Month: October 2012

ELLE meets Marion Cotillard

from Elle (UK) / by Anna Smith

‘I was turned upside down, overwhelmed with joy.’

That’s how it feels to win an Oscar, something Marion Cotillard could be experiencing again at next year’s awards if the reviews for her new film Rust and Bone are anything to go by.

Describing the film as a ‘love story’, Cotillard plays Stéphanie, a whale trainer who befriends a single father Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts) after a terrible accident. The film was a hit at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Despite the regular red carpet appearances that are part of the actress territory, it’s taken Cotillard a while to feel at home in front of the flash bulbs.

‘At the beginning I was mortified, so uncomfortable, but you get used to it and you find the fun. I’m very lucky that the publicists, make up artists and all those people around me are my very dear friends.’

For the London premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in July this year, Cotillard was the first person to wear one Raf Simons’ designs in his new role at Dior.

‘I LOVE his first couture collection so much, I was so happy to be able to wear one of those amazing dresses.’

We await next year’s Oscar red carpet with baited breath.

Rust and Bone is in cinemas from 2 November

Rust and Bone: Marion Cotillard and the spoiler debate

from BBC News (UK) / by Tim Masters

Some reviews of French film Rust and Bone have been accused of giving too much away. As this and new 007 adventure Skyfall hit cinemas, how easily can film-goers avoid the dreaded spoiler?

SPOILER ALERT! Do not read further if you do not wish to know about the plot of Rust and Bone.

When Rust and Bone was unveiled at the Cannes film festival in May many reviewers chose to reveal its central plot twist, pointing out that it happened early in the film.

Not all readers were happy though, with some venting their frustration online.

Now Rust and Bone, which won the top prize at the recent BFI London Film Festival, is about to open in the UK. It stars Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard as Stephanie, a killer-whale trainer who is involved in a catastrophic workplace accident.

She awakes in hospital to find her legs amputated below the knee. The story goes on to explore her relationship with Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a bouncer she met before the accident during a fracas at a nightclub.

The UK trailer for Rust and Bone gives little away about the fate of Stephanie, while the French version offers a glimpse of Cotillard’s missing limbs.

Ahead of the film’s UK release, director Jacques Audiard and screenwriter Thomas Bidegain are realistic about how much audiences have already picked up before seeing the film.

“I think the audience knows but it is important for them not to see [Cotillard without her legs] in advance,” Bidegain says.

“The interest is in having a huge star losing her legs,” adds Audiard, whose previous film was the Oscar-nominated prison drama A Prophet.

“If the actress is unknown and you cut her legs off it is like a working accident. When Marion Cotillard loses her legs it’s like an industrial accident.”

According to Radio Times film editor Andrew Collins, reviews should, as a general rule, steer clear of any plot point that isn’t clearly signposted in the film’s trailer.

“The trailer is ambiguous,” Collins says of Rust and Bone. “It hints that the killer whale has something to do with Cotillard’s character’s accident, but it does not give away the nature of the injury.

“Even talking about it in vague terms risks drawing attention to it. I knew exactly what happens because I’m the type of person who reads everything before a film, and can’t stop myself. It didn’t ruin it for me, as the scenes connected to the accident and the outcome are so powerful it’s not the surprise element that’s vital.”

But how much should audiences know in advance before they see a film?

“As little as possible,” advises Collins. “Although it’s getting harder and harder to avoid the hype.”

He adds: “I remember seeing Blade Runner in 1983 as a teenager and literally knowing nothing about it, other than it had Harrison Ford in it, and was science fiction. Can you imagine replicating that kind of glorious innocence in today’s networked world?”

When the new James Bond film Skyfall was first screened to journalists two weeks before its UK release, attendees were asked not to give away any major plot points.

Most reviews have held back on revealing the big twists.

“We’re delighted that they’ve been very respectful to the audience in letting them discover the secrets of the story themselves,” Bond producer Barbara Broccoli tells the BBC. “We’re very appreciative.”

“When you come up with an idea for a story you have to assume that the secret will be kept,” says Skyfall writer Robert Wade. “In the end it would fall apart if everyone knew.”

Co-writer Neal Purvis adds: “The surprises will come out I’m sure.”

Indeed, Skyfall’s biggest secrets have been posted online, but are concealed behind layers of spoiler warnings.

So when does a big twist, such as the famous one in M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999), become fair game for open discussion?

“A twist should stay a twist,” says Collins. “There may be someone out there who has not yet seen The Sixth Sense. Let them enjoy the twist.

“I like The Sixth Sense very much, but once you know the twist, and have seen it for the second time, knowing the twist, the film’s like a spent match: of no further use.

He adds: “It’s fine to discuss films in forums, as these are specialist environments for fans. But in mixed company, you should always check that everybody has seen a film before discussing it. That’s basic social etiquette.”

Collins admits, though, that in the age of social media, avoiding spoilers is almost impossible.

“I often record TV shows and watch them 24 hours later, due to build-up on my PVR, and if I’m daft enough to use Twitter in those 24 hours, it’s my own fault if I find out, say, who was voted off the Great British Bake Off.

“It’s the responsibility of the individual in that case. Twitter and other sites are forums for discussion, often live, so you either join in, or you keep well away!”

One writer who knows all about shock twists is David Nicholls, author of bestseller One Day.

As well as adapting One Day for the screen last year, he has also penned the new version of the Dickens classic novel Great Expectations.

Directed by Mike Newell, the film stars Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch and is out at the end of November.

Great Expectations contains the famous revelation about the true identity of Pip’s benefactor. Nicholls admits that even having read the novel around 25 times, he is still surprised by the second revelation about Estella’s parents.

“There is this other ingenious twist, but the novel doesn’t rely on that at all,” he tells the BBC. “For me the strength of the novel is in the human relationships.”

But does he talk now about the plot twist of One Day? “I still don’t mention it unless it’s mentioned. When I answer questions at book events if people give it away there’s always some hissing and some booing!”

“I feel sorry for people who read a lot of novels,” says Andrew Collins. “They must always know the ending to films. I never made it to the end of Atonement, so I was pretty smug when we got to the ending of that film and I was, presumably, one of the few people in there who didn’t see that coming.”

Rust and Bone is released in cinemas on 2 November. Great Expectations is out on 30 November. Skyfall is out now.

Lady Dior Web Documentary – Episode 4: Lily’s Body

Episode 4 of the Lady Dior Web Documentary is here! Sadly, there’s no new footage of Marion as it’s an animated short film. But no worries, it’s very exciting as it features an orginal song by her! Directed by Eliott Bliss, design by Slim and music by Yodelice.

In a film directed exclusively for the House of Dior, and to the tune of an original song written and sung by Marion Cotillard, the history of Dior comes alive in pictures.

She’s having a whale of a time

from The Sunday Times (UK) / by Louis Wise

She beguiled her way to an Oscar as Piaf and is one of the world’s hottest actresses. In her intense new film, Marion Cotillard loses her legs. She tells Louis Wise why she prefers beasts to beauties

In her new film, Rust and Bone, Marion Cotillard pushes herself, yet again, to the edge. Cotillard — actress, Oscar-winner, No 1 purveyor of a certain French-patented intensité — plays Stéphanie, a killerwhale trainer who loses her legs in a freak accident. She says she chose the role simply because “it was something I had never done before”. She’s right, and she’s wrong.

She’s right in that Stéphanie is a character with particular demands. Cotillard spends much of her time on the floor, then in a wheelchair, then on crutches, as she learns to adjust to a new life. The actress, of course, didn’t really lose her limbs, but had to act as though they weren’t there, so they could then be erased via top-notch CGI. So, yes, something new.

In other ways, though, not at all new. What we get here is a classic Cotillard turn, one becoming ever more familiar to cinema-goers. Recently, she has filmed with Steven Soderbergh, Michael Mann, Woody Allen and Christopher Nolan (twice), often blending her luminous beauty with something intense, hungry, even unhinged. Stéphanie may seem different from her Hollywood roles (not only does she have no legs, she — gasp! — wears no make-up), but there is still that unsettling mix of perfect face and frayed nerves, building to a fever pitch of emotion.

It all leads back to her huge performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en rose, which bagged her a best-actress Oscar in 2008. We can join the dots, right?

“I don’t know,” she replies, pleasantly, warily.

“It’s always weird to ask yourself that kind of question, to analyse your route or your choice of role. I just do stuff. When I have to answer that kind of question, selfishly I ask myself, do I really need to do this kind of appraisal? And will it really interest people?”

Oh Lord. Actresses. It turns out that if Cotillard is scrupulously polite — jumping up to close the door when the noise outside is too loud, leaping to turn her phone off when it beeps — she is also magnificently unkeen on the interview process. We discuss all kinds of interesting things in our time together, but each question is like the drawing of a wonderful, whitened Tinseltown tooth. At one point, she even bends double in her chair and sighs, apologising: “I dread interviews.” Then she adds, a little bleakly: “I do what I can.”

She’s in the A-lister’s garb: casual-expensive, low-key, apart from some gargantuan turquoise and yellow heels, which she has been perched on by her team for the occasion.

(“I’ve just spent three months on holiday, barefoot,” she sighs.) She’s on the A-lister’s diet, too: hot water, honey and three slices of lemon. She’s stuck here in an anodyne hotel room, doing a full day’s roster of interviews, so you can understand her ambivalence. As atmospheres go, it’s all a bit strict and formulaic — hardly Ovaltine and fluffy slippers.

On the other hand, she is also a fêted millionaire artist, so blow that. And such is the business of being, at 37, the biggest French actress in the world today. Success on her scale is rare: she was the first winner of a best-actress Oscar for a non-English-speaking role since Sophia Loren in 1962, and has worked nonstop since. She is half of one of cinema’s most interesting couples, living with the actor-director Guillaume Canet (Tell No One, Little White Lies). And anticipation for Rust and Bone is great, thanks to the critical success of its director Jacques Audiard’s previous two features, The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) and A Prophet (2009), and a best-film award last weekend at the London Film Festival. As if she somehow has a little inkling of all this, she decides to regroup.

“I’m sure in all the characters I play, there’s always a complexity, a richness of soul, but…” She trails off. Then perks up. “Maybe there’s something vibrant in all of them — it’s a bit vague as a term, but it’s that which comes to my mind.”

“Vibrant” is indeed rather vague, but she has, annoyingly, hit it on the head. Her Piaf, of course, needed that by the bucketful, but it was visible even back in 2003, when she broke out in Tim Burton’s Big Fish, and it is loud and clear in her two Nolan films — Inception and this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises. In both blockbusters, she offers a stylish, subdued take on the femme fatale. (Nolan prized the quality so much, he even adjusted the shoot of the Batman film around the birth of Marcel, her son with Canet, in May last year.) So: vibrant. Perhaps, when you’re in the business of mystery, you’d rather things be undefined; choose not to analyse them?

It’s not that, she insists. “I’m just not capable of it, because it’s not a necessity for me.” And, once her work is done, there’s a greater dread. “I just think — what will I be able to say that won’t piss everyone off?”

What indeed? Maybe she doesn’t want to speak for the directors. Maybe she doesn’t want a repeat of an infamous incident a few years back, when she appeared to back conspiracy theories about 9/11. She has, it seems, successfully brushed that under the red carpet, and she’s not going to let another throwaway comment derail her. “An actor,” she says at one point, as animated as she will get, “is someone who has a lot of strength, but is also fragile. That’s why the job isn’t always easy. To expose oneself, to propose stuff to people — it really messes with you.” This situation included, clearly.

In fairness to Cotillard, she didn’t grow up in a world where she needed to explain herself. She is the daughter of actors, so her profession has always just been there. I ask her when she decided she would like to act. She pauses for a full five seconds. “I don’t know, there was no decision, no ‘shock’. I saw my parents on stage, and what they did fascinated me. It’s like I always wanted to do it, and the desire just got stronger as I got older.” Aged 16, she moved to Paris to make it professionally. She began what she says she still doesn’t think of as “a career” — even if, now, with agents, publicists, journalists, fashion houses and film studios to contend with, this seems like quite a feat. “I just see an actress’s life.”

Rust and Bone is a sombre piece that flirts with melodrama in a macho way — extreme emotions “and harsh situations abound. The film follows Stéphanie and Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), an ex-fighter, as their paths slowly entwine. You might have thought she would need to do a lot of preparation, considering not only the role’s demands, but her own: she prefers to spend a long time researching. But no. The suddenness of Stéphanie’s condition meant she didn’t need months in a wheelchair, or on crutches. “If I had to play an amputee or a handicapped person who had been that way for several years, it would have been different. But it’s not something [Stéphanie] knows. So I decided to just jump in with her.”

La vie here is certainly not en rose. Much of the film shows the different types of violence that human beings must endure, and, unsettlingly, reminds us that these experiences aren’t always negative. It all makes for one of the least likely love stories of 2012. Describing it as a French film seems a bit pointless (it’s based on a book of Canadian short stories); it’s entirely an Audiard one. “Stories of love between two people that nothing would have brought together, that can happen anywhere,” Cotillard says. “But to tell it like this — only Jacques can.”

Perhaps it will bring her a new Oscar nomination.

Many actresses go off the boil after the big win, taking time off, making bad decisions or simply sinking under the weight of expectation. And not everyone had a role as huge as Piaf to contend with. Was “the little sparrow” ever an albatross? “People still talk to me about the film,” Cotillard says, “but I don’t feel any lassitude. It was so important to me in my life as an actress, and as a woman. It opened up a lot of things inside me — things that were inhibited. It did have repercussions for me as a person.” I start to imagine something volcanic, but she is quick to put a lid on it. “What she is — her talent, her passion — that inspired me. But her life, her demons, I wouldn’t want to live that.” So, who knows? Maybe she just sings in the kitchen more.

She and Canet — “the French Brangelina” — are notoriously private about their relationship, and she only ever refers to him in a working context. Funnily enough, though, as we are told we have five minutes left together, she decides to wax lyrical about him: a final sprint, with the exit beckoning. She recalls their first job together, 2003’s Love Me If You Dare. “We had a complicity that was very, very strong. We looked at what the other did, and if we didn’t think it was good, we’d say. So, already, I had total trust in him.” She’s excited about their next project, Blood Ties, where he directs her for a second time; Schoenaerts again co-stars. “It’s something completely different. It’s an American film, so it’s not like creating a French film, and what he did hugely impressed me.

“I love working with him,” she says, limbering up, “and I’d love to work with him again.” Surely you’ll be able to, I say, bemused. “Well,” she says sweetly, “you never know.”

Cotillard says she was happy to leave things with Stéphanie open-ended; there’s much about the character that we never discover. “To create something without necessarily showing it,” she says with a smile, “that pleases me.” As she totters off for her next performance, you realise it’s her favourite trick.

Rust and Bone opens on Friday

Marion Cotillard: I haven't lost my legs, but I have lost and I have felt pain

from Radar Magazine – The Independent (UK) / by Emma Jones

She is already attracting Oscar rumours for her latest film in which she plays a double amputee. Emma Jones meets her

There’s a theory that the best way to win a best actress Oscar is by a dramatic change in appearance. From young to old, beautiful to haggard, from Meryl Streep to Margaret Thatcher. At least no-one can accuse Marion Cotillard of deliberate Oscar-hunting. She already has one, for playing French chanteuse Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie en Rose. Nevertheless in her new film Rust and Bone, which won Best Film at the London Film Festival last weekend, Cotillard transforms strikingly to play a double amputee called Stéphanie. Her hair hangs lank, her eyes are half-dead. And you can’t take your eyes off her.

Today, the actress is dressed in Dior – she’s a “face” for the fashion house – and looks like Paris in the springtime. She, apparently, finds her beauty irrelevant, being more interested in losing herself in a part. When her Rust and Bone co-star, the Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, first met her on the set, Cotillard was in her wheelchair, sullen and silent. She was already Stéphanie, a sea-world trainer who loses her legs in a freak accident. Ali, a rough bouncer, played by Schoenaerts, is the only one who doesn’t treat her like an invalid. As a love story, it’s a bruiser. Made by Jacques Audiard, director of A Prophet, it’s been a critical hit at festivals including Cannes, Toronto and London.

Despite the difficulties of transforming for her previous role as Piaf, Cotillard describes this film as “her biggest challenge so far”.

“I wanted to work with Jacques Audiard. Even before we met, he was on my to-die-for director list. And then there is Stéphanie. Usually, I connect emotionally with a character, and I discover all the layers. But with her, I freaked out. There is something so mysterious about her, I felt I didn’t know her at all.”

You could almost level the same accusation at the actress. She speaks perfect English, pausing frequently to find the right word and answers honestly. Yet she doesn’t give herself away easily. Her parents and her younger twin brothers are all in the business. Acting was the only option.

Now 37 she has been with her partner, the director Guillaume Canet, since 2007. They originally met 10 years ago, on the set of Love Me If You Dare. Their son Marcel was born 18 months ago. Although she and Canet have the tag of “France’s Brangelina”, they live quietly, solidly, together in Paris. They last collaborated together on Little White Lies in 2010, a tale about dysfunctional thirtysomethings which was a hit in France. She smiles wryly at the memory. “In some ways it is great to be directed by your partner, because then you can always be together. But we did talk constantly about work and it came off set with us. However, I guess he did something right because I have promised him I will work with him again.”

Rust and Bone was one of the first films she signed up for after the birth of Marcel. Seeing the actress without legs is a punch in the guts – even if it is just CGI. She says she didn’t do any research into amputees, apart from watching footage of how to move. “It was not so much the physicality of the part that interested me, but the emotion. I haven’t lost my legs, but I have lost, and I have felt pain. I knew the CGI would work, because otherwise, there was going to be no movie.

“The first scene I did without legs, I was in a wheelchair, so my legs were bandaged up underneath me. In every scene, the CGI people were so quick, and so discreet, that I barely noticed them. I have to say, when I saw it for the first time in a cinema, I was amazed. It is so powerful.”

By “discreet”, she is referring to the numerous sex scenes she and Schoenaerts had to perform. An image of her naked, amputated body appears in the film trailer, something Cotillard approves of: “The sex and flesh is part of the story,” she says. ” It’s not sensational or a statement at all, it had to be in there. You know how you feel when you rediscover your body, love, your life. That’s what happens to both these characters and I think that is very sexy.”

Ever since she was discovered, aged 21, with a part in Arnaud Desplechin’s comedy My Sex Life… or How I Got into an Argument, the parts Cotillard has chosen have been far from feeble French flowers; from Tina Lombardi in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement, who gets guillotined for murder; to bisexual headcase Marie in Little White Lies. She even smacked Russell Crowe in the face in A Good Year.

The Hollywood parts she has been offered post-Oscar seem feebler: a moll in Public Enemies with Johnny Depp; a cheated-on wife in the Rob Marshall musical Nine and love interest Miranda in The Dark Knight Rises. Christopher Nolan put off filming the latter because he wanted her in it, and at the time of asking the actress was pregnant with Marcel. “He called me up after Inception”, she recalls, “And it was something I really wanted to be part of, but of course I couldn’t. So he said, ‘I am writing at the moment, let me see what I can do for you.’ I feel so lucky that he would do that for me – the guy is a creative genius. I mean, it was amazing to be part of one of the biggest films ever made, but I don’t feel with Christopher that I am making a blockbuster. He is a completely independent thinker.”

As the first actress since Sophia Loren in 1973 to win an Oscar for acting in a foreign language, Cotillard isn’t ungrateful to Hollywood. “I am so lucky to be able to work in both France and America. Most of the movies that fed my dreams as a child were American. The Oscar opened a door, there is no doubt about that. And perhaps there will be more doors opened because of The Artist’s success too. French cinema is travelling, and I am proud to be a French actress. We are an old country of cinema.”

You get the feeling that Cotillard will only ever keep dipping her toe into the studio system. She claims to like the “difficult” roles “in whatever language I can get them. Often, they aren’t found in English. I want to explore and learn all my life”, she explains. “Even when I am old. Before I am an actress, or a mother, I am a woman first. I feel that very deeply in my heart.”

‘Rust and Bone’ is released on 2 November

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