from Wall Street Journal Magazine (US) / by Megan Conway
Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard perfectly embodies the high-drama of fall fashion.
For Marion Cotillard, the difference between acting and modeling is that when posing for a photograph, only she knows the script. “I find it very interesting to be able to create your own story about what you feel in a certain outfit,” says the French actor of the “romantic and gothic” clothes she wore for this month’s cover shoot. “The difference is, the whole story is known only by you.” On location in New York City, the sapphire-eyed 36-year-old drew upon her experience as one of the most sought-after on-screen performers to bring hard-edged allure to the looks stylist David Vandewal put her in, equal parts delicate and provocative.
Cotillard’s appreciation for fashion developed only recently, after she became a face for Christian Dior ad campaigns. “I would have very dumb answers because I didn’t have anything to say,” she says about fielding journalists’ questions at runway shows in Paris. “Not that I’m smarter with my answers now, but at least my vision of fashion has changed—it’s actually an art, what designers do with the shape of the body.” Still, she tends to limit her high-fashion moments—like the subtly textural evening gowns she wears in this issue (page 64)—to the red carpet.
Embodying the subtle polarities of her characters is one of Cotillard’s strengths, from her fragile yet ferocious Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” to her portrayal of Mal Cobb in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s menacing but sympathetic bête noire. This summer, Cotillard is joining forces with Nolan once again for “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment of his gritty Batman franchise. (“I was crazy about Batman growing up—he was kind of a fantasy,” says Cotillard.) The director was so keen to cast her that he pushed back her shooting schedule until after she had given birth to her first son, Marcel, whose father is the director and actor Guillaume Canet, her partner of many years.
Because her base is in France, and “will ever be,” Cotillard manages to balance Hollywood blockbusters with quieter French films, like the forthcoming Rust and Bone, directed by Jacques Audiard (“he sculpts life in the shape of movies”) and Little White Lies, helmed by Canet. Lies, which was released in France in 2010 and is opening stateside this August, concerns a group of tight-knit friends who “have stopped saying real things to each other because they’re scared that everything in their lives will fall apart.” Certain scenes proved difficult for Canet to direct, as the line between art and life blurred on set—many of the actors are real-life pals of the couple. “If we were shooting a party, we were at a party,” says Cotillard of the gregarious cast. “It was kind of hard for Guillaume to contain us sometimes.”
Cotillard seems serenely happy with her evolving career, as well as with her recent six-month stint in New York. “I have the opportunity to travel in all these worlds, and that’s why I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to go from a point to the opposite point—and that’s happening.” Aware of how clichéd discussing new motherhood can sound, she indulges anyway. “Your priorities are totally changed, and for the best,” she says. After a pause, and a hearty laugh: “I’m super cool now.”