Rust and Bone is in French, but it has a universal appeal, partially
because a lot of people think of SeaWorld and orcas as an American
phenomenon. In the movie, there are beautiful, almost balletic scenes of
you interacting with these giant animals. Was the training difficult?
I’m not very comfortable with the idea of animals in captivity, so when I heard about Rust and Bone, I thought I couldn’t be a part of it because the character was an orca trainer. I was really uneasy the first day of training. For me, the orcas were not like animals. In a horrible way, they seemed like men’s toys—trucks in a bathtub. But they’re not scary. And if you feed them, they do whatever you want.
Did you like Stephanie, the character you were playing?
I could never give life to a character I don’t love. I’ve read scripts in which I hated the character and didn’t do the movie. With an evil character, you have to understand the origin of the evil. It’s exciting when there is something unknown—if I want to meet that person, that’s a good sign.
Rust and Bone has many explicit sex scenes. What is harder for you to
do—a death scene like you did in La Vie en Rose or a sex scene?
Definitely a sex scene. I hate sex scenes. The body is so important in this movie, but I hate being naked onscreen. It’s very weird to imagine how a person would have sex. It cannot be your way. Otherwise, it would be super uncomfortable and overly intimate. Everyone has a way to have sex, so a character does too. I mean, kissing is very powerful. You feel something, you know? It’s really intense to kiss as another person.
But French women are supposed to be okay with all matters sexual!
Well, yes, but…[Laughs.]
Changing subjects…do they know who Batman is in France?
Oh, yeah, he’s very popular. Not all superheroes are, but Batman is. He is human, so you can relate to him. The French like that. I loved the TV series. I was totally crazy about Catwoman. She was so witty and fun.
If you had a superpower, which would you pick?
I would love to fly. I don’t think I would like being invisible. If I could enter any room where they are making political decisions, I think I would kill myself. It would be too painful to see how people rule the world.
You saw people who rule the film industry at the Oscars. How was that
night for you?
It was amazing. In France, we have a lot of actors, but you never get a chance to share your experiences. In America, you show the movie, and you talk about it with actors who know what it’s like to open your heart, soul, and mind to another person and let them in. I especially feel very close to other actresses.