is unusual, when you consider she’s the face of Dior. “Actually, I’ve learned quite a lot from that,” she admits. “I see fashion with different eyes now I’ve met John Galliano. Designers like that are artists.”
She is an artist herself, having grown up in a bohemian household in Paris and then Orléans. Her parents are actors, and they encouraged their three children to follow artistic pursuits. “All the kids from the neighbourhood would come to our apartment, because our parents let us run around, painting on the walls. I was destined for a life in the arts.”
Cotillard’s first American movie came in 2003 – Tim Burton’s fantasy Big Fish. It was her astounding performance in La Vie En Rose, however, that made her only the second French woman to scoop the Academy Award for Best Actress, and the first to win for a performance in the French language.
“Playing Piaf was hard, because you go that deep inside of you, and you pull out something that you didn’t necessarily know was there,” she says. “I didn’t know I could go to such places. For me, that’s the reason I love this job.”