The French actress talks candidly about her profession, motherhood, and the art of fashion
Hot on the heels of the world premiere of Macbeth at Cannes — the latest screen adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy by Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard — we speak to the movie's radiant female lead about the price of fame, making it in America, and her favourite creations at the house of Dior.
What do you like most, and least, about the acting profession? What I like the most is exploring the human soul and heart. What I dislike the most is, well, I don't think what I dislike has anything to do with acting. It's how the press creates a character of some actors that's totally different from who they are.
You're one of the few European actresses who have had a successful career in Hollywood. How has this success changed your life in France? Do you think your life would be easier if you lived in the United States? The movie La Vie En Rose was a turning point in my life. Fame is not the most important thing. I think it's weird to arrive somewhere, especially in my own country, and have people look at me. And sometimes it's really uncomfortable, especially when people try to take pictures. But then, you know, I'm not like some celebrities in America who are surrounded by paparazzi 24 hours a day. So, if I wanted to live in the US, it would not be to escape. I love America. But I spend a lot of time in America so I don't need to live there. I need to, you know, go back to my country sometimes.
A lot of French actresses have had success in America but it was fleeting. You have managed to establish true trans-Atlantic success. Well, I feel very lucky that I can work in the US. I never thought that something like that would happen to me. And, yes, I feel grateful because when I was a kid I watched a lot of American movies and even though I never thought, "Oh my god, I would love to work in American movies," I was always fascinated by their cinema.
When I was a kid, my dream was to be an actress. I wanted to disappear into roles and experience as much as I could through other people's lives. I didn't see any boundaries, so maybe that's why I crossed the ocean. But the thing is: I feel very lucky. I love doing this. I love doing American movies and French movies.
The cultural differences never felt insurmountable? No, because I try to find authenticity in every character that I play. And when it's really, really far from my own experience, that's when I'm really enjoying it.
You are the face of the Lady Dior campaign. What does Dior mean to you? To be honest, I didn't consider fashion as an art before I worked with Dior. They changed my vision of fashion. I didn't really pay attention to fashion before. I mean, I loved dressing up and I liked clothes, but I didn't see fashion as an art. But now I see it as a very, very special form of art. Being able to enter a house like Dior, to see all those people in the atelier who have been working there for years and who are so good at what they do, and so passionate about it, it's been so wonderful to discover that world. I love the people at Dior and I feel very lucky and happy to work with them.
What's your favourite Dior outfit? I had the chance to do a photo shoot with all the outfits made by Mr Dior himself. It was very emotional. I felt very moved when I wore those dresses from the 1940s. It was really something. Everything I wore that day was amazing. So I would say the Monsieur Dior creations.
To be honest, I didn't consider fashion as an art before I worked with Dior. They changed my vision of fashion.
You used to be in a band called Yodelice. Are you still involved with them at all? Do you still have time for music?
I hope I will always have time for music. I would love to do it again because my place in that band was very special. I was not supposed to be part of that band in the first place, but they really included me step-by-step. They gave me a lot of freedom to come and go. But I would have to, you know, have time to rehearse and everything. It's really something that I want to give time to.
So you might go back? Oh yeah. Maxim Nucci of Yodelice is a very good friend of mine. We sometimes write songs for, you know, for me or for Simone, which is my character in Yodelice.
Are you very strict about eating and working out? Well, I don't really behave myself. And I'm lucky that in my family we have a body that allows us to not be very strict. I'm a moderately crazy food lover. I have to restrict myself because otherwise I wouldn't stay in shape at all. And I try to work out. Ever since I had my son it's been hard to find some time to do that.
How has being a mother changed you and your attitude to work? It changes things because you have to organise yourself differently. Usually when I work, I'm totally dedicated to my work. And when I leave the set, there's something that I'll bring home with me. It has changed. I'm now totally separating my life as a woman and my life as an actress.