FOR most people, playing a young woman who has her legs amputated isn’t the easiest of film roles to take on, but Marion Cotillard says that she had the perfect distraction from the intensity of her Rust and Bone character.
“I was a new mum when we were filming – my son was five months old – and he needed me,” she told us. “I wanted to spend time with him and put him to bed. He wasn’t sleeping through the night at that stage. I honestly think I reached the point of exhaustion while I was making that film.”
But, in fact, her newborn was an asset to Cotillard in helping her get into her role of Stéphanie – a whale-trainer who endures a tragic accident.
“I was so tired-looking and drained that when I arrived on set I didn’t need any make-up to make me look ill and miserable,” she said. “The make-up artist would just look at me and say: ‘I think you’re good to go.’ It sounds horrible, but I loved that character so much. It was very easy to get into the physical state that she was in. If anything, it was quite exciting.”
The Oscar-winning actress was drawn to the film because of its “unusual and unconventional script” and because of its director, French-born Jacques Audiard, who also created BAFTA-winning film The Beat That My Heart Skipped.
“It was always a dream of mine to work with him,” she said. “And you don’t get that many female characters written in so much depth and who feel so powerful. I fell in love with the whole package.”
She hopes that the film challenges traditional perceptions of disability.
“I can’t tell you hard it was to try and show what it is to wake to find out your legs just aren’t there anymore,” she said. “The strength it must take to decide that you can’t be sad forever and life can be beautiful again – it’s almost unimaginable.”
Rust and Bone is available on DVD now.