Deserves props for: Directing La Vie en Rose, a biopic on French chanteuse Edith Piaf.
What made you want to make a movie about Edith Piaf?
"A photograph. I was in a library, and I found a book on her. One of the photos was of her at an early age, probably 17. It was so far from the iconic image I had of her--it was just her in the street with a friend. It gave me the first impulse to know more about her. I bought books and started to read everything. And then I started to write."
How did you want to make La Vie en Rose different from other biopics?
"I didn't want to make a biopic. I wanted to make a portrait. It was very subjective the way I chose events from her life. There are a lot of books on her, and I really think the book is the best way to tell the life of someone. I wanted to make a movie as sophisticated and simple as a song."
Was there a temptation to make something even more experimental?
"At first I wanted to write something that was more experimental, where you were really in the mind and the mixed-up memories of Piaf. But I decided to keep the audience connected with her. However, I always knew that at the very end of the script I wanted to escape from Piaf herself. First it's an intimate portrait, then when we're approaching the end, it's something larger than a portrait."
How did Marion Cotillard, who in real life is more attractive than Piaf was, prepare for the role physically?
"She didn't have to really prepare physically. She just had to prepare for one thing, and that was lip-synching. You can't just improvise it. You have to work hard to make the lips synch right. The rest was makeup and prosthetics."
Were you ever worried people would find her life too depressing?
"No. For me, the life of Piaf isn't depressing. I know people with real difficulties in life, and they're not onstage, they're not as well-off, they're not as well-surrounded as she was. Apart from the drama, I'm sure she had a good life."
A Short History of...
Ben Kingsley, You Kill Me
Chris Eigeman, The Treatment
Mark Fergus, First Snow
Lance Weiler, Head Trauma
Mira Nair, The Namesake