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Marion Cotillard Says She's Keeping Her French Accent For 'Macbeth' With Michael Fassbender

by Kevin Jagernauth
March 7, 2014 4:44 PM
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Michael Fassbender + Marion Cotillard + "Macbeth" = ticket sold as far we're concerned, and while we can't wait to see the result (it's one our 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2014... if it gets finished and released in time) we remain very curious about the approach. The Shakespeare play is one of the most frequently performed and adapted, though not so much for the big screen, and the Bard has always proven flexible to filmmakers who push his material to the edge. However, what we weren't perhaps expecting is that "the Scottish play" will have French flavor.

Chatting with John Cameron Mitchell in Interview magazine, Cotillard revealed she's keeping her French accent for her turn as Lady Macbeth. Here's what she had to say: 

COTILLARD: Oh, yeah. And, it is really tough. It's tough already for someone who speaks English. But we really tried to stick to the original text, which is inspiring because he wrote the words, but also because there is a rhythm and an energy that fits with the emotion and the purpose of what he says. But, of course, I couldn't do it by myself. I need someone to work with; they want to keep a flavor of my French accent, because when they offered me the part, I told [director Justin Kurzel] ... Well, he knew—

MITCHELL: You're not going to be Scottish.

COTILLARD: [laughs] Yes. [Kurzel] thought it was interesting to have, like, an exotic flavor to the accent. So I asked, "Do you really think it's interesting? Or do you think I will never be able to totally erase my French accent and be totally Scottish?" [Mitchell laughs] And he said, "No, no, no, we really think it's interesting." I don't know if it was true, but I'm doing it, so...

So get out the pitchforks? Or is this a smart idea to allow director Justin Kurzel to break out the expectations of what "Macbeth" has to be? We're sure you have an opinion so sound off below.

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  • Emily | March 10, 2014 5:10 PMReply

    Scotland and France were political allies. Didn't Mary Queen of Scots grow up in the court of France? With all the politicking back and forth and disputes of the lineages, it isn't far-fetched for Lady McBeth to have a French accent. And the definite plus of having someone of Cotillard's calibre play this part!

  • Pedro | March 10, 2014 12:14 PMReply

    I hope to see Marion receiving her second Oscar for this role. I'm rooting this film to have a launch until the end of the year, so it will be able to compete at 2015 Oscars.

  • Anne | March 10, 2014 10:17 PM

    I think this movie will be released in 2015 and compete at 2016 Oscars.
    I'm also rooting for Cotillard to win her second Oscar with this film! she deserved to win for Rust and Bone but was shamefully robbed of a nomination!

  • Ray H | March 9, 2014 1:55 PMReply

    I'd assumed she'd be playing it with a French accent when they announced her. Her accent is rather thick and I've never heard her do a different one. I expect she'll be great in the part (a better choice than Portman), but I admit I was hoping they'd try for the Scottish accents since most versions of Macbeth usually disregard them. I assumed Fassbender would try to put one on as he's decent with accents, but I'm willing to chalk it up to artistic license if they don't bother.

  • Simone | March 8, 2014 12:52 PMReply

    I adore Marion and I'm glad they are using her French accent. If Kurzel really, really wanted an actress who has or could mimic a Scottish accent, he would have chosen someone else. But he chose French actress Marion Cotillard, and I'm happy he did.

  • John | March 8, 2014 2:06 AMReply

    Marion is a great actress, I couldn't care less about her accent in this film, I will watch it anyway!
    And why only her accent is a problem? Fassbender isn't scottish either and he can't hide his irish accent but no one cares about it. Why only the french is hostilized?

  • Ellen | March 8, 2014 12:28 AMReply

    What's the problem with the accent? jeez! you're so annoying!
    Why nobody complains about american and british actors playing characters from different nationalites? it happens in Hollywood ALL THE TIME! In David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, there's americans and british actors playing swedish characters speaking english with.. A BRITISH ACCENT! the same happened in Tom Hooper's Les Miserables, the actors just made a british accent and used one or two words in french to make people remember the film was set in France. Why nobody complained about Anne Hathaway (american) playing a french woman? or Hugh Jackman (australian) playing a french man? or Cate Blanchett (australian) playing a french woman in The Monuments Men with a terrible accent? why only french actors (or any other other actor from a non-english speaking country) get the backlash for playing someone with a different nationality?
    It's really dificult to be an actor from a non-english speaking country in Hollywood! if they don't play a stereotype of their countries, they can't play anything else because they will be extremely criticized only because of the accent... this is ridiculous!

  • Guillermo | March 7, 2014 10:03 PMReply

    Marion Cotillard is an excellent actress and will bring Lady Macbeth to perfection regardless of her accent!.
    Can not wait to see it!

  • Duncan | March 7, 2014 9:28 PMReply

    Lady MacBeth is most usually understood to be based on an actual Queen Of Scotland, named Gruoch ingen Boite. Here is information from Wikipedia on her. You will note there is no reference to a French origin or heritage, or any other country other than Scotland.

    Gruoch ingen Boite (fl. 1020–1054) was the daughter of Boite mac Cináeda son of Cináed III.[1] She is most famous for being the wife and queen of Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (Macbeth). The dates of her life are not certainly known.

    Before 1032 Gruoch was married to Gille Coemgáin mac Maíl Brigti, Mormaer of Moray, with whom she had at least one son, Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin, later King of Scots. Gille Coemgáin was killed in 1032, burned in a hall with fifty of his men.[2] The next year one of her male relatives, probably her only brother, was murdered by Malcolm II.[3]

    Gruoch is named with Boite and also with Mac Bethad in charters endowing the culdee monastery at Loch Leven. The date of her death is not known.

    As far as Hollywood films with characters playing ethnic origins other than their own, I've always been distracted if the accent wasn't genuine. For example, it was popular for a long time to have British actors play German soldiers in war films, with British accents. I, for one, never bought into it. I think Marion Cotillard should resist what her director is telling her, and go for an authentic accent. That's the sign of a true actor, or actress. Authenticity and believability of character. I think she could do it, as I believe she is a gifted actress. Otherwise, I think she will be selling herself, and this greatest of all plays, short.

  • Rob | March 8, 2014 1:57 AM

    Who cares if the character was based on a queen born in Scotland? this is not relevant for the film neither for the play, where her nationality is not mentioned. Romeo and Juliet are based on greek people, how many greek actors have played Romeo and Juliet in Hollywood? or how many actors have played these characters using a greek accent?
    People can't understand the word FILM ADAPTATION! they think adaptation means "filming the whole play word by word, just like happened in 1500". Oh, and to be more realistic, Lady Macbeth should be played BY A MAN! that's how happened during Shakespeare's productions at the time: female characters were played by men!

    Btw, Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, is well-known as a dark-skinned woman and she was possibly black, but how many egyptian and black/dark-skinned women have played Cleopatra in Hollywood? until now, only american/british, white and blue/green-eyed actresses have played her, and this case is much worse because she is a real person, not a fictional character who could be adapted, but no one cares about it, right? it's funny how the historical accuracy means nothing when the subject is Cleopatra.

  • Sarah | March 7, 2014 9:18 PMReply

    For the people complaining about Cotillard's french accent: just google 'The Veille Alliance' (or The Old Alliance) and you will know that Lady Macbeth can be played by a french actress! not to mention the fact that Lady Macbeth's nationality is never mentioned in the play... only Macbeth must to be scottish to become king.

    And I don't think that Cotillard needs to prove that she is capable of anything! if someone has doubts about her talent, just watch her in 'Chloé', 'A Very Long Engagement', 'La Vie en Rose', 'Little White Lies', 'Rust and Bone' and 'The Immigrant'.

  • Pedro | March 10, 2014 12:09 PM

    Marion Cotillard is a goddess.

  • yer | March 7, 2014 7:19 PMReply

    Like she has the acting ability to lose it...

  • | March 7, 2014 8:47 PM

    Yeah, because a french accent is very easy to lose... oh please! it has nothing to do with acting ability! lots of french people live in U.S. or other countries for over 20, 30 years and they never lose the accent.
    Marion can act, this is more important than any accent.

  • Duncan | March 7, 2014 6:55 PMReply

    Yep, nothing like a French accent in The Scottish Play. Maybe Kurzel can rewrite some of Shakespeare's dialogue to explain why Lady MacBeth has a French accent. Maybe Fassbender can do an Irish accent and guzzle a six-pack of Guinness before he kills the king. And the three witches, let me see, hmm. Oh, I know! The three witches can be retired roller bladers! It's perfect, even makes sense geographically. Now if Kurzel can only figure out a way to cast Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Ooo, wait, they could be two of the witches. That only leaves one. Putin maybe?

  • Sarah | March 7, 2014 9:07 PM

    You clearly don't know Macbeth!
    In the play, Lady Macbeth's nationality is never mentioned, she could be french, spanish, italian or even russian. And at the time, during the 'The Veille Alliance' (or The Old Alliance), intermarriages between the scottish and french royals was very common, so yes, Lady Macbeth can be french! it is even historically accurated.

    Americans and british people are the most annoying about other people's accent! especially if their are not from english-speaking countries, but how many times Hollywood made (and is still making) films with american and british actors playing french, german, swedish, russian and japanese characters? they just speak english and use a british accent for every nationality and no one cares, everybody believes in their "foreign accents", it's hilarious!

    And let's face the truth: the best version of Macbeth is not even spoken in english, is in japanese! the Kurosawa version.

  • Annie | March 7, 2014 5:45 PMReply

    This is actually what I hoped they would do. It makes so much more sense than having her attempt a Scottish accent--even makes sense historically.

  • Dale | March 7, 2014 5:13 PMReply

    Different doesn't necessarily mean bad.

    I'm so pumped for this film! I think Fassbender was born to play Macbeth.

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