Photography HANS NEUMANN

The actress Adèle became the youngest person in the history of the festival to be awarded the Palme d’Or.

CN You started taking acting classes at a young age, how did this opportunity presented itself to you?
AE I was lucky that my parents wanted me to do extracurricular actives as a kid. Out of curiosity, but mainly because I didn’t like sports, I ended up picking an improv class in Paris’ 18th district. It was playful, direct and I enjoyed it immediately. Chance then brought a Casting Director there who asked me to do this screen-test. That’s how it all started. It could all be accidental, but it could also just be destiny.
CN Besides the play The Trilogy of Vengeance, your career has mostly played on the big screen. Was this a personal desire?
AE Blue Is The Warmest Color opened wide the doors of the movie business to me; it gave me legitimacy and brought me opportunities, but not much theatre work. Therefore I was thrilled when Simon Stone wanted to meet me for his trilogy of Vengeance. I craved risk-taking, to force myself to be in the now and to discover what it meant to be creatively involved in a play. Simon Stone also has a very peculiar way of working; there are several stages, multiple characters, this sense of urgency. You have to be completely dedicated to his creative whims. I enjoy the sense of danger this type of experience brings.

throughout the story full looks fendi.

When I was younger, I was hardly prepping for my roles; I was drawing from personal experiences and from the collective on set. Today it has switched. The process of preparing for a role is a form of relaxation for me and it allows me to be freer once I am on set. I end up trusting my directors more, as well as the instincts I have about who my character is.

– Adèle Exarchopoulos

CN  In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine in the Seventies, Elizabeth Taylor said she never took acting classes and that movies, the ones she watched as much as the ones she acted in, replaced them. How has your preparation process for a role evolved since your beginnings?
AE When I was younger, I was hardly prepping for my roles; I was drawing from personal experiences and from the collective on set. Today it has switched. The process of preparing for a role is a form of relaxation for me and it allows me to be freer once I am on set. I end up trusting my directors more, as well as the instincts I have about who my character is.
I work on body language, like for my role in The White Crow directed by Ralph Fiennes, or on my voice like for the role of Agnes in Quentin Dupieux’s Mandibules. In the end, it really all depends on what the role asks for.
CN It has been thrilling for me as a moviegoer to discover the emerging faces of French cinema now taking over top billing. Yourself, of course, but also the likes of Tahar Rahim, Reda Kateb, Adèle Haenel, Leïla Bekhti or Rod Paradot. Do you also feel this renewal within the French film industry?
AE  I feel this revolution coming in the arts at large is due to the frustrations with the codes that have been imposed upon us, to the hypocrisy of some scenarios who often are at odds with our daily lives, devoid of diversity or without strength and depth. I feel this sense of urgency, this need to say Let’s do it ourselves, even if no one is watching and even if no one follows us there. It’s been brought to the surface by the work of Directors Ladj Ly and Houda Benyamina and the schools they have created. Art is for everyone and should be accessible to everyone. Talents come from all different paths of life, you just have to look around. We have entered an Era of global self-reflection on so many different topics. Often, questions are more important than their answers and our generation is questioning it all. Art itself is questioning. Art is also taking a stance. There was once the New Wave, now is the time for a New Era.
CN  When looking at your filmography, what is striking is how many movies you already acted in but also the diversity of roles you have been playing in them. How do you choose your projects?
AE  Though it may sound cliché, with my heart and my guts. At times I am drawn to the character over the Director, sometimes it is the opposite. Sometimes the script is clumsy but the story moves me. Mostly it’s the urge to do new things and to explore unknown territories that motivate my choices.
CN  You have mainly worked on French films, what makes you pick a foreign one and what’s the difference between the two?
AE  As of now I have worked with Directors Ralph Fiennes on The White Crow and Sean Penn on The Last Face. I had to go through the casting process for both of these roles. I found that acting in a language that is not my own and that I don’t master perfectly allows me to be less cerebral and more honest with my performance.
CN  How have these films, the work conditions, and the exposure ultimately enriched your career in France?
AE  Every experience has enriched me. Good and bad, you learn through trials and errors. These projects allowed me to put myself in danger, to be confronted with new ways of working. Americans work very hard and are very organized. This gives you this sense of total freedom once on set because all potential issues have been settled beforehand. Each project of course is a human experience and differs from the other, that’s what makes it all so wonderful!
CN  I feel you have a strong desire not to get typecast, is this a conscious decision on your part?
AE  It is, movie making is a playground and a place for transformation. The choices you make as an actor are important and decisive. This strong desire for exploration is what motivates me. I have always admired actors who transform themselves for a role. People like Christian Bale or Sean Penn, when they create a character, I believe them. And just like with faith, the choices you make also bring doubts.
CN  Though you are well known, you seem to have kept your personal life private. How do you manage to keep this part of your life out of the spotlight?
AE  Promoting a movie is part of the game, you fight for a film, you talk about it, you bring it to festivals. The image we give during that time is of course different from the person we are in private. I am way more bashful than you may think. But putting yourself forward has its limits, Instagram for example is a game for which you can create your own rules. I use it in sync with a film’s promotion schedule or to highlight causes I feel strongly about… but when it comes to my family, my close friends, or personal moments, I feel strongly that they are mine and do not feel the need to share them with the world. I do not have this need for validation, quite the opposite actually.
CN  Your personality and the projects you choose to be involved with very much resonate with the times we live in. Is there a past era in movie making that you’d wish you could have been involved in?
AE  I am not at all a nostalgic person though classic movies of the past still influence me and my generation. I especially love Abel Ferrara’s early films, all of Martin Scorsese’s work, and am a fan of Raymond Depardon.
CN You recently had a role in the French television comedy series La Flamme, we’d never seen you in this register. Are comedies something you’d like to do more?
AE  I adore comedies and La Flamme is one of the best on-set experiences that I have had. What struck me the most was the warmth of the Directors and the generosity of the other actresses. There is something noble in bringing laughter and entertainment to an audience. I have always loved comedies and dreamt of filming one someday. In France you can be easily typecast, you get caged in, they want you to remain in the original state they first encountered you in on-screen, but I do aspire to film more comedies. I consider myself really lucky that Quentin Dupieux also decided to work with me on his last project Mandibules.
CN  In France, media have increased their coverage of sexual violence and consent, racism, and police violence. Finally, these big societal questions are being discussed openly. Do you feel this collective shift is reflected in your industry?
AE  I feel like my generation is finally ready to tackle these important issues. If we want a chance to change the course of history, we have to look at these issues in the eyes. Politicians won’t save us; our ideas and the solidarity within us all will. This collective awakening, this desire for a deep cultural change, I feel it. And if movies want to be a part of history, or at least want to reflect it, then yes, important changes need to happen there as well.
CN  How has your work as an actress changed since you began and what further evolutions do you wish to see?
AE  It absolutely has changed. My generation takes more risks, we don’t seek approval and financial success as much. We shape our desires with faith and whatever means available. There is still work to be done when it comes to representation. We still lack a certain depth with scripts that fraught reality and caricature individuals in a way that’s not reflecting the social and racial diversity we all live in.




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