Category: Translations

Marion Cotillard – No Promo Required

Originally published in Studio Ciné Live (France), February 2009

translated by Ioana

She will soon be seen in Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies” and in Rob Marshall’s musical, “Nine“. In the meantime, we asked the heroine from “La Môme“, for which she was awarded a César and an Oscar, to reveal herself, so we could retrace the last two crazy years, and talk about her future. An improvised conversation, with no imposed subjects or stereotypes. A rare moment.

It was our Christmas present. On the 21st of December, last year, before going to Rome to continue her work in “Nine“, Marion Cotillard gave us an interview… although she had nothing to sell! Begun in our office, one Sunday afternoon, this exclusive conversation went on until we reached Vincennes, where we discovered Daniel Pennac’s play, “Diagnostic“, acted and directed with inspiring passion by Marion’s father, Jean-Claude.

It was an opportunity to go back to the events that influenced her life in 2008: a César and an Oscar for “La Môme“, the controversy over her comments about 9/11, the making of Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies“, in which she plays Billie Frechette, Johnny Depp’s girlfriend, and that of “Nine“, a musical by Rob Marshall. We also wanted to take a leap into the future and break the news about her July debut on the Parisian stage.

What was your state of mind a year ago, at the beginning of 2008?
Sheer enthusiasm! I was leaving for Los Angeles, knowing that a lot of people over there, whom I admire, had loved “La Môme“. It was an exciting perspective.

What moments do you remember from the Oscar campaign?
Every other day, there’s a ceremony, where actors give or receive awards. Each time, I found myself among the potential nominees: George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Daniel Day-Lewis… Every day, it’s like the Cannes festival over there! So you get used to it. But I also felt at ease, because it was a kind of hallucinating experience. I felt like a child, spending an evening with Harry Dean Stanton or Robert Duvall, being nominated alongside Cate Blanchett, whom I admire so much…

Two days before the Oscars, you won the César. How important was that award for you?
I never dreamed of a Cesar. As a little girl, I never imagined myself making a speech! But, that evening, I was really happy to be awarded in my home country.

Was it even more important than your first César, for “A Very Long Engagement“?
My first César was a milestone: Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film changed my career in a big way. It put me in the spotlight, although I only had ten minutes of screentime. I’ll never forget what a journalist friend told me: “You can’t imagine how this film will change your life and your career.” I didn’t believe him, but he was right!

The day after the Césars, you crossed the Atlantic, for the Oscars. What did you feel the second you heard your name?
An internal shock ! I still can’t explain how I managed to stand up so quickly and walk to the stage. Inside, I was experiencing completely different emotions!

Did you rehearse a speech?
I hadn’t done it before that, because I wanted to enjoy the moment, without anticipating anything. But, the morning of the Oscars, I had a phrase in my head: “There are angels in this city”. It may sound naïve, but it brought me back, a year and a half before, on the road to Palm Springs, in L.A. It was the second-to-last day of shooting for “La Môme“, and I really felt that something was waiting for me in Los Angeles. It’s strange for an actor, because it means: Hollywood is waiting for me! (laughs) But the feeling was so powerful, that it stayed with me… And it was the first thing that came to my mind on stage.

Then, very quickly, you got caught up in work, with Michael Mann’s film.
Two days later, I left at 4 o’clock in the morning and found myself among an Indian tribe in Wisconsin. You could say it was a radical change!

How did you feel, being on a film set for the first time in two years?
I was terrified. I feel that way every time I begin a film, but then, it was even worse. I had to completely erase my French accent, which is impossible! I’ve never worked so much for a film. Every day, for four months, with the help of a coach, I had to relearn to pronounce the “r” and the “l”. And then, I had to forget everything for “Nine“, where I play a French woman (laughs)!

During those first weeks of filming, there was the scandal related to your old comments about 9/11. How did you react?
I really don’t want to insist on the subject, but, honestly, it was horrible. And I was especially hurt by the fact that it began in my own country. It made me doubt the professionalism of some newspapers that deem themselves intelligent, but write things without questioning them.

Why didn’t you fight back?
I wanted to attack them immediately, because the title of the article that started everything was a complete lie. But there was the risk of backlash, so I let things cool down. It happened pretty quickly in the US, where the impact had been smaller, then, more slowly, in France.
Fortunately, I was working at the time, so I could focus on something else.

How did you feel on the set of your first big American film?
Michael Mann’s dedication is fascinating. He’s always in control. You repeat every take, until he is happy with it. I never felt relaxed. I was always afraid that my obsession with the accent would get in the way of my acting. My luck was that I could rely on Johnny Depp. He’s a true gentleman and so obviously in love with his wife and children. That gives him a self-confidence which I find unusual in an actor. For me, this profession implies a constant feeling of insecurity!

You didn’t enjoy yourself at all during the filming?
No, and it was the first time ! I was so stressed, that I experienced physical reactions: I was rushed to a Chicago hospital at 4 a.m., because I had doubled in size (laughs)!

But, three weeks later, you moved on, with “Nine“…
And, frankly, in the beginning, I didn’t feel well. I was too exhausted to live my dream: being in a musical. I had to drag myself to rehearsals. I told myself every day: “Are you nuts? How many girls dream of being in your shoes? How can you hesitate?”. But my body wouldn’t follow. And then, during three weeks of rehearsals, I met Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Fergie, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren and Daniel Day-Lewis. I realized we were all going to be in the same studio, for two months. And I understood we all had our fears concerning the technique required. Suddenly, instead of exhaustion, I felt euphoria, and it hasn’t left me since.

How do you work on this new project?
By studying my part. In “Nine“, the shadow of Giulietta Masina still floats over my character, Lisa. Although it’s not a remake of 8 ½, this film is inspired by the Italian cinema and its master, Fellini. I immersed myself in the role.

And how were the singing lessons?
This kind of film is all about the Broadway style of singing! You really have to let go. But if I have a motive, I know I can succeed. I felt like I was making a step forward.

Do you still want to make a music record?
I’ve always loved to sing. This reminds me of my beginnings as an actress. When I began making movies, I needed to feel entitled to tell people: “Look at me, listen to me.” After “Nine“, I almost feel legitimate enough to sing. My work in this film gives me the right to try and fulfill my wishes. I just have to find the right project.

Let’s continue with music… Among the people you met in 2008, there was Madonna!
When I was 12, I was her fan and I had seen her perform at Parc de Sceaux. Now she came to London and I had the chance to talk to her after the concert. I knew she had said very nice things about “La Môme“. I’ll always remember it as a magic moment. Especially since she was the one who came to me after the concert. Imagine the scene! I’m never going to forget it.

Don’t you tell yourself that it’s about time you came back to France?
I don’t reason like that. I just really want to make a French film, in France.

The awards brought you more proposals?
On the contrary. I receive a lot fewer screenplays than I used to!

And what’s going on with “Lancaster’s Last Flight“, by Karim Dridi, with Guillaume Canet? It’s beginning to look like a phantom-project.
Gaumont gave us the green light before Christmas. So, we should begin shooting in March. But I won’t believe it, until I’m in the desert.

As a spectator, what films were you excited about in 2008?
An extraordinary documentary: “Man on Wire” (the story of Philippe Petit, who, in 1974, tied a cable between the two World Trade Center towers and danced in the air, for an hour). It made me dream magnificent dreams. Belatedly, I discovered “Soy Cuba” on DVD, an amazingly powerful masterpiece. And, in a different genre, I loved “Cloverfield“: it got me involved, from the first scene, to the last. I was afraid, I laughed and I cried my eyes out. And “Rocky Balboa” made me leap on my chair!

Apart from films, what other projects do you have for 2009?
In July, I will play Honneger’s “Jeanne d’Arc au bucher“, at the Marigny Theatre, with a choir and orchestra conducted by Jean-Marc Cochereau. I had already played it in 2005, in Orléans, and I dreamed of doing it again.

The last question echoes the first one: how do you feel now, at the beginning of 2009?
Since I’m still in the middle of making a musical and fulfilling my childhood dream, my heart is singing!

Marion Cotillard, World Champion

Originally published in Madame Figaro (France), January 10-16, 2009

translated by Ioana

World champion in the leading actress category ! Last year, “La Mome” won all the awards, Oscar included. Since then, Hollywood rolls out the red carpet at her feet and she’s worked with Johnny Depp and Daniel Day-Lewis. During a short stay in Paris, our French star humbly opened her heart to “Madame Figaro”.

The windows of the suite no 101 at the Meurice Hotel overlook the entire Tuileries Gardens, frozen under the cold December sun. But the splendid view is barely worth a glance when, on the king-size bed carefully arranged, Marion Cotillard’s body arches, bends and straightens out under the scrutiny of a few people: “La Mome” is in the middle of a photo shoot.

In that moment, she’s a daring “pocket Venus”, armed with an uninhibited satiny body, that only wants to show its provocative and sophisticated sensuality. “The photo with the jacket and the panties is next?”, someone shouts. Shortly after, Marion Cotillard joins us in the next room, wearing a white robe, fluffy slippers and hair curlers. She shares her sushi, is tempted by a cigarette, reveals herself with touching modesty.

Last year belonged to her, the year of a great triumph: world champion among actresses, for her dazzling portrayal of Edith Piaf, heart-breaking little girl and destructive monster, in Olivier Dahan’s biopic. She won everything: the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, the Cesar and, of course, the Oscar, scepter of the stars, reputedly unattainable for a non-anglo-saxon performer.

Since that ultimate triumph, in February 2008, “La Mome” Cotillard rarely set foot in France. She shot two American films back-to-back:
Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies”, a gangster movie with Johnny Depp, then “Nine”, directed by Rob Marshall, a musical with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Day-Lewis. That is, the very best of Hollywood. Marion Cotillard has a busy career, she’s a star in demand. That’s why the day she dedicated to “Madame Figaro” was truly exceptional.

In this photo session, we discovered an unusually sexy side of you…

I didn’t expect it, but the photographer knew exactly what he wanted and I like that. I prefer to be guided. However, I’m not relaxed when I play a nude scene in a film. The truth is I’m not comfortable with my own body, although I give the opposite impression.

Will you finally be able to “tame” your body ?

This may sound hard to believe, but I didn’t notice it until I was 25. For a long time, I ignored that special relationship that every woman has with her body. Looking back, I think it’s something I never learned. But this refusal also had its advantages: not being aware of my body, I didn’t have any physical complex, because I didn’t look at myself.

And what about seduction ?

I was never a seductress. Besides, I know very well that you’re the most seductive when you’re not trying to seduce. But I don’t take advantage of that side.

An actress has to make herself liked, doesn’t she ?

I’m at ease when I pass an audition: it’s the actress who takes control. But when I have to talk about myself… This is really not for me. I don’t know how to sell myself, I’m not a gifted speaker. When I don’t feel comfortable in a situation, I can’t act naturally and my mind blocks. The worst is on television. I make great efforts, but it’s useless. The television frightens me, it’s an insurmountable obstacle. When I have to do a talk-show, I’m so scared, that I lose all my energy, I become lifeless. I feel more at ease speaking English, because the foreign language creates a distance. Besides, when I’m interviewed in America, I feel that people are very kind to me.

Success can make you feel stronger and more beautiful, right?

In a way. When I meet directors who love my work, I become instantly relaxed. Since “La Mome”, I’ve begun to feel more reassured, but not too much. For example, I’ve just finished working on two American films and I was terrified. I told myself that everybody was going to think I’m an imposter… But that’s the beauty of this profession: each film is a new adventure, a new character that you can make your own, a new challenge. You can never rest on your laurels.

Not even when you’ve gathered a heap of rewards ?

Last year was amazing, but the best months of my life were during the filming of “La Mome”. It was an unforgettable experience, as if Piaf’s life had transported me in another dimension.

What did you think when you received the Oscar ?

I was in shock, a wonderful shock. Then, there was a brief but intense moment when I needed to be alone. I thought about Olivier Dahan, the director, about Edith Piaf. I especially remember sharing that with the people I love, with my brothers who had come to Los Angeles. As for the glamour of it… I packed my suitcase and went to bed early. I took the plane to Chicago at 4 in the morning, because I was expected on the set of Michael Mann’s movie. On the plane, I was feeling a mixture of intense joy and exhaustion…

A few days after the Oscars, an old interview of yours resurfaced, about the 9/11 attacks, where you expressed some doubts regarding the official theory. Much ado about nothing ?

It was aggressive, quite vicious and totally misinterpreted. Thinking that different perspectives can shed light on an event doesn’t mean that you support a certain theory.

Do you have enemies in France ?

If there are people who dislike me, they don’t come and tell me that. Jealousy ? Sometimes, I might want for myself a great role already given to someone else. Actually, not really: I’m a fatalist. I believe that, when you don’t get a certain part, then it wasn’t meant for you. I don’t have negative feelings: you have to move forward. Besides, I was very spoiled with “La Mome”…

Have you finally let go of Edith Piaf ? You were finding it hard to leave her behind.

Yes, she’s gone… but it took a while. I was mad at me, I felt ashamed that I couldn’t become myself again immediately. But this cycle helped me to overcome certain fears. The most important thing is that I’ve identified the fear and I’m dealing with it. The root of the evil is, no doubt, the lack of confidence. It stops me in my tracks and drives me forward, at the same time.

Where is the origin of this lack of confidence ?

It hasn’t left me since my adolescence. I was a troubled teenager, I had too many questions without answers. I talked very little and isolated myself. The others can’t love you, when you don’t love yourself, it’s like a spiral. I thought about therapy… I’m attracted to knowledge, but sometimes I am too impatient or I don’t have enough will to finish the things I begin. It was the theatre that helped me open up to others.

What are you most proud of ?

I’m very harsh with myself. With Piaf, I went all the way, and I was pretty satisfied.

Some predict a Hollywood career for you…

I like American cinema, but I could never leave France ! I love my country. I need to be here, I need Paris, the countryside, the people I love.

How does your life look after the Oscar ?

I spent almost six months in Chicago, filming “Public Enemies”, and now I’m about to finish “Nine”, in London, with Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz, who are really lovely people. Nicole Kidman is very funny, very simple, I admire her a lot. And I feel very close to Penelope Cruz: we’re the same age and we’ve had similar careers, although her notoriety is huge. The three of us have a lot in common: we are women thrown into a world of images.

Are you well armed for this profession ?

Yes, because success didn’t come when I was 20. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with it at that age. It took time. Besides, I protect myself. For instance, I don’t read what people write about me anymore.

The press leaves you alone, although you’re dating a famous actor (Guillaume Canet)…

It’s not a secret, we’re seen together, but I think it’s indecent to talk about that. Speaking about the details of your personal life, saying “It’s great !” or “It was horrible”… what’s the point ? I don’t talk about that, I refuse to feed the voyeurism and, so far, I don’t feel harassed.

Today, on a movie set, do you feel like a princess ?

Not at all. I feel like a member of a team.

One final thing: there is talk about a music album in 2009…

I don’t feel legitimate quite yet, but I’m slowly getting rid of that fear.
I play the bass guitar, I try to compose, but I’m not very talented. Or I write stuff that doesn’t suit me… too hardcore. In music, I love women of character: Janis Joplin, Regina Spektor. Yet again, I have to find my place.

Marion la Re(Belle)*

* pun w/th “rebelle” – rebel – and “belle” – pretty-

Originally published in Néoplanète (France) – September/October 2008

translated by Mina

Cotillard like you’ve never seen her before!

There’s Cotillard the actress, who turns somebody’s head from Paris to Hollywood. There’s also Marion the commited, for bio food, fair trade, environment. Without fuzz, it’s fresh, it’s true. And she regrets nothing!

You’re known to be one of the most concerned actress about environment. How did you become a green activist?
My grandparents and parents tought me to respect nature. Sorting garbage, not letting water flow for nothing, for me, this was as normal as saying “hello”, “goodbye” or “thank you”. That was part of my upbringing. Growing up, I’ve always wanted to know more about preserving this environment. But I truly became aware when I left the countryside, the Loiret to be precise, to live in the Parisian suburb. This is when I got angry.

Because I quickly realized the city-dwellers didn’t bother about their way of consuming. That they had no thought or consideration about our planet. How many times have I met men and women who didn’t care about how that wrapping would be recycled, this dangerous product disposed or that garbage incinarated?

What was your first action as a green activist?
Once a parisian, I got interested about how water from the tap was treated, what chemical substances were added. I realized water treatment service companies lacked transparency. Once, for a tv show, I asked if I could follow a garbage truck to see how our plastic bags were recycled. I never received permission!

In the US, stars like Cameron Diaz encourage Americans to drink water from the tap. What do you think?
It’s a good approach, however we must know what’s in the water! One thing for sure: for all the times I’ve spent in LA and NY, I noticed the water had a very chemical taste. Back in Paris, I found the same taste! In september I promised myself to ask appointments with the people in charge of water treatment at city of Paris.

Is it true that when you arrived in Paris, you insulted people who were throwing greasy wrappings in the street?
Absolutely! I had a phase like this, where I couldn’t stand the lack of green activism… Today, I’d act differently. I’d try to talk or have an educational approach.

In 2003, you had your appartment’s dust analysed to know how much harmful particles it contained. What was the result?
That you better boycott all household products – full of chemicals, same for some cosmetics, shampoos, sprays… it’s the accumulation of all these products who made my appartment dangerous for my health! I only use natural household producs – made with Marseille soap for example. In the same way, I reject cosmetics who contain harmful substances for the health, and, in fine, for my skin. So I naturally turn to products created by people who have a desire to preserve ourselves. Which is not the approach of some big companies!

Does your green activism show in your attitude towards fashion?
I have the same attitude when I buy food. I always ask myself questions: in which country is it made, how, with who, by who? I cleary need transparency. I try to dress with brands who clearly respect environment and work conditions. I couldn’t, for instance, spend money on a dress made by exploited children! Personally, I’m mad about fair trade.

What do you think about fur?
How horrible! You’ll never see me wear fur, real or fake. Sure, they make pretty nice fakes today. But what do you think they use? Synthetic material!

Which green-conscious designers do you admire the most?
I love Stella McCartney. In addition to her “organic” cosmetics – made with wild rose, camomille or sesame oil – she launched an eco-friendly lingerie line. And in the past, she refused to use leather and had it written down in her contract wth Chloe. A nice example to follow…

Actress Natalie Portman worked with eco-chic shoe brand Té Casan, 100% vegetal and guaranted without animal material. Could you, in the future, work with an eco brand?
That’s not a priority. But I admire Natalie’s commitment a lot. If I had to do something remarkable for the planet, I’d buy fields where are grown OMG (transgenic plants). Once bought, I’d redistribute them to farmers who would commit themselves to grow in danger local vegetables!

Is it true you declined a juicy offer from a cosmetics company…
It wasn’t cosmetics, but perfume. It goes back in 2004: a big luxury brand wanted me as a spokesperson for this fragance. The problem is, I can’t “sell” products I don’t wear or are made with harmful ingredients. You know, it’s not because I became “bankable” that you’ll see me compromise myself in advertising campaigns. Especially for products I’d throw away if offered. I need to stay true to myself!

What cosmetics brand do you use on a regular basis?
I use Dr Hauschka products: it’s a great German brand, who isn’t more expensive than cosmetics “made in big companies”. I like Melvita and Logona as well. To keep a pretty smile, I’m an inconditional of la Pierre Blanche. But I prefer buying locally… If you buy “made in Germany” products in the US, you shouldn’t forget they travelled, usually by plane. Imagine all the CO2 ejected in the air. So when I work in the US, I buy american brands, like Burt’s Bees and his 100% natural line!

What’s the best place to buy bio food? LA or Paris?
In france I like to go to Biocoop stores. Because you’re dealing with people who know what they’re selling and guarantee quality. In the states, there are stores called “whole food market”. But be careful, it’s not “organic” products only. I remember buying a so-called bio brocoli, that I forgot in the fridge for over a week. I thought it’d be decomposed, well no, the brocoli looked the same as when I bought it. Bio? Not sure!

What will be your next green fight?
The OGM (transgenic plants)! To me it’s something terrifying, not only health wise. I think about farmers in developing countries, who have no other choice to survive than work with big agro-industrial lobbies. For me, OGM aren’t different, in terms of danger, to pesticides like Roundup and Gaucho! I couldn’t stand watching natural cultures and some animal species – including bees – dissapear without doing something. Better die than witness this disaster! That’s why I encourage people not to buy transgenic products. By boycotting these products, we’ll destabilise those sorcerer’s apprentices who patch up our diet!

In july 2009, Néoplanète will sponsor “les 24 heures du mans de la mobilité durable et des énergies vertes”, with hydrogen/electricity fueled cars… A project launched by the Ministère of Transport, with our collaborator Teddy Follenfant. Would you like to join in?
Great, of course I’d love to! It’s a great initiative. I love it. thanks to send me the details!

I’m more and more honest with myself

originally published in French Psychologies, July/August 2008

translated by Mariana, Anthony and Ioana

Since winning an Oscar for “La Vie En Rose”, she has been propelled to the Top Ten of world stars. But hasn’t given any interviews. For Psychologies, she agreed to speak about her new life, her commitments and the traps that come with fame. A meeting in Chicago with a young woman who isn’t singing her own praises.

Old Town, one of the most beautiful places in Chicago. Her American press manager takes me to the appartment Marion has lived in ever since arriveing on the set of Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. They’re ending a lively conversation about a scene. There’s a small moment of surprise upon hearing the one who played Piaf with such a distinguished Parisian accent talking fluently English with an impeccable accent. She switches to French to show me her grey cat, brought along from Paris. It has been months that she’s been living with him in Chicago, immersing herself in the language in order to credibly play an American woman. The last image of her in our minds is: the body wrapped in a mermaid gown, the Oscar next to the heart, and that radiant smile on those red lips. Since then, no news, no interviews, only the media’s fever pitch over some sentences about 9/11 taken from an old television interview. With no make-up, a simple hair-slide holding back a lock of hair, in blue jeans and barefoot, Marion is less impressive, and much prettier. We were expecting to hear all about a life turned upside down by newfound glory and we already imagined sentences heard a thousand times before elsewhere. We even prepared some honest and direct questions to help her speak with more honesty. But Marion moves us, really, without affectation. There’s no garishness, she’s almost fragile, enthusiastic and clumsy at times. There’s an eagerness for learning, for making up for lost time when she was “lazy”. In constant research of truth. She’s disarming …

P: Since the Oscar ceremony, we haven’t heard from you. What happened?
The day they announced the Oscar nominations, I found out that I had been chosen for Michael Mann’s next film. For this role, I have to speak English with an impeccable American accent. So I came here, to the United States, to immerse myself in an American environment. In fact, it’s been almost a year that I haven’t lived in France anymore.

P: So you didn’t savour your triumph?
No, not really. The day after the ceremony, I went to a Native American tribe, because the character I play in “Public Enemies” has a Native American mother. I took the plane at 4am for Green Bay, Wisconsin, in order to meet up with a Menominee tribe, and to discover their culture and learn the rudiments of their language. That was absolutely eerie.

P: Do you feel ready to come back to France after this shooting, with your new notoriety?
I went back to Paris for a few days, and I noticed how nice people were with me. Many told me that I boosted their morale. If I can share this energy, that fulfills me. Energy is life. It’s pleasant to experience notoriety. All one needs is to manage to leave it at its right place.

P: Has the fact that you received all these awards made you more self-confident?
I got immersed so quickly in my work that I don’t think I’ve been able to realize all that happened yet. And despite the awards, I arrived on the Michael Mann film with a big apprehension. As always. And that will never change. I’m carried by that tension. Besides, it’s an interesting feeling, a source of creativity and awakening. I’m proud to have received all these awards, but this recognition doesn’t make me someone else. I haven’t alienated myself from who I am, I didn’t freak out. My education taught me to find beauty even in the most simple things. It’s extraordinary to be alive, to love, to be loved. An Oscar is a great delight, but I’m aware that the role of Edith Piaf was extraordinary, and that another actress could have known the same success.

P: Why do you demean yourself? You could be proud of yourself, that would be natural…
I’m not demeaning myself, I know my place. I’m not a hero. Heros are the women who fight for freedom, for human rights. They’re the Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chirin Ebadi, the Wangari Maathai, who work for a better world. Besides, they’re very humble people. In my case, it’s just because of my work as an actress that I was awarded. Why showing off? It’s nice to be recognized by your peers, but I haven’t alienated myself from reality though. I remain someone very ordinary who wants to stay close to ordinary people.

P: In your shoes, many would have had a period of exaltation.
I think that I’m hiding a bit behind Piaf to protect myself, to avoid being subjected to the pressure. I’m telling myself that it’s the character of Piaf that’s magical, and that I’ve just done my work. I haven’t yet come to terms with my need of being loved, so I’m transfering it to my work. I’m living a real contradiction between this need of being loved and a deep desire for simplicity. I met a Native American with a big experience of inner travel who assured me that my desire for simplicity would only be achieved when I’d have satisfied my need to be seen and loved. That I wanted to achieve wisdom too quickly. He told me: “As long as you’ll want to achieve it without experiencing what is ‘here and now’, without going all the way to the end of the path that you have to accomplish, you won’t make it. At the moment, your real need is to have a big success in your career. Accept and satisfy this need first. Your real path is there”. I admit that my need for recognition is partly satisfied by the success of “La Vie En Rose“.

Have you found your own true path ?
I’m walking on it. I think I’m more and more honest with myself.

Shortly after the Oscars, the press dug out a TV interview on Paris Premiere, where you were doubting the official explanation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What do you think about that today ?
I think it was very clumsy of me to tackle a subject as serious as 9/11 during a TV show. It wasn’t the appropriate place for that. And I’m hardly the most entitled person to talk about it. But I never stated, as it was said and written, that the insurance companies had destroyed the towers. I just explained that I don’t believe everything the governments and media tell us. My words were taken out of context and misinterpreted.

In that case, how do you explain 9/11 ?
Who am I to have an explanation ? However, I believe there are still many grey areas in the official version. Many American citizens requested the reopening of the investigation. A real investigation. This event changed the world in many ways, I think questions are legitimate, when there are things left unclear.

I thought your answer was going to be: “I said something stupid, I’m really sorry and I apologize to the American people if I hurt them.” You maintain a position that’s not easy to defend.
I respect the American people and I sincerely regret that my words – again, misinterpreted and taken out of context – may have shocked and hurt them. Indeed, it would be easier to say: “It was stupid of me, the official story is the right one.” My entourage would like me to adopt that position. But I can’t. I can’t be someone that I’m not, I can’t lie. I’ve been called an idiot, but I’d rather be considered an idiot, than a liar. I’m only trying to get a wider view of things, to be well-informed, to understand.

How did you deal with the violence of some articles towards you ?
It was bad. Three days after the Oscars, a part of the media – especially in France, more than in the US – broke loose. It felt like a lynching. I was very hurt. I hope people realize how disproportionate was the importance they attached to the words of a clumsy little actress, compared to significant world events that don’t get coverage. I was shocked by the attitude of certain press people in this affair. But I also learned a lot from this experience. I learned that I don’t have the right to express my opinion on a topic I don’t know very well, especially a serious one. This forces me to make efforts, and I’m making them. I’m eager to know, to learn, even more when I’m aware of my learning-gaps.

These learning-gaps make you self-conscious or do they push you forward ?
They make me self-conscious. I haven’t studied, I’ve been lazy for a very long time, but I’m changing. My problem is that I express myself better on the inside, that on the outside. I have convictions, but I’m not always able to put them into words, so I find myself blabbering, talking nonsense sometimes. I dream of having Harold Pinter’s talent. His speech, after he received the Nobel Prize in 2005, is marvelous. Read it. Maybe my standards are too high, but this is also a good thing. You have to raise the bar all the time.

Do you consider yourself a committed person ?
I’m aware that each of us is part of a chain and no link must be broken. I’ve been committed to the preservation of our planet, since many years ago. A few years back, people who fought to save this planet were considered “illuminated”. It’s sad how the meaning of this word was deformed. It’s so beautiful to be illuminated! It means to find the light. It’s wonderful. When I was telling them that natural disasters were human disasters, because they were provoked by humans, people took me for a fool. When you change the course of a river, it will always find a way back to its bed, but causing terrible damage. I’m happy to see this awareness extended today. I can’t close my eyes to everything that happens in the world. I try to stay connected, to share my experience with others. Each of us gains from the others’ knowledge. The internet can be a wonderful medium, a different source of information, one that can avoid manipulation. We mustn’t let prefabricated information, “standard thinking” prevail all the time. I have the chance to have been born in Europe, in France, to have received an education, to be able to speak my mind on my own small level, even if I do it badly. I have to use this freedom. Aung San Suu Kyi expressed the essence of it: “Use your freedom to help us win ours.” It’s a duty.

Have you worked with yourself ? Have you done any therapy?
I worked with my voice, with my emotions, which helped me get rid of my anger, throw away things I didn’t want to have inside me anymore. We all have a dose of negative feelings. Therapy is a cleaning process, of understanding what prevents us from going forward. It’s thrilling work. We are intriguing animals, who could be even more so, if they made an effort to be less lazy. It’s easy to tell yourself every time that another is responsible. I’m like everybody, I don’t always want to go deeper, because it’s difficult. But I force myself. Sometimes, I see on the internet an interesting article, but I realize it’s six pages long. My first reaction is to say: “Ouch, too long!”. Then I convince myself: “Don’t give up, you have the means and the desire to make it all the way, so do it!”. It’s easier to give up, but so much more enriching to learn. When you take the time to make this effort, the passion is there and everything becomes clear, simple. You can even become addicted. It’s good to be addicted to knowledge.

You see, you speak very well !
Sometimes… (Laughs.) It’s complicated, but I’m learning and I rely on myself.

Marion Cotillard

originally published in French Premiere, March 2008

translated by Mariana

An Oscar? A César? Marion Cotillard is our star. Ever since Olivier Dahan chose her to incarnate Édith Piaf, Première was there.. We went with her to Prague on the set of La Môme, we witnessed her metamorphosis and we followed her new vie en rose across the world. Those who crossed her path since her debuts confide to us… Two or three things that they know about her…

Marion viewed by…

“Oliver Dahan saw a photo of a teenage Piaf and fancied to make a film about her. But the film being expensive, I warned Olivier that I was going to have a hard time getting it done based on the sole name of Marion. Very quickly, we understood that everything was doing well. When Marion started to incarnate her character, to create it with her physique, her voice, her cheeky humour and her carriage… it galvanized us! I waited all the same to see if she was going be convincing for all the chapters of Piaf’s life. But every day brought its portion of good news. We quickly knew that we were going for something big. I was proud I helped the blooming of Marion’s talent. Moreover, I was the one who commended her to Ridley Scott for A Good Year. If she hadn’t done La Môme, I’m sure that her talent would have expressed itself elsewhere. To define her in one word, I’d say: sincerity. Marion is incapable of being hypocritical towards others or towards herself. It’ll be her big strength. She doesn’t calculate.”
Ilan Goldman, La Môme‘s producer

“She’s my most beautiful encounter cinema-wise. We resemble each other, we both hate female relations, jealousy between girls… She’s absolutely in accord with what she declares in the media. When she says that she’s bio and an ecologist, I confirm it to you. She actually becomes hysterical if she sees someone throw some paper in the street. And at her home, all the products are organic. You open her fridge, you go to her bathroom, you freak out. She only takes showers, she sorts her garbage. She’s the person who’s the most actress and the least actress that I know.”
Mélanie Laurent, actress in Dikkenek

“I had seen her in Les Jolies Choses by Gilles Paquet-Brenner. I thought that she truly looked like a young Piaf, same silhouette, same gaze… She was the one, I had no doubts. I didn’t even make her pass any tests. Marion has hugely documented herself about Piaf, she’s read everything. Almost more than I did!”
Oliver Dahan, director of La Môme

“We spent one year together across the world to promote the film. We laughed a lot, chatted a lot, always in a light way. Marion is very spontaneous, human, hard working. And very beautiful too. She’s lucky to have gorgeous skin, smile and eyes, that she takes care of in a natural and bio way! She only uses organic beauty products and she taught me so much about it that I changed my way of working. She’s splendid when she has some red lipstick on, she seems made of fire. Because the colour red is like her, sanguine.”
Christophe Danchaud, makeup artist

“Marion is a friend. I met her on the set of Boomer, a short film. She even played in Narco by Guillaume Canet, but her scene didn’t make it to the final cut. She totally moved me deeply in La Môme. I had never seen such a performance in France. The more the film went on, the more I was overwhelmed by what I was seeing. So much that in the end I wasn’t seeing anything at all. Marion had wiped herself out in order to become Piaf. Everything that’s happening to her today is so well deserved that I’m not that surprised. A regret? I had made tests to play Cerdan. I didn’t realize. Piaf didn’t talk to me. Marion, on the opposite, had totally immersed herself in Piaf’s universe. At her place, it was crazy: there were books, DVDs, documentation, CDs about Piaf everywhere. Marion was possessed. The Golden Globe, the Oscar nomination… It’s awesome. It’d be unbelievable if she doesn’t get the César!”
Gilles Lellouche, actor in Ma Vie En L’Air and Jeux D’Enfants

“In Taxi it was already clear and evident: she bursted the screen. She played Lilly, a light character, with such an intensity that we felt her huge actress potential. I remember her side that wants to go to the end with things, very hard working, exigent. Don’t forget that she comes from a family of artists, where being a good actor isn’t an evidence. Besides, she resembles Édith Piaf, someone who didn’t get things come her way easily. Even as a beginner, she already had a professional intelligence and an eye for her craft. She’s a long-lasting star and she will last for a long time. I’m very proud of you, Marion!”
Frédéric Diefenthal, actor in Taxi 1, 2 and 3

“I worked with Marion in 2001, shortly after the first Taxi. I saw a photo of her and I immediately wanted to work with her. When I met her, I was seduced by her charismatic, complex and unsettling charm. She has a harmonious alchemy, a successful combination between her smiles, her gazes, her way of moving and her way of speaking. Her attitudes unleash more questions than answers in a director and stimulate the imagination, mine in particular. For Une Affaire Privée, Marion showed immediately that she possessed a dimension that her character didn’t have in the script. Her spontaneous performance enriched the story in a way that I hadn’t planned. I didn’t need to speak. We were on the same wavelength. She was supposed to play in La Clé, but the success of La Môme didn’t allow it. Few actresses have her aura. Maybe Sandrine Bonnaire and Catherine Deneuve. I know for certain: very big roles are waiting for her, in France or in the United States.”
Guillaume Nicloux, director of Une Affaire Privée

“I met her thanks to Élodie Navarre, a mutual friend. While working with Marion, I was blown away by her multifaceted talent. She goes from seriousness to seriousness with a maximal intensity each time. She works hard on her roles. For Les Jolies Choses, I remember that she had imagined and written a diary for Marie, her character, to make her more real. Her performance was commented. It goes without saying that the success that she’s receiving now doesn’t surprise me. I saw her six months ago in Los Angeles, the Americans were crazy about her! For her, the United States will be a new and very exciting playing field.”
Gilles Paquet-Brenner, director of Les Jolies Choses

“Marion surprised me: she could have played in silent films. She has the simplicity and the openness that I expect from an actress. We shot Big Fish in Alabama – a special place, very crazy. In that kind of environment, it’s very important to work as a clan. The entire crew adored Marion.”
Tim Burton, director of Big Fish

“Marion was graduating with a first prize from the conservatoire of Orléans when I was admitted. I remember her at the very beginning of her career, passing auditions for a funny commercial and saying: “But I want to make this commercial.” This kind of sentence comes to our mind when we watch the rise of such an actress. She said “I want to make this commercial”, and she made it; “I want to make this film”, and she made it; “I want a big, beautiful role”, and she had it. She didn’t want to reach the top of the film posters immediately, she preferred to fully live each step that would take her there. She has always been hard working, and her journey fits her ambition. Before discovering La Môme, I was afraid of not getting into the film, because I knew her for too long to accept her in the character. But from the first minute, I forgot everything. I was blown away. Marion does the same as Cate Blanchett and all the great international actresses. It’s the entire France that will go to the Oscars with her.”
Audrey Dana, actress and conservatoire friend

“Marion arrived on the set with a very tiny morale. At the time, she was very vulnerable in her life. However, in the film, she was wonderful, generous, with an instantaneous understanding of what I wanted to do. Because she has real artistic intelligence: she doesn’t satisfy herself in just doing what a director tells her, she reinvents. Right after La Boîte Noire, she began the filming of La Môme. I’m happy for her success, fully deserved.”
Richard Berry, director of La Boîte Noire

“Like all big actresses, Marion knows how to create the vital space for the character she’s playing. She does it with a rare intensity and talent. She puts herself in danger, she invests herself so much into her role that she borders schizophrenia. The fact that she can play a woman at such different ages is impressive. Besides, she has something very unique: she insufflates life at her co-stars, which makes that the viewer is completely taken into the story.”
Pascal Greggory, actor in La Môme

“I was 19 years old when I filmed Furia but Marion didn’t hesitate one second to trust me. I’ll be forever grateful to her. In order to play the young résistante opposing a totalitarian regime, I was looking for a mysterious actress who attracts one’s attention. The role was very physical, with violent torture scenes. It’s Julien Rassam who recommended her to me. According to him, she was suitable to play everything and was worth much more than her role in Taxi, that had just come out. I preferred to discover her in Chloé, a TV film that she had filmed with Anna Karina. She had this wild and passionate side that I was looking for. In the end, all that’s good in Furia comes from her. She prepares herself lengthily for a role. She creates. She’s a sensitive actress. She’s very spiritual, she thinks constantly about others. Marion in La Môme, it’s the best casting idea that the French cinema had since a long time. I really hope she wins the Oscar.”
Alexandre Aja, director of Furia

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