On November 30, French actress Marion Cotillard innuagrated the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival. She revealed the secrets of her quest to the deepest depths of the characters she embodies and then her process of detachment.
The French actress Marion Cotillard met us before meeting her audience. In the riad of a prestigious hotel in Marrakech, she made an entrance as soft as her voice. Glowing in a black and white outfit, Marion Cotillard spoke mainly about her relationship with the characters she plays. “I don’t have a fixed method for playing a role. There are similarities, but each project is different. I’m getting caught up in a movie. There are directors who want to rehearse, others who don’t. It depends on the project, the character and the technical difficulties”.
The actress confided that before shooting “Annette” by director Leos Carax, where she is an opera singer, the film “Macbeth”, scheduled for November 30 on Jemaa El Fna Square, was the most “stressful” for her, from a technical point of view. Marion Cotillard plunges into her characters. This was the case with “La Môme”. The actress, attracted by the complexity, created a link with Edith Piaf. “I immersed myself in her life to understand what touched her. It was a real investigative work. I was fascinated by what she experienced,” she said in the “Conversation with” session.
Marion Cotillard always engages in a profound search for her characters, even those “who do not give her everything”: “Going to meet a character is like discovering someone you love”. “As I have done this work several times, there are places in people’s lives that I will directly observe or imagine”. Marion goes so far as to research the early childhood of her characters, especially those who once existed. When it comes to fictional characters, the actress goes beyond the script to imagine and build “a living character who makes something cross the screen to touch people”. This is the case in the Dardenne brothers’ film “Deux jours, une nuit” (two days, one night) where Marion imagined the pre-depression of her character and imagined her world. This method allows Marion Cotillard to share strong emotions with her audience. She gives everything to her characters and creates. The actress admits that it takes her time to get out of this loving relationship with her characters. “There are people who can cut very quickly and who stay almost close to the puppet’s sons. So they know how to cut them. I have a whole process of getting out of the character. It’s a cleaning need, because I don’t want to stay with these troubled people (laughs), and it’s as exciting as when you get inside the character, because it’s never the same exit process.”
The actress says she sometimes uses “very powerful” magnetic devices that make her feel as if she is “inhabited” by her character. “It may sound mystical, but it’s very simple,” she says in a round table discussion organized with a handful of media. “An actor enters the character. So I don’t have the means to break up in two seconds, when I’ve been inside a person for months and I let that person inside me, when we’re all one. I take his words, his gestures, his way of breathing. I have to find a way to cut and get out of the character and that’s good because I like this process. It’s the surprise, I never know how it’s going to come out.
Marion Cotillard tells us that this deep quest around her characters teaches her a lot about the human being and, indeed, about herself. “I do this job because I am fascinated by the human behavior, the abilities that we exploit or do not exploit, the relationship between people and cultures that make up this humanity. I am lucky enough to be able to embody people who are not from my culture, whether they are Polish, Italian or American, and it is very interesting”. The need to discover the human being led Marion Cotillard to explore other cultures and led her to an international career: “I think you attract what you need. Even if I had never imagined that I would make films in the United States or other countries, now it is clear to me that I had a strong desire to explore beyond my culture”. As she gives everything to her characters, Marion Cotillard also puts herself at the service of directors so that magic works.