Léa Seydoux. “I don’t know how to cheat”
Interview given to Paris Match magazine this year, translated from French to English by me. You can read the original article online here: http://www.parismatch.com/Culture/Cinema/Lea-Seydoux-Je-ne-sais-pas-tricher-515218 .
The actress is at Cannes to defend her two films. She never stops shooting and Hollywood loves her.
You’re coming back from Moustique island, you went on vacation for the first time in two years. Did you wanted to rest or to get away?
Léa: More than to feel the sun and relax, I needed to dream. When I spend too much time working, I need to get away from all the fuss. We must learn to withdraw from the world to recreate our desires. In Moustique, I let my mind wander, I had trouble concentrating, I couldn’t even read. But ten days was not enough and I’d like to go back and stay a little longer. I’ve decided to do this kind of thing more often.
The shootings that go one after the other, did they prevented you from leaving?
I worked on “La Belle et la Bête”, by Christophe Gans, with Vincent Cassel, and on “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, by Wes Anderson, with Jude Law, Bill Murray and Ralph Fiennes. Right before it, I was shooting “Grand Central” by Rebecca Zlotowski, with Tahar Rahim, and Abdellatif Kechiche’s “La Vie d’Adele”, whose shooting lasted 6 months. It looks like a marathon but I really love to work.
The last two films were selected at Cannes where you’ll be, alongside Marion Cotillard, one of the French stars of the Festival. Does this title means anything to you?
I know Marion Cotillard has said some pleasant things about me, but it’s impossible for me to compare myself to her. She’s won two César and one Oscar, she’s become really famous since “La Môme”, people recognize her in the streets. When I’m walking around nobody calls my name. People don’t know who I am.
Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott… you’ve worked with renowned directors. How do you explain the fact that you’re not more popular?
My parts were small… I change my appearance frequently and I love the discretion above all. It bothers me not being able to go out, to be constantly adressed even though people are oftenly kind. I’d feel it like an intrusion, like I’m being ripped from my dream, brought to reality.
How do you live this two Cannes selections?
It’s a mixture of anxiety and excitment. I’m nervous. One must be in a character and that’s not my thing. I can’t pretend or cheat. I find it hard to be anything other than myself.
Three years ago, during the red carpet for “Inglorious Basterds”, you had an anxiety crises due to your shyness. And you stated: “I’ll never be Sophie Morceau, I’m too weird.” What did you mean?
In the middle of the Cannes hysteria, I felt fragile and vulnerable. I made this comparison because I’ll never be France’s “petite fiancée”. Sophie Morceau represents anything, while I don’t have a definite place. But it’s not a problem, it’s an observation.
You oftenly refer to this lack of confidence problem. After making twenty films in seven years, doesn’t it get better?
My clumsiness and my fragility embarrass me sometimes. I don’t have more confidence in me than I did in the past but it doesn’t bother me. I’m in peace with myself and I’m not interested in judgemental people.
To those that say you’re gifted, you answer: “I work hard”?
Gifted? You sure that people have said that about me? Actually, I’m rather an under-endowed. I didn’t specially like working before becoming an actress. Ever since, it’s my salvation, it gives me a place in the world. But I don’t have any technique, I know nothing. I feel that you don’t learn how to be an actor. I tell myself sometimes that I won’t be able to lead the artistic endeavors in which I get into. I’m not secure of myself. My way of functioning is doubting.
When great directors choose you, don’t you have the feeling of worthing something?
At times, when I’m calmer, I think about it and it gives me courage.
Ursula Meier, the director of “L’enfant d’en haut”, said about you: “We had no influence over her, this created a mystery that allowed us to project whatever we wanted.” Do you agree?
I understand this as a reference to my chameleon side. Since childhood, I love to transform and disguise myself. As a teenager, I had all styles and all imaginale sorts of haircuts. I like to confuse people. It’s also due to that that people don’t recognize me.
She says also that you’re volcanic, can it turn into anger?
I can get angry, but I’m not hot-tempered. I had a lot of violence in me when I was a teenager. I am now more tolerant with people and with myself. It’s called aging, perhaps.
About you beauty, do you use it in your favor or do you hide it?
The cinégénie is an opportunity. But I don’t have an imposing physique. I’m not Monica Bellucci. I can not be pretty and that pleases me. I like being able to be pretty only when I want to.
With a grandfather - Jérôme Seydoux - copresident of Pathé, and a granduncle - Nicolas Seydoux - Chairman of Gaumont, the path to cinema was all mapped out for you?
At home, the cinema wasn’t so important. Not more than literature and painting. I wasn’t predestined. I started wanting to become an actress around 19 years old. They thought it was a joke and told me it’d never work out. But this decision turned out to be a revelation, a hopeful illumination: I knew I had found my way, that I would finally live.
You said you had a lot of freedom while growing up, which you claim as a precious gift. What does it mean?
Since I’ve grown older, I do what I want. My father always told me: “My education consists in transmitting my freedom, it’s the most beautiful gift I can give you.” The freedom to do whatever I want is very exciting, it makes me euphoric.
Do you want to be in this job as long as posible?
I can’t say I do. I feel that cinema belongs to youth. It’s not easy to be an old actress. I don’t know if I’d like to join the fight.
Does the possibility of getting old worry you?
I never think about it. I don’t care about not being desirable. I get that from my mother, she mocks the fact that people like her or not. If I’m not pleasing anymore, too bad. But I want to be loved in the intimacy, to love life.
You refer sometimes to your difficulty in being in love. Isn’t it impossible to build a relationship when your shooting three or four films a year?
Perhaps, yes. It occupies a great deal of my time and I’m forced to make concessions. But, for now, everything’s going well, I’m comfortable, I feel free enough. If we have nothing but the cinema in our lives, is sad. It’s a bit my case, nowadays, but it’ll change, I’m sure. I’ll have kids and I’ll love, above all, being with them, that’s very important for me. That’s how my life will be.