How did the idea for “Lowlife” germinate?
My brother and I found some old slide photos my father had taken from the mid-to-late 1970s. A few of them were photographs from a trip to Ellis Island. It has become a kind of museum now, but my father took us in 1976 right after it had reopened after closing decades before and the place was untouched to the point that there were half-filled out immigration forms on the floor. It was almost like ghosts had been there. And we took my grandfather who came to Ellis Island in 1923, and the second he walked into the building he burst into tears.
So then I started reading about it and I read a story that was extremely interesting to me about women who came in either solo or their families had been split up, and how they would get into New York and sometimes they had to resort to very sad ends to get there, and I’d never seen it done in a movie. 40% of the United States have relatives that came in through there and yet it’s only been in a handful of films — the opening scene from “The Godfather II,” and the end of Kazan’s “America, America” and that’s it.
In “Lowlife” you work with Marion Cotillard for the first time. Tell us how that came about.
I had no idea who Marion Cotillard was. When I was in Paris for “Two Lovers,” a publicist told me, “A guy named Guillaume Canet wants to have lunch with you.” So we met and had lunch, I found him incredibly funny — I didn’t know anything he had done at that stage, but we sort of bonded because a rat ran across the floor of the restaurant. And then he said, “Come meet my girlfriend” and I met this woman who looked like a silent film actress like Pola Negri or something. And I said, “Who’s your girlfriend?” and he said [French accent] ”You don’t know my girlfriend? She won an Oscar, are you stupide?”
And my wife and I became very friendly with them. One night at dinner we went to a restaurant and I told her I didn’t like some actor that she thought was great and she threw a piece of bread at my head, and I thought, “Well, you’re interesting.” So I wrote the movie [“Lowlife”] for her, having never seen her in a movie. Because she has this face, you know? She doesn’t even have to say anything, and that’s rare.
Also French Allocine got to talk to the writer/director about ‘Lowlife‘ (The Nightingale) at the festival:
We confirmed that his fifth feature film will be in line Two Lovers (2008), but less thriller, more drama. “There is no aspect of thriller to it, more of an opera dimension (…) I approached it like a Puccini opera that has never been staged.”
At the center of what we will therefore call an “opera drama” set in the 1920s, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner will fight to gain favour in the beautiful eyes of a Marion Cotillard provided with very little dialogue – when she does speak, it will be “some English but also in Polish.”
Congratulations to Marion Cotillard for receiving a SAG nomination for her performance in ‘Rust and Bone‘! This is her second nomination in this category after ‘La Vie en Rose‘ and fourth overall (she was also nominated twice for best ensemble cast in ‘Nine‘ and ‘Midnight in Paris‘).
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
JESSICA CHASTAIN / Maya – “ZERO DARK THIRTY” (Columbia Pictures)
MARION COTILLARD / Stephanie – “RUST AND BONE” (Sony Pictures Classics)
JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Tiffany – “SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK” (The Weinstein Company)
HELEN MIRREN / Alma Reville – “HITCHCOCK” (Fox Searchlight)
NAOMI WATTS / Maria – “THE IMPOSSIBLE” (Summit Entertainment)
The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be simulcast live nationally on TNT and TBS on Sunday, January 27 at 8 p.m. (ET)/5 p.m. (PT) from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.
EDIT: Marion released statements to give her reaction to the nomination:
“Thank you so much to the Screen Actors Guild, it’s an enormous honor as an actor to be recognized by your peers. I’m thrilled to share this nomination with the incredible Jacques Audiard and Matthias Schoenaerts and the entire “Rust and Bone” team, and especially Tom Bernard and Michael Barker at Sony Pictures Classics for bringing the film to US audiences.”
• E! Online
“My publicist called me to tell me the news. I’m in Paris and was on my way to see a children’s play, Pinocchio, with my son! I’m super happy, and it’s really something I share with people who worked on that movie, especially our director Jacques Audiard and my amazing costar Mattias Schoenaerts. Recognition by SAG is really important for an actor; it’s really one of the greatest nominations an actor can receive. I’m very very happy. And the play was good too! Though I spent most of the time watching the little kids in the audience. They were so cute.”
• The Hollywood Reporter
“It’s more than joy. It’s one of the most important nominations because of course as an actor being nominated by actors it’s something I really, really enjoy. I’m very happy. Of course getting a nomination for a movie and for my work is something I really enjoy because I do that job to give something to people and to share something with people. But the actors know what you go through when you make a movie. They know what you go through when you take a character to create someone. So, this is a very special connection we have with actors so it means a lot.”
Marion Cotillard is nominated for one of the bigger pre-Oscar awards: The BFCA Best Actress Award (Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards):
Jessica Chastain (“Zero”)
Marion Cotillard (“Rust and Bone”)
Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver”)
Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”)
Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)
Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”)
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A Royal Affair
Rust and Bone
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The Dark Knight Rises
Life of Pi
BEST ACTION MOVIE
The Dark Knight Rises
Also congrats to Marion’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ co-stars Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway for getting nominated as Best Actor/Actress in an Action Movie. The 18th Critics’ Choice Awards will be presented on January 10, 2013 at the Hollywood Palladium, the ceremony will be broadcasted on CW Network.
Marion was nominated for Best Actress and ‘Rust & Bone‘ for Best Foreign Language Film last Saturday by the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) but on Monday it was Jessica Chastain for ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘ and ‘Amour‘ that were announced as winners. ‘Rust and Bone‘ was also nominated for Best International Independent Film at the 15th Moët British Independent Film Awards last weekend but lost to ‘The Hunt‘. ‘Rust and Bone‘ is currently still nominated for Best International Film at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Winners will be announced February 23, 2013.
Other critics associations named their winners in the past week or so and Marion Cotillard appeared neither as winner nor as runner up on those. So far, Jessica Chastain (‘Zero Dark Thirty‘), Emanuelle Riva (‘Amour‘), Jennifer Lawrence (‘Silver Linings Playbook‘) and Rachel Weisz (‘The Deep Blue Sea‘) were picked. Tomorrow we will get the SAG Award Nominations and on Thursday Golden Globe nominations which will tell us more but so far I have a feeling that Marion Cotillard is unlikely to win another Oscar but could get another nomination.
At the moment, James Gray, writer/director of Marion Cotillard’s upcoming movie ‘The Nightingale‘ is part of the jury at the Marrakech International Film Festival. The Playlist spoke to him and got more details about the movie. He finished the movie last week and saw the first print before heading to Marrakech. He hopes to premiere the movie at the Cannes Film Festival next May, “if they’ll have [him].”
The Playlist will post some further stories around the origins of the film and the shooting experience later but for now we get the story about the title confusion:
“It was originally ‘Lowlife’ and is probably going to be called ‘Lowlife,’ ” Gray said. He further clarifies: “It has nothing to do with the Luc Sante book [of a similar name]. What happened was they had classifications for people coming in through Ellis Island. Believe it or not, ‘moron,’ ‘cretin’ all this stuff, they’re technical terms, which seems ridiculous. And you didn’t want to be classified a ‘lowlife,’ — they also called it ‘liable to become public charge’ — which meant that you were going to be a ward of the state and they would not allow you into the United States. So I called the movie ‘Lowlife’ and Jim Jarmusch who’s a friend of mine said I should read his friend Luc Sante’s book ‘Low Life’ because I was talking about Luc Sante’s book ‘Evidence,’ which is a series of crime photographs.”
“And I remembered it had come out maybe twenty years before and I read it, and it was the wrong time period; it was New York around when Marty Scorsese’s picture takes place, ‘Gangs of New York,’ which was about sixty or seventy years before the film I was writing takes place,” Gray continued. “But it was still very interesting, I used very little of it, and then I spoke to Luc Sante, who’s brilliant, and he said ‘I don’t want you using the title.’ So I said ‘What do you mean? My movie’s not based on your book and you can’t copyright a title; it’s called ‘Lowlife’ — it’s not even two words, it’s one.’ So the legal department said, ‘No you can’t call it ‘Lowlife’ because you communicated with him in an email. So I said ‘Rght, his email to me said ‘I can’t really help you with any of your research and don’t call your movie ‘Lowlife.” That’s hardly a contact with him. And they said, ‘But it is a contact.’ ”
“So then it became ‘The Untitled James Gray Movie,’ which is completely awful because unintentionally for legal reasons you sound like a megalomaniac,” Gray laughed. “The editing room would call up and it was [mimics sing-song phone-answering voice] ‘Untitled James Gray Movie!’ It was like that for a while, and then there’s a speech that an actress gives in which she says that ‘the nightingale sings sweetest when it’s darkest,’ and I thought ‘Well, that’s nice, if I can’t call it ‘Lowlife’ I’ll call it that.’ ”
“And then everybody else decided they hated that title, and I said, ‘Screw it, let’s just call it ‘Lowlife’ which it’s supposed to be called’ and that’s where we are right now. I wish I could be more detailed than that,” he adds wryly, “but you now know what I know.”
I can’t wait to hear more about this movie. James Gray also said that people who like his movies and have seen this one say it’s his best film.
Today begins Florence Cassez’s 8th year of imprisonement in Mexico. Marion Cotillard is one of her supportes who believe that she’s innocent. Back in April she visited her in her prison in Tepepan and it was reported that she frequently talks to her on the phone. On Thursday, Marion Cotillard together with France’s first lady Valérie Trierweiler and journalist and news anchor Mélissa Theuriau lent their support to Florence Cassez by attending the opening of an exhibition of her paintings – made in prison – together with her parents and her lawyer at the town hall of the 12th district in Paris. Marion Cotillard spoke to Canal+:
I’ve always been convinced that she’s innocent – from the beginning. I couldn’t really explain why. And then I really studied her file and I realized that there was nothing in the file that hold up. We are both the same age, so I think… Well, I don’t know if this is what touched me… I saw pictures of her and something happened, I can’t really explain what but she’s a very dear friend now. I just can’t wait for her to be released.
001 Other Public Appearances > Florence Cassez