Publication: Toronto Sun

Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet partners of a different kind in ‘Blood Ties’

Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet partners of a different kind in ‘Blood Ties’

Marion Cotillard, the stunning French actress who won an Oscar for La Vie en Rose, was delighted that she did not have to strip off her clothes to play a prostitute in Guillaume Canet’s Brooklyn crime thriller, Blood Ties.

“How it was written,” she told a TIFF press conference on Tuesday, “I didn’t have to do crazy naked stuff.”

Emotionally, she did have to go to extremes, but that was easier because that is her job as an actress. “I would have gone wherever Guillaume wanted to go.”

Cotillard, of course, was confident she would not be exploited by writer-director Canet. After all, he happens to be her life partner, and father of Cotillard’s two-year-old son Marcel. Blood Ties is also the second time they have worked together, after she starred in Little White Lies (2010), his French-language dramatic comedy. Blood Ties is Canet’s English-language debut.

Working together is like a love affair, only with a different set of complications. “Personally,” Canet said, “I think it is an advantage only for the director … and not at all for the actress.”

“That’s not true!” Cotillard said, glancing at her lover, who is a heartthrob movie star in France when not directing his own films.

“It is very different for the actress,” Canet continued, describing how Cotillard would have to come home after a day of shooting “and you don’t want to hear all the director’s problems that he had all day long.”

Filmmakers who direct their lovers also have another issue to deal with, he said: “They don’t want to express too much the admiration and love (they have) for their partner. So, on the set, unconsciously, they are less … (he pauses, searching for the phrase in English) …”

“Open to compliments?” Cotillard offers with a mischievous grin.

“Yes! On the other hand, I think there is something really, really important and magical when you shoot a movie with someone who is your partner.” That something is trust.

“All directors know that Marion has something extraordinary in her way of working. She is very generous and, once she is committed to a movie, she is trusting the director no matter what. With me, it is even more because she knows she would give everything. She trusts me because she knows me, and she knows I don’t want to disappoint her and (put) her in a weird situation. For me, that a huge gift — to have this complicity.”

For Cotillard, their relationship is based on that same sense of trust that Canet described. “I trust Guillaume 200%.”

As for being given a hard time on set, “He was always fair. Don’t believe what he said about being more difficult. And I would do anything for him to get what he wants.”

Cotillard and Canet are well known for not talking about their personal life together in Paris. So their revelations about their working relationship are somewhat unusual. But Cotillard brought down their cone of silence when a Mexican journalist awkwardly asked her to describe her romantic relationship with Canet.

“We never talk about our personal life,” Cotillard said.

“You can just say I’m very romantic at home, too,” Canet suggested.

“Which is true, actually,” Cotillard confirmed.

There’s no rust on Cotillard

Actress earns multiple award noms for latest drama

You can expect to see Marion Cotillard at the Academy Awards in February.

The French actress — who already has an Oscar (as well as a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Cesar) for her performance a few years ago as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose — now stars in Rust and Bone, a drama that may net her another Oscar nod. As awards season begins, she’s already been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and for a Golden Globe for her performance, and Rust and Bone is also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

Despite the accolades, “When I start working on a project, I feel like I’ma beginner again,” she says.

“Nervous. Of course, I have more experience now, but because I love to jump on the unknown each time, it’s hard to start all over again. And that’s what I love about this job.”

The film — loosely based on the work of Canadian writer Craig Davidson — is a love story about damaged people. Cotillard, 37, plays a whale trainer working at the marine theme park in Antibes. She is badly injured on the job. Co-star Matthias Schoenaerts portrays the bareknuckle fighter she relies upon after her accident.

She works with Schoenaerts again in the upcoming Blood Ties (2013), a film about organized crime in the ’70s that also stars Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Clive Owen and James Caan.

These days, Cotillard juggles parenthood with work commitments on both sides of the ocean.

She and her partner, actor/filmmaker Guillaume Canet (who directed Blood Ties) have a 20-month-old son.

“It’s hectic,” she understates, smiling. “My life is in movement, constant movement, and I love it, but sometimes you just need to relax and not work too much – and I want to see my son every day of my life and do nothing and just stare at him.”

Success has led to a new-found visibility, and Cotillard concedes that it can be a nuisance to be hounded by paparazzi. But she’s not complaining.

“We turn it into a lot of fun, like when I have to go to the airport and suddenly my publicist says, ‘Oh, my God, paparazzi,’ and I look like s—, so I put some makeup on. And that’s ridiculous! To put makepup on just to take a plane? So we make fun of it.”

She adds, “It’s not difficult. Difficult is no money to feed your kids. Difficult is something totally different… Sometimes it’s annoying, sometimes when you want to have time for yourself and your family it can be more than annoying, but you have to take a little step back … My life is amazing and I shouldn’t complain.”

Above all, Cotillard continues to love what she does and be challenged by her work.

“I love it when I0m not sure I’m gonna be good. I love it even when I’m not sure I’m going to be able to give life or find authenticity, and sometimes it doesn’t work. But when it does, it’s a lot of fun.”