There are few French actresses who have managed to engineer successful careers in both Hollywood and French cinema. But ever since her phenomenal, Academy Award-winning portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, Marion Cotillard has enjoyed amazing success on both sides of the Atlantic. As believable acting in her native tongue as she is in English, Cotillard's ability to disappear completely into her characters is legendary. While her two most recent roles - Macbeth and The Little Prince - premiered in Cannes just recently, we caught up with Cotillard to discuss Hollywod, Dior, career challenges and motherhood.
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As one of the faces of Dior, what does the brand mean to you?
To be honest, they changed my vision of fashion. I didn't really pay attention to fashion before. I mean, I love to dress [up] and I like clothes but I didn't see fashion as an art. Now, I see it as a very, very special form of art. And being able to enter a house like this with the artisans... they opened the door of the atelier for me and I saw all those people who've been working for them for years, who are so good at what they do and so passionate - it's wonderful to discover this world. I love the people at Dior and I'm very lucky and happy to work with them.
What's your favorite Dior outfit?
Well I had the huge chance to do a photo shoot with all the outfits made by Mr. Dior himself. And it was very emotional. I felt very moved when I wore those dresses from the '40s. It was really something. So I would say everything I wore that day was amazing.
What do you like and dislike most about the acting profession?
I like exploring the human soul and heart. I get richer from exploring other peoples' lives. I don't think what I dislike has anything to do with acting. What I dislike the most would be how the press create a character and how some actors don't create someone who's totally different from [who] they are.
What about the paparazzi?
No. I mean, I live in France so it's not like [America] where you have paparazzi wherever you go. It's annoying when you don't know they're there and you eventually find out - you never get used to it, but it's not the worst thing in my life.
How has becoming a mum [in May 2011] changed you or your attitude towards work? Have you thought about taking a break?
I'm taking a break right now. It doesn't show here today, but I'm going back home. Of course, it changes things because you have to organise yourself differently and usually when I work I'm totally dedicated and even if I'm partly myself when I leave the set, there's something that I bring home with me. It has changed. I cannot bring anyone home with me because my son would freak out. So I'm totally separating my life as an actress. It's not that difficult.
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You used to play with a band, Yodelice. Are you still involved with them at all? Do you still have time for music?
Well, I hope I will always have time for music. The show is totally different now. It was two years ago when I could still go on stage. I would love to do it again, because my place in that band is very special and I was not supposed to be part of the band in the first place. But then they really included me, step by step, and so it's a very like open space for me. I would need time to rehearse and everything, but they gave me a lot of freedom coming and leaving.
So you might go back?
Oh yeah. He's a very good friend of mine, Maxim Nucci. I'm going to see him next week. We are sometimes writing songs for me or for Simone, which is my character in Yodelice.
You're one of the rare European actress who has a great career here in Hollywood. Did fame change your life in your own country?
Well, it's part of it. It's not the fame that's changed my life but the movie, La Vie En Rose, which was a turning point in my life, for sure. Fame is not the most important thing.
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But you can't deny it, right?
Oh, no, no, no, I'm not denying it. And I think that all my life it will be weird to arrive somewhere, especially in my country, and see that most of the people are looking at me. And sometimes it's really uncomfortable, especially when people try to take pictures, but then, you know, I'm not like some celebrities here who live with paparazzi 24 hours a day.
Can you talk a bit about working in both Hollywood and European films?
I feel very lucky that I can work in the US. When I was a kid I watched a lot of American movies and I was always fascinated by their cinema. And I think that because I just wanted to be an actress, my dream was kind of wide - I didn't see any boundaries, so that's maybe why I crossed the ocean. I love doing American movies and French movies. My dream was to be an actress that would disappear into roles and experience as much as I could through other lives. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to experience other cultures and other languages. I feel lucky that I can experience being Polish or Italian in the '70s, being Belgian, or experience a different kind of social [status].
You never felt the cultural differences were insurmountable?
No, because that's what I try to do - find the authenticity in every character I play. And when it's really, really far from me, that's when I'm really enjoying it.
Do you work out or are you very strict about eating? Has that changed since you've become a mum?
Well, I didn't really behave myself. And I'm lucky that in my family we have a body that allows us to not be very strict. But yeah, I'm a moderated crazy food lover. I have to moderate myself because otherwise I wouldn't stay in shape at all. And I try to work out. Ever since I had my son it's been hard to find some time to do that. It should be more important because my body is totally different now. But, when I have time, I'll do it.