Live from Cannes: Lily Rose Depp on “The Dancer” and Chanel

“I was just in character,” says the 16-year-old actress of her intimate kissing scene with Soko in “The Dancer.”

Victoria Stevens

Although she didn’t dance as a child, it took no time at all for 16-year-old Lily-Rose Depp to learn the moves for her role as the renowned modern dance pioneer, Isadora Duncan, in La Danseuse (The Dancer), which premiered in the Un Certain Regard category at the Cannes Film Festival last week. “Walking up those steps was the most surreal experience. I didn’t have time to think about it and I didn’t realize the stature of the situation until I got on the carpet and it hit me,” she says of the film’s opening night at the Grand Palais. As part of her audition, director Stephanie Di Giusto left Depp with a choreographer for an hour to learn a dance routine. By the time Di Giusto came back, Depp had nailed the routine and landed the part. “It was important to Stephanie that I could move my body in a kind of abandonment,” says Depp. “We showed her what we’d done, and I guess she liked it!”

Set in the Belle Epoque, La Daneuse is based on the story of Loie Fuller (played by Soko), one of the pioneers of the modern dance movement, and her heated relationship with Duncan, a romance which contributed to Fuller’s eventual downfall. The film also stars Melanie Thierry as Fuller’s producer and Gaspard Ulliel as one of her financial supporters. Depp first got wind of the role through Soko, who was a friend prior to shooting, and says one of their most memorable bonding experiences was when they were shooting in a castle and they had to cling to hot water bottles to keep warm. The two share an intimate kissing scene towards the film’s end, which Depp says was just part of the game. “For me, that’s just part of the story, it was no different than any other scene, I was just in character,” says Depp, who was immediately attracted to Duncan for her Machiavellian side. “What I loved about Isadora was that she is a little manipulative. Everyone has that side that’s more devilish, so it was fun to project that and make that side the entire character.”

For the film’s premiere, Depp wore a short suit by Chanel, a deep-rooted relationship which began when she met Karl Lagerfeld when she was eight years old with her mother Vanessa Paradis and father, Johnny Depp. “I looked through all the Chanel shows,” explains Depp as to what led to the final sartorial decision of the night. “I picked a dress that Karl had paired with a little white t-shirt. I loved the armlets, I felt it was Cleopatra-esque.”

In her next project, Planetarium, a French drama set to release later this year, Depp stars opposite Natalie Portman as her sister. The film is set in the 1930s and chronicles their relationship and their ability to connect with the supernatural world. “It was the first time I read a script all in French,” admits the French-American actress. “But once I read the script and was enchanted with the story, it wasn’t that difficult for me.”