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France – Cannes

We discovered her in Nymphomaniac, a shocking film by director Lars von Trier released in 2013, just ten years ago. Since then, the 33-year-old actress has not stopped acting, alternating historical and fictional characters, French auteur films, and foreign productions.

Today she is starring in the film La Graine by director Eloise Lang, alongside François Damiens and Marie Papillon, and in Martin Provost’s new film, Bonnard, Pierre et Marthe, in which she plays Renée Monchaty, the painter’s mistress, who for a time disturbed the fusional couple played by Vincent Macaigne and Cécile de France. The film will be presented at Cannes in the “Cannes Première” selection. 

Meeting with Stacy Martin, actress with a magnetic talent. 

15 h 10

Monsieur George Hotel – Paris

©François Berthier

You are Franco-British and have lived in Japan for several years. So, you grew up in three different cultures. What character traits have you treasured from each of these three cultures?

I’ll start with Japan, because I have very specific and strong memories of my elementary school experience. I was most impressed with the way the Japanese have a way of empowering young children. For example, during lunch, a cart is placed in front of the classrooms and it is the students who distribute the trays by themselves and, once the meals are finished, clean up and put them back on the cart. All of this is done in a natural way without any adult presence. So, I was very independent at a very young age and continue to be so. I was also very touched by their work ethic. I try to keep this value that I find precious, and even more so in the world we live in today. 

From France, I kept my curiosity and interest in people. I also like to be able to sit on the terrace of a café and simply observe the people who pass by… It’s very French…

But I have also developed a sense of reflection and the ability to say no. I think I really acquired these skills here in Paris. Knowing how to say no is essential for me and is not linked to anything negative or confrontational. I have a certain ability to analyze and step back before saying yes or no. So, when I say no, it’s no. 

Finally, from England, I think I have a sense of humor, which is not always easy abroad, and maybe also my reserved side. I have lived in London for years and I have developed my theatrical and cinematographic culture there. I feel at home in England. 


© François Berthier

If someone didn’t know your filmography, which film would you like them to discover first? And why would you want to do this? 

I think of the film Joueurs by the director Marie Monge. I really liked the film and the shooting. Some of the shots reminded me of Wong Kar-wai’s cinematographic universe, and this choice to let the film breathe is rare enough in cinema to be underlined. Marie Monge leaves room for the viewer’s imagination, and I find that very interesting. 

I didn’t know Tahar Rahim well, but we quickly found our game. Tahar Rahim has this ability to let go and invest his entire character. We were confident and our duo worked because of that, I think. The film was not as successful as expected and it’s a shame. I think it will get a second chance. It would be deserved.

© François Berthier

I have the impression that the films you choose are more collective experiences than just the interpretation of a character. Rather than being focused only on your role, you seem to invest yourself in the whole project. Is this the case?

You know, the best moment for me is when you get the call that you’ve landed the role, it’s a very strange feeling of excitement, euphoria, fear, and stress. All the emotions are mixed together, it’s wonderful! A new project starts and everything follows: the preparations, the meeting of a new team, the exchanges with the director, the shooting, the sets, the costumes… The role exists thanks to all this collective energy, and so, yes, what I like in cinema is the whole project. Obviously, the process of creating a character – researching, looking for character traits or sometimes physical resemblance – is also very stimulating and rewarding.

© François Berthier

You alternate the roles of historical and fictional characters. One could imagine that playing a character who existed is easier, because more elements and material are accessible, but is this really the case? One thinks of the character of Charpillon that you play in Benoît Jacquot’s film Dernier amour, or that of Anne Wiazemsky in Michel Hazanavicius’s film Le Redoutable, or the very mysterious historical character of Renée Monchaty that you play in Martin Provost’s latest film, Bonnard, Pierre et Marthe, presented at Cannes this year. 

Indeed, the process is different. You don’t prepare yourself in the same way when you play a character who existed. For Benoît Jacquot’s film, the costume, the make-up, the hairstyle, the sets immerse you very quickly in the character of Charpillon. 

For the role of Anne Wiazemsky, what was very interesting was the bias of the director, Michel Hazanavicius, who did not want my character to become a carbon copy of the writer, even though the film is inspired by the novel One Year Later written by Anne Wiazemsky. On the contrary, he wanted my character to reflect all of Jean-Luc Godard’s muses: a mixture of Anna Karina, Brigitte Bardot, Anne Wiazemsky… And building my character from all these muses was very interesting for me.

Finally, for Martin Provost’s film, the creation of the character of Renée Monchaty, indeed very mysterious, was more complex because we know very little about her. But the idea is to find a starting point linked to the character or the physicality, and there, in this case, we found it interesting to start with her hair color, a blond very specific to Bonnard and his paintings. This characteristic was for me the starting point to shape her character and this part of mystery. 

© François Berthier

Some roles lead you to other artistic disciplines, such as painting, writing… What are your other passions outside of cinema? 

It’s not easy to have time for other activities when you’re working on one project after another – and I’m very lucky for that! But I love going to museums. It is very beautiful and very moving to be alone in front of a painting, a masterpiece. And I love the mix of audiences in museums, which varies depending on the time you go. Recently, I went to the Magritte Museum in Brussels, which I recommend to you, if you don’t know it. There was a group of children with a guide, and I loved listening to them give their opinion on the different paintings, without any restraint, it was spontaneous, funny! And sometimes, at other times, it’s very quiet and it calms me down…

And in the cinema, which films have touched you deeply? I saw on your Instagram account that you highlighted two films: Happy as Lazzaro by Alba Rohrwacher and Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle by Arthur Harari, two very powerful films that also moved me. Why these choices? 

Alba Rohrwacher’s film touched me a lot. It is a magnificent film that gives hope in humanity. The story is very beautiful and it is very well directed. 

In Arthur Harari’s film, I was especially captivated by the acting performance and the incredible shots. Two films to see, yes! And lately, I also liked very much Revoir Paris by Alice Winocour, a not easy subject, but she knew how to keep modesty and respect, and I think it’s a film that must do good to all the people who lived closely (and even far) this drama.  

And I totally change the register, but I recently saw a very experimental, particular film (in the good sense of the word), Azor by Andreas Fontana, very interesting!   

© François Berthier

And any actors who particularly touch you? 

Yolande Moreau is an actress who moves me! She had a scene in Brady Corbet’s film, L’Enfance d’un chef, in which I also featured. I was there the day of that scene, and when I saw her, I just fell apart. 

And lately, I had the chance to act alongside François Damiens in the film La Graine, and his acting is fascinating. He improvised a lot while remaining totally anchored in his character, with an incredible accuracy. I had rarely seen an actor propose so many things while keeping this accuracy in the game. 

© François Berthier

The magazine Acumen highlights young emerging talents in the field of design, architecture, art, photography… Would you like to introduce a talent? 

I could have suggested the designer Misha Kahn, he is a friend, and I love his universe. I saw an article about him in your magazine (Acumen n° 32). And recently, I bought a metal candlestick from the design studio Barbier Bouvet that I absolutely did not know. The name intrigued me at first and I really liked their pieces. 

Your upcoming projects?

Olivier Py’s film, Le Molière imaginaire, with Laurent Lafitte, among others. 

The shooting of Brady Corbet’s new film, The Brutalist.

And Martin Provost’s film, Bonnard, Pierre et Marthe. 

Thank you, dear Stacy!

It was a real pleasure…

Melissa Burckel