Day: December 18, 2012

Interview: Marion Cotillard of ‘Rust and Bone’

Interview: Marion Cotillard of ‘Rust and Bone’

Good news, Katy Perry fans: Though Marion Cotillard’s whale trainer character in “Rust and Bone” loses her legs in an accident as Perry’s “Firework” plays, the actress says she’s not too traumatized by the empowerment tune.

“The song’s become something very special to me,” says the Paris-born Cotillard by phone from New York. “And we listen to it a lot with the team I work with. I love the song.”

In the film, opening Friday, Stephanie (Cotillard) copes with tragedy through help from Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a nightclub bouncer who defends Stephanie in a fight before the accident. The 37-year-old Oscar winner (“La Vie En Rose,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) says her feelings about fighters vary.

“If you fight as a kind of sport, kind of a game, so it becomes something powerful and not something specifically violent [that’s one thing] … but when you fight in the street, when you fight because you get in a fight with someone who says something bad, [it’s] not showing strength,” she says. “It can be weakness to be a fighter. Because you are just a violent person.”

Cotillard wasn’t happy when a friend tried to defend her in real life against “someone who was annoying me.” “I got so mad because I didn’t want him to get into a fight,” she says. “I used to go to see boxing and I used to love it, but seeing people fighting in the street because of an argument or something, this is something that I cannot stand.”

People may not expect someone as glamorous as Cotillard to enjoy boxing, but she doesn’t see herself that way. “It’s part of an actor’s life to sometimes show glamor,” she says. “In my real life I see myself as a human being who learns a lot of things, but I would not describe myself as glamorous. I would describe myself as just a simple human being.”

Cotillard’s Stephanie character has anything but a simple journey in “Rust and Bone” as she tries to reclaim her sense of self after the tragic accident with a whale she is training. Cotillard emphasizes the role of sexual identity in that process. “That’s a beautiful way to put the energy back into your body,” she says.

The whale accident comes as a jolt in “Rust and Bone,” but Cotillard has been familiar with surprises lately—particularly regarding her character in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“I didn’t tell anyone what my character does in the movie,” Cotillard says of her friends, “and they were pretty shocked.” (Spoiler alert: She sleeps with Batman and tries to kill him. Cotillard notes her friends focus more on the killing aspect.)

These serious movies tend to be her forte career-wise, but Cotillard admits to loving “dumb” American comedies, including Adam Sandler films. She’s particularly fond of “Step Brothers” due to her love for John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell (she also says she loves Steve Carell and Vince Vaughn).

Yet when asked to name an actor she still wants to work with, Cotillard said Kate Winslet. When I suggest a comedy starring the two of them, Cotillard offers an idea for the title: “Step Sisters.”

If she had unlimited time in Chicago:
“I would want to go and visit my friend who lives there. And I would go to Gibson’s. And Green Mill. I loved it, too.”
On working with whales: “The thing is I didn’t have much time to prepare this movie because I was filming another movie, so I arrived five days before the shooting and we had worked before with [director] Jacques [Audiard], but with the whales I arrived five days before the shooting and that’s when I met with them and I started to learn how to [do] all the gestures to make them do what you want them to do. I love animals and I’ve always had a strong connection with them. My trainer, the woman who worked with me, she was really amazing and she made my job very easy … If you do the right gestures, you feed them well, they will actually do whatever you want them to do.”
On, as seen in “Rust and Bone,” topless swimming being more common in France than the U.S.: “There’s a freedom with our bodies in France maybe, I don’t know.”
If it’s more difficult to lose arms or legs: “Oh my God, I don’t know. It’s hard to compare. It’s really hard to lose a part of your body. No, I’d rather not lose anything. [Laughs]”

London Critics' Circle Awards Nomination

Marion Cotillard just got nominated for the Best Actress award by the London Critics’ Circle. She previously won that award in 2008 for ‘La Vie en Rose‘.

Holy Motors
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Rust and Bone

Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

Anna Karenina – Jacqueline Durran, costumes
Argo – William Goldenberg, film editing
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Ben Richardson, cinematography
Berberian Sound Studio – Joakim Sundstrom & Stevie Haywood, sound design
Holy Motors – Bernard Floch, makeup
Life of Pi – Claudio Miranda, cinematography
Life of Pi – Bill Westenhofer, visual effects
The Master – Jack Fisk & David Crank, production design
My Brother the Devil – David Raedeker, cinematography
Rust and Bone – Alexandre Desplat, music

The 33rd annual London Critics’ Circle Film Awards will be held Sunday January 20 at the May Fair Hotel in central London.

Marion Cotillard’s new role cuts to the ‘Bone’

Marion Cotillard’s new role cuts to the ‘Bone’

Marion Cotillard takes a tough turn in the gritty love story “Rust and Bone.”

In her new film “Rust and Bone,” which already has set box office records in France, Marion Cotillard takes a dramatic step away from her chic, seductive earlier roles. Cotillard won a 2008 Oscar as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose,” played captivating dream women in “Inception” and “Midnight in Paris,” and has been a brand ambassador of Dior since 2009.

Now the 37-year-old actress goes gritty and working-class as Stephanie, a killer-whale trainer at a French seaquarium. After she suffers a terrible accident, she enters a sexually charged courtship with Ali (up-and-coming Belgian star Matthias Schoenaerts), a tough boxer/bouncer with a criminal past, impulse-control issues and a spotty record as a single parent to his young son. Each is damaged inside and out, each makes an effort to heal — and tame — the other.

“Rust and Bone” is already gathering Oscar buzz for Cotillard. To prepare, she took swimming lessons while filming “The Dark Knight Rises” in Pittsburgh, and spent days learning how to interact with whales by observing orca trainers at Marineland in Antibes. (Spoilers follow.) But in a September interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, she said that playing a double amputee re-learning to walk did not require a lot of study.

“I didn’t need to watch a lot of videos” to create her character’s body language, Cotillard said. “They showed how amputees who were experienced with their artificial legs moved. My character, who was suddenly injured, was learning to walk from scratch, like a newborn, and she learns as she goes along.”

Cotillard’s father was a mime and theater director, her mother an actress, but they didn’t pressure her to perform, she said. Her early film diet was heavily Hollywood, and she considers herself “very lucky” to have collaborated with Woody Allen, Tim Burton, Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott and Steven Soderbergh. She hopes one day to work with her longtime favorite, Steven Spielberg, as she crafts a career shuttling between English-language roles and working in France, which she considers her home base.

Cotillard is famous for her immersion in her characters. She shaved her eyebrows and hairline to play the haggard, aging Piaf. To get inside John Dillinger’s girlfriend Billie Frechette in “Public Enemies,” she interviewed elders at the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin where Frechette grew up.

But she had never faced a challenge like playing a legless woman. For scenes in which Stephanie uses a wheelchair, Cotillard sat on her folded legs. Scenes where she walks on steel prosthetics were created with digital technology. “Once I put myself in the character of someone legless, I almost forgot everything below the knees.”

The love affair between Stephanie, who retains a healthy sex drive, and the ever- ready Ali, who is brusquely matter-of-fact about her injury, is by turns dramatic, frankly sensual and surprisingly fun and funny. “The tragedy was already in the situation. We didn’t need to dwell on it as actors,” she said. “They both hurt but they are transforming, regaining their lives, embracing love. Why wouldn’t they laugh together sometimes?”

Cotillard appears in several scenes with performing whales at the amusement park, in effect directing their performances. It was one of the most difficult episodes of the production, she said, because she considers the whales intelligent, sensitive creatures that should not be removed from their habitat.

“It didn’t feel like I was in charge. It was as if we were working together as a team,” she said. “But it was not my favorite scene. I never go to the zoo because I hate to see animals caged or turned into circus amusements. Their captivity in a swimming pool upset me. The trainers love them, working with these huge creatures is their passion, but I would not go back there again.”

By contrast, she sees the scenes of Stephanie’s visceral excitement about Ali’s bare-knuckle boxing career as paradoxically life-affirming. The whale trainer becomes his lover, manager and chief cheerleader. It’s not that her character relishes brutality, she explained, but that the combat stirs visceral feelings in a woman who felt physically desensitized. “She’s not a saintly martyr,” Cotillard said. “A character who is pure isn’t interesting. It’s the complicated ones who are the best challenge.”

Marion Cotillard cried on Rust and Bone set

Marion Cotillard cried on Rust and Bone set

When Marion Cotillard first heard about the movie Rust and Bone — a romance between a street fighter named Ali and a woman named Stéphanie, who trains whales at a marine park and loses her legs in a tragic orca accident — she thought it was role she would never take on.

It was months before director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) asked to meet with her, and she didn’t think she was even in line for the film. But an agent was telling her about it, and Cotillard says, “My first reaction was ‘Oh my God, I love this director and I really want to work with him one day if I can, but as much as I love him I could never ever do such a character, because of the marine land.’”

It’s a subject that’s close to her heart. The 38-year-old Oscar winner (for La Vie En Rose) is a prominent environmentalist and has been a spokeswoman for Greenpeace. The idea of a movie where whales are kept captive in tanks for the amusement of the public was against everything she stood for.

Cotillard says she forgot all about the conversation until she was cast in Rust and Bone — a job she accepted because of Audiard, and because Stéphanie was an intriguing mystery — and she had a scene with the orcas kept at Marineland Antibes, in the south of France. Then it came back to her.

“It’s me now in this sea land that I hate so much,” she recalls. “But then I met the trainers and I met the animals and I finally considered them as animals and not as freaks, I mean as poor animals turned into freaks by human beings. So, yeah, I had to do the job, but I will never go back to a marine land. I respect the trainers, but I don’t understand how you put such an animal in a swimming pool. It’s beyond understanding.”

Yet it’s a beautiful scene: Cotillard’s character stands in front of a glass tank as a whale swims up to her and moves from side to side at her direction. There’s no big secret to it — “you give them fish and they do anything you want them to do” — but Cotillard says it was an amazing encounter nonetheless. She felt she had a special relationship with the orca during rehearsal, although that changed when the scene was actually filmed.

“There were so many people behind me that the orca got scared and suddenly she screamed at me and she opened her mouth and even with the security glass I was totally shocked. And I cried that day.”

It was an emotional reaction from an actor who is known for throwing herself wholeheartedly into roles. “She brings a level of emotion that’s very high,” says Audiard. “It’s like a hand grenade.”

Stéphanie spends much of the film in a wheelchair or crawling on the floor or, memorably, having sex with Ali — played by rising Belgian star Matthias Schoenaerts — with her half-limbs thrust into the air. Cotillard says it wasn’t a difficult effect to manage.

“It came very quickly,” she says. “We were doing the fittings and I had those pants and I just sat on a chair with my pants hanging. And suddenly we had the image … and this image never left my mind.

“I didn’t have to try to feel that I had no legs. I had seen it.”

The film, which is based on a book of short stories by Canadian writer Craig Davidson, goes beyond romance and becomes an examination of the collapsing economy as well. Audiard says he was inspired by 1930s Hollywood movies and directors like Tod Browning (Freaks) who cast their dramas against the unspoken background of the Depression. Cotillard said they never talked about it, but Browning is one of her favourite directors. “I saw Freaks I don’t know how many times.”

And then there was the attraction of the mysterious Stéphanie. Cotillard says she’s always looking for things that she hasn’t done before.

“I kind of like that she stayed mysterious to me in a way. I’m not sure exactly what she’s looking for, but I believe that you attract what you need in life if you want to listen,” she says. “If you want to see. If you want to watch. If you really want to be here and now, you can be here and now. And even though she was totally lost, her failure is so deep she’s empty. She doesn’t know who she is.”

She adds, “It must be the first time that a character is so mysterious to me. It was really exciting because usually I get who the person is. There’s always a way, a road to take to the character, but this one was a really long road. I couldn’t see her on the road when I started walking on this road.”

It’s a departure in other ways as well. Cotillard’s other 2012 film was the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, directed by Christopher Nolan. However, the two movies are not as different as they appear. “Yes Batman is like a huge blockbuster, but it’s also directed by someone whose totally involved in the whole process,” she says. “It’s kind of rare when a director in America writes his own scripts, so Chris Nolan is very, very special. It’s a big movie but almost like directed by a guy who has the spirit of an auteur.”

Rust and Bone is a much smaller project, but her performance was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and it is also generating Oscar talk. Cotillard doesn’t want to talk about it, beyond saying, “You know, I’m very happy that people like the movie.

“I just want to do my best. I just want to find the authenticity of each character. That’s what matters to me. It would be horrible to have an audience saying, ‘Oh it’s her.’ It would be horrible. I want to experience something new each time.”

‘Dark Knight Rises’ Star Marion Cotillard on Gun Violence: ‘It’s a Vicious Circle’

‘Dark Knight Rises’ Star Marion Cotillard on Gun Violence: ‘It’s a Vicious Circle’

Marion Cotillard is still visibly shaken when she recalls the moment she first heard about the Aurora shootings.

The date was July 20, 2012, and what was meant to be a career high for the Oscar-winner — starring in a new, Christopher Nolan-directed Batman epic — was instantly overshadowed by unthinkable tragedy, as news quickly spread that a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado left 12 moviegoers dead at the hands of a crazed shooter.

Those wounds have barely begun to heal as the country now copes with an even more unbelievable and senseless horror: the murder of 26 people, 20 of them young children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The Hollywood Reporter asked Cotillard about her thoughts on the Colorado shooting in a conversation with the actress last month.

“I’ve never felt good about guns. Especially when it’s out of control,” the Rust and Bone star told THR.

“Sadly, I guess, it’s in America’s culture,” Cotillard continued. “And I believe it’s going to be hard to change that because some people can’t be secure without it. It’s creating at the same time this insecurity. It’s a vicious circle.”

Cotillard is currently shooting Blood Ties, directed by her partner and father of her one-year-old son, French movie star Guillaume Canet. The film is set in the world of organized crime in 1970s Brooklyn.