'Basterds' casting digs deep in France

Olivier Carbone follows success of Marion Cotillard in 'Rose'

More Cannes coverage

CANNES -- The entire world saw "La Vie en Rose," but producers didn't always see Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf -- that took an entire year of convincing by the film's casting director, Olivier Carbone.

"Investors didn't think she had enough international appeal," Carbone explained, adding that, after first convincing helmer Olivier Dahan that Cotillard was right, "Everyone involved in the film -- from the cast to the technicians -- all had to wait a year for us to convince them."

The fight paid off, after the film not only saw strong ticket sales at home and abroad, but also won Cotillard a best actress Oscar.

Following the success of "Rose," Quentin Tarantino chose Carbone to cast the French portion of "Inglourious Basterds," In Competition at this year's Festival de Cannes.

"There was a casting for casting directors," Carbone said of the Weinstein Co. and Laurence Bender's search for the right man for the job.

"Quentin gave me total freedom to choose my actors," Carbon said.

After a preselection of five actresses, four of whom were unknowns on the French film scene, Carbone ultimately picked Melanie Laurent for the role of Shosanna Dreyfus.

He also cast unknown actor Denis Menochet, who, since his role in "Basterds," has been cast in Ridley Scott's next film. Though Menochet didn't fit the age category of Tarantino's Perrier LaPadite character, Carbone's influence led the director to make the character younger and adapt the script accordingly.

"Quentin said to me: 'You found me the new Robert Mitchum,' " Carbone said.

Menochet also plays a role in Carbone's follow-up to "Basterds," Roselyne Bosch's "The Round Up." Bosch's high-profile project co-stars Gad Elmaleh and Jean Reno in the film from "La Vie en Rose" producer Alain Goldman. "The Round Up" tells the story of France's collaboration during the Holocaust. The €20 million project, co-produced and distributed in Gaul by Gaumont, focuses on the deportation of 13,000 Jews one night in 1942, one of the greatest tragedies in French history.

Carbone recently wrapped casting on Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's "Oscar et la dame Rose" produced by Philippe Godeau's Pan Europeen and Philippe Lefebvre's "Le Siffleur" produced by Alain Attal for Les Productions du Tresor starring Francois Berleand and Thierry Lehermitte.

While a force on the Gallic film scene, Carbone -- who recently wrapped casting on Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's "Oscar et la dame Rose" and Philippe Lefebvre's "Le Siffleur" -- is setting his sights on U.S. films.

Thanks to a new tax credit that is attracting major U.S. titles to the territory, Carbone is in high demand among stateside producers. The casting director has several projects in development, and will be casting Milos Forman's next movie.