In conversation with Marion Cotillard


In conversation with Marion Cotillard

The French actor on playing Lady Macbeth and turning jewellery designer for Chopard

By ELLE team  November 24th, 2015

Marion Cotillard lends to her every role, indie or big-ticket, a quiet mystique and a fierce intensity. Whether as French cabaret icon Édith Piaf (La Vie En Rose), a suicidal ghost (Inception), a maimed trainer of killer whales (Rust And Bone), or a fired factory worker (Two Days, One Night). Off-screen too, her whimsical, confident red-carpet choices regularly split opinion polls down the middle. Now the 40-year-old French actor is pouring her unquestionable star power into saving the planet. She's been an ardent supporter of Greenpeace, canvassing for causes from the protection of indigenous Amazon people to the endangered Sumatran tiger. And earlier this year, she made her jewellery designing debut for Chopard with pieces in keeping with the Swiss luxury house’s efforts to produce ethical luxury. Here, she talks to ELLE about the experience, her inimitable fashion choices and why her role in last month’s Macbeth has been her most terrifying yet.

ELLE: Were you intimidated at the prospect of playing Lady Macbeth?
Marion Cotillard: Yes. It is such an iconic role and has been played by incredible actresses in unforgettable performances. For the first time in my life, I sensed the pressure of trying to be good enough for a role and its history. When I took the lead role in La Vie En Rose, I was often asked the same question with regard to Édith Piaf. But I knew Piaf and had listened to her without really knowing anything about her life so I was less intimidated. The pressure of playing Lady Macbeth stayed with me throughout the making of the film and it never diminished.

ELLE: Was performing Shakespeare a long-nurtured fantasy of yours?
MC:
 Not at all. On the other hand, when I was in high school, I saw a student perform a Lady Macbeth scene during drama class. I don’t know why, but I was immediately sure that one day I would play this role. I thought, however, that it would be on stage and in French. I never for a second imagined that it would be in English and in a film. I was offered the role at the precise moment that I had decided to take a one-year break after taking part in quite a demanding shoot for Two Days, One Night, but I knew instinctively that I shouldn’t miss this opportunity.

ELLE: Is it your darkest role?
MC: Yes, definitely. I have already attempted very dramatic characters, but there was always a glimmer of hope, an energy that drew them towards a flicker of light. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, goes mad and kills herself. She makes terrible decisions that push her over the edge towards darkness.

ELLE: You've just finished shooting Xavier Dolan’s Canadian-French film It Is Only The End Of The World (out next year). What was the experience like?
MC: Xavier has such creative energy and the way he welcomes people into his world is so unpretentious that it facilitates a lot of things. I played sister-in-law to Léa Seydoux and wife to Vincent Cassel without sounding like I had even a trace of an accent from Quebec!

ELLE: Which of your characters would wear the jewellery you have designed for Chopard?
MC: Lady Macbeth, precisely because of the subtle blend of different styles.

ELLE: Did you ever imagine that you would become involved in designing jewellery?
MC: Not at all. When [artistic director] Caroline Scheufele suggested that I design a piece of jewellery, I thought it was an excellent way of supporting Chopard’s ethical commitment. I don’t really do much design work. When I have done so in the past, it has been in response to requests from humanitarian organisations for very specific projects.

ELLE: Were you given carte blanche?
MC: No, there were definite specifications. I had to use opals that were sustainably mined from a family-owned mine in Australia, and small diamonds. So I had access to traceable stones. I immediately thought of a piece of jewellery for the hand, a bracelet connected to a chain and a ring — I don’t really know why. When I saw the finished product it was exactly what I’d had in mind.

ELLE: Have you had different style phases in your life?
MC: Yes. Like everyone, I tried different things when I was at school. I remember going to class one day wearing a shiny blue leotard, with an orange cardigan with black spots. It was completely off the wall! And yet, I have never been eccentric. I have a somewhat strange relationship with clothes. I couldn’t say with any degree of certainty if I have a particular style, except maybe, once again, the notion of a mixture of genres and a somewhat masculine edge to my everyday wear.

ELLE: What jewellery do you wear every day?
MC: 
I wear pieces that I have owned for a very long time and to which I am very attached. I never wear earrings, except on red carpets. Firstly, I don’t have pierced ears and secondly, I don’t think that ears call for bejewelling.

ELLE: Who are your favourite designers?
MC: I have always loved Vivienne Westwood, both in terms of the impression she makes and her views. I adore Hussein Chalayan and Valentino. And I have the great good fortune to work with Dior and Raf Simons. But I am not a big expert when it comes to fashion, I don’t keep up with it and I never watch shows. 

ELLE: And if you had to name a female role model who you find beautiful?
MC: Julianne Moore. Although I wouldn’t cite her as a role model for me personally, I think she has incredible class and humanity. 

Photograph: Eliott Bliss

Marion Cotillard lends to her every role, indie or big-ticket, a quiet mystique and a fierce intensity. Whether as French cabaret icon Édith Piaf (La Vie En Rose), a suicidal ghost (Inception), a maimed trainer of killer whales (Rust And Bone), or a fired factory worker (Two Days, One Night). Off-screen too, her whimsical, confident red-carpet choices regularly split opinion polls down the middle. Now the 40-year-old French actor is pouring her unquestionable star power into saving the planet. She's been an ardent supporter of Greenpeace, canvassing for causes from the protection of indigenous Amazon people to the endangered Sumatran tiger. And earlier this year, she made her jewellery designing debut for Chopard with pieces in keeping with the Swiss luxury house’s efforts to produce ethical luxury. Here, she talks to ELLE about the experience, her inimitable fashion choices and why her role in last month’s Macbeth has been her most terrifying yet.

ELLE: Were you intimidated at the prospect of playing Lady Macbeth?
Marion Cotillard: Yes. It is such an iconic role and has been played by incredible actresses in unforgettable performances. For the first time in my life, I sensed the pressure of trying to be good enough for a role and its history. When I took the lead role in La Vie En Rose, I was often asked the same question with regard to Édith Piaf. But I knew Piaf and had listened to her without really knowing anything about her life so I was less intimidated. The pressure of playing Lady Macbeth stayed with me throughout the making of the film and it never diminished.

ELLE: Was performing Shakespeare a long-nurtured fantasy of yours?
MC:
 Not at all. On the other hand, when I was in high school, I saw a student perform a Lady Macbeth scene during drama class. I don’t know why, but I was immediately sure that one day I would play this role. I thought, however, that it would be on stage and in French. I never for a second imagined that it would be in English and in a film. I was offered the role at the precise moment that I had decided to take a one-year break after taking part in quite a demanding shoot for Two Days, One Night, but I knew instinctively that I shouldn’t miss this opportunity.

ELLE: Is it your darkest role?
MC: Yes, definitely. I have already attempted very dramatic characters, but there was always a glimmer of hope, an energy that drew them towards a flicker of light. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, goes mad and kills herself. She makes terrible decisions that push her over the edge towards darkness.

ELLE: You've just finished shooting Xavier Dolan’s Canadian-French film It Is Only The End Of The World (out next year). What was the experience like?
MC: Xavier has such creative energy and the way he welcomes people into his world is so unpretentious that it facilitates a lot of things. I played sister-in-law to Léa Seydoux and wife to Vincent Cassel without sounding like I had even a trace of an accent from Quebec!

ELLE: Which of your characters would wear the jewellery you have designed for Chopard?
MC: Lady Macbeth, precisely because of the subtle blend of different styles.

ELLE: Did you ever imagine that you would become involved in designing jewellery?
MC: Not at all. When [artistic director] Caroline Scheufele suggested that I design a piece of jewellery, I thought it was an excellent way of supporting Chopard’s ethical commitment. I don’t really do much design work. When I have done so in the past, it has been in response to requests from humanitarian organisations for very specific projects.

ELLE: Were you given carte blanche?
MC: No, there were definite specifications. I had to use opals that were sustainably mined from a family-owned mine in Australia, and small diamonds. So I had access to traceable stones. I immediately thought of a piece of jewellery for the hand, a bracelet connected to a chain and a ring — I don’t really know why. When I saw the finished product it was exactly what I’d had in mind.

ELLE: Have you had different style phases in your life?
MC: Yes. Like everyone, I tried different things when I was at school. I remember going to class one day wearing a shiny blue leotard, with an orange cardigan with black spots. It was completely off the wall! And yet, I have never been eccentric. I have a somewhat strange relationship with clothes. I couldn’t say with any degree of certainty if I have a particular style, except maybe, once again, the notion of a mixture of genres and a somewhat masculine edge to my everyday wear.

ELLE: What jewellery do you wear every day?
MC: 
I wear pieces that I have owned for a very long time and to which I am very attached. I never wear earrings, except on red carpets. Firstly, I don’t have pierced ears and secondly, I don’t think that ears call for bejewelling.

ELLE: Who are your favourite designers?
MC: I have always loved Vivienne Westwood, both in terms of the impression she makes and her views. I adore Hussein Chalayan and Valentino. And I have the great good fortune to work with Dior and Raf Simons. But I am not a big expert when it comes to fashion, I don’t keep up with it and I never watch shows. 

ELLE: And if you had to name a female role model who you find beautiful?
MC: Julianne Moore. Although I wouldn’t cite her as a role model for me personally, I think she has incredible class and humanity. 

Photograph: Eliott Bliss