Tag: Nine

Icon Marion Cotillard

Icon Marion Cotillard

She radiates Old Hollywood grace and of-the-moment international style, but as anyone who’s watched her soul-baring performances can attest, France’s most in-demand export is a true original. Fellow actress Jessica Chastain interviews.

It’s nearly impossible to portray an icon. Film history is littered with failed biopics because even great actors struggle to capture the inexplicable spark that separates the merely great from the eternally unforgettable. But every once in a while, it happens. An actor captures that specific brilliance – and she becomes a legend too. That’s what happened in 2007’s La Vie en Rose, when a transformed Marion Cotillard embodied the grace, madness, and prickly resilience of Edith Piaf, singing “Non, je ne regrette rien” in her final scene with utter confidence, because Cotillard knew that she had left everything she had on the screen. The French star, born in Paris, raised by bohemian actor parents, and in a long-term relationship with French actor-director Guillaume Canet (who is directing her in this fall’s Blood Ties, in which she’ll star opposite Clive Owen), was already a rising star in Europe before her Oscar win captured the world’s attention. Now 37, she is fast becoming her own sort of global icon, a modern-day Catherine Deneuve: drop-dead gorgeous, wildly talented, insanely stylish – only with a kind of throwback, Garbo-esque steeliness. Already she’s gone toe-to-toe with Oscars’ aisle-seat actors Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christian Bale. She consistently emerges as that rare actress who needn’t trade her grace for power, who can play the vulnerable patient (Rust and Bone) or the lethal femme fatale (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) with equal conviction. Next, Cotillard will burnish her fast-building legend with The Immigrant, as a Jass Age woman pressed into prostitution and torn between two men (Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner). As she moves among European art films, blockbusters, and prestige indies, there are precious few actresses who can keep up with her. Here, she speaks to one who is also a friend and fan, Jessica Chastain.

Jessica Chastain: Your parents were actors. When did you decide to become one?
Marion Cotillard:
There’s not one moment, but I really feld this creativity around me from my parents.

JC: What was the first role that made you dig very deep within yourself?
One of my first movies, Pretty Things. I was playing twin sisters. One of them would die, and the other would take her place. That was one of my first roles as a lead, the first time I had to explore the human soul. And actually, they were two souls! That was the first time I told myself that I could find the strength.

JC: Did it scare you when you realized that you actually had to go to those dark places?
I was never scared – well, in Public Enemies, the Michael Mann movie, I thought it was impossible to lose entirely my French accent. And actually that was impossible!

JC: You were wonderful in that movie!
Fortunately, she was half French.

JC: When you leave a character, like Edith Piaf, how long does it take you to lose her?
Well, it depends. Before doing La Vie en Rose, I never thought I would have trouble leaving a character. I even had weird, bad judgment about actors who could not get out of a role. This was something that I didn’t understand, but this was because I had never experienced the depth that I experienced with Piaf. I’m a little ashamed to say it, but it took me long, long time to separate myself from her.

JC: How long?
Eight months. Which is ridiculous, because I’m a really sane person, and everything I lived for those eight months sounded totally crazy. And I hated it.

JC: I understand. When you open your heart, mind, and soul, how can it not affect you?
Her biggest fear was to be alone. One day, I realized that I was scared to leave her alone. Which sounds totally crazy.

JC: No, it doesn’t!
But I just wrapped a movie, and the character took three days to go away. I guess when you explore someone else’s soul like we do, you always keep something. It’s like love, I guess.

JC: We can’t help but be changed and grow and evolve from the women that we play.
I guess that’s what we’re looking for, too. When I was a kid, I started to have a lot of questions about human beings, and I was a troubled child because of all these questions. I guess that’s why I became an actress. Not only because my parents were actors and, yeah, it’s a beautiful thing to tell stories, but I think I became an actress because I wanted to explore this – to explore what a human being is. Ina way, it really helped me.

JC: When I watched you in Rust and Bone last year, I just burst into tears. I immediately felt this connection to this woman.
The more I learn about acting, the more I get connected with my characters – but through my character, I connect with people who could be like the character – with women.

Watch List

The Dark Knight Rises, 2012
“Director Chris Nolan is irresistible. I knew this film would be a hard one for me. I was a new mum and had only had my son one month prior.”

Rust and Bone, 2012
“Working with director Jacques Audiard was my dream. The character of Stéphanie is one I was lucky to portray. She touched my heart.”

Inception, 2010
“This is one of my favourite movies in my filmography.”

Nine, 2009
“This was a wonderful experience. Director Rob Marshall, and working with Daniel Day-Lewis, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, and Judi Dench. No further comment.”

La Vie en Rose, 2007
“Changed my life.”

Big Fish, 2003
“I was very close to quitting acting – my dreams seemed bigger than my reality. It made me sad. Then suddenly, right at that time Tim Burton came my way.”

Updated Movie & Television Stills

I finally started keeping my promise to add missing older stuff to the site. For now I replaced all the movie & television stills where I had untagged HQ versions. Also I added the odd additional still, some artwork posters and on set pictures. Enjoy!

Gallery Updates
001 L’Histoire du garçon qui voulait qu’on l’embrasse – 1994 > Stills
001 La Belle Verte – 1996 > Stills
003 Taxi 2 – 2000 > Stills
002 Taxi 2 – 2000 > Artwork
002 Lisa – 2001 > Stills
003 Les Jolies choses (Pretty Things) – 2001 > On Set
001 Les Jolies choses (Pretty Things) – 2001 > Artwork
005 Jeux d’enfants (Love Me If You Dare) – 2003 > Stills
002 Innocence – 2004 > Stills
005 Cavalcade – 2005 > Stills
003 Edy – 2005 > Stills
008 Ma vie en l’air (Love is in the Air) – 2005 > Stills
004 Mary – 2005 > Stills
005 Mary – 2005 > Artwork
002 Sauf le respect que je vous dois (Burnt Out) – 2005 > Stills
004 La Boîte noire (The Black Box) – 2005 > Stills
003 La Boîte noire (The Black Box) – 2005 > Artwork
005 Toi et moi (You and Me) – 2006 > Stills
001 Toi et moi (You and Me) – 2006 > Artwork
010 Dikkenek – 2006 > Stills
001 Dikkenek – 2006 > Artwork
020 Fair Play – 2006 > Stills
007 A Good Year – 2006 > Stills
029 La Môme (La Vie en Rose) – 2007 > Stills
007 Public Enemies – 2009 > Stills
002 Nine – 2009 > Stills
325 The Immigrant – 2013 > On Set
001 Television > Chloé – 1996 > Artwork
006 Television > Une femme piégée (A Woman in Trouble) – 2001 > Stills
007 Television > Une femme piégée (A Woman in Trouble) – 2001 > On Set

French connection

French connection

Actress, mother, environmental campaigner – Marion Cotillard is a woman of many facets.

With her long legs curled under her on a couch, huge soft eyes and heart-shaped face, the film character Marion Cotillard most immediately resembles is Bambi. It’s not an impression that lasts long, however. Cotillard, whose riveting performance as a drug-addicted Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose won her an Oscar in 2008 and paved her way to Hollywood, has steel underneath a faun-like sweetness.

Watching her new film Rust and Bone, in which she plays a marine-park trainer who loses her legs to a rampaging orca, a New York Times critic described her as “an actress of limitless bravery and supernatural poise, who is both beauty and beast”.

“I definitely have strength,” the 34-year-old said in response. “It would be a long conversation on how strength is manifested in yourself, but … I don’t think there’s one thing I can think about that could put me down.”

In the end, that’s what you remember about her, more than her beauty or glamour: the grit, determination and indomitable work ethic that have fuelled her career. Because although her role as Piaf put her in the limelight, she had already made her move on Hollywood; she had roles in Tim Burton’s Big Fish and in Ridley Scott’s A Good Year, opposite Russell Crowe.

After La Vie en Rose, she worked furiously on speaking English with a Chicago accent for Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (“I was more than nervous, every day”), on singing and dancing for Rob Marshall’s Nine and on the imaginative leaps and bounds required for Christopher Nolan’s Inception. She rejoined Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises, playing girlfriend to the Caped Crusader. From barely speaking English to Batman’s girl in five moves: it doesn’t get much more Hollywood than that.

At home, however, she is just as famous for being half of the couple dubbed “France’s Brangelina”. When La Vie en Rose took the world by storm, the cameras began to follow Cotillard, at least to the public venues allowed to them by the France’s strict privacy laws. She was eventually snapped at an airport kissing Guillaume Canet.

Canet was a director, actor, all-round heart-throb and her friend of at least seven years’ standing, who had been divorced just a year earlier from German actress Diane Kruger; audiences may remember him from his role in The Beach, where he became mates with Leonardo DiCaprio.

As it turned out, the pair had been seeing each other for several months, and nearly five years on they have a son, Marcel, who is almost two. Since that kiss-and-fly slip, however, they have avoided the cameras.

When Cotillard starred in a film directed by Canet called Little White Lies, they did joint interviews with the strict stipulation that there must be no questions about their domestic life. At red-carpet events, they would turn up separately. As for baby pictures, no chance. We know more about Cotillard’s bank account – she is said to be worth US$15 million – than we do about life chez Guillaume.

One thing that is fairly clear is that they don’t live the kind of life you might expect for stars of that calibre. Every now and then, they are snapped shopping or having a coffee in a bar, like any other Parisian.

It isn’t easy, she says, to keep things simple. “It’s a paradox to be an actress – living in the city, taking planes all the time, trying to find the right balance in life, which is not so eco-friendly, and still try to respect the environment.”

This is Cotillard’s second life: she is one of France’s most prominent eco-warriors. For more than a decade she has been closely associated with Greenpeace – not merely as a figurehead, but as a film-maker. In 2010 she went to the Congo to make a series of videos, distributed online, about the destruction of forests, and the lives of the people who live in them, by logging companies. She tramped through jungles, slept in village huts and addressed the camera with a face scrubbed clean of stardom.

“For a pack of smokes and a few beers you can gain the right to cut down the trees, so through the first days of my trip the problem seemed really dark,” she told Nicole Kidman in an exchange recorded for Interview magazine. “But when I started talking to people, I realised that they want to get their power back. That made me feel like there was hope to make things right.”

Kidman recalls that on the set of Nine, it was Cotillard who insisted that they set up a system for recycling, a commitment she traces to childhood holidays in Brittany at her grandmother’s house when her parents, who were both in the theatre, were working. “When my grandmother cooked, she wouldn’t waste anything. And my parents always raised me to believe the most important thing was respect. Respect the place you live, be aware of the impact you have on things.”

It is an awareness that was tested by her encounters with orcas for Rust and Bone. Her character Stephanie is a cold fish herself, prickly with her peers and living disagreeably with a man she doesn’t much like. The best part of her life is lived in water with the caged whales. When the director Jacques Audiard gave Cotillard the script, she says, she loved it immediately. The fact that her character worked in a marine park, however, was a real stumbling block.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is something I cannot do,'” she says. “I cannot be in this environment. I’m not comfortable with captivity and the first day of the shoot, this came back to me, that the orcas were not like animals any more, they were like toys, like ducks in the bathtub.” The fact that a wild animal would flip over on command in return for a piece of fish appalled her.

Her opinion of performing animals hasn’t changed. But she was moved by the commitment of their trainers. “Those people are passionate about what they do. I can’t stand marine parks, but the people who work there love the animals.” Her own experience was transformed by an encounter with a killer whale. Rather than keep to the routine, she was encouraged to make her own gestures and the orca responded to her. “I decided to wave and she would wave back, I tickled her nose and she would make bubbles. She reacted to everything.”

In fact there were two orcas; the first one reacted badly to the lights and camera “and she went mad at me and screamed, with her jaws wide open. I got really scared.” But of course, says Cotillard, the orca was behaving as what she was: a wild animal.

The force of Cotillard’s performance in Rust and Bone is extraordinary. In the moment when Stephanie wakes up to discover she has had both legs amputated, we see a surge of emotions cascade across her face; then a period of something like catatonia sets in.

To prepare for the role, Cotillard watched footage of amputees to see how they moved. “Then I thought I didn’t need that. [I can] experience it with the character because it’s just happened to her and she doesn’t know, either. There was nothing more to do than be on the set and work. The complexity is in the emotional layers of the character.”

Rust and Bone is a romance, albeit a very spiky, difficult one; Stephanie becomes embroiled with Ali, a bouncer played by the Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who is trying to scrape together money in illegal bare-knuckle fights. Ali, she soon discovers, is the only person who is utterly unembarrassed by her mutilation. There is a lot of charged sex in Rust and Bone, something Cotillard usually finds uncomfortable.

“That was very different on this movie because it’s a very important part of the story. But it’s also something that happens in her life that made me so happy for her,” she says.

In general, she says, sex scenes are much harder than, say, dying. “I hate it. It’s very intimate and very hard to imagine how a person would have sex. Kissing is already something very powerful. You feel something; it’s already intense. It cannot be your way, otherwise it would be super-uncomfortable. But, you know, everyone has a way to make sex, so a character does, too.”

Marcel was only five months-old when the film was shot. “He was a tiny little baby who needed me entirely, not me and my work,” she recalls. Her way of working, which, on La Vie en Rose, meant living with Piaf every waking hour, had to change.

“I was wondering how it would be, because Stephanie is so intense and sometimes my son couldn’t be on set because it was too much. But most of the time he was there.

“I know I can go deep inside a character, but I know how to get out of it. When you have to go back, because there is someone who is more important than anything, it’s different. It’s crazy, it’s … ” – she fishes for an expression to cover motherhood – ” it’s rock and roll! But it’s amazing, too.”

Now, as someone who has been acting almost all her life – she was a child when she first trod the boards in one of her father’s plays – she wonders if she wants to give herself over to it for good.

Other things could claim her: the forest of the Congo as well as motherhood. “Nothing can ever be taken for granted in this métier,” she mused recently.” It makes you very exposed and that can be violent.

“I’m strong but also fragile, and sometimes it’s not easy to be exposed to judgment and to play with your emotions; to go searching inside yourself, to make yourself naked to the world.”

Rust and Bone is in cinemas on March 28.

The Argument: Marion Cotillard, Hollywood’s favourite French actress, gets unleashed in Rust and Bone

The Argument: Marion Cotillard, Hollywood’s favourite French actress, gets unleashed in Rust and Bone

The first time I saw Marion Cotillard in the flesh was at this year’s TIFF. The jaw-droppingly gorgeous French actress was standing atop a long flight of stairs inside Michael’s on Simcoe. She was in town for the gala presentation of Rust and Bone, a dark and visceral French romance adapted from a collection of short stories by Toronto author Craig Davidson and directed by Jacques Audriard. In the film, she plays a killer whale trainer at Marineland who loses her legs in a freak accident involving an aquatic animal routine gone very, very wrong.

I happened to be coming up the stairs at Michael’s just as Cotillard, wearing bright blue and yellow satin heels, was about to go down. I saw the shoes before I saw the woman wearing them, and was about to compliment her when our eyes met, and I realized I was standing there with my one and only celebrity crush. I instantly froze. And then turned into a pile of mush.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not obsessed with Cotillard in a creepy stalker way—not like the New York woman who recently pleaded guilty to sending the actress more than 500 emails, plus over 100 web videos of her (the stalker, not Cotillard) hissing like a cat and talking about playing Russian roulette. My crush is much more innocuous. It started nearly a decade ago when I saw her in the dark French comedy Jeux d’enfants, in which she plays a fiery woman who falls for her handsome best friend, played by the heartthrob (and Cotillard’s real-life partner) Guillaume Canet. She had me at bonjour.

With Rust and Bone, which hits theatres this month, Cotillard is an early contender for a Best Actress Oscar. She’s already won the big prize once, for her depiction of Édith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie en rose, which captured the conflicted chanteuse’s messy, selfish and tragic existence with an irrepressible intensity and almost eerie realism. She’s only the third French actress to take home the award—after Claudette Colbert, for 1934’s It Happened One Night, and Simone Signoret, for 1959’s Room at the Top—and the first to win for a French-language performance.

At the time, she could barely speak enough English to cobble together an acceptance speech, offering little more than a string of bumbled clichés and stunned thank yous. Five years later, she’s the public face of Rust and Bone for the film’s North American tour. At the TIFF screening, she deftly translated Audiard’s opening remarks, charming the capacity crowd.

Cotillard has come a long way in such a short time, and not just linguistically. Her post-Piaf resumé is a catalogue of big-name Hollywood directors—Michael Mann, Rob Marshall, Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh. Not to mention her most high-profile role to date, as Bruce Wayne’s mysterious romantic interest in The Dark Knight Rises, for which director Christopher Nolan adjusted the shooting schedule purely to accommodate Cotillard, who was pregnant with her first child.

And yet Hollywood doesn’t quite know what to do with her. In the European films where I like her best, Cotillard is often cast as powerful, complicated women—roles that allow her to contrast an inner turmoil with her serene outer beauty. On this continent, she still gets stuck playing the foil to more
magnificent men.

We got a taste of Cotillard unleashed in Nolan’s Inception, in which she played Leo­nardo DiCaprio’s dead wife, who haunts his dreams with ever-greater maliciousness. Every move she makes in the film insinuates violence, every facial expression is a threat. She channels that same intensity in the musical Nine, in which she cuts down her philandering husband, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, with a sassy striptease. Both roles hint at Cotillard’s range, and yet neither captures her at her best.

Rust and Bone is the kind of character-driven drama that allows Cotillard to be raw, ragged and a little ferocious. After the grisly accident with the whale, Cotillard’s character awakens in a hospital room and slowly becomes aware that she’s a double-amputee. She screams and hurls herself from her bed to the floor, writhing in agony. Her pain is so palpable it makes you squirm in your seat. She is slowly restored by a friendship-cum-romance with a drifting street fighter and deadbeat dad (played with brute force by Belgian-born dreamboat Matthias Schoenaerts).

The role of a tragically disabled person who finds love and the will to survive sounds like shameless Oscar bait, but Cotillard makes the melodramatic scenario feel real. Her performance doesn’t come off as capital-A Acting—it’s as if you are witnessing someone’s most private moments. When she and Schoenaerts’ character finally have sex, the moment is entirely unsexy. She wants to know if she is still capable of engaging in intimate physical acts, and he, rather perfunctorily, obliges.

It’s the kind of scene that couldn’t happen in any of the blockbusting popcorn flicks that characterize her newfound Tinseltown career, but it’s one that shows exactly what she is capable of. There aren’t any bat-suited superheroes in Rust and Bone. What it does have is the real Marion—the one capable of reducing a man to nothing more than mush.

'Nine' Blu-ray Screencaptures

I added screencaptures of Marion’s scenes as Luisa Contini in ‘Nine‘ which was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK earlier this week. I’ll cap the extras at a later point.

798 Nine – 2009 > Blu-ray Screencaptures

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