La belle dame avec merci
Cotillard remains passionate about the directors she works with. To date she can count Michael Mann, Arnaud Desplechin, Woody Allen, Yann Samuell, Steven Soderbergh, Tim Burton and Ridley Scott among her collaborators. Is it a guiding career principle, I wonder?
“Yes. No. I plan. But not always. I am so lucky that people want to work with me in the first place. And I’m so lucky because some of them are directors that I really want to work with. But if I don’t like the story or the project I will say ‘No’, and hope that one day they’ll come back with something else. I have a big, big list of directors that only my agent knows. There has to be something vibrant about the character or the project. It’s simple with me because I like it or I don’t like it. Sometimes I will like something but I’ll feel I did that before. Most of the time it gets into my blood and that’s it.”
Now that Hollywood has coming a-courting, it’s easy to forget that Cotillard spent 15 years as a working actor: she graced TV’s Highlander and Gérard Pirès’s ungainly Taxi sequence before her Oscar win.
She enjoys the challenge of working in English-language roles but she still prefers working in France where she has consistently found work in dark, unglamorous parts. On screen, she has indulged in crazy SM games in Love Me if You Dare, faced the guillotine for murder in A Very Long Engagement, and she has been chaotic and bipolar in Little White Lies.
“I think those characters are beautiful,” she says. “It’s the kind of work I love most.”
In common with Little White Lies, her next project, Blood Ties, is cowritten and directed by Canet, her partner of nine years.
“We don’t have rules. Of course we share what we do. But we don’t share everything that we do. Because he’s an actor I love when I see him in a movie and discover a whole life that I wasn’t fully aware of. But when we work together that’s a whole other subject. That’s trickier.”
The film – which will bring together Cotillard, her Rust and Bone cohort Schoenaerts, Clive Owen and Mila Kunis – will mark Canet and Cotillard’s first joint venture in American cinema. It’s exciting, she says, but it won’t herald a transatlantic move.
“I do love traveling. I love meeting new people and discovering new cultures. But my base will always be France. I’m lucky to be able to work outside my own country. But I love French cinema and I love being French.”
* Rust and Bone is out now