Siren Song

from Harper’s Bazaar (UK) / by Cath Clarke

Oscar-winning actor Marion Cotillard is taking eco-campaigning to the charts, on a new single with Mark Ronson, Lily Allen and Duran Duran.

For Marion Cotillard, the environment isn’t just a recent concern; she was a Greenpeace spokeswoman and eco-activist long before her soulful turn as chanteuse Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose won her an Oscar last year. Since then, her life has been transformed from that of a hardworking French actress into one of an international star. Along the way, she has acquired a reputation for being outspoken – which is true, by Hollywood standards at least; Cotillard has that very French knack for plain-speaking.

Today, the 34-year old is in Paris, taking a break from the set of her new film Les Petits Mouchoirs – directed by her boyfriend, actor Guillaume Canet. Despite the best efforts of the French press to turn the couple into the country’s Brand and Angelina, they refuse to discuss their relationship. But both have lent their voices to ‘Beds Are Burning’, the single that has become the soundtrack to a campaign called ‘Tck Tck Tck’, set up to rais awareness of global warming. The group aims to put pressure on world leaders ahead of December’s UN climate-change summit in Copenhagen. Cotillard, 34, is persuasive on the issues. ‘Reality is scary at the moment,’ she says emphatically. ‘The message needs to be loud. We need to tell politicians that we will be watching them. Our eyes are open.’

It was as a teenager, after moving to fume-filled Paris aged 17, that she first became aware of pollution and started recycling. This being Paris in the early 1990s, it wasn’t easy, and Cotillard would find herself lugging bags filled wih batteries and paper around on the Metro. ‘People thought I was weird,’ she says, laughing. These days, she readily admis that flying is the ‘black shadow’ on her carbon credentials, but otherwise, she is pretty clean. ‘When I buy something, I want to know where it comes from, how it was made,’ she says. ‘I will never eat a strawberry in the middle of the winter.’

‘Beds Are Burning’ has been called ‘the Band Aid for the internet generation’. It’s a cover of a track by Australian rockers Midnight Oil, and was Cotillard’s favourite song as a teenager. She says she wasn’t nervous about singing alongside its all-star cast of musicians – including Youssou N’Dour, Mark Ronson and Duran Duran. ‘I love singing,’ she says. ‘Lip-syncing is more difficult’ – referring to the art she perfected to play Edith Piaf, to the extent that most people assumed she was performing for real. She does, however, get to belt out a few show tunes in the upcoming film musical Nine by Chicago director Rob Marshall, which is based on Italian director Frederico Fellini’s 8 1/2. ‘When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be in a musical, an American musical,’ she says. ‘I knew Singin’ in the Rain by heart. My favourite movie was Annie.’

As for environmental issues today, Cotillard is cautiously optimistic. ‘People used to say I was crazy. Now, we are more and more crazy people.’

For details of how to get involved in the ‘Tck Tck Tck’ campaign, visit


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