James Gray & Marion Cotillard Discuss How They Came Together For Next Year's Period Piece 'The Nightingale'

from The Playlist / by Rodrigo Perez

While it may have seemed premature on paper, the Telluride Film Festival’s celebration of 37-year-old French actress Marion Cotillard’s body of work last weekend is arriving right on the crest of her career apogee, a period we may look back on in several decades and compare to the way Jeanne Moreau and Catherine Deneuve dominated the ’60s with their ubiquity.

Valid Oscar talk is already swirling for Cotillard’s most recent emotionally bruising performance as a whale-trainer who suffers a brutal accident in Jacques Audiard’s “Rust & Bone,” which made its North American premiere last weekend in Telluride; the peg of her celebration.

And while still just making a name for herself in North America, Cotillard is already an Academy-Award winning actress (for “La Vie On Rose” — she’s only the second ever actress after Sophia Loren to win the award for a role not in English) and has worked with greats like Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan (twice), Ridley Scott (“A Good Year“), Tim Burton (“Big Fish“), Steven Soderbergh (“Contagion“), Woody Allen (“Midnight In Paris”) and Abel Ferrara, not to mention all the superb French filmmakers she has worked with (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Arnaud Desplechin) and the upcoming auteurs who have collaborations with her in the works (“A Separation” helmer Asghar Farhadi and James Gray). Truly she is the real deal, and at the same time is likely just reaching her peak; one assumes she has a long and storied career ahead of her.

During “A Tribute To Marion Cotillard,” Telluride audiences were treated to clips from many of her films and an in-depth and intimate conversation with the actress about her oeuvre. Sincere, but casually playful, the actress gratefully accepted her career-early tribute and related stories about her life. Her father was a mime and therefore an early acting coach from whom Cotillard was able to soak up the physicality of performance. Oh, and despite the Telluride guide where Cotillard is quoted as saying, “I’m just a girl from the Bronx,” she’s not. This is her form of a joke about living in the suburbs of France. “I aeeem znot from zee Bwonx at t’all.” She quipped in a purposefully exaggerated French accent.

She’s a multi-hyphenate as well, and occasionally sings under the pseudonym Simone in Maxim Nucci’s band Yodelice (see her sing Bowie’s “Velvet Goldmine” here). Simone being the name of one of her beloved grandmothers. And she works hard on her roles. After a deep immersion, it took her several months to shed the skin of Edith Piaf (the role she won the Oscar for). She spent every day for four months with a dialect coach preparing for her role in Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies” because the notoriously meticulous director wanted her without a trace of a French accent (“I cried every day,” she said of her preparations). For her role in “Nine” alongside Daniel Day-Lewis, where she played Luisa, the wife who is overlooked and neglected in favor of Day Lewis’ character’s many muses, she studied and looked to Eleanor Coppola for inspiration as a woman who is loyal but trying to find her own identity while working with a creative madman.

In her most theatrical release, “Little White Lies,” she worked for the first time as an actress under director/actor Guillaume Canet, her partner and father of her first child, Marcel. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said when asked to discuss her true relationship with Canet, having described him thus far just as a director she had worked with. “Oh, I guess that rumor must be true,” she laughed before describing the experience of working with her partner as “heaven and hell.”

Canet was a good segue to the evening’s surprise: an early look at James Gray’s “The Nightingale,” (formerly known as “Low Life”), a New York-set period piece that stars Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner; that trio easily making the film one of 2013’s most anticipated features.

“James and I met through a very dear friend of mine,” Cotillard said once again coyly about Canet. Mutual fans of each other’s work (Gray’s underappreciated dark dramas are met with huge critical acclaim in France), Canet and the “We Own The Night” filmmaker wrote “Blood Ties” together: a drama about two brothers on either side of the law who face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s. Canet directed the picture earlier this year, and Cotillard is featured in it among an ensemble cast that includes Clive Owen, James Caan, Billy Crudup, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis and her “Rust & Bone” co-star Matthias Schoenaerts.

During their “Blood Ties” meetings, Cotillard and Gray met. They went to dinner at a french fish restaurant where Gray and Cotillard proceeded to get into an argument about an actor. “She threw bread at my head.” Gray said. “And of course as consequence I immediately loved her.” Gray said he had never seen her in anything before, but was instantly drawn to her. “I watched every film of hers I could get my hands on. And then I knew I had to write something for her. So that’s the genesis of this thing coming out [next year],” he said of “The Nightingale.”

Set in the 1920s, the drama stars Cotillard as Sonya, an immigrant who travels to New York with her sister who becomes deathly ill once they arrive. In order to help her, Sonya heads down a dark path where she sells herself for money and medicine, eventually falling for a charming magician (Renner), the cousin of the sleaze who keeps her turning tricks (Phoenix).

“What happened was right at the same time I was trying to think of something for Marion I was talking to my brother who found these journals from my grandfather who ran a saloon in the Lower East Side in New York in the 1920s after he came from Kiev,” Gray explained of the film’s beginnings. “And there were all these low lifes frequenting the place.”

One of them was this what Gray describes as a “enigmatic, screwed-up, manipulative pimp who used to go to Ellis Island and cruise for women who came to the country by themselves.” According to Gray in the 1920s, women trying to get into the U.S. by themselves were not let in specifically because they were targets for prostitution, but through bribery, canny pimps would get around these rules. And so a movie idea was born.

“I’d never seen a movie of that subject,” he said. “Lower East Side, Ellis Island, pimps; it seemed very vivid to me. So I said, ‘that sounds perfect.'” However, getting Cotillard on board wasn’t as easy as he’d hoped. The director of the tremendous (and criminally underrated “Little Odessa” and “The Yards”) described sending the screenplay to Cotillard, but then having to wait seven days for an answer after she had promised to read the script over a weekend. “Well, Sunday came and went and it was like getting a colonoscopy over a week,” he said of the agonizing wait for an answer.

Marion laughed and demured, saying she wanted to be “the eggplant” in a James Gray sauce “I really wanted to work with him so I would have done anything,” she protested. “Thank you for saying that, but it’s not true!” he laughed. “I’m telling you…” he trailed off after Cotillard shot him a look. “Don’t say anything,” she scowled playfully.

Gray has worked loyally with Joaquin Phoenix for four films in a row (2008’s “Two Lovers” was their last collaboration, “The Nightingale” is next) so his next and final comment was one he couldn’t speak lightly. “It’s important to emphasize this. Unfortunately for critics and audiences alike I have made several films, and some films with really terrific actors, “he said. “And I say this at my own peril, but Marion is the best actor I’ve ever worked with.”

We’re stoked. “The Nightingale” will arrive in theaters sometime in 2013 via The Weinstein Company. Evidently the picture is mostly complete, which likely means they are saving it for Oscar season.

Toronto Film Festival: ‘Rust And Bone’ Doesn’t Disappoint

from CBS Detroit (US) / by Karen McDevitt

After only the first day, the Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing. Exclusive parties (and scuttlebutt about them) abound, including one for which, apparently, even the furniture was flown in from France.

As for the films, last night’s premiere of Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” did not disappoint.

Well, let me rephrase that a bit. The Elgin Theatre (I was able to get a seat in the beautiful balcony!) did not disappoint, and French actress / singer Marion Cotillard’s performance as a killer-whale trainer who endures a frightful accident, was outstanding. Let’s just say the film itself is, perhaps, in need of a final edit.

Oh, but Ms. Cotillard! As the masses entered the theatre, she stood just inside, under the bright lights of various media and anxious paparazzi (everyone of us, that is, passing by with smart phones in-hand). Onscreen, she makes the audience believe the impossible.

Cotillard’s character, Stephanie, in “Rust and Bone” differs dramatically from her Edith Piaf in “La vie en rose,” her Miranda in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and her Adriana in “Midnight in Paris.” And this, of course, is testament to her abilities to draw us in, and to draw us in closely.

One of the features of attending premieres – be they great or not-so-great – is that the principals are in attendance. The director, stars, and producers of “Rust and Bone” appeared onstage prior to last night’s premiere, charming us all, in both English and French.

I am hoping to see more filmmakers today at the premieres of Norway’s “Kon-Tiki” and Japan’s “The Land of Hope.”

Alone with Marion Cotillard, orca-trainer

from The Globe and Mail

A small room in the Intercontinental Hotel feels for a moment as far away from Toronto as possible. Marion Cotillard is sitting on the sofa, playing with the strap on her red sandals. She moves continually as she speaks, her lips apart as she gazes across the room, searching for an English word.

It’s odd being suddenly alone in a room with an Oscar-winning, Dior-modeling, international star. I start checking my audio recorder and writing more furiously than need be. She’s in the middle of a day of interviews for her new film, the French drama Rust and Bone by director Jacques Audiard, in which she plays a severely injured orca trainer (Marion Cotillard, killer-whale trainer, give it a minute) who falls for a brute of a man who fights illegal bare-knuckle bouts (Marion Cotillard, bare-knuckle fights, give it another minute).

Too much eye contact is also awkward. The fallback is always to be serious yet gracious, and glance toward the unspectacular downtown Toronto view, a stone covered rooftop and vents. Her thoughts quickly go elsewhere. She had last come to TIFF in 2010 with the 30-something comedy-drama Little White Lies, directed by husband Guillaume Canet, but only for a brief day or two. Her stopover in Toronto this time is just as fleeting, leaving the barest impression of Toronto, she indicates. The Cannes film festival for her was different.

“I have to say I didn’t think I would enjoy Cannes that much. But suddenly I was on the red carpet. And I thought, I’m in this festival, which is like one of the biggest festivals. So many people came here before with amazing movies, with masterpieces. All of those actors. It was a moment of joy that was really strong, and I didn’t expect it to be so strong.

“And it felt like it was the first time for me at Cannes. I had come to the festival many times before. I had climbed the [theatre] steps many times before. But it really felt like it was the first time, because it was the first time I went to Cannes with a movie in the official selection.

“And then going to an international festival with a French movie, I find it always very…” she pauses. “I mean, I’m really enjoying sharing French cinema.”

Her voice trails off. Marion Cotillard; dull Toronto hotel room. Yes, I found it hard to believe too.

'Rust and Bone' Events at TIFF

After doing some press interviews earlier in the day, Marion Cotillard attended first the ‘Rust and Bone‘ dinner hosted by Moet & Chandon at Michael’s on Simcoe before heading to the actual premiere of the movie held at The Elgin yesterday. More about the dinner over at Toronto Star. And there’s a new poster for the movie – to be used for promotion in the UK.

[edit:] It seems that right now Marion Cotillard is on stage after today’s screening for a Q&A together with Jacques Audiard & Matthias Schoenaerts. And Movieline has posted a spot-on review, they found words to express what I was feeling after seeing it.

Some articles have already surfaced:
La douce Cotillard chez le dur Audiard, Voir.ca, Septeber 6 (read with Google Translator)
Q & A with Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone, Toronto Star, September 7
TIFF interview: Marion Cotillard, NOW Magazine, September 7
Alone with Marion Cotillard, orca-trainer, The Globe and Mail, September 7
Toronto Film Festival: ‘Rust And Bone’ Doesn’t Disappoint, CBS, September 7

Gallery:
015 Toronto International Film Festival – ‘Rust and Bone’ Dinner
054 Toronto International Film Festival – ‘Rust and Bone’ Premiere
001 Movies > De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone) – 2012 > Artwork

TIFF interview: Marion Cotillard

from NOW Magazine (Toronto) / by Radheyan Simonpillai

Oscar winning star of Rust And Bone discusses her previous directors, glamour and the secret behind her enigmatic smile

Marion Cotillard amplified TIFF’s glam factor last night, gracing the Visa Screening Room’s red carpet for the Rust And Bone premiere.

I spoke to the enchanting actor hours before the gala, where she sang the praises of her co-star Matthias Schoenaerts (“Finally cinema has found him!”) and all the directors (from Michael Mann to Rust And Bone’s Jacques Audiard) who helped her create her memorable performances.

Sporting an off-white, sleeveless blouse and a long white skirt with black embroidery, the Oscar winner (for La Vie En Rose) moves around the room with the kind of delicacy reserved for royalty.

In Rust And Bone, a gritty Cote-d’Azur romance, Cotillard plays a beautiful orca trainer who loves being the centre of attention; the character is frequently dolled up and sporting short skirts… until a workplace accident changes her life forever.

Cotillard herself is no stranger to maintaining such appearances and holding people’s attention; she is the face of Dior, after all. However, she admits that staying paparazzi-ready can be an “annoying” job at times.

“My publicist asked me to go and take a plane with make-up on because I looked like shit,” says Cotillard. “That seemed really weird to me.”

Despite being annoyed by the demanding attention, especially when she wants to spend time to herself or with her family, Cotillard understands that such First World problems come with the territory.

“It’s not difficult,” she says. “Difficult is having no money to feed your kids. Difficult is something totally different. My life is amazing. I shouldn’t complain.”

Relishing the opportunity to take time away from the movies to spend with her son, Cotillard whispers these final words to me: “Nothing is hard if you do it with a smile.”

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