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5 Minutes With: Marion Cotillard

French actress, Marion Cotillard speaks to MiNDFOOD about the pressure of bringing to life one of theatre's most challenging characters - Lady Macbeth.

5 Minutes With: Marion Cotillard

Marion Cotillard stars in the Shakespearean classic, Macbeth in the iconic role of Lady MacBeth opposite Michael Fassbender. The French beauty and Oscar winner (La Vie en Rose) has starred in such diverse movies as Nine (2009), Inception (2010), Midnight in Paris (2011), Rust and Bone (2012), The Immigrant (2013) and Two Days, One Night (2014).

Cotillard, 40, was selected as the face of Dior’s Lady Dior in 2008 and continues to represent the brand. She uses her celebrity for many worthwhile causes and has been a Greenpeace activist and spokesperson since 2002, and in 2009, she recorded a version of Midnight Oil’s Beds are Burning in support of climate justice. A tireless philanthropist she is also the ambassador of Association Wayanga, an organisation that supports the rights of indigenous people to preserve their cultures in the Amazon. She also designed her own doll for UNICEF France campaign for the purposes of enabling thousands of children in Darfur to be vaccinated.

In her personal life, she has been in a relationship with French actor and director Guillaume Canet since 2007 with whom she is raising their son, Marcel, who will turn 5-years old in May.

Who is Lady Macbeth in your vision? There are so many interpretations..

She’s a human being (laughs) with a lot of fears and pain. The way she deals with it might not be the best way to deal with fears and pain and she escapes and tries to cover it with power and violence. And therefore she has the illusion that she can change her condition. I think she is a woman in love, even if the love is disturbed by the feeling that she tries to cover in fears and pain.

Is she trying to be a good woman?

I don’t think she thinks that way and I don’t think she lives in this world. She might not know that the best way to deal with fears and pain is to face them. And the fact that she covers it with violence and power leads her to madness and death. But there is a humanity about her and if she was just like a cold blooded killer, she would just go on. The fact that she realises what she has done and that she cannot control it anymore, brings the humanity that was hidden inside of her. This humanity will eventually eat her in a way.

Did you watch some of the other women who took on this formidable role?

I had a lot of pressure taking on that role because of the role itself. And also because so many actresses did an amazing job, so when I prepared for the movie I didn’t watch the movies because it was too much pressure. I had to get rid of Judy Dench in my mind because she reached perfection with Lady MacBeth. She did a timeless interpretation of her and so I had the pressure to try to create something different but then at a certain point I told myself that you don’t have to try to create something different.

You’re a fashion icon. Which designers inspire you? What are your favourite items of clothing?

Wow. Okay. How much time do I have? (laughs) I am still representing Dior and I have the chance to work with Dior and we have worked together for eight years I think now, or seven and they allow me to be very creative in the house so I really cherish the relationship I have with him. But I mean, I love Valentino, I love Alexander McQueen and I love small brands that nobody knows and talking about shoes, I love Veja, I don’t know if you heard of it, check this out, it’s a French brand and they do sneakers and and it’s an amazing brand with fair trade. They use organic materials and all the cottons and the rubber are from sustainable materials, made in a way to be totally eco-friendly.

French women have a reputation for being effortlessly chic and well dressed, but how would you explain it? Does it come from the home or is it a natural thing? How would you explain your own taste and the journey you took to get there?

Well I would maybe explain it by the freedom we have to dress like we want and also maybe inspired by passion which is really part of our culture. The fashion designers have always been so creative and inspired by the whole world and made all these inspirations their own so yeah I think the freedom of expressing ourselves I would say.

Your cooperation with Dior has been going on for some years, so I’m wondering – do you inspire the collection and do you feel like you are involved on an everyday basis? Do you wear Dior as well as other brands? What about your son, does he get to dress in Dior designs?

(laughs) I don’t know how to answer the first question, I don’t think so. A designer is inspired by the world and I know that they travel a lot and they get inspired by different things. Raf Simons is inspired by art a lot because he loves art. And Galliano was also inspired by everything. He traveled a lot, but myself, I am very inspired by them and by the house and they let me be very creative and I directed with my co-director the Last Dior movie and we wrote a song especially for the movie. I sing it, and we directed it as, we wrote it together, so I have been very inspired by Mr. Dior himself who was a great man. I am definitely the one who is inspired. I wear Dior, not all the time, but who wears the same brand all the time? I mean I wear Dior and my kid has a little stuffed animal that Dior gave him when he was born.

So what is your everyday wear like and what are you comfortable in?

I like the mix of feminine and masculine, and with a little touch of rock and roll.

Were you surprised that Raf Simons announced his retirement from the brand? It came so unexpectedly. 

I was sad because I loved him and he was a true artist.

What did you think of the documentary?

It was very moving, I cried several times. He is such a moving person and yes I am very sad that he is going away but I also understand. It’s really a lot of work and he just needed to experience something different. He is very young and it is his choice and yeah, I am very sad and I understand that he wanted to live something different, but I would have loved for him to stay.

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