It’s hard to pin Lea Seydoux down. She’s only at the Berlin Film Festival for a few days to promote her pair of festival features, before heading straight to Paris to begin on César Award-winning director, Abdellatif Kechiche’s, latest project, an adaptation of the Le Bleu, the comic book by Julie Maroh. This is just one film the rising French starlet has lined up, others include the highly anticipated Beauty and Beast, in which she is confirmed to star as Belle opposite Vincent Cassel. Such accelerated star power is only to be expected from an actress whom in an impressively small time frame has appeared in films by acclaimed directors: Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Benoit Jacquot, Brad Bird and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, a favourite at the 2011 Festival de Cannes and this spring’s Academy Awards.
In her current feature Les adieux à la Reine (Farewell, My Queen) — screening in select theatres in Canada June 1st and in America cinemas come July — Seydoux is a catalyst for action in the tumultuous last days at le Château de Versailles. A period marked by the fall of the Bastille prison, the beginning of the French Revolution, and a quest to send all the royals to the guillotine. Unlike other Marie Antoinette films made in recent years, including Sofia Coppola’s hipster-geared eponymous film Marie Antoinette, Farewell, My Queen follows the lives of the loyal staff of the royals, including a reader played by Sedoux, who has a secret infatuation and bizarrely intimate relationship with the queen.
When speaking with her at the festival, Seydoux explained she had hopes of becoming an opera singer before acting, but she says talent led her away from singing and into acting, but as she shares, this does not mean the cinema is foreign to Seydoux. In fact, it is genetic. “I do come from a cinema family, my family members are producers, so it was always a natural route for me,” says Seydoux of her career shift.
In her still blossoming film career, the actress shared the screen with heavy hitters like Tom Cruise, Owen Wilson, and her Farewell, My Queen co-star Dianne Kruger. Admittedly on the shyer side, Seydoux’s soft-spoken and timid nature (a characteristic that infuses many of her screen roles including her latest) is accentuated in the presence of hollywood’s camera cozy elite.
From the attention she received at the festival (a full dance card of interviews) it’s clear that the last year in cinema has made Seydoux one to watch. Despite all the buzz, the actress seems very calm and modest about her future. When we spoke, she was also preparing for the upcoming Michel Gondry film with Audrey Tautou, but has since had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts.
The French beauty made waves (rippled by sighs of awe) at this past February’s Berlin Film Festival just stepping foot on the red carpet. Her red carpet walk at the premiere of Farewell, My Queen — in a knock-out red Prada gown with hair styled in Golden Age glamour — was nothing if not a declaration of her assent as a fashion icon. The style parade continued later in the week, when the actress was spotted in a sophisitcated a peek-a-boo lace Elie Saab gown.
Showing in a festival year that include striking and evocative drams such as director Celine Sciamma’s Tomboy, about a 10-year-old French girl who tries to pass for a boy when she moves to a new neighbourhood, and the innovative Miguel Gomes’ Our Beloved Month of August, that tells two linked stories half a century apart, Seydoux is excited to be in the accomplished company of such peers, submersed in the festival’s celebration of generations of filmmaking.
“The Berlin Film Festival is great, there is so much history here, I’m glad I could be a part of it,” Seydoux says before heading off to another interview during the crowded first few days of the festival. Telling, her last words pronounce her to be a fawn in her industry, she emphasizes that she is still new to the craft and still trying to find her footing.
From where I stand — post Farewell, My Queen screening — it is safe to say, Miss Seydoux is on her feet just fine.