"I traveled a lot of amazing directors' visions," says Cotillard in her raspy, exquisite broken English, of the supporting parts she's played since her Oscar-winning role in "La Vie En Rose." (She could earn her second for Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone.") "And I had an amazing time, but I needed to tell the story of a character. And when I read Jacques' script, that was more than what I thought I would get."
When Audiard approached Cotillard with the role, she was "more than thrilled; I was out of my mind!" She had long wanted to work with the director of the Oscar-nominated 2009 film "A Prophet," and the experience was "even better than what I had expected."
Cotillard's whale trainer in "Rust in Bone" is not only responding to a debilitating accident but an unexpected person who enters her life. Ali ("Bullhead" star Matthias Schoenaerts) "is the only person who sees her as a human being in the most simple way," she says. "He doesn't see her as a woman [in the beginning]; that's what she's going to teach him. But he's very straightforward, he's rough and raw."
Her role was not immediately clear to Cotillard; to the end she intentionally never solved that mystery. Audiard assured her: "We'll have to find her." Cotillard says, "I felt that we could take so many different directions. I liked the fact that I didn't really know where I was going, but I was looking forward to taking the road to meeting her."
During the film, Cotillard takes the journey as she embodies this complex woman. Cotillard drew on people she knows to find her, from two girls she knew in high school to Schoenaerts. "When I create a character I am always inspired by people--people around me, people I don't know, lives that I've read."