NARGIS MAGAZINE
Faces

Catherine Deneuve. In the name of love

Catherine Deneuve gained superstar status in 1964, after the Cannes triumph of the musical film “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”. In 1985, she was chosen as the “face” of Marianne, whose sculptural image is traditionally present in every French city hall and police station. She was friends with Yves Saint Laurent, who created exclusive outfits for her to play the prudent Geneviève, the spoiled Lillian Belle de Jour, the charming vampire and masochist, and even, contrary to prejudice, did avoid the roles of unbalanced psychopaths. Idol, style icon, calculating blonde, sex symbol – the actress fought all her life against these labels. Even today, she is hated by the pretentiousness and falsehood of all these concepts. She herself always considered herself an ordinary woman from the crowd. Her "glamorous" cinema images include the role in the film "The Truth" by Japanese Hirokazu Koreeda, where Catherine Deneuve played the famous actress who released her memoirs. So different, but each time surprising and simply incredible, she, even against her will, will forever remain a movie star and an idol for us.

I am sitting in the office of the elegant Hotel Adlon in Berlin and waiting for Catherine Deneuve. “It should be soon,” the agents consoled, pouring water and juice into the glasses before me every now and then. – Just no photos! Madame does not like this ...". The microphone has long been installed, a notebook on the table, as well as sharpened pencils – for notes. Twenty more minutes pass...

In recent years, Catherine Deneuve regularly comes to Berlin for a film festival. Sometimes she participates in the Cinema for Peace Gala Evening, another time she presents her film, like this year's “Farewell to the Night” by Andre Téchiné. Usually she makes several passes along the red carpet. But the main thing is watching movies. Many films, especially rare and exotic, almost never released in Europe. Another ten minutes pass...

The actress appears on the threshold of a suite in an elegant dark suit, in high heels. "Heels at 75? Bravo! ”Flashes through my head. Gorgeous, radiant... Incredible charisma acts magically on everyone who voluntarily or involuntarily finds herself in her way: agents, administrator, casual visitors and, of course, me. Catherine quickly, decisively walks into the office, shakes hands firmly with me, sits down, immediately opens a pack of thin cigarettes, pulls out a gold lighter and lights it. To my surprise, Catherine does everything quickly and talks just as fast. Instantly catches my puzzled look, but interprets it in his own way: We are in a private institution, smoking is allowed here. I am sometimes allowed to smoke even at a press conference. In general, I try not to bother anyone. But smoking and I, and even more so talking about quitting this habit is a completely hopeless topic! Please do not ask questions on this topic.

I continue to consider the beautiful face that has been exciting the world cinema audience for half a century: the perfect make-up in golden beige tones, densely painted eyelashes giving the look languid velvet... Of the jewelry – chic large earrings, elegant diamond watches. Having taken a sip from a glass, but having failed to hide my amazement, I exhale somehow the first question:

How do you manage to maintain this form?

I come across a look full of irony:

It seems you are interested in what I do besides smoking? Let's see. I don’t do sports. I love to eat. True, in the summer I often work in the garden, I sleep a lot and drink ginger tea. Do you know how to make ginger tea?

No! ‒ pretending to round my eyes. My answer seems to have inspired Catherine:

Ginger must be bought fresh, then cut into slices and pour boiling water. I even take it to the set with me and treat my colleagues. 

Our conversation is interrupted by a ringing telephone. The actress apologizes and answers in Italian: Pronto. Leave at the concierge. Why not? Okay, I'll get down now. Sorry, ‒ finally turning to me ‒ I urgently need to pick up the package.

I'm waiting again. Madame Deneuve returns ten minutes later and explains:

When I come to Berlin, I always buy chocolate here. This is a special variety that can only be bought here; It is called Chiara and I adore it. In general, at festivals I never have time, I do not have time to go shopping. Only once somehow managed to buy a bag... My dream is to come here in the summer: walk around the city, take a walk without haste, visit museums... Usually, when I come to the festival, I always sit in movie theaters. I watch rare films that we never show: Japanese, Chinese, Iranian... In Berlin I at least manage to go to the movies, and in Cannes everything revolves around the red carpet, contacts, dinners and filming for magazines.

You recently starred in the film "The Truth" by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda, the owner of Golden Palm Branch ...

True, along with Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke. This film was his first international project. There is nothing Japanese in it. The plot is somewhat reminiscent of his earlier work on family issues.If you watched such paintings as “Shoplifters” or “Father to Son”, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. In “Truth” I play a famous actress, but the character of the heroine, as usual, is far from mine: she is too selfish, self-centered, and unbalanced. So I had to remember all my acting skills in order to embody such a heroine. This role really amused me: after all, many people think that in life I am just that…

Is that not so?

It's not like that at all! When cameras do not focus on me, my role is very usual – I am an ordinary woman from the crowd.

But why did the audience have such an idea of you?

Not sure, but maybe because of my acting portfolio, especially my roles in my youth. Great fame came to me with the painting "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", where my heroine and her mother came from a bourgeois family. Geneviève prefers a rich jeweler to a simple mechanic. But take into account  that the girl is young, besides pregnant, her friend went to war and stopped writing to her... Another well-known role was Severina in "Morning Glory" by Luis Buñuel. There, a young woman, although she has an affair with a petty gangster, still prefers to stay with her rich husband. She can also be understood, because the gangster has nothing to offer her, except for problems. In addition, her husband is not only caring, but also handsome. In the 1960s, I began to collaborate with Claude Chabrol, and he made a career in paintings depicting the bourgeoisie. However, his films should not be taken too biasedly. Yes, his heroes are artificial, like their small talk and lifestyle. Most of his paintings are thrillers, and the bourgeois lifestyle of their heroes is depicted not so attractive, but, on the contrary, repulsive. After my first "bourgeois" roles, I already tried to play diverse heroines. In Roman Polanski's “Repulsion”, I played the killer, in Tony Scott's “The Hunger” I played the vampire. Well, with age, I get more and more foolish housewives or strange pensioners. For example, in the latest works of François Ozon and Pierre Salvadori.

Apparently, you do not really fancy the bourgeoisie...

Yes, I don’t like bourgeois society, I don’t understand life in the “soap bubble”, when people don’t want to discuss current events, they just scratch their tongues about friends and neighbors, about new collections of fashionable clothes or about where to go on vacationI have always been annoyed by people who pretend that everything is wonderful with them. No, I am not against a positive attitude – rather, against falsehood and fear of disputes. Life is interesting just because of its inconsistency. You can not be afraid of discussions, because in them, as you know, the truth is born.

Since the mid-1980s, you have been filming with Andre Téchine, one of the few surviving masters of the “French New Wave”. It seems that for him you had to completely and permanently change your acting role...

You're right! I suddenly stopped wearing clothes from designers, my glamorous image faded significantly. For Andre, I changed: I became more real, more vulnerable, not so confident. He always had a tendency to invite me to the roles of seemingly unpretentious, but at the same time emotional, sensitive heroines. Although they are strong, they are too vulnerable, and you can look deep into their souls. It's hard to have it removed, because he knows all too well for me. That is, he can always predict my game, my way of thinking, and this causes concern. I always worry when I have nothing to surprise him with.

In an interview, Téchiné himself admitted that you are for him a blank page on which he writes down his thoughts...

I think that famous directors generally prefer actors who do not impose their image on the audience, whose appearance on the screen does not distract from the film itself. Directors need characters that provoke the imagination of the viewer, allowing them to impose their own ideas and thoughts on their image. "Farewell to the Night" – my seventh working with Téchiné.And there I present the point of view not only of him, but of our entire generation. I was surprised to see that the old Muriel’s mindset is more positive than her grandson Alex. Under the influence of an Arab girlfriend, he decides to join the army of militants, and his grandmother turns out to be the only person who can instill hope in him, cure him of depression, and bring him back to life.

What, in your opinion, is the problem of the current generation?

Young people always lack tolerance. Only with age and experience does one learn not to judge others. Tolerance comes to those who have loved and lost. And when you are twenty, you still cannot be objective. My heroine does not judge anyone – she only listens and tries to understand. She finds herself in an almost Shakespearean situation when she has to decide the fate of another, almost mature person... I don’t know what the problem of the current generation is. Maybe there were fewer disasters during my youth?

It seems that you left home at 18, in the early 1960s, when women did not yet have so many privileges and they could not lead too independent lives ...

This is true. I left my parental home in 1961 because I fell in love. Later I had a baby from another man, already married. The press then, as carefully as now, followed every step of the famous actors. Paparazzi were waiting for us on the street, they even paid hotel maids to get into the room and rummage around in the trash of a celebrity.I have two children from men whom I have never been married to. I loved all my men, but always wanted to be independent. Apparently, I have taken after my mother: she has already exceeded one hundred, and she still wants to live alone, because she does not want to depend on anyone. In addition, life itself forced me to be independent. When, for example, Marcello Mastroianni entered my life, he preferred the ease of being, and after the birth of our daughter I was the only one who had to bear the burden of her upbringing on my shoulders, although I myself was not very pragmatic. It seems to me that my generation was more nonchalant than modern youth. We made decisions faster, often refusing logic. And, of course, they themselves were responsible for their frivolity. And I always loved risk. It seemed to me that it was better to make mistakes than to regret what was not done. I always liked to destroy stereotypes, and I did not look for the easy ways – I just wanted to live and love. In the name of love, I was ready to destroy even my reputation! 

 

Which men do you like?

Before answering, the actress withstood a significant pause.

I prefer sensitive men who are not afraid to seem too emotional. I do not believe in psychologists, in their ability to help people. But I believe that each person needs several good, faithful friends to whom they can show their weaknesses, their real face. I have such friends. There are few of them, but if I talk to them, it immediately becomes easy and calm in my soul.

French fashion designers loved you. In your collection there are about three hundred models only from Yves Saint Laurent, and this is almost forty years of fashion history...

I was about twenty when Pierre Berger introduced me to Yves Saint Laurent. At a young age, it is difficult to determine your own style, more often you adopt it from others. Besides Yves, I willingly wore outfits from Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. But with Yves Saint Laurent I had a deep friendship all my life... Nowadays there are a lot of good designers, but to be honest, I haven’t met any masters of such a level as these. Today, couturier names are hidden behind brand names that pay actors to wear their clothes. This did not happen in my youth!

So what is the secret of your eternal youth?

I have no secrets. I drink a lot of water, try to avoid the sun and like to spend time outdoors. I love cinema, I often go to the cinema, being in Paris or while traveling. I do not like television, I prefer to watch movies on the big screen. Among my latest favorites are Chinese Jia Zhangke and Japanese Hirokazu Koreeda. In addition, I have a great good habit – I can sleep at any time and fall asleep in any situation. I sleep while my makeup is put on, while my hair is laid, in between exits on the stage, in transport – I always find time to take a nap. Of course, with age, the strength goes away, and today I have to make more of an effort to keep myself in shape. I’m unlikely to live up to the age of my mother, but from her I got the ability to enjoy life. And I look young, probably also because I'm doing what I love!

Interview: Tatiana Rosenstein

Photo: Press-material

The interview was published on the 64th issue