Compiled by: Jack Foley
Warning - this interview contains plot spoilers
Q. At what point did you become involved in The Swimming Pool
A. After 8 Women was released,
François Ozon and I were never really apart, because we
promoted the film together. I sensed he was thinking of a new
project and he offered me the part fairly soon after hed
cast Charlotte Rampling. It was the first time hed cast
me without asking for a screen test, which was very flattering.
Q. Were you not worried about shooting most of the film in
A. I was very excited about having to perform in English.
Id done it before, but not with a character present throughout
The real challenge was physical because I really had to compose
a character from scratch. I had to come up with a kind of sexual
aggressiveness and make it work, which meant quite heavy physical
training and also building up ones sexual bravado.
Q. How did you work on Julies look?
A. Julie needed to be, in Sarah Mortons eyes and also
in the audiences eyes, an obvious sex symbol. That meant
working on my body to make myself more like a cagole,
a Provencal sex bomb. I also worked with the costume designer,
the make-up girl and the hairdresser to define a look that matched
Julies extrovert personality.
Q. Was playing in the nude not a supplementary difficulty?
A. Playing in the nude was not really a problem. Id
done it before in another of François films, Water
Drops on Burning Rock, so I felt comfortable with the crew. And
the physical training gave me extra confidence, so I was able
to handle being naked throughout the shoot.
The hardest thing about playing Julie was dealing with the psychology
of her fractured persona. I had to delve into slightly painful
corners of my imagination to create the character.
Julie was invented with François help. The character
was built by two people. But since the character develops according
to Sarah Mortons fantasies, I let her evolve naturally,
according to the situations François created for us.
Q. Swimming Pool is your third François Ozon film.
Has your work together evolved in any way?
A. On our first film, Water Drops
I was 19 and knew
very little about film-making. I was more naïve and also
more risk-averse. It was not until he cast me as his doppelganger
in 8 Women that I realised we were
On Swimming Pool, François did something I thought was
very good: he let me get involved in the creative process of designing
a film. He gave me more freedom and let me participate in each
stage of the process. I saw it through from writing to recess:
we viewed dailies together.
I was better able to understand the nature of his choices and
because of that, I was able to make my own more freely.
Q. What did you learn from working with Charlotte Rampling?
A. We worked together quite naturally. I felt she was part
of the family because shed worked with François on
Under the Sand. She was very encouraging. Charlotte is someone
who is fairly relaxed about the process of making a film.
Our relationship was cemented by the English language. On set,
everyone understood English, but only Charlotte and I spoke it.
It was like having our own dialect and it made us more intimate.
Also, she is an artist, who can deal with her characters
emotions quite light-heartedly, whereas I am much more naïve
and wilful in my work. I tend to be consumed by my character.
Charlotte Rampling has learnt detachment, without losing the sense
Q. How would you explain Julies relationship with Sarah?
A. At the start, when my character appears by the pool, it
seems Sarah and Julie have nothing in common. Then Sarahs
peculiar attraction for Julie brings about change, which passes
I have a sense that by bringing Charlotte and I together on Swimming
Pool, François has brought two aspects of his work into
one. I come from the artificial side, the theatrical and concept-led
side of Water Drops
and 8 Women,
whereas Charlotte comes from Under the Sand, which is much more
intimate in tone.
I feel that in Swimming Pool, these two currents collide electrically
through Julie and Sarahs relationship. Julie is artificial,
almost vulgar. Sarah is introverted and intellectual. In the film,
these two people confront each other and become altered: Julie
develops an inner life, while Sarah blossoms physically.
I think Swimming Pool is François attempt at telling
a highly personal story, a story about a creative artist and his
muse, that shows how fine the line between fiction and reality
can be. How an author can be utterly overwhelmed by his muse and,
conversely, how the muse can have the blood sucked out of her
by her author.