In 2000, I was insanely proud when they invited me to go to Tawaian. I told whoever was listening: “I’m in a movie that’s being released in Asia!” On the other side of the world, a few people were interested in my work. There aren’t a lot of actresses that cross borders. No, this movie release, that was cool. I started a career in Germany, I now shoot regularly in France, who would have thought that in certain corners of China, people would know my name. Without wanting to sound pretentious, it was still worthwhile mentioning the turnaround my life and career were going through. After seventeen hours on a plane, I got out of the aircraft exhausted, ready to slide in between the sheets of a luxurious hotel in the center of Taipei.
“Hello, I will be your guide, your interpreter during the five days you will spend here.” The young girl who greeted me handed me three pages filled with writings: my agenda.
“I’ll take you to the hotel, you’ll have forty-five minutes to freshen up, and then we’ll head right to the first television interview.”
What ? She was crazy, this girl. Did she not know where I had flown from ? I’m going to sleep! I nearly screamed in her face, despite her kindness and eager smile.
“We love the French. They work well, they stand by their films with a passion. French women are always smiling, always elegant. We just had “Marionne Cotilliarde” promoting “Taxi 2”. She’s beautiful ! » Her eyes shone as she talked of Marionne. She had bewitched the entire country. “She’s so nice, never too tired”. I climbed onto the car that would be carrying me around all day. I said nothing.
“Mairyon ! Mairyon !” Thirtheen years later, Marion Cotillard turns around, in her stunning Dior gown, on the red carpet of the Marrakech Film Festival. She smiles at the one joining her, ready to present herself in front of the photographs that are waiting for her. The man that was calling out to her comes to take her arm. It’s Martin Scorcese.
She quickly greets Mads Mikkelsen, Noomi Rapace, and everyone invited to represent Sweden.
Since Asia, “Marionne Cotilliarde”, “Maryon Cothyâârd” or (in French) Marion Cotillard, has conquered more than one country. No need to announce which film she will be shooting. The title is in the newspapers of the entire world. In every language, in every country where there’s a movie theatre. Without being pretentious, she has a lot to be proud of when it comes to the turnaround that has taken over her life, her career.
The photographers cry out her name louder than any other. It’s tough to get near her in all the commotion. I’m there, but to be honest, I don’t dare approach. I don’t know Martin Scorcese. I don’t know any Swedish actors. And then there’s the fact that everyone is screaming. It’s nerve wrecking. Mairyon-Marion, however, looks relaxed.
She will go forward in a moment. But not before she greets the small blonde girl she hasn’t seen in ages, but to whom she offers a huge smile upon casting eyes upon her, a little further down the red carpet. Here it is, I finally take a step forward… “Hi, Sylvie. Martin, let me introduce you to Sylvie Testud. Sylvie, this is Martin Scorcese.” Now she’s done it! You can’t do that without telling me first ! My knees falter as he takes my hand.
The photographes cry still : “Over here, Mairyon ?” She doesn’t need to strike a pose, she shines. With her fair skin, blue eyes and dark hair, she’s a step away from being more famous than Snow White. Has she played her yet? No? Well, someone needs to have that idea. Sure enough, it’d make the planet sigh.
Marion Cotillard has become a star. I was thinking about all the films she’s worked on in the past ten years, all the awards, photos, magazine covers, when they called me, six months later: “Marion’s new film “Two Days, One Night” will soon be coming out. Would you want to write something? She’d be happy you would.” I love Marion a lot, I’ll do my best. I accept. A star. It’s weird when you’re an actor to describe another actor as a star. Nonetheless it’s my first thought. Marion rules. Everything. Places, situations, roles, directors, the press ! Can she still vanish into a character ?
I’m deeply touched after the screening of the latest film by the Dardenne, “Two Days, One Night”, selected for the next Cannes Film Festival, where the two Belgian directors have already received two Palmes d’Or. Again, they don’t use superficial effects, no show. A simple but touching story. Marion touched me, in her role as a young woman in a precarious situation. Even if she is a star, Marion is also an actress that makes me believe her troubles, her desperation in spite of the courage towards the unforgiving world of unemployment.
I ring the doorbell of her apartment in Paris. I thought she lived in Hollywood… She’s wearing a “Ghostbusters” sweater, a pair of jeans and flat shoes. Surprise! I was expecting a more… Dior look!
The conversation begins. Marion sits down in the exact same manner she used to when we were shooting « La Vie en Rose ». She talks to me in the same way she used to when she was Piaf and I was Momone, her friend, while we waited in the trailer. She had just spent five hours in make up but showed no signs of exasperation. What did Edith Piaf do to relax? She knitted. Marion did the same. Despite what everyone might think looking at her focused on her scarf, Marion lived with her character, as her character, for her character. She had already been chosen by Tim Burton, Abel Ferrara, Ridley Scott, and still, she was Piaf, she lived her life. The past did not matter, nor did the future. She worked fifteen hours a day. Every day.
“I’m afraid no one will buy it” – she confided one day as she came to set. Filled with doubt, she still worked fiercely. Four months at the speed of light, giving it her all. She laughed, cried, yelled out in pain at the loss of Marcel.
When she was nominated for an Oscar, we were all in shock. In the middle of the night, we learned that she had been the only French actress awarded for a role in French. Marion made history. A fairytale, is what it was. The rain of awards was unstoppable. Marion went beyond everything that most actresses only dream of. How long was this glory going to last? Haven’t we often awarded an actor for a role to see that role become the only good thing they’re known for?
I look at Marion. The most respected directors in America went after her immediately. Michael Mann, Rob Marshall, Christopher Nolan, Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh, James Gray… Just writing these names gives me goosebumps. The greatest French directors, Jacques Audiard, Guillaume Canet, and now the talented Belgians, the Dardenne brothers. Marion is no longer Edith Piaf. She has managed to remain Marion. She managed to invest in different roles, as strong as Piaf. Her Stephanie, in “Rust and Bone” has touched me deeply.
“Aren’t you scared when all these directors call you ?” I picture myself eating my fingernails if James Gray would ever ask to meet me. I picture myself passing out if ever crossing paths with Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix going to and from the trailer.
“I am terrified”, she replies. “I am afraid of disappointing them, so I work. Like a crazy person.” She shrugs, smiles. And so do I. If we need a little luck to start, we need to know how to take it, how to transform it. We will see her soon in “Macbeth”, directed by Justin Kurzel, for whom she has certainly worked a lot. She will be speaking in Shakespeare’s tongue! I know what I am talking about. At school, I played some of its scenes in French and that was already extremely difficult. If the opportunity had not presented itself to Marion, I am sure she would have known how to find it. I’m a firm believer that there are no coincidences. I greet her little son, certain that he never tosses his Coke can out the car’s window. His mom, a strong supporter of Greenpeace, also finds the time to stand up for our planet. The only cage she has wanted to enter was the one set up to support Greenpeace members held in Russia.
And Dior? Have you seen “Lady Blue”? After “Lady Noire” and “Lady Rouge”, it was David Lynch that directed the commercial, that looks more like a film than an advertising clip. Because if Marion has accepted to be the face of the brand, she has also stood by the artistic work that comes from it. It’s not the outfit she wears, not the bag she sells, it’s the soul of the Dior house and its creations that inspire her. So is Marillionne-Mairyon-Marion a star, an actress, a mother, world citizen, a woman in love, a fighter, an artist ? We can maybe admit that she’s all at the same time.