Killer Whales and Killer Heels at the New York Premiere of Rust and Bone
from Interview Magazine (US) / by Nathan Reese
Last night, the stars of French drama Rust and Bone—including the inimitable Marion Cotillard—gathered at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema Theater in New York City for a screening of Jacques Audiard’s lyrical new drama. Presented by The Cinema Society, along with Dior, for whom Cotillard is the current face, the event featured attendees including Helena Christensen, Olivier Theyskens, Debbie Harry, and Game of Thrones‘ Gwendoline Christie, who looked just as striking without her armor.
For fans of contemporary European cinema, though, it was the names Audiard, Cotillard, and co-star Matthias Schoenaerts that were the real draw. Audiard took home a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2009’s wrenching prison melodrama A Prophet, while Schoenaerts starred in 2011’s Bullhead, an Academy Award-nominated Belgian drama about the corrupt dealings of West-Flemish beef trade.
Cotillard, who needs no introduction after starring in the Christopher Nolan smashes Inception and The Dark Knight Rises and as Edith Piaf in the Oscar-winning La vie en rose, sparkled in head-to-toe Dior. Unfortunately, beauty isn’t without its price, and when Interview approached her to talk about her role, Cotillard’s evening in precarious heels was getting the better of her. “My feet. Are. Dying!” exclaimed Cotillard a candid moment, before asking—quite sincerely—”I cannot take off my shoes, right?” (She later did, and no one blamed her for walking the last few feet of the red carpet barefoot.)
While Audiard’s movies are often neorealistic portrayals of tension and violence, from the Corsican mobsters and Arab prisoners in A Prophet, to the story of a hoodlum who dreams of playing piano in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Rust and Bone narrows its view to the unlikely love story of two quite literally damaged individuals. Cotillard plays an Orca trainer by the name of Stéphanie, who loses her legs in an accident, while Schoenaerts plays a reluctant nightclub bouncer and single parent.
“I never expect anything,” said Cotillard, when we asked her about working with Audiard. “Even when I’m really excited like I was working with him. I knew he was a director, but I discovered a poet—an energy. Someone who loves actors and the stories he tells. Everything is very vibrant with him.”
A large part of Cotillard’s portrayal of Stéphanie is her remarkable ability to bring raw physicality her character: “I tried to watch footage of people with amputated legs to see how they move. Then [I] very quickly felt that I didn’t need it. I thought I would experience how it was. I would explore with her as she explored. Sometimes I wore prosthetics so I couldn’t move,” said Cotillard, who spent much of her time on set in a wheelchair.
Asked about what she had known about killer whales before filming, Cotillard confessed that it wasn’t much. “Well, I studied Orcas, because I didn’t know anything about them. And I took swimming lessons,” she said.
Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir elaborated: “The film is incredibly beautiful. It’s so well written, so well acted. It’s stunning. It’s also harrowing in its intensity. Marion and Matthias are incredibly captivating. Their performances are so rich and so textured.”
While Cotillard had to catch a midnight plane back to Paris, the rest of the cast and crew went straight from the screening to NoHo restaurant Indochine, where guests ate various skewered appetizers and sipped on Belvedere “Rust and Bone Mojitos” (they taste a lot better than they sound) as they discussed the film’s lingering emotions.