Marion Cotillard, the stunning French actress who won an Oscar for La Vie en Rose, was delighted that she did not have to strip off her clothes to play a prostitute in Guillaume Canet’s Brooklyn crime thriller, Blood Ties.
“How it was written,” she told a TIFF press conference on Tuesday, “I didn’t have to do crazy naked stuff.”
Emotionally, she did have to go to extremes, but that was easier because that is her job as an actress. “I would have gone wherever Guillaume wanted to go.”
Cotillard, of course, was confident she would not be exploited by writer-director Canet. After all, he happens to be her life partner, and father of Cotillard’s two-year-old son Marcel. Blood Ties is also the second time they have worked together, after she starred in Little White Lies (2010), his French-language dramatic comedy. Blood Ties is Canet’s English-language debut.
Working together is like a love affair, only with a different set of complications. “Personally,” Canet said, “I think it is an advantage only for the director … and not at all for the actress.”
“That’s not true!” Cotillard said, glancing at her lover, who is a heartthrob movie star in France when not directing his own films.
“It is very different for the actress,” Canet continued, describing how Cotillard would have to come home after a day of shooting “and you don’t want to hear all the director’s problems that he had all day long.”
Filmmakers who direct their lovers also have another issue to deal with, he said: “They don’t want to express too much the admiration and love (they have) for their partner. So, on the set, unconsciously, they are less … (he pauses, searching for the phrase in English) …”
“Open to compliments?” Cotillard offers with a mischievous grin.
“Yes! On the other hand, I think there is something really, really important and magical when you shoot a movie with someone who is your partner.” That something is trust.
“All directors know that Marion has something extraordinary in her way of working. She is very generous and, once she is committed to a movie, she is trusting the director no matter what. With me, it is even more because she knows she would give everything. She trusts me because she knows me, and she knows I don’t want to disappoint her and (put) her in a weird situation. For me, that a huge gift — to have this complicity.”
For Cotillard, their relationship is based on that same sense of trust that Canet described. “I trust Guillaume 200%.”
As for being given a hard time on set, “He was always fair. Don’t believe what he said about being more difficult. And I would do anything for him to get what he wants.”
Cotillard and Canet are well known for not talking about their personal life together in Paris. So their revelations about their working relationship are somewhat unusual. But Cotillard brought down their cone of silence when a Mexican journalist awkwardly asked her to describe her romantic relationship with Canet.
“We never talk about our personal life,” Cotillard said.
“You can just say I’m very romantic at home, too,” Canet suggested.
“Which is true, actually,” Cotillard confirmed.