Every step of the way for the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner "Blue Is The Warmest Color" has seen controversy following not far behind. From the already talked about ten minute sex scene (leading to an NC-17 rating), to allegations from the crew over reportedly tough working conditions, to graphic novel author Julie Maroh's opinions on the adaptation of her work, the conversation around Abdellatif Kechiche's romance has been equally about these issues as it has been about how great the movie is. (And we haven't even gotten into the fact that it can't quality for Best Foreign Film.) And now, actress and Palme winners Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos have shared their own stories of woe from the set.
"The thing is, in France, it’s not like in the States. The director has all the power. When you’re an actor on a film in France and you sign the contract, you have to give yourself, and in a way you’re trapped," Seydoux told The Daily Beast, and together with her co-star, they detailed the hardships they faced on the shoot.
To recap, the film tracks the burgeoning, blossoming romance between two young women across three hours, in a movie that leaves no rock unturned or corner unexplored in the chronicle of this same sex relationship. And nearly every aspect of the five-and-a-half month long shoot was fraught with issues, including the epic sex sequence, which took 10 days on its own.
"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. "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."
But even less complex and intensely personal scenes seemed to have their own set of issues. "Any emotional scenes. [Kechiche] was always searching, because he didn’t really know what he wanted. We spent weeks shooting scenes. Even crossing the street was difficult. In the first scene where we cross paths and it’s love at first sight, it’s only about thirty seconds long, but we spent the whole day shooting it—over 100 takes," Seydoux shared. "By the end of it, I remember I was dizzy and couldn’t even sit. And by the end of it, [Kechiche] burst into a rage because after 100 takes I walked by Adele and laughed a little bit, because we had been walking by each other doing this stare-down scene all day. It was so, so funny. And [Kechiche] became so crazy that he picked up the little monitor he was viewing it through and threw it into the street, screaming, 'I can’t work under these conditions!'"
Simply put, "It was horrible" Seydoux said, adding she would "never" work with Kechiche again. As for Exarchopoulous, she when asked if she'd reteam with the director, her simple "I don’t think so" says it all. (Even she thinks the sex scene is "a little too long.")
But the end result of the moviemaking process is a hugely acclaimed film (one that we called "masterful"), that just hit Telluride and will land at TIFF this week. After that it will come to an arthouse near you next month on October 25th. Until then, here's the newest international poster for the movie (via AlloCine) and Seydoux and Exarchopoulous on the cover of France's Premiere magazine.