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Oct 2012
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from Radar Magazine – The Independent (UK) / by Emma Jones

She is already attracting Oscar rumours for her latest film in which she plays a double amputee. Emma Jones meets her

There’s a theory that the best way to win a best actress Oscar is by a dramatic change in appearance. From young to old, beautiful to haggard, from Meryl Streep to Margaret Thatcher. At least no-one can accuse Marion Cotillard of deliberate Oscar-hunting. She already has one, for playing French chanteuse Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie en Rose. Nevertheless in her new film Rust and Bone, which won Best Film at the London Film Festival last weekend, Cotillard transforms strikingly to play a double amputee called Stéphanie. Her hair hangs lank, her eyes are half-dead. And you can’t take your eyes off her.

Today, the actress is dressed in Dior – she’s a “face” for the fashion house – and looks like Paris in the springtime. She, apparently, finds her beauty irrelevant, being more interested in losing herself in a part. When her Rust and Bone co-star, the Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, first met her on the set, Cotillard was in her wheelchair, sullen and silent. She was already Stéphanie, a sea-world trainer who loses her legs in a freak accident. Ali, a rough bouncer, played by Schoenaerts, is the only one who doesn’t treat her like an invalid. As a love story, it’s a bruiser. Made by Jacques Audiard, director of A Prophet, it’s been a critical hit at festivals including Cannes, Toronto and London.

Despite the difficulties of transforming for her previous role as Piaf, Cotillard describes this film as “her biggest challenge so far”.

“I wanted to work with Jacques Audiard. Even before we met, he was on my to-die-for director list. And then there is Stéphanie. Usually, I connect emotionally with a character, and I discover all the layers. But with her, I freaked out. There is something so mysterious about her, I felt I didn’t know her at all.”

You could almost level the same accusation at the actress. She speaks perfect English, pausing frequently to find the right word and answers honestly. Yet she doesn’t give herself away easily. Her parents and her younger twin brothers are all in the business. Acting was the only option.

Now 37 she has been with her partner, the director Guillaume Canet, since 2007. They originally met 10 years ago, on the set of Love Me If You Dare. Their son Marcel was born 18 months ago. Although she and Canet have the tag of “France’s Brangelina”, they live quietly, solidly, together in Paris. They last collaborated together on Little White Lies in 2010, a tale about dysfunctional thirtysomethings which was a hit in France. She smiles wryly at the memory. “In some ways it is great to be directed by your partner, because then you can always be together. But we did talk constantly about work and it came off set with us. However, I guess he did something right because I have promised him I will work with him again.”

Rust and Bone was one of the first films she signed up for after the birth of Marcel. Seeing the actress without legs is a punch in the guts – even if it is just CGI. She says she didn’t do any research into amputees, apart from watching footage of how to move. “It was not so much the physicality of the part that interested me, but the emotion. I haven’t lost my legs, but I have lost, and I have felt pain. I knew the CGI would work, because otherwise, there was going to be no movie.

“The first scene I did without legs, I was in a wheelchair, so my legs were bandaged up underneath me. In every scene, the CGI people were so quick, and so discreet, that I barely noticed them. I have to say, when I saw it for the first time in a cinema, I was amazed. It is so powerful.”

By “discreet”, she is referring to the numerous sex scenes she and Schoenaerts had to perform. An image of her naked, amputated body appears in the film trailer, something Cotillard approves of: “The sex and flesh is part of the story,” she says. ” It’s not sensational or a statement at all, it had to be in there. You know how you feel when you rediscover your body, love, your life. That’s what happens to both these characters and I think that is very sexy.”

Ever since she was discovered, aged 21, with a part in Arnaud Desplechin’s comedy My Sex Life… or How I Got into an Argument, the parts Cotillard has chosen have been far from feeble French flowers; from Tina Lombardi in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement, who gets guillotined for murder; to bisexual headcase Marie in Little White Lies. She even smacked Russell Crowe in the face in A Good Year.

The Hollywood parts she has been offered post-Oscar seem feebler: a moll in Public Enemies with Johnny Depp; a cheated-on wife in the Rob Marshall musical Nine and love interest Miranda in The Dark Knight Rises. Christopher Nolan put off filming the latter because he wanted her in it, and at the time of asking the actress was pregnant with Marcel. “He called me up after Inception”, she recalls, “And it was something I really wanted to be part of, but of course I couldn’t. So he said, ‘I am writing at the moment, let me see what I can do for you.’ I feel so lucky that he would do that for me – the guy is a creative genius. I mean, it was amazing to be part of one of the biggest films ever made, but I don’t feel with Christopher that I am making a blockbuster. He is a completely independent thinker.”

As the first actress since Sophia Loren in 1973 to win an Oscar for acting in a foreign language, Cotillard isn’t ungrateful to Hollywood. “I am so lucky to be able to work in both France and America. Most of the movies that fed my dreams as a child were American. The Oscar opened a door, there is no doubt about that. And perhaps there will be more doors opened because of The Artist’s success too. French cinema is travelling, and I am proud to be a French actress. We are an old country of cinema.”

You get the feeling that Cotillard will only ever keep dipping her toe into the studio system. She claims to like the “difficult” roles “in whatever language I can get them. Often, they aren’t found in English. I want to explore and learn all my life”, she explains. “Even when I am old. Before I am an actress, or a mother, I am a woman first. I feel that very deeply in my heart.”

‘Rust and Bone’ is released on 2 November

Oct 2012
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from C Magazine (US) / by Deborah Schoeneman

On an unusually drizzly morning in Hollywood, the jaded hostess at Chateau Marmont knew someone was waiting for a reporter on the otherwise empty back patio, but no, she had not seen French actress Marion Cotillard. Turns out that this someone was Cotillard, incognito, in a fedora. She started wearing hats after her 2007 Oscar-winning role as singer Édith Piaf in La Vie En Rose because she had to shave her eyebrows and part of her head to fully portray the tortured chanteuse. Plus, the intense role just exhausted her. “I looked like shit,” she says, laughing.

It seems unlikely that Cotillard could look anything but flawless. The star — who’s wearing red studded Chloé boots, a Dior watch, a white knit sweater and a blue print Isabel Marant skirt — appears even more ethereal in real life than she does on the big screen. Her makeup-free, smooth skin looks far younger than her 37-year-old contemporaries. She swears plastic surgery scares her, and no surgeon is that good.

Cotillard had just returned from the film festival in Telluride and was heading to the one in Toronto in a few hours to promote Rust and Bone, her new French film, out this month. “I’m taking some time off, even though it doesn’t show right now,” says Cotillard. “You need to go back to your own life sometimes, to get inspired again.”

In the movie, she plays a killer whale trainer at an Antibes water park who suffers a horrible accident that costs her both legs. “I read the script and thought it was one of the most beautiful love stories,” she says. “I’m attracted to very deep characters and complexity that leads you to discover different levels of humanity.”

Rust and Bone co-writer and director Jacques Audiard agrees. “What Marion did in La Vie En Rose really stuck with me,” he says. “I knew that one day or another I would go to her…

to be completed…

Oct 2012
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I will catch up on all the London Film Festival events as soon as I get some free time. In the meantime, good news:

The third episode of the new Lady Dior Documentary is online! It shows Marion Cotillard being photographed for the new Dior magazine. She’s wearing vintage Dior so it’s the perfect opportunity to merge the fashion house’s history with Marion’s. There’s also footage from 2 other Dior photoshoots: one on a ferry in New York (used in 7000 and L’Express Styles) and another one indoors (used in Paris Match and Madame Figaro). There’s also napping Marion and her going to events.

It’s time for an exclusive photo shoot for Dior, and Marion Cotillard slips into some of the finest haute couture creations by Christian Dior himself.

001 Dior > Lady Dior: A Web Documentary > Stills
099 Dior > Lady Dior: A Web Documentary > Episode 3 – Métamorphose

Oct 2012
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from Press Association

Marion Cotillard feels lucky to be able to make movies in both Hollywood and her native France.

The actress – who is being tipped for a second Oscar for her performance in new French film Rust And Bone – has managed to switch between English-language movies and those in her mother tongue since starring in the 2007 hit La Vie En Rose.

She revealed: “I’m very happy and I feel very lucky to have the possibility and opportunity to work in two countries that really built my desire to be an actress.

“When I was a kid, I watched a lot of American movies and even though I never thought I would have the opportunity to work in the US, their movies are part of my culture so I feel blessed.”

Marion plays an orca whale trainer at a water park who is mutilated in a horrific work accident in Rust And Bone, from the writer-director Jacques Audiard.

She paid tribute to the “genius” filmmaker.

“Amazing is not enough,” she added.

Oct 2012
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from The Wall Street Journal / by Lanie Goodman

When French actress Marion Cotillard arrived on the Côte d’Azur last October to star in Jacques Audiard’s gritty emotional drama “Rust and Bone” (“De Rouille et de l’Os”), she knew it wouldn’t be an easy shoot.

For one, she was fighting jet lag, having flown in straight from the Hollywood set of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” with her 5-month-old baby, Marcel, in tow. To prepare for her role as Stephanie, a French Marineland water-park whale trainer, she had only one week to master a few convincing tricks with the orcas. She would have to learn to swim without using her legs in the chilly Mediterranean and practice getting around in a wheelchair. The 37-year-old actress, one of the faces of Lady Dior, was also prepared for relentless close-ups without makeup in the glaring light of an Antibes beach.

But then, glamour isn’t everything. Ms. Cotillard’s moving, Oscar-winning performance as the struggling street singer Edith Piaf in Olivier Dahan’s 2007 biopic “La vie en rose” catapulted her into the international spotlight, revealing the actress’s ability to internalize the most somber depths of a character in all her frailty.

“I knew in advance why I was choosing Marion,” says Mr. Audiard (“The Beat That My Heart Skipped,” 2005, “A Prophet,” 2009), adding that he was “blown away” by her portrayal of Piaf and had been waiting for a chance to work with her ever since.

Like Mr. Audiard’s previous titles, “Rust and Bone” combines taut elliptic storytelling with an unvarnished attention to detail. The subject, an unlikely love affair, tells the story of two contrasting solitary characters thrown together by a harsh twist of fate.

Loosely adapted from a story by Canadian writer Craig Davidson, “Rust and Bone” opens with Ali, played by Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who is homeless, broke and suddenly finds himself in custody of his 5-year-old son. Working as a bouncer in an Antibes nightclub, he rescues Stephanie (Ms. Cotillard), from a drunken altercation. Stephanie takes his phone number but is put off by Ali’s blunt compliments. But after a terrible accident at Marineland during which she loses both legs, she decides to give Ali a call. He takes her on outings to the beach, wordlessly carrying her on his shoulders to the sea.

The raw physicality of their relationship is rejuvenation for Stephanie, who rediscovers the pleasure of swimming and eventually, sex. Likewise, she becomes supportive of Ali’s brutal bare-knuckle fighting, an illegal sport but a quick way of earning wads of cash.

“The special effects had to be incredible in the film, but it didn’t affect the shooting. We just did the work we usually do, and CGI took my legs off,” says Ms. Cotillard. “What was complex about the part was understanding Stephanie’s emotions—all the different layers. I imagined how she would react to events, to life, to love. And to put it simply, I just imagined that I had no legs. For me, difficulties are always technical ones, and there weren’t any in this movie.” The actress speaks slowly, choosing her words in English with an ever-so-slight accent that no longer sounds French.

However, filming on location at Marineland was sometimes complicated, Ms. Cotillard says, recalling a moment of panic on set. “The first whale went kind of mad during the rehearsal, since it wasn’t her usual show. She screamed at me with her jaws really wide open. It was the only time I really freaked out, even though I knew the glass was secure and the crew was right behind me.

“I was lucky to have a really strong connection right away with the second whale,” she adds. “I had to find an improvisation between her and me. I’d wave, and she’d wave back—I’d tickle her nose and she would make bubbles. You never really know how they’re going to react.”

Mr. Audiard notes: “Killer whales are very dangerous animals, and Marion is very brave. She has a tomboyish quality about her, she’s got guts.

“During the entire shoot, I had to pinch myself and say, ‘she has no legs’, since she was wearing green tights,” the director continues. “But Marion never forgot it. As a result, even the erotic dimension of the love scenes were of a different nature. The first time that Stephanie takes off her clothes, she is terrified to give herself to someone. She’s more than naked at that moment.”

Though Mr. Audiard’s dramatic approach is emotionally charged, he also encourages his actors to exercise restraint, shying away from any hint of pathos. “In one scene, we did about 10 takes because Marion was playing the role full on, as if she were an actress in a Tod Browning film,” says the director. “I told her to slow down.”

Slowing down doesn’t seem to come naturally. After winning the Oscar, scripts were thrown at her feet like bouquets of roses. The actress—who had previously worked with Tim Burton and Ridley Scott—went on to star in films by some of the most prominent American directors, from Michael Mann (“Public Enemies,” 2009), Rob Marshall (“Nine,” 2009) and Christopher Nolan (“Inception,” 2010, “The Dark Knight Rises,” 2012) to Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris,” 2011) and Steven Soderbergh (“Contagion,” 2011).

In between her U.S. commitments, Ms. Cotillard also took part in a French ensemble piece, “Little White Lies” (2010), the third feature film directed by her boyfriend, French actor Guillaume Canet, who is the father of their son.

Born in the modest suburbs of Paris, Ms. Cotillard acquired her passion for acting from her parents, who were both working in the theater. The family later moved to Beauce, a town near Orléans in North-Central France, where her father, Jean-Claude Cotillard, a director and mime, founded his own company. Ms. Cotillard attended the Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique in Orléans until 1994, then headed back to Paris, where she landed her first part as a student in the 1996 film “My Sex Life…or How I Got Into an Argument” by French director Arnaud Desplechin.

These days, after “a crazy, crazy year” that included giving birth in May and shooting three films back-to-back, Ms. Cotillard says she is learning to juggle the demands of young motherhood while working hard.

“When I did ‘La vie en rose,’ I’d often stay with Edith Piaf and not go back to myself because it was a long way to get there every day—it was too emotionally difficult,” she recalls. “With ‘Rust and Bone,’ the character of Stephanie was also intense, but most of the time my son was on set because he needed me. So I would go back and forth.”

Ms. Cotillard says that she also enjoyed playing Miranda Tate in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the seductive wealthy businesswoman whose lofty ecological projects and femme-fatale looks jump-start reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne back into superhero action.

“I loved working again with Christopher,” the actress says. “He’s a family guy—he’s got four kids himself—and his set is like a family, which may sound weird for a big-budget cult movie like ‘Batman,’ but it’s true.”

For her role in director James Gray’s forthcoming period piece, “Nightingale,” written with her in mind, Ms. Cotillard immersed herself in the Polish language and culture. Set in 1920s Manhattan, she plays a newly arrived, guileless Polish immigrant alongside co-star Joaquin Phoenix, a shady character who forces her into prostitution so she can pay for her sick sister’s care.

“Some of my scenes are in Polish and I also had to have a Polish accent in English. It was a lot of work,” she says.

Mr. Gray also recently teamed up with Guillaume Canet to co-write the screenplay of the coming thriller “Blood Ties,” set in 1970s Brooklyn, a remake of the 2008 French film, “Les Liens de Sang.” Mr. Canet directs a cast that includes Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, James Caan, Mila Kunis, “Rust” star Matthias Schoenaerts and, unsurprisingly, Marion Cotillard.

“I always keep something from an encounter with a director,” the actress muses. “The first thing I keep is a lot of joy…and then, it’s hard to explain what else stays with me. You share something that is deep and has found its right place.” She pauses and adds, “An actor is a kind of anthropologist of the human soul. The more you explore, the more you learn.”