François Ozon - site officiel

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Interview with Emmanuelle Seigner

Emmanuelle Seigner - Dans la maisonHow did you meet François Ozon?

We met long before this film, in 2007, for a project with a female character in the vein of UNDER THE SAND. It was about a woman who falls in love with her son's friend, a character similar to Esther but in a more dramatic context. I love François' films. I very much wanted to work with him, and I was so disappointed when that film didn't get made.

What were your impressions when you read the script for IN THE HOUSE?

I liked it a lot. I found the role of Esther amusing. In the script she was difficult to pin down, mysterious, floaty. There was a lot to build on.

Did you get involved in building the character yourself?

I never build a character myself, I do what I'm told. I'm not an actor who researches her roles. I shouldn't say that but it's true. I let the director decide, I wait to see what he wants. In any case, even if you try to decide, the director edits the takes. He has the final cut. Might as well give him what he wants from the get-go! An actor is there to serve the director. Which is actually something I often dislike about this job! That's why I also sing. Singing allows me to be more at peace as an actress, so I can hand myself over.

What did François Ozon expect from you?

That I wear the dress he wanted, do my hair the way he wanted, say my lines... An actor's job is a lot easier than people think. When I was younger, I tried to be good. Now that I have more experience and self-confidence, I think the less you try to be good and show what you can do, the better you are.

Esther is a role against type for you.

Right, I'm really not Esther, she completely passive. It's fun to play someone who really isn't you. Along with the shrew I played in Yvan Attal's AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER, Esther is one of the most fun roles I've played in my whole career.

You're convincing as a middle-class housewife and yet you still manage to be sexy.

That's very kind of you, but I didn't find myself the least bit sexy! By the end I improve a bit, but I got a shock when I saw the film, I didn't recognize myself. But that's ok. Controlling your image is contrary to our job as actors. We're not fashion models.

How do you see Esther?

Esther is a nice woman. She's endearing and a bit old-fashioned, like a housewife from the 50s or 60s. She's totally devoted to her family and her little house. She'd love to work as an interior decorator but she lacks ambition. She's a middle-class housewife the likes of which you hardly see anymore, since the women's liberation movement. Other than in certain American TV series like Desperate Housewives.

Dans la maisonIs Esther happy or is she the world's most bored woman?

A little of both. She's definitely bored, but she has a husband and a son, and at the end of the film we learn she's going to have another child. Many women who give up everything for their careers dream of having a family like Esther has. Ideally you have both, but not everyone is so lucky. If I had to choose between my career and my family, I would also choose my family.

Do you understand why Claude is fascinated by Rapha's family and Esther in particular?

Yes. Children don't want weird lives, they want to be like everyone else. They crave reassuring role models: a dad who goes to work and a mom at home baking cookies. This normality is what attracts Claude.
Esther is sweet and reassuring. We can easily understand why Claude desires her. And she becomes less bland, more interesting, through his amorous gaze.

What attracts Esther to Claude?

Is she really attracted to Claude? Did that kiss in the kitchen actually happen? Could it be Claude made it up? Is François playing with our minds?!

What was the shoot like?

Very pleasurable. The way François works suits me perfectly. He works quickly, he's cheerful, talented, funny. He's not into suffering on set, which is a good thing because my masochistic side is seriously underdeveloped! I think life is too important, too short and sometimes too painful to seek out pain on the job. I have a pleasant job, might as well enjoy it. I approach acting tranquilly, without anxiety. Which is not to say I don't invest myself in what I do. I always try to be as sincere as possible.

How did you like working with Denis Ménochet?

He's a really nice guy. Like me, he sees acting as pleasure, so we enjoyed working together. As for Ernst Umhauer, despite his young age and limited experience, he knew exactly what he was doing. He's perfect in his role.