The French actress receives the Donostia Award at age 45 for a dazzling career in Europe and Hollywood: “I still feel the anxiety of the beginning every time I start a movie,” she confesses
Marion Cotillard (Paris, 1975) exemplifies the current status of movie stars, who can combine glamor and activism. The actress, the first Donostia Award in this 69th edition of the Zinemaldia while waiting for Johnny Depp to come on Wednesday, appears in an advertisement for Chanel number 5 in the contest’s magazine. At the same time, he has presented ‘Bigger than Us’, a documentary about youth activism. “Stand up for a cause, I don’t know if it’s a necessity or a responsibility,” he said at a press conference. “I would rather not have to fight against the inequalities of the system, but I feel the need to use my fame to shed light on certain issues, as in ‘Bigger than Us’. People who are public have that power, it is like a duty to return part of the attention we receive. I leave the responsibility to my work, to be up to the task in each film ».
At 45, Cotillard is one of the youngest Donostia Awards. However, the list of directors he has worked with is overwhelming. Born into a family of artists – her mother is an actress, her father a director and her two brothers a sculptor and writer respectively -, she studied at the Orleans Conservatory of Dramatic Art and survived by selling plasticine figurines while she was getting small roles. “In my early days I considered myself lucky if I could work on a film or television set,” he recalls. «The people who open the doors of this profession to you are important for your whole life. The acting career is based on the wishes of others and on those of a director who projects something important on you that he has to express. Cotillard still maintains something from his beginnings: “The anxiety, the feeling that you have to measure up. I still feel it every time I start a movie.
At 23, she received her first César nomination as a breakout actress for ‘Taxi,’ Luc Besson’s action saga, of which she shot two more sequels. Her first César was achieved in 2004 as a supporting actress in ‘Long Engagement Sunday’. Three years later, her role as Édith Piaf in ‘Life in Pink’ earned her the Oscar, the César, the Bafta and the Golden Globe. Her merits went far beyond the incredible work of makeup, tracing gestures and fine-tuning the ‘playback’: it conveyed the tear of a woman eaten away by excesses who, when she died at 47, had the discarded body of an 80-year-old woman. “The Oscar marks a before and after my career,” he admits. «It opened the doors to international cinema, especially to English and American ones. I grew up with these kinds of movies, they are part of my culture. The Oscar made my dream of working with these directors come true.
Marion Cotillard, in San Sebastián. /
Hollywood claimed it even before the Oscar: the first was Tim Burton with ‘Big Fish’ and then Ridley Scott with ‘A Good Year’. Then came Christopher Nolan, with whom he made ‘Origin’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, James Gray, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Zemeckis, Michael Mann, Woody Allen … The most reputable French directors have also requested his services: Jacques Audiard , the Dardenne brothers, Arnaud Desplechin … Despite her bulky filmography, Cotillard assures that she is not a workaholic. “In the 1940s and 1950s, when stars were made, family life was denied,” explains the wife of the actor and director Guillaume Canet, with whom he has two children. “Today instead we celebrate that family life and we have managed to reach a balance. That life nurtures the actor’s desires to embody different characters. Without it, I would not find inspiration. And the more different those characters are from my way of being, the more satisfaction I find ». His status, he acknowledges, not only allows him to choose roles, but even to be out of work. “That allows me to spend a lot of time with my family, unlike having to work every day. That is a luxury that actors have.
Marion Cotillard did not dare to explain why in Spain we continue to look enviously at France when it dismisses its artists with state honors, as has happened with Jean-Paul Belmondo. “I don’t know their country well enough, but I suppose they have artists that matter to them as much as we do, Belmondo,” he reflects. “The public adores him, so it seems logical to honor him as we did.” Cinema, he certifies, is in the DNA of the French. «Cinema was born in France, we are fortunate to have great cinematographic wealth and we benefit from the support of the government. Because culture is necessary: it celebrates life and questions the world. For the French it is important to question everything, and thanks to the cinema that questioning is amplified ».