Emmanuelle Béart • Actress
"André Téchiné's errant mother"
by Anne De Gasperi
- A meeting with the French star of Les Egarés, set in 1940. "I prepared for this role by talking to my grandmother"
A meeting with Emmanuelle Béart who is in Cannes to present her latest film, Les Egarés by André Téchiné. Set in German occupied France in 1940, it is the story of a young widow and her two children fleeing the city to the relative safety of the countryside. A chance encounter with a wild adolescent boy changes her life for ever.
You are the protagonist of André Téchiné’s latest film, Les Egarés. How did you prepare for this story that is based on an historical event?
“I did not prepare by researching history with a capital “h”, just my character. She is a teacher, a professional with ideas and theories about every issue under the sun. She is looking for confirmation while the world is crashing around her. She meets people she would never have met under normal circumstances, and falls in love with people she would never have otherwise loved. My goal was to portray the sentiments of a woman who removes the mask she has always worn when she decides to love a younger man. I forced myself to experience the natural feelings that this type of woman would feel. It became natural for me and if I had not first spoken to the soldier, for example, I would never have embarked on a love affair with the adolescent. I identified with this woman who has lost her life and all the things she is familiar with during the melodramatic exodus.”
You were born long after the war. So where did you draw your inspiration?
“Not having lived during that time, I obviously have no memories of it. However, my grandmother who is 100, fled from Belgium with my mother who was still a little child. I am so close to my grandmother that I named my daughter after her, Melanie. I talked to her about this film. While we were shooting, I asked her about her experience of leaving Belgium. Thousands of people from northern France, as well as Dutch and Belgians came to the South. My grandmother’s strength emerged in all its formidable force during her journey and I took that for my character in this film.”
This is the first time you play the mother of adolescents. Was it difficult?
“I found it natural, given that my children are almost fully grown and I could easily have had even older ones. André Téchiné and I were in perfect synergy, there was a sort of osmosis passing between us. I allowed him to guide me and find the right tone and accent.”
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