on 1 Jan, 1970
from Dazed & Confused / by Carmen Gray
The Oscar-winner on the French Riviera drama directed by her partner
The sudden global fame of winning an Academy Award for her raw portrayal of French singer Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie En Rose, the first Oscar ever awarded for a French-language role, was bound to cause upheaval for Marion Cotillard. The subsequent self-examination and house-cleaning of her life that role prompted is echoed in her new film Little White Lies, an intimate project written and directed by her partner Guillaume Canet, and made with a bunch of their friends. In it, the relationships of a group of friends are sorely tested when they go ahead with their annual beach holiday despite a traumatic event, and are forced to face up to some uncomfortable truths.
DAZED & CONFUSED: Little White Lies is an ensemble film, with eight characters sharing the focus – did it feel very different to working on La Vie En Rose?
MARION COTILLARD: Each role, small or big, has its own life and its own mystery to discover. Piaf was unique – I played her whole life. But when you’re part of an ensemble, and the dynamic of the group is the centre of the movie, you have to find your place in the group. What was very, very different from La Vie En Rose was that the era of the film is the era I live in. I didn’t have to study that world because I watch it, I live it every day.
Did that make it easier to identify with this character?
When I prepare to play a character that exists in another era I create a structure related to the way I speak. In a world that’s your world it’s relaxing, in a way, not having to think you cannot talk like you normally talk because it will not fit with the era. At the same time, something of you escapes more easily, and it’s kind of scary. The first time I saw the movie it was horrible to watch, and even though it’s a character – it’s not me – there are things of myself that I can see, and I hated it.
Your partner Guillaume Canet was directing – how was it to work together?
We are close to most of the actors in the movie, and what was weird is that this place in the south of France is a place where almost all of us go for vacation, because we’re friends. We know these places with those people, and suddenly, you have a different name, you have a different past, you have different behaviour, but then again this behaviour contains parts of yourself. It was kind of weird sometimes, but it created a dynamic which is so interesting.
The film is about the lies people tell each other. Did it cause you to re-examine your own life?
I had had this experience with myself before this movie. When I played Piaf I got myself in a very, very deep place and when I came back there were little lies that I couldn’t live with anymore. There was a big cleaning. What was driving me was much stronger than even the fear of being abandoned by some friends or that some relationships could be destroyed. Eventually, you find out that it doesn’t destroy anything: it’s the opposite. There’s no bullshit any more. It’s a genuine love. Sometimes you have to take the risk.
The characters are accused in the film of being very selfabsorbed – is this a problem specific to our generation?
I don’t really know if it’s being selfinterested because you sometimes need to face your own problems and understand what’s going on inside of you. I think sometimes you think you have time. You think that you’ll do this later because you’re afraid of doing it now. You put it aside with a tissue over it but it creates parasites. It won’t disappear and if you leave it too long what you really have to deal with and face can dramatically change, and sometimes it’s harder.
LITLE WHITE LIES is out on April 15