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Audrey Tautou Talks Coco Before Chanel!

Posted on 27 September 2009 by Quaid

You’ve seen Anna’s thoughts about the movie well as her impressions of its star, Audrey Tautou.  Now it’s time to take a gander at the full interview as Tautou talks all things Coco Before Chanel

Coco_posterAT:  Is it a problem if I speak French and he translates simply because he will have—you know—he will express much more clearly my thoughts. You don’t mind?

Q:  No.

AT:  Thanks. I did like 23 interviews and my answers were so stupid, I was like—ahhh! I have to answer in French. It will be more interesting, and maybe a tiny bit better.

Q:  How much information for the film—were there pictures that you found of Coco—for the beginnings of her life?

AT:  (FRENCH)

Translator:  Because of the choice of the part of her life, that this film depicted, there was actually very little that was known about—(noise as voice recorders are pushed toward the translator instead of Coco.)  Alright, because of the part of her life that was chosen to be depicted in this film, there was actually not a lot of information out there, and also, what she said about this period was often full of lies. She wanted to hide a lot of the facts. So, um, one of the instrumental pieces was the biography written by Edmond Charlarou, who had done an exhaustive sort of investigation for five years to get to the bottom of who Coco Chanel was in this period. And then, there were other books that Audrey read about this period, and she could tell from the different books, who believed in the lies that Coco spread about herself and who didn’t. And in the case of Edmond who wrote the definitive biography, he dispelled many of the lies that Coco was trying to set up.

Q:  Were you afraid at all playing an actual person? How did you approach this role as opposed to roles that aren’t—that are fictional?

AT:  (FRENCH)

Translator:  Ok, yes. Playing somebody who has a celebrity quotient, or that people know about adds extra pressure because in the public’s mind, they already have preconceptions or they think they know that person. But based on the research they did both on watching videos and seeing a lot of photographs and also reading the novels, it informed the way she wanted to interperet this person. And that actually gave her a lot of freedom to inject her own—colors into this character.

Q:  So did you feel more liberated working with fictional characters than with this real character?

AT:  (FRENCH)

Translator:  She doesn’t feel liberated or constrained in the way that you asked the question. And there’s actually some comfort in playing somebody who has—who’s existed and has a psychology that’s already there. But where she worked was on the border—that frontier between interpreting and finding, exploring this part of her life that not a lot of people knew about and then the other side—the minichisma, not the imitation, but trying to recreate the part that was in the public eye. So it’s really work along that border between the fictional and the persona that people knew about.

Q:  What was it about Anne Fontaine that attracted you to her project and resonated with you?

AT:  (FRENCH)

Translator:  K.  I think the attraction was that the film was actually focusing on a short period of her life and not a sprawling epic biography and that this is a study of that character at that point in time. And the fact that Anne Fontaine is a woman, and the director, and she had a very keen perception of the psychology of the character, and she had an understanding of what it means to function in a mans world and to advance and make break-throughs in that, and the fact that she—this is not a movie about clothing. This is a movie about somebody who is advancing and the fashion is a part of that journey, and it’s not the end in and of itself.

Q:  She broke the rules of the fashion at the time. Do you have any agree with her fashion, or have thoughts about it and fashion today?

AT:  I would say that she broke the rules in fashion, because she broke the rules of woman’s behavior. So I think clothes for her was not like—was not superficial. It was something—it was an expression of her spirit. That’s the reason why her style is still so present today and so fashionable. It was—I would say—Chanel’s style is almost never about “fashion.” It’s so unfashionable. So – (she continues in FRENCH).

Translator:  Were you asking Audrey what is her relationship herself to fashion?

AT:  (FRENCH)

Translator:  She does not personally like to follow fads in fasion. When things change and her personality isn’t really expressed. You know, when you accept whatever the new fad is, just because that’s the thing of the moment. That’s not what she gravitates to. She prefers the clothing, and she does like clothing, but it’s more a personal expression, but not “following” something.

Q:  I was interested to know if you would continue with Coco’s life. I guess not. You liked doing just the small time period in her life. I think it would have been interesting seeing a sequel of what happened after. Because she had massive success and quite a few lovers.

AT:  (FRENCH)

Translator:  In part, if you’re interested in the rest of her life, it’s because this film explores the mystery of who she was and she lived 82+ years, it would have been too reductive if we’d tried to cover every chapter in her life.

AT:  But it’s true that she had such a rich life that you could make ten movies about her, because she had an amazing love life, very romantic, full of hope and tragendy, and men were very important for her, and she creates so many amazing things, not only about the style, but I talk about—the perfume, and Chanel No. 5—it’s an amazing—everything was revolutionary. It seems so novel and modern—It’s really in fashion today—but at that time, it was just completely new, and for many many things. Chanel is such an interesting and unique personality, and so that is the reason why for me this character deserved to be treated deeply. You know.

Q:  If there were other parts that you could have included in the film—are there any particular moments of her life that you would have loved to make as a part of this movie or if you were to make a different movie, are there other parts of her life that you would like to touch upon?

AT:  Well I think that I am interested in—(FRENCH)

Translator:  She’s very moved by that very final chapter of Coco Chanel, when she was at the end of her life. For so many decades she was ahead of the times and there’s a part towards the end where society not only caught up with her, but then surpassed her. And she changed.

AT:  (FRENCH)

Translator:  She lived in incredible solitude at the end, after having a life full of people and lovers, she lived in a deep solitude, thought she still worked and she was—and she always kept this sense of the repartee, the verb—the joy of the verbal joust, and the sense of humor.

AT:  And the last little thing:  the way she wanted to keep control on her life, and if this is true–when she was living in the Ritz at the end of her life, she saw the receptionist of the hotel that she knew, and she said, “I’m going to die in 7 minutes,” and she died 8 minutes after.

Q:  That is control!

AT:  It’s amazing, yeah.

Q:  You worked with male directors and now you’ve worked with Anne Fontaine, did you see any difference between your characters, your strong female characters in those films?

AT:  No, I don’t see any difference in fact. I have no idea. Also, because I don’t really like to analyze my work, and my relationship with a director. I don’t like to have distance with the part I’m playing or—you know, the project I’m on or the story we are telling. When I’m involved, I’m—you know—I don’t look at it from—

Translator:  Not objectively from the third person.

AT:  But again, I really think that it was very essential for such—to treat such a human—woman—character—a woman—to be directed by a female. I really—I don’t know why, but Chanel was so feminine and special. A man can understand her, but a woman can feel her.                           

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Coco In the Press Room: Chatting with Audrey Tautou.

Posted on 24 September 2009 by Quaid

When Audrey walked in with that jaunty little step, she wore slender black pants and a gold blouse to drape her tiny frame. Her hair was black and stormy like her eyes, the eyes that so fit the role of Coco Chanel. She greeted everyone with a smile, and asked if it would be acceptable if she spoke to us through a translator. “I did like 23 interviews,” she explained, “and my answers were so stupid I was like—ah!” She rolled her eyes and shook her head of wild hair.
In the film, that hair was of the period, drawn back into a modest heap typical of a working seamstress, or free falling over her pajamas in long, waving strands. In the film, she looked extraordinarily like Chanel. But Tautou not only had to look the part, she had to play the legend. Or as her director, Anne Fontaine, stressed, she had to actually be Chanel. In fact, that was one of Fontaine’s two conditions for her to direct the story: she had to have the perfect actress. On being approached with the project, Fontaine told the producers, “If I had not [Tautou], if she doesn’t exist, I don’t want to write it.”
But of course, no matter how perfect Tautou was to fill the role, even she had to do her research, and her primary resource was the biography written by Edmonde Charles-Roux. When asked about the difficulty of playing a real person in time, of taking on the responsibility of portraying the truth about someone’s life, Tautou had an interesting response. Of course there’s always pressure playing a celebrity whom the public already believes they know. But, she said, “There’s actually some comfort in playing somebody who has existed and has a psychology that’s already there. But where I worked was on the border—the frontier between interpreting and finding, exploring this part of her life [the beginning] that not a lot of people knew about…” Because so much of Chanel’s youth, that history, was obscured by the lies she told. Chanel created fictions around her past, because, as Tautou explained, she did not like what she remembered. The actress read dozens of accounts on Coco’s life, and she admitted, “I could tell from the different books, who believed in the lies that Coco spread about herself and who didn’t. And in the case of Edmonde…he dispelled many of the lies that Coco was trying to set up.” So in a way, Tautou’s responsibility to historical truth was not so great that she could not afford some freedom in her interpretation of Coco. Chanel herself was changing the past. Tautou’s most serious responsibility, rather, was to the persona—perfecting the panache. And so she did.
That mysterious past was the other condition under which Fontaine agreed to take on the project of writing and directing a movie about Chanel. She wanted to choose a small part of her life. “It’s not possible,” said Fontaine, “to do a biography, about all 87 years of her, without…illustrating in a very superficial way.” And it could not be a small part of her life as the label or anyone else but the Young Coco, the pre-Chanel. Fontaine found that chapter of her life to be the most moving, “because she’s more insecure.” She went on to say, “When you are famous, for me, it [intrigues] me more to know who the person was at the beginning than at the end. For one reason: because at the end, everybody here knows something about her, and you want only to see that the actress looks like the pictures you have in mind. But when you are younger, you are more free to invent and to exist.”
Tautou agreed whole-heartedly, and that was why she fell in love with the project and signed on with Fontaine. But if she could have explored another part of Chanel’s life, Tautou said, “I was very moved by that very final chapter of Coco Chanel, when she was at the end of her life. For so many decades she was ahead of the times, but there’s a part towards the end where society not only caught up with her, it then surpassed her. And she changed.”
After seeing the film, I was aching for more of Coco. Wouldn’t that be an interesting story to tell… Ladies and Gentlemen, a sequel? Encore?

A few weeks back, Anna got a chance to sit down with Audrey Tautou to talk about her turn as Coco Chanel in the aptly titled biopic Coco Before Chanel.  (You can check out her review HERE.) Continue Reading

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From the Inglourious Basterds Roundtable Interviews comes… the FULL REPORT!

Posted on 15 August 2009 by Quaid

Quaid here, with more info from our friend in LA, Anna.  This time the lucky lass got a chance to interview the cast of Inglourious Basterds at the cast roundtable.  Here are her thoughts! Be sure to check back soon for the full interview transcript Continue Reading

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Quaid Talks With Paper Heart Director Nick Jasenovec! In MCS “Audio-Vision!”

Posted on 23 July 2009 by Quaid

Yesterday I had the chance to sit down (via phone) with Nick Jasenovec, the director of the upcoming documentary/narrative hybrid film Paper Heart, starring Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera. Continue Reading

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