Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. What was the appeal for you? Was it in the character,
or the chance to work with Jeunet again?
A: Yes, both.
Q. So could you identify with her and see some of her
A: I never try to compare myself to the character. I
use myself to play a character but I don’t know what I use
or if it’s something conscious. Mathilde is a very complete
character, and in my eyes very complex because of this interesting
determination she has.
Q. How do you view the comparisons that have been made
with Amélie? Does it frustrate you when they merely write
A Very Long Engagement off as Amélie 2 or Amélie
Goes To War? And is there any worry that you might be regarded
for one role now?
A: I don’t feel frustrated by Amélie. And
I understand, I think it’s fair. The actress playing Mathilde
looks the same as the one in Amélie.
The director of A Very Long Engagement shot in almost the same
way as the one who made Amélie.
And the DP also was very inspired by Amélie. I think it’s
fair, but I have no confusion about it. I never compare Mathilde
to Amélie, but I was clever enough to know that these comparisons
would be made.
I don’t have a complex about the part of Amélie and
the fact that there are thousands of people who think about me
because of that part because I know there are some out there who
don’t think that way. It’s nice to be recognised for
something, even if it’s only one thing it’s better
Q. How extensively did you
research to prepare for the role?
A: About the war, I was didn’t try to research
many things about that period because I think I felt that the
story of Mathilde could be at any time. For me, she’s a
very contemporary woman, focussed on this manic desperation however
it happened. But I was more focussed on the novel and the script
and being between these two worlds, Manech and her suffering.
I was more concerned about that than the situation of the war.
Also because I wanted my character to discover what happens. In
a way I wanted her to have the same knowledge of the war as I
had. When Mathilde investigates what happened to Manech I think
she has no precise ideas about what was happening in the war.
And this was because the soldiers, when they came home, they didn’t
talk a lot about it.
It’s said in the film in the scene between Jean-Pierre Darroussin
and Jodie Foster, you can feel the kind of mystery they don’t
describe. So I thought for myself that it wasn’t important
to know it, but I learned many things of course.
Q. But do you understand and relate to her little superstitions?
A: These kind of little superstitions make you braver.
Jeunet: I saw in a French film, Luc Moullet he’s
an underground auteur in France, and he made a film about himself.
He said if he peed on the toilet, and he didn’t put any
drops on the side of the toilet that meant he would have the help
of the government for his next movie. It was very funny.
Q. How much did you research Mathilde’s physical
limitations? And was that difficult to capture, so that the walk
always remained the same?
A: We met with some doctors, who explained the consequences
of her sickness. We decided which part of the muscles would be
We met a friend of Jean-Pierre who had had polio. She explained
to me how to walk, how to climb stairs and how to turn left and
right. And also we decided that I would wear a kind of prosthesis
(leg brace?) which would have been used at that time to maintain
the strength in the leg.
And also for the security, to make sure that I wouldn’t
forget, so the limping would be consistent.