There’s worse ways to achieve household name status than by
acting out Edith Piaf’s life story.
Cotillard‘s roles in
A Very Long
box office flop A Good
Year gave her recognition in certain filmgoing circles, but its
Cotillard’s total transformation in
La Vie en Rose
as the French singer, now out on DVD, that has drawn unanimous praise from
critics and audiences alike, culminating with an Oscar win for Best
Actress. We caught up with the actress in San Francisco, chatting about Edith
Piaf’s impact on contemporary France, and Cotillard’s upcoming projects,
including Nine, a remake of
Previously, you’ve said that your roles in the Taxi
movies made it difficult to be taken seriously as an actress. Does the Oscar and
Cesar nominations for La Vie en Rose validate your efforts?
Marion Cotillard: I had my validation before this.
Taxis are very big commercial movies and in France, in the business, they’re not
so serious. So you have to prove that you’re an actor. I think "it"
happened when I did the
Jeunet movie, A Very Long Engagement. The role [was] fantastic. And
they gave me a Cesar for nine minutes in the film. So that changed everything
America has mostly recognized La Vie en Rose for
your performance, while France is more recognizing the movie as a whole.
MC: I’m so happy that the movie was successful in
France, that it was successful here, that it was successful almost everywhere we
released it. That’s what is exciting. And it’s going to be exciting to have 11
Cesar nominations. Of course, also very exciting to have the Oscar nomination.
You don’t expect to be at the Oscars for a French movie. Let’s say that having
an Oscar nomination is very special and more unique than a Cesar.
Beyond the script, when did everyone know they had
something big on their hands?
MC: When we finished the movie in May 2006 and
showed 10 minutes in Cannes. The buzz was huge after those 10 minutes. And it
never went down. That was five months before the movie was to be released so it
was a very long time ago.
Even on the set we knew something was going on. There was
something very special about the movie that we couldn’t share exactly. [We
couldn’t] say this at that time because you don’t want to break the spell.
Did that happen with previous movies?
MC: It’s hard to compare. It was the first time I’ve
jumped and dived [into a role].
For La Vie en Rose, you didn’t do much rehearsing. Is
MC: It depends on the role. I don’t stick to special
techniques, conscious techniques. I let myself instinctively go [and find the]
best way to work. So it changes all the time.
Your family encouraged creativity and the arts. Did the
instinctual process come from that upbringing?
MC: Yeah! Every story is different, every movie is
different, every director is different. That’s what I like so I couldn’t work
with the same technique all the time.
What kind of music do you listen to when you prepare to
MC: It depends on the character. When I have a
character I have a playlist. I’ve used Piaf for three movies. It’s a little bit
of classical music, it’s a little bit of Radiohead. Songs you couldn’t imagine
that I would listen to. Songs that I loved as a teenager that moved me.
What influence does Edith Piaf have on contemporary
MC: We have the American Idols. And we have
several shows on TV with young people who sing and every year they sing Piaf. I
think that emotion and good stories can cross the times. And her songs probably
cross the times.
You were recently cast in Michael Mann’s Public
Enemies. What can you say about that?
MC: What I can tell you [is that] what I have to do
in that movie makes La Vie en Rose seem like a piece of cake.
What’s the status on Nine? Was it shut down by
MC: I think they’ve gone back to work because they
have a waiver. I hope we can shoot that at the end of the year.
Now that you have American movies coming out, what kind
of roles are you searching for here?
MC: I’m looking for good stories. But I don’t have
at the present time a specific desire. What I need is to do something totally
different, each time. That’s what I love.
Which sort of directors are you looking to work with?
MC: A lot. But I can’t say names. [Laughs.]