STUDIO MAGAZINE 1995
INTERVIEW WITH OLIVIER MARTINEZ & JULIETTE BINOCHE
Translated by Philippe Kubler
What did you think of each other
before you met ?
OM: (laughing) Well I thought
she was that kind of boring intellectual girl reading lot's of
Then I saw her one day on the cover of "
Moto Passion " and said : Gosh, this girl is cool ! No no
no , let's start it again (looking at Juliette)
JB: I had been told there was
a new rising actor who was really good in IP5 but each year you
think you have discovered the girl or the boy who will be tomorrow's
star and finally
I was not very interested in you
! I had not even seen IP5. Then when Jean Paul Rappeneau talked
about you, without even having seen you, I said " it's very
good ". A few days after, Jean Paul sent me 2 photos of
you. I called him and said : "Yes, he's the one". That
was that easy !
OM: Nobody knows it but I was
taken for Le Hussard through a photo. What did I think of Juliette
? I thought she was a great actress whose films I had never seen.
JB: Big liar !
OM: I had seen " Bleu "
and " L'insoutenable légereté de l'être
JB: And " Mauvais sang "
OM: Yes, and " Mauvais sang
JB: And " Les amants du
Pont Neuf " !
OM: " Les amants "
, yes but I above all remembered a fantastic girl in " L'insoutenable
légerté ". I saw " Bleu " only after
meeting you because I would never have seen a film by Kieslowski.
But it was really good. I shouldn't have prejudged! In fact,
we didn't think much of each other.
JB: It's better this way, even
with a director. It's never good to know too many things, you
must have a fresh view.
OM: I met Rappeneau as I was
playing " Le désir sous les ormes " at the theater.
He came, we had a drink. I had seen " Cyrano " that
had impressed me. There was much energy in it. I thought it was
brilliant to make a whole film with verses. It was somehow much
more modern than some other modern films.
JB: I, strangely, watch the films
after I met the directors. I had seen " Tout feu, tout flamme
" I saw " La vie de Château " only after
, as he was making " Cyrano ". He prposed me to play
Roxane at that time but I was shooting " Les Amants "
so I refused. To be honest, the first time I watched Cyrano ,
I didn't like it. Then I saw it again during the shooting of
"Le Hussard " in order to understand Jean Paul better
and this time I saw a style, an energy, a writing that belong
How did it happen the first time
you all three met ?
OM: The three of us had dinner
in a restaurant. Jean Paul was very happy. I was personally shy,
Let's say I was just watching.
JB: You were watching if I was
drinking wine or not (laughs). I drank the first glass but not
the second one. You thought "that's a sign, a sign of what,
oh yes a sign of someone being able to stop before being drunk
! " (laughs)
OM: Jean Paul said we looked
like each other, I didn't understand why and that irritated me.
JB: I found you very shy.
OM: But I was not shy !
JB: Extremely shy !
OM: I was reticent !
JB: You had your hands between
your thighs, not saying anything, I thought " Waow , that
boxer is strong ! (laughs)
OM: I am the greatest boxer !
(laughs) This interview is going to be really alive ! ! ! I had
just done " IP5 " and " 1,2,3 Soleil " suddenly
I had to be a horseman in the 19th century. I had the complex
of the guy who doesn't know how he'll manage that ! It was really
brand new for me.
JB: Anyway , these first meetings
are always weird, there's something like embarrassment, we don't
know each other but we know we are going to play together. We
look at each other, we observe then it changes.
OM: Yes cos after that, we work
and work and work ! (laughs). We spent 3 months with a coach
for "Le Hussard" , Armelle Sbraire, she helped both
of us for the preparation of the film.
What is the role of a coach ?
JB: It's someone who, after having
talked with the director, helps you going in a direction. Not
all movies need a coach but I asked for it for Le Hussard, to
work on it physically. First I had a baby and had not worked
for 1 year and a half and I had to learn to ride a horse. It
was a real pleasure to work with Armelle.
OM: When I was told I was going
to work with a coach, as it was the first time for me , I thought
" Oh La la ! " At the beginning I was suspicious but
quickly adhered because I could feel a strong simpleness and
humanity in her.
What was your work with her ?
JB: She taught me African dance
and Tai Chi during 2 months
OM: I did Tai Chi twice but no
African dance at all, didn't feel like it
What are you talking about ?
What is the relation between African dance and Le Hussard ?
OM: Oh, haven't you seen Juliette
making African dance on the horse ? (laughs) In fact, I never
understood the relation myself.
JB: Why African dance ? Good
question ! Because Armelle likes it and I had always dreamt of
learning it. The idea was just to find some freedom in the rhythm,
in the movement.
OM: My work with Armelle was
different. It was above all based on the reading of Giono's book.
We would go in a public square near my house in the 14th borough
of Paris, I would read the passages that I liked and talked of
them together. Say things makes you realize what you feel.
JB: We shared the same coach
Olivier and I but didn't work together. I can remember I asked
her many things about you. " How is he ? What do you do
together ? "
Why did you choose to work separately
rather than together ?
JB: We had the idea of creating
each other a kind of intimate world and only gather them during
the shooting. A bit like in the film.It's a bit unconscious but
it enables you to reach bit by bit the situation in which the
character you are going to play will be.
OM: I don't agree totally with
this idea. I don't think we unconsciously reach what we are going
JB: There are obviously unconscious
things, for me anyway.
OM: When I play, I never forget
that I'm playing. I don't think truth and fiction mix up. Life
and game have nothing in common. When I play, I'm having fun
but I lie. What I show is not necessarily what I feel. I can
say " I love you " without loving the person I 'm saying
it. I can show sadness whereas I'm nearly dying with laughter
inside. There is a danger by mixing both, I never try to be,
unconsciously or not, in the character's skin. I prefer to work
on the appearance because inside it's often the real me. If we
didn't see each other much with Juliette it's just because we
didn't need to see each other. We didn't have the same schedules,
we just met sometimes and said " hello, how are you ? "
" Fine, thanks " and that's all.
My curiosity toward Juliette was for the human being and not
in relation to the film. I never thought "oops, we are going
to play a love story so I must find her beautiful and start to
love her ", no no I really didn't care !
If I had to fall in love with all the actresses I play with and
live the situations I have to play, I would be lost ! I need
to be solid and know who I really am to have fun in making something
else. I noticed, while talking with other actors, that they often
let ambiguity float. I don't like ambiguity, it's dangerous.
I need distance. I also think that the result would prevent the
audience from identifying to the characters. If you feel the
things too strongly, you simply close the doors.
JB I quite agree but I think
that during the preparation, there is an unconscious work that's
done, I'm sure of that. This doesn't necessarily mean you have
to mix your private life with your work, but you can't help making
comparisons to understand what you are going to play and how
you're gonna play it. You must make a transposition from you
to the character therefore use yourself for the character. This
also doesn't mean you are going to fall in love with the person
you must love in the film. An actor has limits, fortunately.
He has that sort of instinct telling him what's fictitious and
what's real. Without these barriers, he'd go crazy !
OM That sounds very difficult
but it's simple actually !
JB I lived what you are talking
about in " Les amants ", in the first period of the
movie, the character was supposed to suffer and I made a total
mixture between what I was and what I was to be, but what did
I get more ? nothing but pain. This experience taught me how
to separate real life from cinema. Though, things are unconsciously
and strongly connected , it's not a random choice if I played
this role and you played yours. We don't play roles by chance.
That will probably sound strange but I always feel I will be
chosen for this role or another.
OM I am more pragmatical and
never wonder what is the part of chance , I don't see that far.
The only thing that counts is if the role is interesting , if
I'm gonna have fun and have pleasure to play it. The rest
JB Of course you must enjoy playing
a role ! ! !
OM Yes but compared to you, I
don't need to understand things that deep . I haven't got that
curiosity, it's not in my personality. In fact I think we agree
on the main point but we have two different approaches.
JB I remember one of our first
conversations on the shooting, it was about the characters, your
understanding was much quicker than mine on many aspects, which
means you necessarily tried to understand things, even if you
forget them because when you play you forget to forget to be
in the present. And if possible with pleasure because pleasure
adds something to the film, to the play, it opens the characters
and therefore the look of those who watch the film.
OM I'm always a bit scared to
fall into this trap in which the actor pushes too hard his thoughts.
I know the understanding of things is here but in a primary,
instinctive way. Simpleness and obviousness, that's what I say.
JB It sometimes takes time to
OM Let's say there are two methods,
one in which you want to know everything, the other one you don't
want to know anything but the result is the same. It's better
for me not to know anything and not to think too much.
JB You just pretend not to know
OM Damn, we are alive and kicking
today ! I don't know what's happening !
What was the first scene you
shot together ?
OM The one in which Angelo meets
Pauline on the border of the river.
JB I was very afraid cause I
had not shot for a long time and it's always weird to play with
someone you don't know even if it suits to the situation of the
OM I had been shooting for two
months, it was easier for me !
Did you feel a difference because
you didn't have the same experience, Juliette had done many more
OM In the play, I don't know
but certainly our attitudes on the set.
What do you mean ?
OM Knowing your place compared to the others. Learning how to
respect and being respected.
JB Knowing how to give one's
energy at the right moment.
OM Yes that's right, as in sport.
You must learn how to make an effort at the right time and for
that Juliette is better than I am.
JB Anyway I am always like a
good soldier on a set , I hate to be late for instance. It's
funny because in the film, Pauline is like Angelo's big sister,
I felt a bit this way with Olivier too. That's what I said before,
there are obviously comparisons between fiction and real life
! ! ! ( laughs)
When we discovered Pauline and
Angelo , we felt they had too parallel destinies, irresitibly
attracted to each other
JB I realized the strength of
their story only by playing it. Day by day while shooting the
scenes. Angelo and Pauline are a myth like Tristan and Yseult,
Romeo and Juliet.
Was there a scene that you feared
or one that you expected more ?
OM The one in which Angelo and
Pauline are in the house cause in fact they are people who hide
their emotions all the time and for 30 seconds they start to
say things to each other. They suddenly give way to their emotions,
especially Angelo who is a real autistic concerning his feelings.
For me, this moment of surrender makes the whole sense of the
story. The scene we couldn't fail. Of course when you shoot for
6 months, you've got ups and downs but for this scene, we had
to be there ! ! !
JB It's also my favorite scene.
By shooting it, I felt we had really done something strong together.
There is that silence and that coalescing at the same time. They
were about to be together, they start touching each other but
it only lasts a second then it 's something else.
Did you talk a lot of your work
during the shooting ?
JB You necessarily talk of what
you feel after a shooting day, but they were just normal work
conversations. We generally got on well except when my horse
overtook his ! (laughs)
OM Juliette couldn't stop her
JB He was so much stronger than
yours that I couldn't control him ! This horse was a real beast
! I think Olivier was jealous !
OM Lets' not waist our time on
details please !
There is a real physical work
on that film
OM Yeah , I love that ! The more
I can express a feeling through a physical act, the happier I
I love to say things but especially through action or movement.
JB Talking should always come
from the body.
Yes that's right, Rappeneau gives
much importance to rhythm and movement, his films are never static
OM The famous "Rappenesque
" rhythm !
JB That's true, he always pushes
people to movement, it never goes fast enough for him.
Did you live moments of doubt
during the film ?
JB Doubt for me is nearly an
art of living, I need to doubt, that's how I step forward
OM We all have fears and doubts
but I generally try to be a bit silly and not think about it.
Because doubt is not very constructive while you are in action,
it can be before or after but not during. I always compare that
to sport. If you doubt during the competition, you lose ! There
is no other alternative. A boxer on the ring, a soccer player
during a penalty, or an athlete must eliminate doubts. If you
start thinking too much, you're lost.
JB But doubts are not necessarily
negative , it's a state of mind you don't understand how you
can be strong and vulnerable at the same time. Receptive. If
you do believe in what you are doing, of course.
OM I personally hate to be doubtful,
as I hate to be unhappy, I do my best not to be in these states
JB But it enables you to rediscover
things bit by bit, it prevents you from withdrawing into yourself
and knowing everything in advance !
OM It doesn't work on me, I compare
doubt to fear .
JB Doubts do not kill self-confidence.
In the movie, Angelo and Pauline
seem to ignore doubt and fear
JB No that's not true, they are
frightened on the contrary !
OM They just fight against their
JB I'd even say they run away
As an actor, do you feel close
to their attitudes ?
JB When I started my career,
I was 18/19 , I was full of convictions but now as I step into
life bit by bit, I realize things are more fragile than I thought.
The fact that some friends leave or die, to have a baby makes
you understand that nothing in life stands still. I am still
convinced that I am done for this job but I know life can change
everything. Which doesn't mean I fear the future !
OM I personally think you must
believe in something. You must have a point of view on everything
even if you have to change it often. That's my terrorist aspect
in action ! I need to have prejudices to make my choices, I mustn't
let myself invaded by ultra conservatism. Better be wrong in
one's decision and then step backwards rather than not choosing
Do you often talk of your personal
choices in your career together ? Have you got very different
point of views ?
JB What you choose, is on my
mind, always good for you because it suits to your character,
to your desire, to what you need to be happy. When I choose a
role, it's because I am convinced I believe in the story but
I also feel the roles choose me rather than the contrary. At
the moment, I am pretty spoilt, I just need to open my window.
How do you explain that ?
JB I don't know, there are times
when I'm lucky, I have many propositions which gives me freedom.
It has not been like that all the time, it took me three years
for " Les amants " and I didn't work for one year and
a half after " Bleu ". Compared to some others, I didn't
make many films . I work more now because saying no would be
saying no to everything I wanted to do.
OM As far as I am concerned,
taking a role is not that obvious, it means I mustn't do them.
Let's rather talk of " non-choice ". I have read a
few scenarios but none of them attracted me except Bertrand Blier's
film in which I played 10 days. And I am independent at the moment,
I don't have material needs, I live in a complete freedom, I
take advantage of it.
There is an extraordinary cue
in the film, when Angelo's mother says : " Be a fool my
son, one is never fool enough ". Have you ever heard this
in real life, someone trying to give you impulses ?
JB When I decided to be an actress,
I took risks, I didn't know what would happen, what my family
would think etc
But I have always been lucky in these difficult
moments because there have always been people around me supporting
me. When you dive this way, it's like a kind of liberating.
Fear appears before you dive, not when you're in the water.
OM I personally was pushed
by life, I never really wanted to dive. But one day I was in
water, I learned how to swim and, oh well, realized I was not
a bad swimmer. I do not regret anything but didn't choose this
either. For me, life is a matter of sorting out. At that time
anyway I didn't have existential questions, I fell and did not
dive, life itself made me take risks.
So you never really decided to
be an actor ?
OM Oh yes , I took lessons in theater. But at that time, it
was not a definitive choice, I rather felt the emergency of doing
something different from what life proposed me. If I could have
expressed this through sport or business I would have done it
but being an actor. It was an instinctive and intuitive choice.
JB There is a time when you
have to leave and let things behind you. Step forward. I was
18 when I did it.
OM I was 22 or 23.As Angelo
says " I just can't get enough " I couldn't either
and I felt I had to dive. That was not as easy and beautiful
as " Be a fool my son ".
JB But one shouldn't forget
it " Be a fool " is taking risks in one's life and
As you worked together, did you
find common passions ?
OM Juliette loves cars and
motorbikes as I do. No I'm joking !
JB No, but I saw my first
soccer matches at the stadium Le Velodrome during the shooting.
What brings you together ?
JB Our mutual fights (laughs)
OM ( Nearly at the same time)
Our bad tempers (laughs)
JB We have different but similar
characters, strange but true !
OM I like to ride motorbikes
and you like to do the housework (before the interview Juliette
cleaned the table, screaming because there was a mess on it).
She loves to put her things away but not mine !
JB He hasn't got any !
OM Big difference between you
and I. You keep everything.
JB I keep what interests
OM Therefore, many things interest
you. I don't keep anything.
JB Because hardly anything
interests you (laughs).
OM I am interesting so I don't
need much (laughs) this gonna be a good interview. You see, we
are funny each time we stop talking of our work.
Hum, the question was "
what brings you together "
JB We watch many videos together..
OM We actually watch Audiard's
films ( Un singe en hiver, Les tontons flingueurs) because Juliette
didn't know him. We are also going to watch La Bête Humaine
and many French films of the 40's 50's before " La nouvelle
Vague " (The new wave in the 60's)
JB Jean Pierre Melville
OM We also watched many old
films with Paul Newman, Steve Mac queen. We organize cultural
evenings. (laughs) . I show Juliette films that have really counted
for me, Luke la main froide for instance. Besides, she shows
me silent Russian films that last 4 hours (laughs)..Juliette
couldn't stop her horse !
JB Dreyer, Griffith
OM Films you cannot see anywhere
but in a lost cinema at 2 am.
JB Capra, Leo Mccarey, Lubitsch.
OM She shows me love films
and I show her fight films (laughs) but finally we realized that
though we have different cultures, we've got the same tastes.
JB Seeing old films is like
going back to one's roots. A bit like going to see grandpa or
grandma, it makes you feel good. I have discovered an actor that
I didn't know very well, Lino Ventura. He was amazing in "
Le deuxième souffle ".
He was limited to a certain kind
OM All this is bullshit ! Steve
McQueen, Paul Newman were too!. Even actors such as Robert de
Niro, Brando, that are said to be chameleons always play the
same kind of roles. The form changes whether it is a comedy or
a drama but the register is still the same. A comedian, as a
painter or a writer, has a style. Elia Kazan would say an actor
has only one message to deliver, and he's right. When an actor
pretends he can play everything, I think he's wrong or it's a
very smart person but who has no soul. Ventura expresses feelings
that nobody could do, cause it comes from deep inside of him,
it belongs to him.
JB He had that rage that makes
you feel like acting..
How is it possible you didn't
know Lino Ventura ?
JB I don't know, never had
the opportunity. The films in which he played didn't interest
me when I was young. That's probably why I didn't see them. !
OM As a child you watch the
films your parents watch. My father would rather watch Lino Ventura
than Ingmar Bergman. Each home has its culture, its roots, its
story, which means prime time films.
Do you think you have your own
culture according to your origins ?
JB Yes, Olivier made me understand
that. Before that I didn't realize I came from a determined
But strangely one can find a
kind of independance , autonomy in both of you.
JB Not accepting what revolts
us, that's what we have in common
OM As far as I am concerned,
I would say that this force has changed a lot during the past
3 years. Before that, I was more of an extremist. My point of
view was much more inflexible and restricted than today. Once
you have a little money, you can enter the system, but if you
have none you must stay out. What I mean is that the world is
different if you are well-born or not.
JB It depends on what you do,
I don't think I was well-born. Each one decides what he's going
to do with his life whatever his social sphere might be.
OM If you have no money, you
cannot play the rules like the others. You can do what you want
after but if you have the power to choose. I was lucky to live
in Sevres til I was 7 or 8 cause it was a rich suburb where you
can meet open minded people, all my friends were into music or
painting. But if I had grown up in a poor district, I would never
have become an actor. I would rather have gone to see boxing
as my father and my cousins than in a theater to learn acting.
That's where there is the biggest injustice, it's not only a
matter of money but also of opportunities. When you're in a popular
sphere, you tend to close yourself and do what your parents do.
I know Juliette doesn't feel like this but I do, very strongly.
On top of that, when your family has strong traditions, you haven't
got the same point of view.
JB Real success can only be
inner, it has nothing to do with social success.
OM But you know that only when
you earned a little money. Not because money puts everything
right but because when you haven't got any you spend your energy
trying to earn some. There's always that culture of the poor
wanting to become rich.
JB I think different, as a child
I was not richer than you, even poorer maybe. You do things with
what you've got and with your life. One must do things on one's
level, that's how you can be happy, in harmony with yourself
and your family.
OM Yes but you find your way
only when you are aware of that. And I think you cannot be aware
before you got rid of material problems.
JB Yes you are hungry until
you eat. You cannot help thinking of it.
How do you apprehend this period
as the film is coming out and the press is begging for you ?
OM It's funny to see posters
everywhere in the streets, but posters are not the most interesting
part of it. The main thing has already been said in the film.
JB One must noy disregard the
pleasure it brings, the work was long, we love to see people's
reactions and answer people's questions. It's a moment of sharing.
In fact it's like a gift you offer, you are very proud of what's
in it as the person unwraps it and at the same time, you hope
he will like it.