avec mecerci

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

started learn­ing to act with my par­ents. They were al­ways very phys­i­cal with char­ac­ters be­cause they came from mime. And still I love to cre­ate a dif­fer­ent way to talk, a dif­fer­ent way to walk. I love that so much. It must be my favourite thing, find­ing the right way to think and the right body lan­guage.”

How did she turn out so fem­i­nine – she is, af­ter all, the face of Lady Dior – as a known Leeds United sup­porter with only twin broth­ers for com­pany?

“I think the re­la­tion­ship be­tween twins is very, very spe­cial. And I was a lit­tle bit out of it. But all the games we had were very boy­ish. Most of the toys we had were for girls and boys. I don’t re­mem­ber hav­ing a doll. I do re­mem­ber hav­ing Lego. I was not very in­ter­ested in girls’ things for a long time. It was only when I be­came more of a woman than a girl that I started to see that it was so, so fun and funny to be a girl."

She and her broth­ers be­came movie fans mostly through the agency of the VCR. They were quick, in ac­cor­dance with French tradition, to think of cinema in terms of au­teur the­ory.

“I loved Spiel­berg es­pe­cially,” re­calls Cotil­lard. “Like most kids. You’d have to hate movies to not love Spiel­berg.”

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 S&M 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 Cotil

lard, 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.”

Cotil­lard with Rust and Bone di­rec­tor Jac­ques Au­di­ard (left) and co-star Matthias Schoe­naerts

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