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Emmanuelle Seigner Delivers for Husband Roman Polanski in Two-Hander 'Venus in Fur'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 24, 2014 at 5:58PM

Roman Polanski's latest play-to-film "Venus and Fur" opened at the end of last year's Cannes Film Festival because it was the only day its star Emmanuelle Seigner could get away to the Riviera. Thus the film was a bit of an afterthought at the fest. It finally arrives via IFC stateside with terrific reviews.
'Venus in Fur'
'Venus in Fur'

He is hard, very demanding. He wants everything to be perfect, It's not easy to work with him, you'd better be good and you'd better be trained. But also at the same time, he's such a good director, you know you do it for the right result. You know? It's nice when you do something good and it's fun. And when the results are horrible it's depressing. So when you do something hard and difficult and see the result and you're happy, it's worth it. He's a good person. He's never mean or vicious. He's always good. He's not like some director who will torture you or make you feel humiliated, never. He just wants to to be perfect.

Did you both take your work home?

On that movie, we only had a very short time to shoot it. We were working all hours, from 8 in the morning until 11 at night. We didn't have time to talk about it. We didn't have a life. We were working all the time, just doing the movie, that's it.

Have you read "Fifty Shades of Grey," which is also about S & M and the power dynamics between men and women? 

I haven't read it. A lot of people told me about it. The power between men and women and how it switches between one and another is what is very clever about the play and the movie. Actually David Ives makes fun of it also. He talks about it, he criticizes it at the same time. It's all bullshit, how men are humiliating to women. And so it was very clever about the piece, I think. 

We learn that women are much more clever than the guys, that's a fact. 

Does Polanski believe that?

He does. If not he would not have done a movie about that. It's such a feminist movie written and directed by a man.

Why did Polanski want to do this with you?
Because we've been together so long, he always felt like I was underused, taken as a beautiful thing walking in movies but I didn't have much too do. I was so frustrated. He always wanted me to do something great. So he gave me the occasion to do something good. That's very important to me. 

I love that photo of you kissing him at Cannes, you clearly love each other. 

He really loves me, and I love him too. He's been so good to me. I'm really lucky. 

How did Cannes go?

It went very well in Cannes, it's a pity it was shown on the last day. I was on tour in a play, "Homecoming," in Vienna, and it was the only day I was free. That's why it played so so late. All over the world, it had good reviews, people really loved it, it was well-received, France also. 

It's a French movie. To have a French movie coming out in America is very good. A lot of movies don't come out in America, even the movies that are in English. So I'm pretty happy. 

What next? 
I have an album that came out in France, I'm promoting that, and I hope to get some great roles. I had a lot of offers, but nothing I really liked that was so amazing. I don't want to settle. 

Theater is sometimes more rewarding? 

I did theater for ten months, and I want to do theater again.  I'm waiting to choose. I will do it again for sure, I love it. 

This article is related to: Venus in Fur, Emmanuelle Seigner, Roman Polanski, Roman Polanski, Interviews, Interviews, Interviews

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.