“My family comes first”

This is your first French fikm in six years. Did you miss France?

A lot. But, between the birth of my daughter, at the end of 2018, the eight months that I spent with her, the Covid, which blocked us in Los Angeles, it took time. When Visions finally materialized, I was no longer available, but Yann Gozlan waited for me for a year, and I am grateful to him. I loved Black Box and the role he offered me here was magnificent. It was the perfect film for a return to France, and we lived all summer in the South for the shoot.

Nova, my daughter, loved it. My fiancé, American actor Norman Reedus, too. And me, I happily returned to the French sets, which are more human and fanciful.

Estelle, whom you play, is a Hitchcockian heroine…

My physique, my blondness invite comparison, but, personally, I didn’t think about it. That said, I really like thrillers and mysterious characters that have a dark side. I find myself in it a lot.

At first glance, Estelle is a woman without history, pilot of long-haul flights and married to a doctor. Their happiness seems perfect until she reunites with a photographer she once loved. We then discover very different aspects of his personality. The first impression that we send back is sometimes the opposite of what we really are, and I love heroines who, a priori readable, take us to territories that we had not imagined.

Do you have anything in common with her?

She especially resembles Yann in his very disciplined side, which I can have, but to a lesser extent. Estelle’s athletic appearance was also a challenge. Although I swim, I’m not a pro crawl and I had to train, as for the technical aspect of the captain’s job. It was a real composition role, moreover, because I’ve always been very afraid of flying! We shot in a flight simulator and, at the slightest mistake, we had to start all over again. It was quite trying. I’m on all counts and I was tired but it matched the state of my character, it almost became an asset.

Visions recounts the return of a first love from which we have never recovered. What do you think ?

I don’t think we ever forget that, because it’s strong and unreasonable. As it is believed that everything is a matter of life and death, the wound is not easy to heal. I remember the first love that broke my heart, the heightened feelings, the crazy things I could do. We can lose our minds, especially when we feel like we’re missing something, like Estelle, who can’t have children. Many women want to become a mother without it hindering their career. And, when they are finally ready, their body, sometimes, does not respond. It’s very difficult to go through and I have great empathy for those who suffer it.

Which partner is Mathieu Kassvitz, who plays your husband?

It was the first time we had filmed together and I really liked it: it’s charming and bright. And, when he plays, you feel he can transform in a second and unleash something disturbing. Mathieu supported me for delicate emotional scenes and, as soon as he was on set, it was a real breath of fresh air. I also loved working with Marta Nieto, who is such a beautiful and delicious woman.

Do you believe in premonitory dreams like your character?

No, but I understand the gray area in which Estelle is immersed due to lack of sleep. You can experience it when you try to do everything at the same time: professional life, as a couple, as a young mother… My daughter is 4 years old, things are better, but when she was not sleeping or when I was anxious, because everything was new, it was sometimes very hard to recover. At times, one has the impression of no longer being in one’s body.

Have you ever been afraid of losing control?

It only takes one day, an illness, an accident for everything to change. The more I advance in my life, the more I look around me, the more I realize that happiness hangs by a thread. By becoming a mother, this feeling increased tenfold. As for the notion of control, it is relative. I plan because I have to with a family and I’m used to it. I have been working and earning my living since I was 15, and I learned to take responsibility at a very young age. I’ve never liked organizing, but I have no choice. On the other hand, I’m lucky that my job gives me a certain freedom, even if I don’t have control over the desires of others, on which I am totally dependent.

Did your career change after your interpretation award at Cannes in 2017 for In the Fade ?

This role has been important. Maybe he changed the way people look at me, but I feel like I’ve been doing the same job all the time. I consider myself lucky. I have just realized a dream while filming with David Cronenberg. This film, The Shrouds, talks about mourning and I play three roles in it alongside Vincent Cassel, with whom I had also just finished Saint Ex, about the famous aviator. With Fatih Akin, the director ofIn the Fade, I still have this project on Marlene Dietrich which is close to my heart and which I support by involving myself a little in the production, but it takes time. Not too much, I hope. Otherwise I’ll be too old to embody it!

Do you think that the representation of women has evolved in this profession?

Yes, even if French cinema has always been able to highlight its actresses. Some wear films for a long time. In the United States, it is less common. Over there, the producer is the only master on board, while here we listen to the authors, the directors, the creators… I admire actresses like Jessica Chastain, with whom I shot in 355who produce and make a place for themselves in this world of men.

It’s satisfying when it’s done, but it’s very energy-intensive, and you have to be available.

What memories does back-to-school evoke for you?

In Germany, we only have six weeks of vacation, but that already seemed very long to me. I was bored. Back to school, I was looking forward to it. Since I became a mother, it has had a different flavor, like summers for that matter.

Before, I had no plan, but today I try to please my daughter.

What mom are you?

Pretty cool, I hope, but we’re lucky, because Nova is kind, happy, and follows us everywhere. She went to school for three months in Toronto and then in France. She adapts easily. As for me, motherhood has transformed me.

Not only do I have more patience and empathy, but I’m also more willing to say no. My family really comes first and my goal is to get home on time. My companion is in high demand, people approach him often, so when we’re not working, we stay quietly at home. My priorities have changed. I tour less, I go out less, but the pleasure I take when I accept a role or an evening is increased tenfold. I found a nice balance.

Visions, by Yann Gozlan. Released September 6.

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