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'Blue' Is The Ugliest Color? Abdellatif Kechiche Fires Back At His Palme d'Or-Winning Actresses

by Drew Taylor
September 5, 2013 1:57 PM
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Yikes. It's always a bummer when behind-the-scenes drama overshadows a movie, especially when the movie is supposed to be really, really great, but sadly that seems to be happening with "Blue is the Warmest Color," the Palme d'Or winning coming-of-age drama out this fall. A couple of days ago the actresses from the film put the their director Abdellatif Kechiche on blast and talked about how they never wanted to work with him again. And now the director has fired back, apparently culminating in an explosive, tearful confrontation at a press conference for the film. 

So to recap: just a couple of days ago an interview ran on The Daily Beast where actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos discussed their unpleasant experience on the film. It wasn't exactly a happy one. Out of that conversation came accusations that Kechiche wasn't in command of the film and that his searching for moments would often wear out the actresses. "He warned us that we had to trust him—blind trust—and give a lot of ourselves. He was making a movie about passion, so he wanted to have sex scenes, but without choreography—more like special sex scenes. He told us he didn’t want to hide the character’s sexuality because it’s an important part of every relationship," Seydoux explained in the interview. "But once we were on the shoot, I realized that he really wanted us to give him everything. Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did, and they’re more respectful—you get reassured during sex scenes, and they’re choreographed, which desexualizes the act."

Both agreed that they wouldn't work with the director again, who they paint as temperamental and demanding. Well, the director has shot back.

According to an interview with a Los Angeles journalist named Ramzy Malouki (the interview isn't online in full but there are Twitter blow-by-blows), Kechiche responded that [sometimes rough French to English translation] "If Lea was born in cotton, she would never say that." At the Los Angeles press conference, supposedly, things really blew up, with Kechiche saying, "How indecent to talk about pain when doing one of the best jobs in the world! Aides suffer, the unemployed suffer, construction workers could talk about suffering. How when you are adored, when you go up on red carpet when we receive awards, how we can speak of suffering?"

Seydoux, who is the granddaughter of Jérôme Seydoux, CEO of Pathé, started crying during the press conference (!) and said, "I have given a year of my life to this film I had no life during this shoot. I gave everything. I have not criticized the director I.... I'm just complaining about the technique. It was my dream to work with him because, in France, he is one of the best directors. My family has never helped me. Let's stop talking about privileges."

Awkward. Either way, we can all find out if this back-and-forth was worth it when the NC-17 rated "Blue is the Warmest Color" finally opens domestically on October 25th.

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  • lauren | September 7, 2013 1:07 PMReply

    Wow they just found out that he got off watching those scenes... nothing but porn in artsy fartsy sheer and tattered clothing.

  • roignwroin | September 16, 2013 4:32 AM

    Wow. Maybe sex doesn't have to be porn! Don't take it personally. Your internet voice, I'm sure, is different than your actual, but it's like driving a car and yelling at someone. It's not personal. But I get to see your bumper sticker and it pisses me off because people like you like to spout their close minded opinions about art and what's wrong with the P-C world and all that shit and it's just another hindrance on us humans finding a universal friendliness and a place where there's no US or THEM.

  • Lucien | September 7, 2013 6:19 AMReply

    I'm french so I can tell that in France Abdellatif Kechiche have a very bad reputation here. Working with him is a Nightmare for the actors. "Blue is the warmest color" have more than 750 hours of rushes, a little bit long for a movie don't you think?
    Pus, it not only Seydoux and Exarchopoulos who complain about their director, the French Audiovisual and Cinematographic Union criticised the working conditions from which the crew suffered. According to the report, members of the crew said the production occurred in a "heavy" atmosphere with behaviour close to "moral harassment", which led some members of the crew and workers to quit. Technicians accused him of harassment, unpaid overtime and violations of labour laws.
    So personnaly I totally understand the choice of Seydoux and Exarchopoulos to never work with him again.

  • o | September 7, 2013 10:43 AM

    Thanks for adding some background information!
    I feel so bad for the actresses and crew...

  • mohamed | September 6, 2013 6:24 PMReply

    ilove you

  • Trent | September 6, 2013 2:21 PMReply

    This is getting so ugly. I feel so sad for the film. Too much negativity. Abdel should really relax a little bit or he won't get good actors to work in the future!

  • Oliver | September 6, 2013 5:55 AMReply

    Reminds me of when Kate (or should that be, 'Ingrate') Winslet complained that James Cameron made her stand in a studio water tank which -- gasp! -- wasn't heated. Oh the horror, the horror!

  • MARK | September 6, 2013 2:55 AMReply

    You're telling a story about the humanity in your characters but in the process you denigrate your cast treating them like your pawns I say message fail, and you're a hypocrite. The "Art" and RED CARPETS can take a back seat to human dignity. Where's this man's humanity?

  • Leon | September 6, 2013 11:09 AM

    Agree, really ugly, but the director's right, it's the actors job to committ 100% to a role, it's not like they didn't know the areas they were exploring, and it's not like they're weren't paid very well for it, in both money and prestige. Any actor worth their salt would expect to be pushed to whatever limit necessary to do the work justice, maybe they should take up modelling instead.

  • aoignr | September 6, 2013 6:17 AM

    Art is almost extinct in our country and the more shit like this gets a short fuse the more I know we're a little misguided. I personally think this argument is being overblown due to them being women controlled by a man which is not necessarily less acceptable these days, but the term itself more acceptable.

  • Aaron Helton | September 6, 2013 12:13 AMReply

    DURKA DURKA MUHAMMID JIHAD!!!!!!!!! "Artists"???? AHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHA These are not artists.

  • Halder | September 6, 2013 3:37 AM


  • Nathan | September 5, 2013 11:13 PMReply

    I love it when artists bitch at each other. Sometimes the backstory is better than the film.

  • caro | September 5, 2013 10:28 PMReply

    When the director is named David Fincher or Lars Von Trier ,the actors have no problem how complicated the filming can be

  • Oliver | September 6, 2013 5:59 AM

    Gyllenhaal should be grateful he got to co-star in 'Zodiac', one of the greatest films of the 21st Century. If aspiring for excellence is too much for him, he should stick to beefcake roles in the likes of 'Prince of Persia'.

  • c | September 5, 2013 10:54 PM

    And jake gyllenhaal had no problem with fincher ... LOL

  • d | September 5, 2013 10:47 PM

    You're right, Bjork had no problem with Von Trier.

  • MDL | September 5, 2013 5:52 PMReply

    It seems to me that, whomever you are, if you give yourself wholeheartedly to a role then you have a right to complain if the director is hard to work for or is unnecessarily demanding. The idea that Seydoux is not allowed to have an opinion because she is rich and famous is pretty stupid. It seems the director was embarrassed and wanted to get her to shut up by shaming her for being famous. Bad tactic.

  • Sean | September 5, 2013 4:21 PMReply

    It might of have been morally unethical or emotionally difficult. But wise up. At least it wasn't like a John Landis shoot.

  • abfidy | September 5, 2013 3:32 PMReply

    This is amazing. Please never stop fighting in public.

  • good god | September 5, 2013 3:25 PMReply

    It's not exploitation if the actors knew well what was going to happen and agreed to do it. Key word is "agreed". And anyone who thinks this is bad work ethic then they've clearly never worked on an independent film. Actors are the most well pampered people in all of film history. I feel more sorry for whoever the boom mic operator was, honestly.

  • Good Godd | September 5, 2013 9:33 PM

    Haha. Yeah, that's a good argument closer.

  • Leticia | September 5, 2013 9:20 PM

    Good God, stop being such a douchebag.

  • Good God | September 5, 2013 8:26 PM

    On set, actors are the first to leave and the last to show up. They're also the only people whose sole job it is to please is the director and everyone else needs to please them. Some actors, like Bruce Willis, have contracts that don't allow people other than the director and co-actors to look them in the eye. So yeah, their moans about the job are a little under merited. Unless they were getting slapped, like Henri Georges Clouzot used to do to his actors, or forced to do things they said they didn't want to do then there's really nothing to talk about. They signed up for it, they're adults, and probably did more waiting than acting, like on any film set.

    Hellen Mirren also brought this up a while ago about how horrible it is to make movies, and Sam Mendes basically told her to shut it and smile because in the end, it's worth it. You go through lots of yelling, lots of bullshit, and probably overtime pay for the workers, maybe not on this film, and you get huge sums of money that most people won't make in five years of their work lives, and if the movie's good you get accolades coming out of your ass. Too bad they missed Christmas. Nobody wanted to hang Wong Kar Wai by his balls when his films went nearly a year over schedule. I guess he was nice. However, most of the time, anyone on a film set that is the boss of something or telling others what to do is going to be a jerk and yell and scream and explode because being focused for the whole day can do that to someone. Not everyone's Peter Jackson with his limitless patience. This is why I can understand the crew more for their immediate outrage when the movie showed at Cannes, because they were the ones that were used more and given less throughout the shoot, men and women. They have the right to get pissed.

  • MDL | September 5, 2013 5:56 PM

    Not true. Just because an actor gets treated well most of the time it doesn't mean a director has a right to be a jerk. Would you say the same about a boss who exploits workers? I'm guessing not with your quasi-Marxist view of boom mic operators who I guess you consider more 'noble' than actors. You're being absurd.

  • John | September 5, 2013 3:15 PMReply

    "How indecent to talk about pain when doing one of the most spoiled and peculiar jobs in the world!" [If you're an established actor.]

    Fixed it.

  • Liv | September 5, 2013 2:28 PMReply

    Really, Indiewire? Actually, I would say it's a"bummer" when a director takes advantage of actors put in his trust and exploits them and makes them feel unsafe which would be apparent to anyone who read Seydoux and Exarchopoulos' interview at Telluride. No one should be subjected to that. (And, yes, I've seen the film.)

  • DRAMA | September 5, 2013 2:23 PMReply

    Omg, more drama please!!

    Spill the beans, playlist reporter!! =)

  • JAmie | September 5, 2013 2:19 PMReply

    I love this film and the drama going behind it. Lol. I love Lea Seydoux though.

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