Month: April 2011

Marion Cotillard Interview

from AskMen.com / by Anne Brodie

Marion Cotillard has been heating up the screen with her Gallic charm, but now she’s taken on a very different role – one that hits close to home.

Quick Bio

Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard has an unusual approach to her work. While many actors say they enjoy studying human psychology for their roles, Cotillard says she thinks of herself as an anthropologist, taking into consideration her characters’ origins, physical characteristics, institutions, religious beliefs, and social relationships.

It’s an ambitious starting point for a performance, and is clearly working well for Cotillard, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La môme (retitled La vie en rose in the U.S.) in 2007 and went on to star in prestigious films like Johnny Depp’s Public Enemies, the all-star musical Nine and the landmark sci-fi film Inception. Her acting savvy and classic beauty also landed her a spot on our Top 99 Most Desirable Women 2011.

Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies, originally released in France as Les petits mouchoirs, gave Cotillard the chance to play a riskier character than any she’d portrayed before — a version of herself. Canet even wrote the part specifically for her.

The film, which was one of the biggest box office hits in French cinema, has been set for release in the UK on April 15.

We spoke with Cotillard in Toronto about this unusually intimate role.

You worked with long-time boyfriend (and French movie heartthrob) Guillaume Canet who wrote the part for you. Would or could you have done the picture if you two hadn’t known each other so well?
Marion Cotillard :
That’s hard to answer. I thought the script was amazing, and I’ve always wanted to work with him as a director. I don’t know if I would have done this movie without him. I don’t think it would have been possible.

A group of friends on a weekend getaway is struck by tragedy, but they carry on, unable to process what happened. What was your character’s response?
MC :
I think her relationship with all of them drives her behavior, and she’s trapped and lost between what she wants and what she does. She has a very strong relationship with this boy who has an accident, but it’s also a tricky relationship, because they’ve been together back and forth, and it’s this group of friends, and she really cares for all of them, and she is totally lost in this situation. She doesn’t know how to be there for everyone. I think in friendship, you want to be there for your friend, and sometimes you just don’t know what to do or the relationship you have with them is not clear enough for you to know what to do.

Guillaume wrote it with you in mind. Did that affect your work?
MC :
The first time he wrote the script, he didn’t think of any actors, and then quite quickly he thought of actors. She’s very natural, and I wanted her to be natural, so I thought that the best way would be to not create a special voice or behavior. I used myself. I was kind of weirded out when I saw the film for the first time. There were things that were so me. The way that she moves, even when she takes a glass of wine or something. You don’t really see yourself doing things, of course, but you feel. And then you see yourself doing these things on-screen, and it’s another character, but you feel that these things belong to you. And it’s very disturbing. When you see yourself on video, you and your friends spending time on vacation, and they take a video, and then you see it, it’s really disturbing.

What was the level of difficulty in finding her/yourself?
MC :
I find it easier to play someone who is so far from me because you create someone — you build this person based on the story and the script, with the director. And it’s like you enter a room you’ve created, and there’s no confusion between you and this room, because it’s really not you. Here it was really different, not just because she looks like me, but because there were a lot of common points — not just the fact that we’re the same age, and the fact that I had almost no makeup on. She had a totally different haircut; she is dressed like I could be dressed. I was inspired by a very close friend, my best friend, actually. So, sometimes, it’s not that it’s totally confusing, because I have a sane brain, but to find the boundaries or to not find the boundaries, to try and let go and think, “OK she’s going to have my voice, and have some gestures of mine.” This is something that I don’t really like. I like to have a character and create the whole thing and not let go of something from myself, and when I saw the movie, you have to understand, it is unbearable.

Yes, I think that in some of your best-known films, like Public Enemies, you’re so different from the characters.
MC :
Yeah! And it’s totally different because it’s in the 40s or the 60s. Or even Inception, which, even though it’s contemporary, the genre of the film is so weird that it really makes it easier for me to do because it’s so far from me.

I have never heard that expressed before. That’s really interesting. You’ve had some amazing landmarks happen in your career, particularly at such a young age.
MC :
Oh, yeah. I’m grateful that I am able to live my childhood dream.

And for such rewards: winning an Oscar, acting in Public Enemies and Inception. Just incredible what you have been able to draw to yourself.
MC
: Yes. And I had never thought that I would work in the United States, with directors like Michael Mann, Tim Burton, Ridley Scott, Chris Nolan, Rob Marshall, and to do a musical, when it was my dream as a child! And I think the biggest thing, when you’re French and want to be an actor and you want to tell stories and do some theater or some French movies, is that my dreams became reality.

You didn’t dream about Hollywood?
MC :
No, but on the other hand, I never thought it was possible. But because of that, I never thought about the obstacles, so if you don’t think about it, then you don’t send the message to yourself that it won’t happen or it’s impossible. So you let the door open without knowing it. I really relate to American movies because my first memories of a movie when I was a kid were American movies — The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin films, of course E.T. and Fantasia. It helped me to build my imagination. My imagination was full of American cinema and images. I remember we were shooting Inception on the set. One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was Singin’ in the Rain with all those big sets, and I never got used to it. Every morning [on the set of Inception], I was, like, entering the door thinking, “Oh, my god! Oh, my god! Oh, my god! I can’t even believe it!” even after two months of filming. It was like that all the time, arriving on a set that I had seen before in one of my favorite movies.

Well, like you said, you left the door open.
MC :
Yes. I think that when you don’t see the boundaries, you cross them without even knowing they exist in the first place. I don’t see myself as an accomplished actress. I think I have a lot of things to learn, and I think you always are learning things when you are an actress, because you are studying human hearts and souls. And I hope to never achieve everything there is to know about it.

Little White Lies: Interview with Guillaume

from EFE / by Florencia Maldjian

In which way is this film more personal that what you’ve done before?
Because there is a lot of myself into the characters. I put a lot of myself because some of the scenes in the film are some of the scenes that I’ve lived as a human being, or I saw those scenes in my friends’ life and so it’s, yeah, it’s quite close to me, very personal to me.

I’ve heard it’s a very good film but some people say that it’s very long. Why did you make the decision of not cutting more?
Because the film is like this and it was really difficult to cut more than this. It needed this time. When you see it, you’ll understand.

How do you feel directing your best friends?
It’s complicated. Sometimes it’s really nice because it helps you to be understood, to say exactly what you want and because they know me very well and they know exactly what I wanted to say, what I wanted to express. But at the same time it’s really difficult because it has allowed them to say things that they won’t say to a director and the same for me. If they joke around on the set and have fun I want them to be focused. I would tell Gilles “shut up!” and he would be like “What? How are you talking to me? I’m your actor!”. So it changed a little bit the relationship.

So you got mad at them for being playful…
Yeah, exactly.

It must be very hard, actually, you can’t be playful…
No, I can’t. I can’t be part of it, I have to get the bad role.

How do you handle working with yuor partner as well? It’s spending all the time with the same person, at work and at home.
Yeah (he smiles). For me that was good, for me that was ok, because I was really focused on my films. But for her, I’m sure it was more complicated because when you come back home from work. I mean, for her, I imagine that she wants a break and to be able to talk about something else, but for me I was still focused on my film, on the dailies, watching the dailies, thinking about the scene of the day after so there was no pause.

But I suppose that at least she could be some kind of help to you.
Yes, but it’s difficult for her. When you wanna get some rest at night, you know, you don’t wanna have all the problems of the director.

So basically it’s easier to act with her than to direct her. Because I’ve seen you joking around in the footage of ‘Le Dernier Vol’.
Yeah, that’s easier for sure.

What do you like best? To direct or to act?
I really like both. I think that now that time is passing I prefer directing but I really need to work as an actor too because if I were only a director it would be too frustrating for me. I need to express myself phisically and not only being a director, psichologically, you know.

So, do you have any…? Apart from parenthood – he smiles, bows his head, I think this is super nice – which… I think you are gonna be great parents, the both of you… (N/A: I seriously needed to say this)
(Smiles) Thank you.

What other projects have you got?
I have a film that I wrote with James Grey that I wannadirect next year. And I have a film that I’m gonna shoot in september about Jappeloup. I don’t know if you know, It’s about a horse and a horse rider that won the Olympic games in 88 so it’s a story about horses. And I have some other project that I’m working on as a director.

Any international projects?
Well, I have “Last Night”.

I’ve seen you in Last Night.

Did you like it?

Yes, I thought it was quite good.

We speak a bit more, nothing important. He eats his chips, we laugh, we take a picture and that’s that. A nice guy, Guillaume Canet.

Marion Cotillard

from The Guardian (UK) / by David Thomson

When Marion Cotillard played Edith Piaf in Olivier Dahan’s La Vie en Rose (2007), she amazed most of us with the intensity of her impersonation and physical commitment to Piaf’s desperate fragility. She didn’t actually sing the songs, but who noticed? The response to Cotillard was automatic and heartfelt: she won a Bafta, a César, a Golden Globe and the Oscar – the first time that prize had gone to a player in a French film. Somehow, she became confused with Piaf. It was taken for granted that Cotillard was herself a powerhouse and an international star in the making. But it has all turned out very differently, to such an extent that one marvels all the more at the ferocious resources she laid hold of for Piaf.

For what has been revealed in her films since 2007 is a proclivity for pain, suffering, patience and a curiously passive intensity. It’s not that I’m unappreciative. For some of us, a little Piaf goes a long way. I found Cotillard far more interesting as Mal, the spirit of the dead wife in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. She seemed to grasp the submerged, latent or imaginary level of being Nolan was seeking. She was reproachful, unyielding, baleful, slightly sinister – as well as attractive and endearing. She made a great deal of what was not much more than a sketch in the script: the ghost of a suicide wife who keeps trying to draw Leonardo DiCaprio closer towards his own demise. I admit that I like Inception more than many people, and in part that’s because of the way Cotillard provided an emotional basis for what could have been a very technical exercise. But she has eyes – we know now – that seem always on the point of weeping. Piaf was famous for regretting nothing, but Marion Cotillard has a gaze that suggests nearly everything she can think of is tinged with grief or regret.

Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009) was not a good film, but see what Cotillard made out of Dillinger’s lover, Billie Frechette. Long before Johnny Depp’s Dillinger seems to realise where he’s headed, Billie has guessed he is a short-lived flame, and her moist eyes light up with threatened appreciation for every perilous moment they have together. When the gangster is actually killed, she is so devastated that we suddenly realise how flimsy or cold-blooded the rest of the film has been. Similarly, in Rob Marshall’s Nine (2009), the natural role for Cotillard was as the betrayed wife to Daniel Day-Lewis’s womaniser, always on the brink of leaving him, victimised by her own vulnerability to love, and heartbroken when she hears her husband repeat words of romance he once used on her to another woman.

So in the English-language films made since her Oscar, Cotillard has stayed subdued, poignant and in support. There’s been no hint of her commanding a film, as she did with La Vie en Rose. That was very much the pattern she had established before playing Piaf: she was lively and fun as Russell Crowe’s French girlfriend in Ridley Scott’s A Good Year (2006); she was a supporting player in Abel Ferrara’s Mary (2005); and just a small part in Tim Burton’s Big Fish (2003). Even in one of her French films, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement, she was playing along in what was Audrey Tautou’s vehicle.

She is 35 now, and has forthcoming roles in American films: she plays a “muse”, apparently, in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which will open the Cannes festival in May, and she will be a doctor in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. In neither project does she seem to have a dominant part. Of course, she is French, with a French career and the actor Guillaume Canet as her companion. She and Canet are expecting a child this spring, and Cotillard has been featured in a fashion ad campaign. It remains to be seen what else she wants, and how important it is to her to insist on something as potent, self-assertive and irresistible as La Vie en Rose.

Accès Privé

Last Saturday, French TV station M6 aired an Accès privé special about Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet and how they manage to keep their relationship under the radar – even now, one month ahead of their first child’s birth. Since there isn’t anything new to reveal the special mainly consisted of footage taken during the promotion of ‘Jeux d’enfants‘ (Love Me If You Dare, 2003) when they were just friends and then during the promotion of the movies ‘Le dernier vol‘ (2009) and Les petits mouchoirs‘ (Little White Lies, 2010). Additional footage originated from France 2‘s 2009 Envoyé Spécial about Guillaume Canet, public appearances together at the Cannes Film Festival as well as from an out-of-context film set for ‘Les jolies choses‘.

If anybody knows any more about the non-TV interviews of Marion Cotillard promoting ‘Jeux d’enfants‘ please let me know. These are totally new to me and I would love to watch them in their entirety.

Gallery: 243 Specials > Accès privé (M6) – 02/04/2011
Video: 001 Documentaries > Accès Privé

Brand new interview & role rumour

Another brilliant interview was published in the UK today. This time in The Independent. While none of the topics mentioned are actually new the answers about her work in both French and American movies, her recent career developments as well as about dealing with the media do contain additional insight so be sure to read.

Marion Cotillard: ‘I’m really normal! Well, not that normal. I’m an actress’, The Independent, April 3

I just wanna do movies. I don’t have a plan. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to work with some directors and some actors I wouldn’t have dared to think I would work with one day. And now I know that everything is possible. So, it’s very exciting. But I don’t have in my mind whether I do an American movie or a French movie. It’s just [that] the stories come and… if I recognised myself in the story, I wanna be part of it. That’s how it happens.

Talking of stories coming her way, Baz Bamigboye reports in The Daily Mail that Marion Cotillard is on on a wish list of actresses to play Fantine in the movie adaptation of the musical ‘Les Misérables‘ which in turn in based on Victor Hugo’s book. Tom Hooper – fresh off Oscar-winning The King’s Speech‘ – is in negotiations to sign as director. Once the crucial part of lead character Valjean’s been cast filming could start next year, apparently.

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