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Interview

Marion Cotillard Shares Her 'Rust and Bone' Experience

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Marion Cotillard Shares Her 'Rust and Bone' Experience
Photo Source: Roger Arpajou

Marion Cotillard became an international sensation and won an Academy Award in 2008 for her heart-wrenching turn as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” After roles in Hollywood films such as “Public Enemies” and this year’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” she finds herself again earning raves in America for a French film. In “Rust and Bone,” Cotillard plays Stephanie, an orca trainer who loses her legs in a tragic accident. Yet the physical challenges of the character and the intense love scenes with co-star Matthias Schoenaerts turned out to be less difficult for the actor than having to reconcile her personal feelings about marine parks. “I hate those places,” Cotillard says. “This is something I don’t really understand, what we do to those animals.”

Still, Cotillard was excited by the opportunity to work with writer-director Jacques Audiard, the filmmaker behind the Oscar-nominated “A Prophet,” so much so that she forgot about her initial response to the material. “I first heard about the project while with friends. An agent was there, and she was talking about Jacques’ new movie—it’s always something highly expected in France,” she says. “She said there was a role for a woman who plays an orca trainer. The first thing I thought was ‘Oh, my God, as much as I love this director, I would never do that. I couldn’t do that because I couldn’t go to a Marineland.’ ” A few months later, she was approached by Audiard and fell in love with the script. “I knew it would be something special because all of his movies are, but I didn’t expect a love story,” she says. “I felt like we were both doing something we hadn’t done before.” But the first day she went to a marine park to meet a trainer, she says, “Suddenly, that first memory came back and I was like, ‘Look where you are!’ ”

Cotillard adds that she was brutally honest about her feelings. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful towards the people who work there because they were there to help me achieve something. But my trainer asked me if I liked the show and I told her that I was horrified and that it was really not something I like,” Cotillard says. “But we became friends, and at the end of shooting she told me, ‘My God, that first day I went back home, and I told my husband it was going to be a nightmare.’ ”

Though making the film hasn’t changed her mind, Cotillard does say she has a deep respect for the people she met, who truly love the animals they work with. “But I have no comprehension of this system. And I hope this film makes a difference,” she says. “I remember the story when [‘Finding Nemo’] came out, and I read something that horrified me where there was an explosion of people selling clown fish. I thought, ‘This is the dumbest thing ever.’ The whole point of the film is not to take these magnificent animals out of their environment.”

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