Marion Cotillard on Public Enemies

from CanMag (Canada) / by Fred Topel

Marion Cotillard came to most people’s attention when she won the Oscar for Best Actress in La Vie En Rose in a surprise upset. Now she plays John Dillinger’s final love, Billie Frechette, in the summer true crime drama Public Enemies in a Hollywood adventure that continues to amaze her.

Marion Cotillard Falls in Love With Public Enemies

“I didn’t expect all this,” she said. “I might have dreamed of this but very deep, that I didn’t know I dreamt that big and that it’s actually happening. I have the opportunity to meet and work with amazing directors and actors. When I was a kid my favorite movies were all American and when I started to be an actress, the only think I wanted was to tell great stories. I mean, there were a lot of directors I wanted to work with but the most important thing for me was and is the story. So I think that having no limits, having no impossible things in my head led me here today and, and my Hollywood adventure has been, I don’t know what is the word strong enough to describe what I’m living right now. It’s bigger than a dream. It’s a reality and I’m still dreaming in this reality, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Cotillard is French, as she appeared in her Oscar winning film. She has worked in English language films like A Good Year and continues to grow more comfortable in the language. “It depends on which character, because for Public Enemies I really had to get a Midwestern accent. I knew from the beginning that how hard I would work. It would never be a hundred percent perfect, and it’s kind of frustrating that I really wanted to do my best. Fortunately Billie had some French blood, even if she’s not supposed to have a French accent, but also in the ‘30s there were many accents, still many accents from Dutch and British. You can even hear in most of the movies of the ‘30s, you have different kinds of accents, so it’s not totally out of context and especially a flavor of French because she had some French blood. So I have to say that it was really, really hard for me to think about the language and then the accent and to, at the same time, let it go to be able to give flesh and blood to Billie Frechette.”

At least in this way, language and accent become a tool of the character. “You really have to work hard to be able to give some aspects, many levels of feelings. You have to work hard because I’m more and more aware of the way Americans or English speak, but to understand all the aspects, I think it’s when you really want to understand all the little corners of language, you really have to work and work and work to, to be able to give all he aspects of something. There are many aspects on the same thing and if you really want to give the richness of the whole thing, you really have to work and work and work.”

Since English is the language most susceptible to misunderstanding with all the double meanings and grammatical constructions, Cotillard has her work cut out for her. “The English language is more into action because there is more stress, that the words aren’t really stressed. It’s like more singing, and so it’s really close to the action whereas the French is really not flat but flatter in a way. I love English language but it’s really, really rich and to be able to give all the richness of it, you’re going to have to work hard.”

Public Enemies is out in theaters now.


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