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Dec 2012
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‘She’s not holding anything back,’ says ‘Rust and Bone’ costar Matthias Schoenaerts of Marion Cotillard, who plays an animal trainer recovering from the loss of her legs.

She’s described by director Jacques Audiard as “a diver,” someone who “throws herself into a role head first.”

So it’s believable that the very first scene Marion Cotillard shot for “Rust and Bone” was the most harrowing one, in which she awakes in a hospital after an accident to discover that both her legs are gone.

Her reaction is partly improvised — she leaps from the bed only to wind up crawling on the floor and sobbing in the arms of a friend who rushes to her aid.

“My feeling was that, in that situation, which is so violent and horrifying, the shock must be so strong that you’re in denial,” says the acclaimed French actress over coffee at the Chateau Marmont. “And you have to know — even if you don’t want to — whether it’s really true, so you would try to walk. And that’s when you find out.”

In person, Cotillard appears delicate and simple, her blue-gray eyes expressive, her remarkable beauty enhanced only by pale lip gloss and a hint of smoky eye shadow. Arriving for an interview, she presents herself straightforwardly, with no need for small talk, like a student sitting for exams. Her English, honed on the sets of recent American blockbusters such as “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” is nearly flawless.

But as anyone who saw her Oscar-winning performance as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” can attest, Cotillard is an artist of great emotional complexity, capable of transforming herself completely for a role.

Says Matthias Schoenaerts, her costar in “Rust and Bone,” “With Marion, it’s all-in from the first second. She puts herself in a vulnerable state of being. She’s not holding anything back.”

In “Rust and Bone,” Cotillard plays a trainer of orcas who becomes a double amputee after she is crushed by one of the mammals during a Marineland show. Schoenaerts, the hulking Flemish actor who starred in the Oscar-nominated “Bull Head,” plays a nightclub bouncer whose unsentimental response to her plight appeals to her. Struggling to make his own way in a pitiless world, he proves to be the sturdy crutch she needs as she slowly rejoins the world of the living. They become lovers — damaged souls fighting their way back from a shattered remove to a revelatory intimacy.

“‘Rust and Bone’ is the taste of a punch in the face,” says Audiard, explaining the title of the script he co-wrote with Thomas Bidegain. “You find out what people are made of.”

American filmgoers know Audiard best from “A Prophet,” his potent prison movie that became a foreign-language Oscar nominee in 2009. But Cotillard says she has dreamed of working with her countryman since his first movie in 1994, “See How They Fall,” which she saw three times. So she was willing to take on the role despite crushing time pressures — she had to come straight from the set of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” at a time when she was also a new mother to her son Marcel (now 18 months) with her filmmaker-actor husband, Guillaume Canet.

“I was afraid if I said no, I’d never get the chance again,” she says. She even had to forgo the rehearsal period in which she normally places great stock. “But I remembered that when we shot ‘La Vie en Rose,’ on the fourth day I had to do a major scene when Piaf is already at the end of her life, and that [challenge] put me in a very powerful energy, because you have no choice but to jump into the heart of the movie. And now I kind of like working that way.”

The Paris-born performer grew up surrounded by the arts — both her parents are actors and drama teachers, which makes her choice of career seem inevitable. “When I was younger, I considered a lot of things, but I couldn’t choose, so I thought that being an actor would let me have many lives. It was a way to do all the jobs I wanted to do.”

But being a whale trainer wasn’t a jobshe dreamed of. “I cannot understand how we humans can take these magnificent wild beings and put them in a swimming pool to see them jump for our pleasure,” she says. Within minutes of her arrival at Marineland in Antibes, in the South of France, for the first day of rehearsal, she was required to watch the whales perform for a crowd. “I was jet-lagged and sensitive,” she recalls. A female trainer assigned to work with her on her character asked what she thought. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful,” says Cotillard. “But I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I have to be honest — I hate this situation. I hate to see animals doing clown things. I think it’s horrible.’

“It got better,” Cotillard reports. “But I will never go back to a Marineland, ever.”

Her reaction to spending time in Los Angeles has been much more agreeable. “I love the fact that even though it’s a hectic city, it’s surrounded by nature,” she says. “One of the first houses I rented here, I was welcomed by a raccoon. You go to the beach and see dolphins and whales. I didn’t expect that.”

She relates a powerful memory of her first glimpse of the City of Angels. Close to the end of shooting “La Vie en Rose,” she was driven into L.A. from a location in Joshua Tree. “I saw the city ahead of us, and I felt something very, very strong — a sense that something amazing would happen to me there. Then I laughed at myself, because I was like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re such a dork!’ But it happened to be true,” she says, referring to her Oscar win. “I have a special connection to this city, because L.A. has always treated me very well.”

Dec 2012
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Oscar winner Marion Cotillard talks directors, CGI and why she’s suspicious of big studio movies

Marion Cotillard won an Oscar before she became a star.

The actor now familiar to Christopher Nolan fans as Mal in Inception and Miranda Tate in The Dark Knight Rises grabbed the Academy’s best actress prize for her full-throttle performance in La Vie En Rose (among a select few to do so for a foreign-language performance).

Having graduated to A-list status, Cotillard’s back in the Oscar conversation again, this time for her wrenching turn in Rust And Bone. She plays Stéphanie, an orca trainer who loses her legs in an accident and goes on to redefine her life, stripped of limbs, makeup and vanity.

During an interview at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, Cotillard shrugs off the physical challenge of playing an amputee. She credits CGI wizardry for that part of her performance. The bigger challenge was getting to know her character.

“Stéphanie was totally mysterious to me,” she says in gently accented English. When she told co-writer/director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) that she didn’t understand her character, he claimed not to understand her either.

“So we took the road to meet her,” says Cotillard, recognizing that comfort with the enigmatic is part of Audiard’s genius. “I realized that part of Stéphanie would stay a mystery, and that’s okay.”

Cotillard stresses the importance of a solid director to lean on, whether in a French art house film or a big-budget extravaganza.

“The first person I do my job for is the director,” she says. Which is probably why her resumé is full of auteurs like Michael Mann, Steven Soderbergh and Woody Allen.

Dark Knight Rises director Nolan has “the spirit of an independent,” says Cotillard. He’s actively involved in every stage of the filmmaking process. On the other hand, she’s uneasy about studio movies – or at least those that seem so to her.

“One day I was offered a dream role in a huge, big American movie,” she says, explaining how her excitement for the project quickly evaporated when she met the director, who came off as a studio tool.

“I felt I had nothing to do in the project,” she says. “And he didn’t know anything about actors because it wasn’t his movie. It was a studio movie. He was there to direct. Direct what? I don’t know, but not me.”

She turned down the role (she won’t reveal the film’s title), even though friends called her crazy. When it turned out to be a massive box office success, Cotillard went to check out what she’d missed.

“It was so bad,” she says, laughing. “Even actors who were good in other movies were so bad [in this]. And I had the explanation: they had no director.” 

Oscar buzz

France entered The Intouchables as its entry in the foreign-language category, but don’t count out Marion Cotillard to score a best actress nod. Sure, she’s got an Oscar on her mantle already, but the Academy loves actors playing characters with disabilities.

Dec 2012
Gallery Updates, Movies, Video updates  •  By  •  2 Comments

I added loads of additional stills of Marion Cotillard in ‘Rust & Bone‘ (De rouille et d’os). Some of those are spoilery which is probably why they were only released after the movie came out on DVD & Blu-ray in France. The movie is currently screening in the US in New York & Los Angeles and will get a wider release tomorrow. On January 10 it will open in Germany. I also added 6 more subtitled video clips to the archive. There are now 10 clips. Enjoy – but if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I fear watching them all will spoil things too much.

Gallery: 025 De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone) – 2012 > Stills
Video: 006 Movie & TV Clips > Rust & Bone

Dec 2012
English Press  •  By  •  0 Comments

It took just one image for Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard to nail the physicality of her “Rust and Bone” character, an orca trainer who loses her legs in an accident at Marineland.

“We were preparing the movie … trying costumes and … the first time I sat on a chair on my legs and I had those pants hanging, the image was so strong that we knew that the process of creating her was really on,” said the 37-year-old Paris native.

“And then this image never left, so the special effects never got in our way,” Cotillard said in an interview at September’s Toronto International Film Festival, where “Rust and Bone” screened.

“It’s weird because it was kind of organic. I think that when I saw this image of me without legs, that was it. I didn’t have to research or to think to forget that I had no legs.”

Besides, if Cotillard shows any awkwardness in the role, it’s fitting since her character is also adjusting to life as an amputee.

“It would have been different if Stephanie was a character who had been in that state for like 10 years. I would have worked totally different,” she said.

“But it just happened. Basically I discovered what it was with her.”

Cotillard’s method seems to have worked: she’s earning raves from critics and recently picked up a Golden Globe nomination for best actress for the role.

The French-language drama, which opens Friday in Vancouver and Toronto, is also up for a Golden Globe for best foreign-language film.

Jacques Audiard co-wrote and directs the French-Belgian film that’s adapted from Canadian author Craig Davidson’s short story collection of the same name.

Flemish actor Matthias Schoenaerts co-stars as Ali, an unemployed single father who turns to street fighting as he falls in love with Cotillard’s character.

“I was really, really moved by her. Everything she does,” Cotillard said of her character.

“The first time the relationship goes into something very physical with him, I always wanted to take her in my arms.”

Cotillard, who won an Oscar for playing French singer Edith Piaf in 2007’s “La Vie en Rose,” also liked the challenge of taking on an enigmatic character who’s sunk into a deep depression.

“When I work and when I take a character, I need to understand every part of the character. I need to go as deep as I can and to visit the whole house, every corner. I want to know every web, every spider, everything,” she said.

“And with her, suddenly I realized that I didn’t need to know everything. The fact that she was mysterious was very exciting.”

Cotillard was shooting “The Dark Knight Rises” during rehearsals for “Rust and Bone,” and Schoenaerts was at first worried they wouldn’t have time to develop chemistry.

“In the beginning I was like, ‘Oh my God, how is this going to happen onset?'” said the star of the Oscar-nominated 2011 crime drama “Bullhead.”

“But from Day 1, Take 1, we had a very genuine pleasure in what we were doing and she was ready as hell, and hungry and dedicated.”

And he didn’t have a problem trying to picture Cotillard without legs, even in their intimate scenes.

“Somehow, once I’m in the scene, I just feel it the way Ali feels it, I guess,” said Schoenaerts.

“I don’t want to mystify it or whatever, but it didn’t affect me, the fact that she still had legs and that I had to pretend she didn’t. For me, she didn’t have them.”

Schoenaerts did boxing and kick-boxing when he was younger but had to train a lot to prepare for his role.

Though he didn’t sustain any injuries during his graphic fight scenes, he was intimidated by the professional fighters he filmed the scenes with.

“These guys in front of me were huge and they scared the hell out of me,” he said with a laugh.

Dec 2012
English Press  •  By  •  0 Comments

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]”