Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. When you got the script, did you get a feel for it
straight away, or did David O Russell have to convince you?
A. Well he didn't have to convince me, but I did have
to trust my instinct. I couldn't rely on just reading to really
understand where I was going to land. But I decided I would do
it anyway, because I already knew who was going to be in the picture.
I knew, also, David O Russell's previous works, and so even if
the script wasn't that clear to me when I first read it, and even
when I read it the second time, I had a good feeling about it.
And I think it's the kind of script that you can't get right away,
first reading, you know. You just have to emerge yourself in the
making of the film to really capture something of it. So that's
what I did.
Q. How do you research a role like this. It's a very
ambiguous role, isn't it?
A. I didn't do so much research. I wouldn't do for any
other part, anyway, so you just... it was just enough for me to
know that it was written on her little professional card, you
know, minimalistness, cruelty and manipulation, as opposed to
destinally characters' philosophy which carries some other thinking.
That was clear enough for me to understand vaguely what was going
on and what I was supposed to carry in the film.
Q. One of the reasons he said he cast you was because
you are French and he liked that European nihilism thing, do you
feel that the French are overly pessimistic?
A. Yes! Well I think it's a bit of a caricature, but
all caricature, as you know, sometimes relies on some true reasons.
Roughly, you tend to think that Europeans and the French are more
cerebral and pessimistic and a bit sceptical, and the Americans
are more open and believers, you know.
Of course, it is a caricature, but sometimes caricature is good
to help you to understand how people relate to each other.
And then you can always put some subtleties in that...
Q. Did you start to ask yourself existential questions
about the meaning of life while making the film?
A. No, no, I just start with questions about the meaning
of the film, but not of my life [laughs]. I just felt we were
emerged in David O Russell's own fantasy, you know? And I thought
that the movie was quite personal and was more like a very individual
and personal statement. And we had to more or less be part of
And we felt that he was going somewhere, even sometimes day by
day we didn't exactly know where we were going, but we could feel
that he knew where he was going and that was enough for us to
be allied on the set.
Q. What did you take away from working with David O Russell?
It seems like he does inhabit quite a unique universe? Some of
the stories to have emerged from the set are quite bizarre?
A. Well, I think that the set was quite chaotic, but
one could understand why in a way, because it was a way of working
for him, to create this chaos. It was not just unpurposeful chaos,
it was meant to take the film somewhere.
The special effect of the little square images on screen in the
film are the right metaphor for each scene. It was all these little
pieces ultimately being put back together and making sense. Each
day was like a different little piece and day by day it all came
together like a puzzle.
When you do a movie, no matter what it is, you never know exactly
what is going to be the final image, so you create one image by
one image each day.
Q. So was it complete faith in David O Russell then?
A. Well that's how you make films, you know. It's all
about having faith in the director. And since it's personal and
very original, yes, all you can do is have faith.
If you are sceptical, yourself, about what you do, then it's very
difficult to do it. But I think it's the same for almost any worthwhile
experience. You go blind most of the time when you are an actor,
and you have to accept that.
But that's the nice part of it - you go blind but you know it
will lead you somewhere.
Q. What about the love scene in the mud. How did you
feel about that? And how long were you down there in the mud?
A. That was the only scene that was really, really clear
in the film. That was clearly written that he [Jason Schwartzman]
was going to plunge me into that mud, so there was no surprise;
I knew that I was going to do that.
But I didn't expect that scene to be so striking for people because
that, of course, is the scene that people talk most about to me
since I started interviews. I don't know what images it takes
people back to; probably some very primitive images. Usually a
love scene is primitive, you know, but doing it in the mud makes
it even more primitive I guess, like you are back to what we are
It really strikes peoples' imagination, and it's nothing more
than mud after all, you know. We could do it in the sand, but
we did it in the mud, so I think it plays on several levels. It's
playful, it's childish - it's a child's fantasy of some sort,
to be emerged in mud or something that you're not supposed to
be in. It's violent as well, of course, because it's not gentle.
So, I don't know, I mean the question's in yourself....
Q. You've worked with Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law and Lily
Tomlin - all fantastic actors. How much of a draw was that to
A. What was attractive to me, and to the audience, was
that it was ensemble picture with very different people, from
very different universes, from different countries. Even if Naomi
[Watts], now, is clearly an American actress, she comes from Australia,
and Jude is English, I am French, and some actors are more viewed
as New York-ish actors, like Dustin, so it made it very cosmopolitan,
which I thought was very intriguing and very interesting because
most of the time American films are very American, and because
I was there, and because Jude and Naomi and some different people,
it makes it more unusual.
Q. You're quoted as saying that your French character
is up against the American philosophy, and you're taking your
revenge. Did you see some kind of French-American contradiction
within those two opposites?
A. Yes, well it's a nice and light way to set a clear
position between two different cultures. And to try to understand...
I don't think it tries to state that is what is best and what
is worst, it just tries to understand what, as human beings, how
much we are drawn by different ways of thinking. Obviously, there
is this negative and pessimistic way of thinking which is viewed
by him as being more European, but which is not far from being
true, as we are more sceptical.
And it's just a way of trying to show how we are all built of
these different influences, and how it reflects on our whole behaviour,
and our beliefs, and how it affects our sense of being fair.
Obviously, the movie is very critical of his country, too, again
in a nice and light way, but you can take it as a critical piece
on capitalism or liberalism, and so it's a sort of melting pot
- he puts all these contradictory and different ideas about life.
Jude Law's character, for instance, is interesting, because you
think that he goes for a very good way of doing, pretending to
care for the environment and things like this... but ultimately
you find out that it's another tool for him to take his Huckabees
liberal store into a bigger area. It makes you just think about
peoples' motivation; and peoples' real motivations, you know,
whether people are really true to themselves, or whether they
are manipulative people.
For instance, when my character thinks that the world is manipulative,
she's obviously right, because Jude's character obviously is a
manipulative character because he pretends to be this open and
caring guy for humanity. The film puts all these different ways
of doing things in perspective, you know.
Q. You describe the set as
being chaotic. Was it a fun atmosphere or a tense atmosphere?
And what expectations or preconceptions did you have about working
with Dustin Hoffman?
A. Oh, I had no preconceptions and I had good expectations
which were fulfilled, but I didn't have any preconceived ideas.
We were just actors working together.
As for chaos, again, we understood that chaos was a tool, was
part of the system to get the movie achieved. It was not a nice
little quiet set. Whoever came from outside was a bit surprised
by David's manners and things like this, but we were not because
we were used to it.
Also, because it was slightly disorganised sometimes, and there
were so many people together, so it had to be like this, it had
to be with this energy and craziness, because it was part of the
Q. It's been nearly 25 years since your first American
experience with Heaven's Gate. Since then, you've appeared occasionally
in American films. Do you think Hollywood has changed in that
A. Yes I think so because I'm not sure that a movie like
Huckabees could easily have been done and shown in Hollywood at
the time we did Heaven's Gate.
The reason why the Americans rejected Heaven's Gate so heavily
when we did it, I'm not so sure it could happen now. And I'm not
only talking about 9/11, or before 9/11, or after 9/11 - maybe
it's part of it - but I think we have a whole stream of people
in Hollywood right now like Spike Jonze, Paul Thomas Anderson
and Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola and all these people who are independent
film-makers like they were in New York, except now they are doing
movies in the official system, because they are all studio movies;
and you have these range of studios like Fox Searchlight, which
is a branch of Fox, which does this very daring and creative movie.
So in that sense, yes, I think Hollywood is much more complex
right now; quite rightly, actually, because the industry renews
Q. So in terms of your career, do you receive a lot of
offers from Hollywood?
A. No. I receive very, very few good offers. I like to
follow the same kind of path that I follow in my own country when
I make movies, meaning if I don't feel the film has a very original
or individual potential, then I'm not interested, you know, because
that's how I make movies in Europe.
So obviously the movies I did, from Heaven's Gate to Bedroom Window,
which was directed by Curtis Hanson, who happens to be a very
good director, and now David, obviously I can feel I'm part of
a very specific universe. It's not one more film, each time they
are specific movies.
But these kind of opportunities for me are quite rare for me,
Q. Did David call you?
A. I think Scott Rudin, the producer, was partly responsible
for that. I don't exactly know who originated my presence in the
film, but I guess it was between David and Scott.
Q. You've played some very strong, independent characters,
but you mention you don't get too many offers. Is that because
there are too few of them at the moment?
A. Well I do know that, for instance, a lot of American
actresses would dream of doing some of the parts I was lucky enough
to do in Europe, and in France, like The Piano Teacher, or The
Story of Women, for instance. All the movies I did with Claude
Chabrol, I mean, I've often heard that very good American actresses
wish they could have such strong, independent and subtle parts
in movies. I do think that they do have good roles, though. When
you think of The Hours, for example, and films like this, but
it's certainly not the majority.
I think that Huckbees is a nice bridge of what one expects from
an American film, and from what one expects from a European film
should be - a nice mixture of light comedy and yet with a certain
Q. So are there better roles for women in French cinema?
A. Well, for me there are good roles in French cinema,
certainly. But let's say we have nothing to envy from American
cinema, even though they do have very great directors and I love
doing movies there when I can. It's always nice, also, when you
can bring whatever comes with you being from a certain culture,
or certain nationality - whether French, German, Spanish or Italian
- you bring all that to a different culture and a different way
The more you take people from different perspectives, the better
it is; the more richer it is for film.
Q. How do you think Huckabees will play in France?
A. I don't know. I'm curious. But I don't know. I hope
Q. Has there been any reaction so far?
A. Well nobody has seen the film. Or only two persons,
and they really liked it, so hopefully it's a good sign.
Q. Was it quite a collaborative process making this film?
A. It was not really improvised. It was chaotic. But
we really followed the script. It's not that we were changing
the text, it was chaotic but not in that sense. Also it depended
on which scenes. Some were more chaotic than others.
Q. What about the chemistry between all the characters.
Was it important to have a rehearsal process, or hang out with
some of the actors before shooting?
A. Well I have had a little rehearsal process before
most of the American films that I do. In France, it's not that
we are lazy or anything, but it's not in our manner, it's very
rare and it's not part of the process.
But I always rehearse in America. I remember, for instance, for
Amateur, we rehearsed for six weeks and then we shot in five weeks,
because we knew we had very little time to do the movie so we
rehearsed for a very, very long time before and explored every
possibility, every potential of the scenes.
And on Huckabees, we rehearsed a little bit; a few days before
we gathered together and talked, and tried the costumes.
Q. But did that help when it came to shooting, given
the interaction between each character is quite quick-fire?
A. No, for that I just had to know my lines quite well
and certainly more than anybody else, because I'm not English
and I had to really rely on my memory, because I can't improvise
exactly the way an English actor can. I'm not saying I can't do
it, just not as easily as if it was my mother language.
Q. The film has a mixture of philosophy, did you find
that you had a lot of philosophical discussion to bring to that?
A. No because again the movie doesn't rely on this depth.
The movie is deep, definitely, but the characters are more silhouetted
against it. I mean, for instance, you have the existential detectives
which, to me, are like comic versions of shrinks; and then you
have the philosopher, but very shortly after I come on-screen
I don't really behave like a philosopher, or what you expect a
philosopher to be, I'm not that serious, because I'm wearing all
these sexy dresses.
And so all the characters are previously defined according to
what they are; you have the fireman, you have what Naomi's character
is, but very quickly they are off the track, you know. So they
are not following a specific path, they are supposed to be the
fireman, the philosopher, or whatever, but then they become more
cartoonist, they are more like silhouettes. None of the parts
are that serious.
Q. Does the film make sense to you now?
A. I've seen it twice and I have to see it again. I mean,
I speak good English and I understand good English but I have
to say that especially what Jude says in the movie, all this corporate
language at the Huckabees store, it's not easy to understand.
I showed the film to certain friends of mine, but it tends to
be very difficult to subtitle.
But you know what I like, the film is so verbal, and you don't
tend to do such verbal things now; it's verbal like a Capra film
was verbal, which is nice, because now films are much more about
images. But this is very well-written and verbal; people talk
all the time, which I thought was nice, because you do it less