I would have loved to walk the stairs of the festival with Woody Allen

Originally published in L’Express Styles (France), written by Paola Genone

translated by Oliver.G.Byrne

EX: In Midnight in Paris you are playing the beautiful Adriana, a muse of famous painters, who takes an American writer, Gil (Owen Wilson), with a case of writers block into her mysterious universe. What aspects of the role interested you and how was the experience of shooting this film?
Adriana is a timeless woman. She’s very sensitive and looking for herself. She feeds herself with the genius of different artists and gives herself completely to them. Adrianna can exist only when in contact with their imagination, which she herself helps develop. It is very difficult to describe the relationship that exists between a muse and a creator: Woody Allen does it brilliantly. This film was for me both an exciting and destabilising experience. Woody Allen sent me the script and we spoke on the phone but I only met him four days before shooting! So I was petrified. I have seen all his films, read all his books: I wanted to please him so much, to be what he was expecting from me that I put huge pressure on myself.

EX: Well, during shooting, Woody Allen said of you: “Marion has real charisma. I never get tired of looking at her face, her various expressions have no limits and they always come at the right moment”
He helped me greatly to find my marks. He’s an extremely generous director: He talks a lot and he’s very precise in what he asks. He has an incredible personality that carries you. He’s brilliant, even more than you can imagine! With this caring eye, this amazing energy, this mixture of softness, humour and precision… He creates universes who belong only to him and he’s capable to create the craziest story with his pen. To see him during shooting is a fascinating experience and I understand how great women like Diane Keaton or Mia Farrow fell under his spell. He his very charming.

EX: Music seems to have taken an important place in your life: you performed a song by the band Franz Ferdinant that they composed for you. You sang in “La Vie en Rose” and in the musical “Nine” by Rob Marshall. And for over a year you’ve been performing on stage (singing and playing the bassguitar) with the Yodelice, the band fronted by Maxin Nucci, as for example on March 22 at the Olympia…
I’ve always dreamed to be part of a band and Maxim – a friend since more than ten years – gave me the gift to join his. Last year, he invited me to perform on stage with him. So that no one would recognise me I wore a man’s costume and a hat and went by the name “Simone” – the name of my grandmother who dreamed of being a singer! I play with him whenever I can. The last time was at the Olympia, I was very moved. I had terrible nerves. I have great respect for music. I started playing piano from a very young age and, pushed by Maxim, I started playing the guitar, then the bass guitar and improved my singing skills. Last January ,pregnant, I decided to stop making film after film to go to Los Angeles for 2 weeks with Maxim and to dedicate myself exclusively to music. I wanted to see once and for all if I was capable to write my own songs or if it was just a dream.

EX: What happened?
There was a click, a light bulb… I had tons of ideas all over the place and finally they started to take shape. I don’t yet know where it will go but I would really like to create something that can be shared… a CD. Playing an instrument is something that moves me. And I really want to sing.

EX: You are playing a doctor in Contagion the new film by the director Steven Soderbergh, starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow… This film that is very committed to the environment must have resonated with you.
I am indeed concerned about the fate of our planet and with this film Soderbergh brought me into a very scary universe, even more so than Erin Brockovich. Contagion follows the rapid spread of a deadly virus that kills within days. While the virus spreads the global medical community frantically tries to find a cure. Before the shoot I spoke with WHO to learn about new viruses which I call the invisible enemies. If I already was a bit paranoid on the subject this thriller made it worse. Luckily I could also talk with Soderbergh about our fears in a funny way like “Do you touch the remote in your hotel room?” “And how do you do it with door handles?”, “How often a day do you wash your hands?” Like Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh is a very intelligent director with an impressive sense of humour and he’s very cultured. To be among those artists gives me a great deal, in life as well as at work.

EX: You’ve always lived in an artistic world. Your mother, Niseema Theillaud, is an actress who will soon be in the film “Pourquoi tu pleure?” Your father Jean Claude Cautillard is a director, actor and mime.
My mother was also part of the cast for Little White Lies and Guillaume Canet acted in “La clef du problem” too – the first film by my brother Guillaume Cotillard. My brother’s always had a great gift for writing, we’ve always been fascinated by his letters, his poems, his stories. I am very proud of him because he used to work in IT but he’s finally taken the risk to express his artistic side. My parents have always encouraged our creative side, my other brother Quentin is a sculptor and a painter. It is the most important thing they have given me along with being respectful towards each other: the openness of the spirit and the heart. I dream to work one day with my father. When I was little, I saw all his performances as a mime which fed my imagination. He tought me the basics of this art. I know how to be stuck between two walls, I know how to cycle without a bike, to eat apples without apples, to climb stairs without stairs…

EX: Expectant mother… How do you imagine yourself?
I have a hard time speaking about my personal life. I am very prude. All I can say is that I’ve always lived each step of my life to the fullest. To swim in unknown waters excites me. It’s a very moving experience, it teaches me a lot and enriches the person that I am.

EX: Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen will open at Cannes. Will you be at his side? What does this festival mean to you?
I would have loved to walk the stairs of the festival with Woody Allen. But I won’t go… I am occupied with something else! I have no regrets and I am so happy that the film is opening the festival. It’s a festival that I love, even if at times, it crossed the line into an odd direction. People have criticized it, with good reasons, for becoming a sort of market for everything and nothing. I think of the arrival of reality TV stars on the red carpet that transform it into a brainless marketing machine. Thankfully, this institution has always known how to renew itself and it is still one of the greatest festivals for films, full of creativity. In my eyes the Cannes film festival will always have this mixture of beauty, glamour and discovery.


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