The Many Faces of Marion Cotillard

9:00 AM PST 05/09/2012 by Stephen Galloway
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Marion Cotillard

From a mystery role in the "Dark Knight Rises" to a paraplegic whale trainer in "Rust and Bone," the once-self-loathing actress known as France's Angelina Jolie has Hollywood giving her the royal oui as she heads to Cannes for the first time.

Having a child and being part of a family "redefines your priorities," she says, while noting the trio are spending six months in New York. She has divided her time between the U.S and France for much of the past couple of years and would like that to change. "But I never know in advance where I'll go next."

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After finishing Rust and Bone, Cotillard only had a few weeks off, during which she had to learn Polish to play an immigrant in the James Gray project and cook for 10 people every day, since "My family couldn't come all together, so we had three Christmases. Basically, I cooked all the time."

She did this while pursuing an interest in singing (she's part of a rock band, Yodelice); devouring books including recent favorites Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer; and sticking with her commitment to the environment.

Some years ago, Cotillard toyed with abandoning acting to become an environmental activist. She decided she had to stick with her first passion, but her commitment to the environment has led her to work with Greenpeace, and in 2010 she went to Congo, which has the second largest rainforest on earth and is in danger of devastation from industrial logging.

"The first days, I was totally depressed," she says. "I thought, There's nothing we can do to save this forest. But now I think we can change things, if we really want to."

Her work for now must come first. Just a few days after our April 27 meeting, she was scheduled to start shooting her next film, Blood Ties, a crime drama set in 1970s New York, directed by Canet, whom she met in 2003 when they worked on Love Me If You Dare. Initially friends, they have been together for the past five years, since his divorce from actress Diane Kruger; he directed Cotillard in the upcoming Aug. 24 release Little White Lies.

She's struggling to learn Italian for their new movie -- with a Brooklyn accent, to boot. "I don't know why, but it's very difficult for me," she admits in her nearly flawless English. "And I am always very scared that I won't be good enough."

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7 FAVORITE FILMS

  • The Great Dictator (1940)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • I Am Cuba (1964)
  • The Party (1968)
  • The Elephant Man (1980)
  • The King and the Mockingbird (1980)
  • Tandem (1987)

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SCOUTING THE FRESH FACES OF CANNES: Forget starlets posing topless on the beach. Today, if a performer wants to impress at the festival, she has to turn in a strong performance onscreen. Hereare five who could.

Emilie Dequenne: The 30-year-old Belgian, who snared Cannes' best actress prize for her debut in 1999's Rosetta, should further underscore her growing status with her appearance in Joachim Lafosse's Un Certain Regard entry Loving Without Reason.

Sarah Gadon: The Toronto-born actress, 25, has real fans in the Cronenbergs. David Cronenberg cast her as Emma Jung in A Dangerous Method and then in his competition film Cosmopolis, while his son Brandon cast her in Antiviral, playing Un Certain Regard.

Soko: The French pop singer, 25, was born Stephanie Sokolinski, but has gone by a single moniker ever since her music career took off in 2007. She has the title role in Augustine, a costume picture directed by Alice Winocour that's playing Critics Week.

Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur: In 2007, Romanian director Cristian Mungiu took the Cannes Film Festival by storm with his closely observed abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Palme d'Or. That film starred two virtual unknowns, Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu, who were hailed for their performances. In Beyond the Hills, his new competition entry, Mungiu has cast two young women without any previous film credits. Stratan plays a nun in an Orthodox convent; Flutur plays her childhood friend who tries to rekindle their relationship. Lightning just could strike twice.

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