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Interview: Juliette Binoche On 'Sils Maria,' The Career/Life Balance & Finally Going Hollywood In 'Godzilla'

The Playlist By Jessica Kiang | The Playlist December 11, 2013 at 10:33AM

When revered Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami cancelled his attendance at the Marrakech Film Festival due to ill health, the organizers could have had a further problem on their hands as he was meant, in addition to giving a masterclass, to be handing out the award at one of the “Hommages”—the tributes given to a filmmaker or actor in recognition of their body of work. However, that one headache didn’t occur here because the recipient was Juliette Binoche, practically the busiest actress on the planet, and Bruno Dumont, her director in this year’s “Camille Claudel” and himself the subject of a Marrakech masterclass, stepped into the breach instead. It’s a mark of just how constantly she is shooting, and with what calibre of filmmaker, that, throw a stone at a festival like this, and you’ll hit two or three people who have worked with Binoche, and probably recently.
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Binoche Certified Copy earring

You mentioned in Berlin that you’ve been trying to get back together with Abbas Kiarostami again?
That’s true! But for the moment he needs time off. He’s into photography, he’s into poetry, but he’s probably thinking a lot. And right now he’s sick.

And the other big thing is that you’re signed on to “Godzilla.” How did that come about?
Yeah, it’s my new career! I received the most beautiful letter from Gareth Edwards, the director. It was very heartfelt. And filming that it was fun. 

"...the bargain to do a commercial film [in order] to do an art film--that is not me."

Did you just want to play opposite a big lizard having famously turned down “Jurassic Park”?
Oh, I mean there I’d already said yes to Kieslowski for “Blue” and there was no way I was going to back up and say “Goodbye, I’m going to do ‘Jurassic Park’!” I was very touched that Spielberg asked me to be in the film. He said “it’d be fun for you,” but it just didn’t happen.

So how has your career evolved to this diverse point now?
[In the past] I was given the parts, they were coming to me. Now, I’m going where I want to go. On “Sils Maria,” I gave a phone call to Olivier Assayas [with the idea], and he wrote a beautiful script. So I brought an idea and he transformed it into his and that was the beauty of it. I gave him a sprout and after that he just went with it.

He said you inspired him, though.
Yeah, it was such a blessing to work with him. Because I made a film before with him [“Summer Hours”] and I was angry with him because I didn’t think we had a connection while we were working together on the first shoot. So that’s why I thought who am I gonna ask to do this? And I thought “Olivier! Because he missed me!” And then when we were shooting I felt so blessed, that was my dream coming true. It was enlightening... He’s editing it [at the moment], it’s a lot of work.

Speaking to Charlotte Rampling earlier, she had views on the French film industry. She feels they make too many movies in France at the moment. Do you agree?
Well maybe...The first movie is pretty easy, after that the second movie is more difficult. And because there are so many films it’s hard for the first movie to work, so the second movie is almost impossible. Also, in France they happen very easily with the script and everything. Maybe about six months more of work [at the script stage] would be a little better!

How about the French actresses today who work in Hollywood, making big blockbusters and then make French films too?
I never really worked in Hollywood. Some American producers came to Europe to shoot films with me, so it’s a different situation… It was not my aim. I wanted to work with people from the world, with different minds and different visions. It wasn’t an idea of being there [in Hollywood] because then you’re part of the system. The system, if you know how to work with it, can give you freedom to do other things, but the bargain to do a commercial film [in order] to do an art film—that is not me.

This article is related to: Juliette Binoche, A Thousand Times Good Night, Marrakech Film Festival, Sils Maria, Godzilla, Interviews, Interview, Interviews


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