IS­ABELLE AD­JANI a can­did in­ter­view

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - FRONT PAGE -

—Is­abelle Ad­jani is a rare com­mod­ity, mak­ing rare ap­pear­ances in the me­dia, in the cin­ema. Rare, full stop. When she de­cided to leave the Comédie Française, at barely nine­teen, the ven­er­a­ble in­sti­tu­tion was abuzz and agog: “An Ad­jani comes along only once in a cen­tury.” A pres­ence touched with the divine. Five Césars, two Os­car nom­i­na­tions, a Best Ac­tress award at Cannes and a hand­ful of films — The Story of Adèle H., Pos­ses­sion, One Deadly Sum­mer, Camille Claudel, Queen Margot — have ce­mented the legend. Ad­jani is an Ac­tress. With a cap­i­tal A. The muse of the emo­tions. A cel­lu­loid muse, cast in the mould of Golden Age Hol­ly­wood leg­ends. Quin­tes­sen­tial mys­tery and ge­nius.

Ex­cept that, Is­abelle A. is much more than that. The star of the sil­ver screen is first and fore­most one of life’s hero­ines. Car­ried along on her tu­mul­tuous pas­sions, free to breathe wher­ever she pleased, to turn her back on the sys­tem and its rules. A dizzy­ing ca­reer, where she al­ways “seemed to be swimming against the cur­rent”, ac­cord­ing to Françoise Sa­gan. A brav­ery for which the piti­less laws of celebrity and the fan­tasies gen­er­ated in spite of her­self ex­tracted a heavy trib­ute. Which prob­a­bly ex­plains her vis­ceral need to go off the radar, to bar­ri­cade her­self in, and oth­er­wise duck out.

We are talk­ing about the night, and we dream of Ad­jani. All it took for her to agree to be in­ter­viewed by Vogue Hommes was a text mes­sage. We met on a drenched Sun­day in July. Re­hearsals for Kin­ship, the play she will be ap­pear­ing in after the sum­mer break, are on hold. No navy blue knit, just a black rain­coat and dark glasses “to show ev­ery­thing she wants to hide”. Sin­cere, dev­as­tat­ingly in­tel­li­gent, she han­dles words like pre­ci­sion in­stru­ments, high ex­plo­sives. She knows from ex­pe­ri­ence that they can turn out to be terrifying time bombs.

We lis­ten to her at­ten­tively, watch her as her emo­tions flit across her fea­tures, as she laughs, bites her lip, doubts her­self, apol­o­gises for talk­ing too much, gets worked up about Matthew McConaughey, reaches for the in­ef­fa­ble. Hervé Guib­ert dreamed of get­ting her to play a her­maph­ro­dite. She in­spired him. He wrote: “A por­trait of Ad­jani? Her eyes, trans­par­ent and dense, ice blue or deep ul­tra­ma­rine"… The pale­ness and matt of her skin be­long to another time"… Her voice, her cries, her laugh­ter. That break at the nape of her neck when she throws her head back. An out­ra­geous, shock­ing laugh that cas­cades over you like a spurt of blood and which sucks all of life into it"… She is the ideal of my mad de­sire for the cin­ema.” De­sire, mad­ness, cin­ema"… An in­evitabil­ity for the adored, adu­lated Ad­jani.

“Night is the time when you can die from want­ing to for­get your­self.

For­get­ting your­self, no doubt, to breathe more eas­ily in your own

skin. That’s not for me.”

The theme of this is­sue of “Vogue Hommes” is the night. VOGUE HOMMES What does night mean to you, straight off?

What first springs to mind is preda­tors. IS­ABELLE AD­JANI At night, ev­ery­thing that’s dan­ger­ous emerges. In­clud­ing your­self ("laughs"). That’s when the Ama­zon for­est rus­tles with all those creepy– crawlies. It’s an an­i­mal world, and they’re all awake and out hunt­ing. I also as­so­ciate it with the night–time ex­cur­sions of Dr Jekyll, when he be­comes Mr Hyde. And I as­so­ciate it with the shad­ows, the crim­i­nal side. What you wouldn’t do dur­ing the day, you do at night. Fic­tion could sym­bol­ise noth­ing with­out night as a theme. Night takes away the in­hi­bi­tions. Why, in the light of dark­ness, do be­ings, con­sciously or oth­er­wise, en­ter into a state of de­struc­tion or self–de­struc­tion? There’s also the strug­gle against en­croach­ing sleep and all its nightmares. Night is the para­dox­i­cal time, the dream­time that can’t hold back time’s ar­row, alas. Night puts time in abeyance, but it re­gains the as­cen­dant as soon as the day dawns, and, like the Mad Hat­ter in Alice in Won­der­land, we must de­spon­dently ob­serve that time “won’t ever do a thing I ask”.

Do you ex­pe­ri­ence night as an in­ter­val of free­dom, cre­ativ­ity, and VH rêverie, an in­ter­lude when, pre­cisely, time is sus­pended. Or do you see it as a sort of im­passe, paved with anx­i­eties and lone­li­ness? Dream­ing in the night–time doesn’t gen­er­ate anx­i­ety. IA But when you be­long to the night, I won­der whether the night be­longs to you? I’m not sure it does. I’m not a night owl, I never have been. It’s not nat­u­ral for me to be with oth­ers in the night. It both­ers me. Or else, I have to be with peo­ple who pro­tect me from my fears. Night is the time when you can die from want­ing to for­get your­self. For­get­ting your­self, no doubt, to breathe more eas­ily in your own skin. That’s not for me. The peo­ple around me who liked the night have al­ways ended up lik­ing it too much. On the other hand, I like dream­ing when night comes. I love the moon and the stars. That’s some­thing else. It’s dif­fer­ent. I like to wake up in the morn­ing say­ing to my­self, there, it was night, I’ve slept, I’m rested ("or not"), but I’m not afraid of death be­cause it wasn’t as bad as all that to ex­pe­ri­ence night. VH So night makes you think about death? You’re right. I must be mak­ing the link un­con­sciously. IA I don’t know why I have this mem­ory that keeps com­ing back: when I was a child, for years I would have th­ese vom­it­ing episodes while I was asleep. What I was vom­it­ing was per­haps a life that I found hard to bear, or a tragedy I couldn’t ex­press. I don’t know. And then in the morn­ing, there was al­ways my par­ents’ fear that I might have choked. I was lit­tle, and I would wake up in a bit of a daze, but I would say to my­self, “Oh, I’m still alive”. Night hadn’t car­ried me off. It was surely a form of so­ma­ti­sa­tion. In a way, the night pro­tected me and let me drive out some­thing that was harm­ful, that de­pressed me, deep down.

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