“I always say that I won’t be able to stop as long as I’m not satisfied that I haven’t wasted my life in this lousy business.”
I discovered this very early on when I watched films by John Cassavetes with Gena Rowlands, and Roberto Rossellini with Ingrid Bergman!… It was my dream. That’s why I’ll never get over it.
Do you remember any other unusual nights like that one? VH
In no particular order and off the top of my head, I IA remember being at the George V hotel in Paris one night, just after the accidental death of Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson’s wife. He was in Paris for a film première. I knew him from the time I was with Daniel Day–Lewis. I saw someone who was incredibly, physically, alone. We had lost sight of each other, but we recognised each other. We sat down together in the gallery and talked for hours, until the cleaners brought us out of our bubble. It was like re–living our lives, which had not turned out to be what we had imagined them to be. I remember another night I spent waiting for a man I loved. It was my birthday. He came, but immediately left again. And yet I sat there alone, in the gardens of the Ritz, until dawn, hoping that he would come back. Dark, sleepless nights always win, but the darkness leaves scars!…
The word “eclipse” often comes up in connection with you. A mechaVH nism of disappearance"/"reappearance. It’s very striking that in most of the articles about you, the theme of your supposed comebacks recurs all the time. What’s your take on that? To tell the truth, it depresses me. They’ve transIA formed it into a sort of ready–made concept, a stance that isn’t mine. I believe I’m absolutely not aware of time passing. And I hope it doesn’t end in disaster (#laughs#). I was simultaneously happy–go–lucky and too anxious about the reality of life. Life swept me up. I gave the priority to my private life, I took care of my family, I looked after my parents, people around me who weren’t doing well. My children. And even then I wonder if I did the right thing. When I hear actresses say “my children are wonderful, very well–balanced, and I make three films a week”, I wonder what I am. A failure as an actress? (#laughs#)? I truly believe that when you do this job with the ambition it requires, without renunciation, having children is a high–risk option. The older generation of Hollywood actresses knew that. But we pretend not to know it. To answer your question straight up, I feel that I haven’t made all the choices I should have made, I haven’t met all the people I should have met. Everything I’ve done since I started out has screwed up my life. I hid myself away. I withdrew into myself. But by protecting myself, I sacrificed myself as well. I gave up my rights through a form of disappearance, as you say, that was the only way I could regenerate myself so that I could reappear once more. I know, I ought to change the algorithm! (#laughs#).
I imagine that, when you started out, you couldn’t have predicted VH that path#… It’s funny, but when I was 20, I really thought that IA I was going to work my rear end off, star in all the world’s most standout films, of course, and after that I would stop and write and make babies. In fact, my life was completely the reverse. I always say that I won’t be able to stop as long as I’m not satisfied that I haven’t wasted my life in this lousy business. So in the next ten years, I’m going to have to do things that will allow me to say that even if I’m no longer 25 years old on screen, the feminine component I bring to the roles has style, value, and importance. I feel as if I’ve been asleep for God knows how many years, and that, now I’ve woken up, there’s a war on. You need to manoeuvre like a strategist these days, and some actresses are playing along because they’ve got brilliant back–up to keep them perfectly stabilised, which has never been my case. When I see the sort of things that Julianne Moore has done, I’m full of admiration. She has somehow managed to disable all the major engines of destruction of which she, like so many others, was the target. Is it a problem if I’m not capable of doing that? As I’m talking to you, you see, I’m telling you that all is lost and nothing is lost (#laughs#).
All is lost? VH
As you’re intelligent enough to steer me towards IA the concrete, I’ll go towards the concrete. The other evening, I went to see a performance of Victor Hugo’s Lucrèce Borgia at the Comédie Française. Have you seen it? I beg you, do go, honestly: its one of the biggest aesthetic shocks of my life. Guillaume Gallienne and Éric Ruf, who did the play’s staging, have done an incredible job. I was stunned, and on the inside I was screaming with emotion. What I saw and I heard that evening corresponded to the essential reason for my desire to become an actress. And right there, I said to myself that I wasn’t in this profession at all, any longer. I despaired. I had set foot in the Comédie Française so rarely since I left it that I was terrified of suffering. After the performance, I met up with the actors on the square outside, and I suddenly found myself in tears as I was talking to them. I heard myself saying to them “I admired you so much this evening and I really can’t bear it any more, not to be doing what I should be doing.” During the night, I said to myself that I had to have the courage to ask myself what had become of my desire, and what I want it to become, and if I want it to become something!… When I confess this to you, I tell myself that you understand what I’m saying. But often, I talk to friends who pat me on the shoulder and say: “What are you on about? Are you forgetting everything you’ve done in your career?” And at that point, all I want to do is just clap my hands over my ears and shout: “Enough already!” That really is what it’s not about.
Do you regret leaving the Comédie Française for the cinema? VH
It’s something I’ll always regret. I didn’t leave it for the IA cinema, but because of the cinema, at the insistence of François Truffaut, who forced me to choose, and who caused me some sleepless nights. I didn’t know that he was in love with me, or