Seems like it was impossible to mesh aristocratic French actress, famous for her role in The English Patient, and American golden girl, famous because of her role in Twilight Saga. But French director Olivier Assayas managed to film them together. And it turned out to be so great, that critics in Cannes almost choked with delight. A woman with severe temper, Binoche, and flighty girl, Stewart, coalesced both in the movie and in real life. They’re not close enough for Kristen to call her new BFF at night, but close enough to ask her opinion and tell silly jokes without restraint. Even with witnesses during the interview.
J: Wow, your hair is so short!
K: A la Binoche. I’m trying to be more like you.
J: It suits you.
K: So, I’m supposed to interview you? Or we both supposed to interview each other? Listen, what if we imagine that we’re still on the set of Sils Maria?
J: Walking along the emerald meadows, sun is shining and fluffy clouds above us, we read Nietzsche…
K: …And we got lost!
J: No, we’re not!
K: No, but we weren’t there during filming either.
J: Ok, but we were pretending. It’s just we’re such incredible actresses (Both laugh)
K: You were skipping ahead of me like a mountain deer, and I was dragging my feet behind and complaining. It was awesome.
J: If only we didn’t have all these cigarettes and alcohol.
K: Right, you were always smoking and drinking.
J: But it wasn’t my idea! It’s all director’s fault. Olivier always was like, smoke just one or two. Or, drink just one glass, pleeeeeease! He thought that every aged actress behaves that way. But not me!
K: Still you smoked like a chimney and drunk non stop (Laughs)
J: It’s just a part of the act. Cigarettes and alcohol is such an old cliché. They cultivate talented people’s…
K: …weaknesses and vices, and an artist needs them to move forward.
J: Did you just say ‘vice’? Never heard this word used with this meaning.
K: It has a lot of meanings, from vice president to behavior. (Laughs) But seriously, I love that about our characters: they both live in a certain miserliness, closeness, and drunkenness helps to fill the void. By the way, after filming lots of our colleagues feel the emptiness and dive into bottle. This cliché is not far from the truth.
J: Are you serious? How do you know? (Laughs)
K: I don’t drink! I swear!
J: Ok, I just wanted to irritate you (Laughs). You’re right, my character goes through all the circles of Hell, and it’s hard. And alcohol helps her…
K: …To forget.
J: Yes, she doesn’t want to believe in everything that goes around and inside of her.
K: In whole it’s a very complicated internal drama: your character, Maria, became famous because of her role of young and charming, ambitious Sigrid, and 20 years later she should play her exact opposite – tired and aged actress.
J: And here’s the question: would you, dear Kristen, play my character, battered, old drunk, in your 24?
K: Umm… I’m not sure.
J: What? Wouldn’t want to?
K: When you look at me like that, I can’t say “no” (Laughs). But you have to agree, it’d be weird. If only we’d trade bodies.
J: Excuse me?!
K: Did I say something stupid again?
J: It’s nothing, forget it.
K: My god, how did I get to the point, where I imagined myself to be someone like you? You’re prefect! I’m so far behind. By the way, the movie is based on this: how a person sees themselves and their roles, and how other people see them. Do you remember our first meeting, Juliette?
J: You were hanging with your producer and a couple of friends at the terrace at Soho House in Berlin.
K: And suddenly: “Juliette Binoche is coming”.
J: By the way, I was extremely nervous before our meeting.
K: Really? I think I was nervous way more than you. When you walked in everyone jumped to their feet and I just froze and stayed in my place, alone. It was somewhat a formal meeting. I think we started to talk about our characters right away.
J: And I remember how you swung your leg the whole time then, just like you’re doing now.
K: It’s a tic of mine. (Laughs) It was right after I came to Berlin.
J: Right. Unlike you, I had a few days of acclimatization.
K: I almost died from the anxiety, and you say “leg”. By the way, did you get the chance to google me before our meeting?
J: Of course.
J: I read a couple of your interviews, and decided that I like you. Besides, I saw On The Road, but refrained from Twilight.
K: Pfft… Admit it, you watched all parts and loved it.
J: I’m sorry, no. But in truth, it was because of Twilight I learned about you: the first time I saw you was on the poster in my daughter’s bedroom. It was such a shock (Kristen laughs). And at that meeting in Berlin you were hiding behind the door and scared me to death. But the ice has been broken.
K: And we talked a lot that day, and after our meeting I though, “Shit, there’s so much I didn’t tell this woman!” There’s something about you, Juliette, that makes a person open up right away. You’re easy to trust. How do you do that? This is a real gift. If we both weren’t so busy, I’d probably call you at night to ask for your advice in anything. Listen, did you think about how different our biographies are?
J: You’re a kid-movie star, schooled at home, first movie at the age of 9, Hollywood parents, blockbusters etc.
K: And you’re a sophisticated French woman, Catholic boarding school, which you decided to quit at 15 for work in Paris theatre, so you could play in Godar’s movie later.
J: Still we have something in common. Passion for cinema, people, but above all – for acting. It’s this fire inside of you that drew me in. Everyone’s searching themselves in something, and passion helps us to overcome the ever present difficulties. I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t feel this passion now, 30 years later. It leads us through life.
K: Two flames that grow stronger when united. Ew, no, it sounds kinda dirty. But you’re right, this passion drives us, won’t leave us alone.
J: I find it funny that people think strong feelings can be overcome while you’re doing only art-house movies. Of course, give me the freedom, and I’d do art-house only. But the success of these movies is an incredible luck. So you have to learn how to juggle, to experience the whole range of feelings in every movie.
K: I also hate when people say, one role for yourself, one – for audience. Bullshit.
J: I agree.
K: Everything I do, I do for myself. Blockbuster, art-house or Chanel commercial – it doesn’t matter. It could seem that after a successful movie I can allow myself anything. And you know what? I can! It’s incredible: I can do anything I fucking want. Yes, I’m in this unconscionably privileged position. And I’m not ashamed.
K: I never have to beg for a role, I can get any role with a snap of my fingers, and I don’t have to fight and struggle on my way up, like some other actors. I imagine a huge map with lots of streets and roads, and the only thing I have to do – is choose, where do I want to stay. Every door is open for me. I had a conscienceless amount of luck in my life. And it’s enough to understand: I love to play in blockbusters because I know, everyone’d watch them, they attracts people, they’re easy to take and they’re enjoyable. I bet your son was delighted when he learned, that you’d be in Godzilla.
J: He was. Though I’ll never understand what do all these people do at the sets of high-budget movies. After all everything is the same: camera, director, a couple of words or sentences said by someone. But you’re right: I enjoy all the anxiety, that only blockbusters can cause. The expectations are completely different.
K: Expectation is a whole other topic. The readers will definitely want to hear some of your advices. Tell me wise things. Do you have something ready?
J: Don’t let your kids play with an Oscar, the gold comes off.
K: (Shrieks with laughter) You’re so wise! I often noted it during the filming. You urged me to learn to give more of myself to the role. And I was like, wow, she’s just standing here, beside me, and I already want to be better. Than myself, of course.
J: (Laughs) You fox!
K: I swear! That’s why I love you.
J: To play together is like to make a painting together. I’d even want to speak in paintings.
K: Well said. To play every scene together is like…
J: …roller coaster. You can’t tell for sure how it will be, until you’re together in one cabin. Sometimes you can loose footing, or suddenly you need to jump, or someone has to catch someone. That’s how I always know a good director: he always lets actors to find themselves. That’s why Maria’s character interested me, she’s a dying star. But the conclusion is: you’re the star, and I’m dying.
J: I’m kidding. I’m allowed to. (Laughs)
K: Damn you. I’m so glad we found each other.
J: Likewise. I already had to work with people I didn’t like.
K: How was it?
J: Tolerable. You have to put a wall around yourself. The worse is when people disappoint you. Or drive you crazy so much that you can burst into tears in the dressing room. It’s very difficult to stay in front of the camera after that, forgetting the hurt.
K: There are actors and actresses that try to make an impression that they and every character they play are two different persons. Like, they wear the character at the set, then take it off and walk away. I don’t believe it. I believe that actor/actress plays a new version of themselves in every role. You can have wild imagination, change scenery, go from one extreme to another, it doesn’t matter, after all you’re playing a part of yourself. Everything else is bullshit.
J: You speak wisely.
K: If two people in front of the camera have a connection, they feel the emotions, they don’t just pretend. Everything is real. And this way the onlooker will feel it too. Like it was between us in Sils Maria. Tell me, does everything seem weird to you too, when you watch the movie?
J: What do you mean?
K: There are some scenes that transfer the exact same things that I remember about that time. It’s like with your memories that stratify on childhood drawings. But here it’s not the same. Here the memories are identical. Because of that it’s very difficult for me to watch the movie. And the critics… Sometimes they’re dead on, but a lot of comments are empty, hurtful and doesn’t have anything to do with reality. No one knows what the movie is really like. And exactly how can they have a right comprehension about it? People often ask me what do I think about public opinion.
J: And you?
K: I answer with question: which one from a thousand of opinions? But still, was it hard for you to look at us on screen?
J: Not harder than looking in the mirror every morning. (Laughs) Why do you worry so much? We did an amazing movie! Beautiful and powerful.
K: But is it a chick-flick?
J: At least the lead roles are played by chicks.
K: I hate the term “chick-flick”, it degrades and simplifies everything. And “powerful chick-flick” sounds even worse.
J: Then lets agree that the movie is special.
K: That I like.
(Press Secretary walks in and asks to wrap it up, because Kristen has a plane to catch at 1.15 pm. It’s 11.45 am.)
K: Oh, I have to pack and dash to the airport.
J: Suit yourself. But if you miss your flight, we can meet tonight (Laughs)
K: Sounds great. But it’s even greater to never miss your flight. And we’ll meet soon enough anyway – in South Africa for our new project.
J: Hush! It’s a secret!
Translation thanks to OCD_ward.