The wife cheats on her husband for a long time and finally decides to leave him. After learning about the adultery, her husband begs her to stay, but the woman cold-bloodedly leaves the house and moves to the hotel across the street... This is the beginning of the movie "Room 212" (in English translation "On a Magical Night") by French director Christophe Honoré, which was displayed on 72nd Cannes International Film Festival. The main character was played by Chiara Mastroianni. For her work she received the title of the best actress (in the category "Uncertain regard"). When it comes to Chiara Mastroianni, journalists primarily remember her eminent parents. After all, Chiara is a daughter of the legendary actors and world celebrities: from her mother – Catherine Deneuve, a symbol of France – she inherited a shapely figure, a neat nose and a charming smile and from father – Italian movie star Marcello Mastroianni – she inherited her wicked brown eyes. But, unlike the famous parents, Chiara does not worship her work and does not create the hype around herself, although she willingly recalls her troubled childhood... She lives in Paris, close to her mother, and just like Catherine once did, raises two children by herself. Her filmography has quite a lot of Franco-Italian films, however there are not are not so many awards. In 1994, she was favored to win "César," and only this year, a quarter of a century later, she was awarded with "The Palme d'Or" of the Cannes Festival. Looks like her film career is starting to gain momentum!
You were shot in four films by Christophe Honoré based on his scripts – from "Love Songs" to "Beloved." But now he admitted that he wrote this role especially for you...
And it is very strange for me to hear, I could not even expect that Christophe sees me in such a role! In movies they like to show men lying and cheating on their wives. But this time Christophe created a woman who behaves like a man. My Maria really looks like a self-centered, narcissistic guy. She's married, but her relationships with her husband have a purely friendly nature. She teaches law at the university and every month she picks one or two students to have fun. Maria's character reflects all the labels that we usually hang on men who cheat on their wives, – you will agree with me that we are almost sure that monogamy does not exist in nature!
Which part of this role was the hardest for you?
Nude scenes. Already in the first scene Maria tries to save one of her young lovers from a too obsessive girlfriend. I had to show up in front of the camera with confidence and elegance, but topless, and I was just burning from shame. I'm a shy person by nature, but I had to remember that I was a professional actress. During the filming, I was repeating to myself in order to get into character: "Whore, whore"... So I was able to hold on till the final scene, the same one when all Maria's ex-lovers gather in one room and she needs to show up in front of them naked. It was one of the hardest scenes!.. And again I needed to show a casual acting, but I felt gravity, fear. And at the same time I felt novelty, exotic. I've never been afraid to push myself for a role, to seem weird, clumsy, funny, weak... The further the role takes me away from me, the better. And Christophe is always the best at solving this task.
Maria believes that in order to save the marriage, you need to have an affair. And what is your opinion on that?
It's nonsense! Maria is not too honest and overly blinded by herself. She thinks of herself as a strong, emancipated, free woman who loves pleasure, and sex is one of them. Husband can't give her what she wants, so Maria creates her own reality that best meets her needs. She convinces herself that there is nothing wrong with her actions, so her spouse's reaction surprises her, she tries to comfort him: "Don't get me wrong! It's not about you!" There are quite a lot people like her in our world – people with distorted perception of reality who want to live their lives without caring about the opinion and feelings of others. Maria fools not only the others, but herself too. The problem is, she doesn't want to be honest, it’s easier for her to live like that.
Your ex-husband Benjamin Biolay plays the role of your husband. Did it complicate the working process?
Of course not, we are still good friends. We have many projects, including musical ones, which we tour together with. Actually, in the movie he plays his own antipode, so for this role he had to learn a lot. For example, he learned to open and unload a washing machine – for me it was some kind of a funny trick!
It seems that the image of a macho man who captured French cinema 50-60 years ago and which was so masterfully embodied by Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, goes back in time. Now they are replaced with soft, not so confident intellectuals...
Fifty or sixty years ago I was not born yet. But I don't think that men should be divided strictly into two types: "macho" and "losers." It's much more complicated. People live with a bunch of labels and they habitually hang them on people: "Oh, it's very masculine", “a girl should not behave like that" or "it's very French..." Actually, we need to live with eyes wide open, then we can find more answers to our questions.
Can you imagine yourself in another profession?
Like any child, I dreamed of becoming a firefighter. It took a very long time to realize that I was not made for normal life and work... although is there such a thing as "normal work"? I can't say I have no doubt about the chosen path. Especially when you have to stay without work for a while. Fortunately, there are directors like Christophe Honoré: he always calls me at moments, when I have doubts. And then he seduces me with his ideas, brings me back to life and, without knowing it himself, gives me the answer to the question why exactly I chose this profession.
Do you remember your first role in the cinema?
I remember it perfectly. I was six years old, my mother was starring in the film of Claude Lelouch, and I visited her regularly on shootings. I didn't understand then what exactly my mother was doing. At some point I got so bored that someone from the film crew offered: "Keep her busy with something, give her a small role". A lady with a beautiful hat shaped hair clip with a bright red stone in the middle said that. She smiled and promised: "If you play in the film – I will give it to you." The clip was very beautiful, and I really wanted to have it. But the first acting experience disappointed me. I was dressed in some strange suit, like the one Woody Allen wore as a sperm in the film "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, but Were Afraid to Ask". It took away my desire to act and even pose in front of the camera for a long time.
So when did you start dreaming about movie career?
This happened thanks to one case involving my father. I must say, I was rarely seeing my dad. I was usually sent to him on holidays, but we never went anywhere as he had never been on vacation. When he wasn't working, he felt lost and helpless, and with each new project he threw himself into his work. That's probably how he tried to conceal the dark parts of his life... Instead of shared holidays, my father allowed me to accompany him on the filming. I was eight years old, and I was so struck by the amazing decorations and gorgeous suits that I wanted to join this mysterious, extraordinary world called cinema! However, at first I wanted to become not an actress, but someone else – let's say, a light man or assistant to the director...
How did your parents' popularity affect your life?
I didn't notice it at young age. I went to Montessori School, where children are protected from the aggressive influence from the outside. The first time I felt my mother was famous is when I saw her on a cover fashion magazine posing with Miss Piggy. The thought of my mother being familiar with Miss Piggy herself made me terribly excited – then for the first time I felt her significance! The hardest test was for me was the high school. I was a teenager, and it seemed like my class mates knew about my parents' private lives more than I did. But now I think: how great it is that my parents were actors! After all, it could be worse if they were, for example, politicians...
Is it true that your mother did not want you to become an actress, and your father, on the contrary, encouraged your choice?
Like any mother, she was worried about me. After all, her acting path was unique, and she clearly realized that not everyone can be as lucky as she was – to act at famous directors and have a regular job. She felt like I was seeing this job in pink light. Well, and my father was happy with every success I had. After all, he did not have to raise me or live with me for a long time – all these heavy duties fell on the shoulders of my mother. She wanted me to go to university and master some "serious" profession, so I got into the Sorbonne, started studying some nonsense called "Media and Communication", but quickly ran away from there. At school I had a friend, he started shooting quite early and always wondered why the daughter of movie stars, plus so famous, dreams of something else – for example, to become an Italian teacher? He could not get it: "Why become an Italian teacher if you can shoot in movies?" I was stubborn: "I already know Italian, which means I won't have to study too much." But then, as luck would have it, we were have to read Italian classical literature – it confused me so much that sometimes it seemed like I did not speak my own language. And my friend kept on insisting: "Try acting first, in case it doesn't work out, you will still have time to study." It was him who convinced me that if you give up your desires, life can become too boring and boredom can grow into depression.
You can be seen on screen as your real mother's daughter, Catherine Deneuve? What are the features of your communication with her in life and in the work environment?
At work we try not to advertise our closeness. We are just actresses there, our relationship does not affect the working atmosphere. Well, in life, of course, we're pretty close. We can have dinner together, discuss movies... I am still embarrassed by my eternal "daughter" image – the daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni. To be honest, I'm sick of being a daughter! After all, I'm 47 already, and I've been a mother of two kids for a long time! I dream of the moment when I will be able to play the role of the mother of my mother, let's say, in some science fiction!
What do you wish for your children?
The most usual –happiness! Let them do what they want, the most important – by their own will. My daughter has not decided yet on the choice of profession, and my son wants to support the family tradition and become a director. That's not bad, I think. Maybe he'll invite me to his movies, too?..
Interview by Tatiana Rosenstein / Photo: press materials.
Material was published in the sixty-second issue.