MARION COTILLARD ON PLAYING DRESS-UPS AND STEAMY SCENES WITH BRAD PITT
Screenwriter Steven Knight loosely based Allied on a tale he heard in Texas, more than three decades ago. The tale of war behind enemy lines, unrequited love and betrayal, stayed with Knight, having such an impact he turned one conversation into his original screenplay, Allied. His treatment of that tale was so captivating, Oscar, Cesar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Marion Cotillard waited four years for it to be adapted to film.
“My agent gave it to me, and I thought it was such a beautiful story, very entertaining and, at the same time, super deep and super powerful,” she says.
“At that time, when I read the script the first time, I didn’t hear of Bob (Zemeckis) or Brad (Pitt), and I was so happy a few years later when they contacted me, asking me to be part of the project. I like the fact that it’s a very strong and deep story and at the same time it’s super entertaining.”
She plays the always concerning, sometime suspicious but constantly charming Marianne Beausejour, a French resistance fighter suspected by her husband (Brad Pitt) and his superiors of being a German spy. Gentle by nature, Cotillard had an aversion to the violence of gunfire. But to play the starring female role in a World War II assassination film, she was forced to learn to love lead.
“He (Zemeckis) asked me to love the guns, because, he knew I hate the guns ... and he could see it,” Cotillard says.
“I trained – before we started shooting – I trained with the guns and by the end of this one day, I was very comfortable – but I still didn’t like the guns. And then, on the day I freaked out, honestly – I knew I would be discovered as a very non-lover of guns and not very good with them.
“He (Zemeckis) came to me and he was like, ‘OK, let’s take a break. The most important thing is that I need to not see that you don’t like guns, so pretend you like them,’.”
While the film is set in the midst of war, it’s classified, by executive producer Graham King as an “epic romance”.
Intimate, passionate scenes between Cotillard and Pitt are littered throughout Allied – in reality, they’re carefully choreographed.
“That’s the kind of scene that is not very easy, but we rehearsed and we had like a very determined choreography,” Cotillard says.
“And then, it allows you freedom. When you know exactly what your body will do, then you can act and you be free to give the emotion, give the feelings, because you won’t think, ‘Oh, what am I going to do next? Am I going to go on top of him, or...”
Because it’s unlikely anybody reading this will ever find themselves in a car sex scene with Brad Pitt, Cotillard paints a picture.
“It’s an awkward situation. The three of us, with Bob (Zemeckis), we just like sat in this car when we rehearsed,” she explains.
“It was like just two seats, and we laughed, because you need to get it out because this is so weird. And, so you get this time of looking at each other saying, ‘OK, this is so weird. And then, we’re going to do this, and I’m going to go on top of you, and we’re going to kiss.’ Then, on the day you are in your character, and everything happens because it’s the authenticity of the character and it becomes easy.”
One element of production Cotillard embraced enthusiastically was the costuming by renowned costume designer Johanna Johnson, an expert in period fashion. The character Marianne Beausejour has enviable style, sporting sophisticated mid-calf frocks and classic, tailored ensembles made from luxurious fabric.
Cotillard says watching her character’s wardrobe progress helped her personal character development.
“Most of the films I do I wear terrible clothes, but it’s good,” she says. “I mean, it’s great clothes for the roles, but I never had to be a princess like in this movie. I was a big fan of Greta Garbo and all this era of movies, so I dreamt watching these movies. That’s what is amazing in that job of designing clothes for a movie, because you can really put little touches of emotion, of feelings, of strength, of depth in the clothes you make.
“We had several fittings, and each time I would go there I was so happy to see the process of more than just clothes, but emotion and strength and power coming together in (the) amazing and beautiful outfits she created.”
Its December 26 release puts Allied in line for Oscars consideration, potentially making it Cotillard and Zemeckis’ third nomination and Pitt’s seventh.
Allied is in cinemas Boxing Day