from Toronto Star (Canada) / by Peter Howell
Paris-born actor Marion Cotillard, 36, best known for her Academy Award-winning portrayal of Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie en Rose, has been perfecting her acting chops since she began making films in the mid-1990s. She came to the attention of North American audiences with her roles in Public Enemies, Big Fish, Inception, Contagion and this year’s The Dark Knight Rises.
Cotillard comes to the Toronto International Film Festival with French director Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone, which premiered to positive reviews at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Her powerful performance as Stéphanie, a killer whale trainer who suffers a horrible accident, is an early contender for major hardware come awards season.
Q: It’s a different film for Audiard, especially after A Prophet. I was surprised it was so emotional. Were you surprised?
A: Well, not surprised, because I think his subjects are very strong each time and very different from his next movie. I was very excited because I really wanted to see how he would … which vision he would give of a love story.
Q: One of the things that impressed me was there was no makeup, no glamour. It seemed very physically demanding. Was it daunting?
A: Yeah, but I am not looking for glamour when I fell in love with the character and the story. I’m totally in love with the fact that I would only spend two minutes in hair and makeup in the morning. It’s — I like different things. I like when things are different, so going from a very glamorous character to no glamour at all, but something else, something very strong, because she has her own way to be sexy. When she surrenders to the love story, to the life again, there’s something very sexy about it.
Q: I found those scenes very sexy — they were very sexual.
A: Yeah, well the sex and the flesh is really part of the story and it had to be in the movie. You know when you rediscover your body, love, life … there’s something very deep and strong and both characters are, I think, very sexy.
Q: Had you met (co-star) Matthias Schoenaerts before?
A: No, it was the first time. I hadn’t seen his work before we worked together. I didn’t have time to watch Bullhead before we started the movie, so I watched it after. But there was no need to see his work to see how good he was, because when I first met him it was at Jacques’ house to do a reading and I saw this charismatic tall, beautiful guy. I was surprised by how tall he was.
Q: When you saw yourself in the film with no legs what was the reaction?
A: The first thing I saw was the trailer. And it’s weird. I mean, it’s so well done. It’s so good that I . . . I was happy that it was so good. But I dunno, it’s kind of weird because it’s not me. I’m not like, oh my god I have no legs. It’s not me on screen. But that’s really really strong. I thought it was really strong when I saw the trailer for the first time. And in the trailer there’s this image of her naked, so it’s even stronger, because it’s just a piece of woman.
Q: Do you consider it a spoiler that she has no legs?
A: I dunno. For me, having any information about a movie I’m about to see is horrible. I want to enter the theatre . . . sometimes I don’t even know who’s in the movie. That’s how I love to discover a movie. But then when we started promoting the movie, right away they said well, she has an accident and she has no legs. So, I was like, so if everybody knows, I can talk about it. I’d rather not talk about anything and let the people discover. That’s how I like it.
Q: You’ve had a lot of experience between Europe and Hollywood. Is it hard to move back and forth?
A: I really enjoy it. It’s more than an enjoyment, I feel so happy and lucky that I can work in France where I love French cinema, and I love American cinema because I was raised with American movies, so. About the difference between French cinema and American cinema, of course there are some technical differences that are not very interesting to talk about but.
Q: They’re interesting to me.
A: Well, it’s kind of hard to describe, because there is a difference between two French movies. There’s a difference between Olivia Darone and Jacques Audiard. It’s not a difference, it’s a world between them. There’s a world between Woody Allen and Michael Mann. That’s what I love about this job — it’s always different. Each project. American movies will be different from another American movie. There will be a difference from a French movie and a French movie will be different from another French movie.
Q: Did the Oscar open more doors?
A: Oh yeah. I don’t think I would have had the opportunities to work in the U.S. without the Oscar, and I think because it’s not only the Oscar, it’s the role. It’s the movie.
Q: What leaps out in a script that entices you?
A: Well, when I moved and when I know it’s going to be a dive into the unknown.
Q: Do you like being scared?
A: I don’t know if it’s scared, I like, I like when I don’t know if I’m able to do something.
Q: Speaking into diving in the unknown — did you go into the water with the killer whales?
A: No, we’re not allowed to. It was a big change. When they wrote the script, trainers were still allowed to go in the water. That was the whole accident, it happened in the water originally. Another trainer died . . .
And so they didn’t allow the trainer to go in the water anymore. So Jacques faced this problem. They had to rewrite.
Q: So it’s been a while since you were in Toronto.
A: I was here two years ago. I think it’s my third TIFF. I would love to have more time. It’s always the same story. You work somewhere so you don’t get to enjoy it, but two years ago I had some friends here and we had a good time.
Q: Is there any famous person you’d love to have a crack at?
A: My dream is to play Aung San Suu Kyi but I mean it’s too . . . and it shouldn’t be a European actress. I haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s Michelle Yeoh. But that kind of role or Wangari Maathai (the Kenyan environmentalist), I cannot do it. I would love to portray both of them. Both of them are my heroes. That’s the kind of role that I’d love to experience.