Marion Cotillard at Annette press conference: “Fame can destroy you, we have seen so many celebrities go down”
The 74th Cannes Film Festival opened last night with Leos Carax’s Annette, starring Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard and Simon Helberg. This morning, the cast and crew (minus Driver) meet at the press conference for the film at the Palais to discuss fame, recognition, music and meeting the high demands of Carax.
The first topic of discussion is fame, as the film explores the desperation and debilitating need for it through the two main characters. Cotillard corrects the word “fame” for “recognition”, and discusses the public downfalls of people in pursuit of it: “It can destroy you, we have seen so many celebrities go down.” The conversation moves on to how Cotillard prepared for the role, to which she says simply, “I came prepared”. She then goes on to tell of the lengthy training sessions and discusses how films where the actors sing live in the scene, rather than lip-sync, present a totally different creative process and are more challenging. She also notes her difficulty in singing whilst moving, which her character does a lot, saying: “Singing whilst smoking a cigarette is the most difficult thing to do.”
It sounds as though the shooting of the film was intense and demanding, with Helberg saying that he received an email from Carax at one stage, in which he wrote: “You do not want to disappoint your French director, do you?”. He also notes that Carax asked him to lift one hand whilst playing piano, and then said, “And now the other one”. “So, basically, he wanted me to play piano with no hands,” Helberg tells the laughing room. Helberg also compares making the film to a spiritual journey, saying, “Going to set was like going to church – it felt very quiet, mystical and demanding in a beautiful way.”
Ron and Russell Mael, the two brothers of the band Sparks, who wrote Annette originally as a stage production, reminisce about meeting Carax at Cannes when he featured one of their songs in his Palm d’Or competing film Holy Motors. They spent eight years working on Annette together and, for this, Russell describes Carax as their “soulmate”. Ron then talks of trying to make a musical with the sincerity that some modern Hollywood musicals lack, saying, “The characters should be sincere in what they are saying, it’s what separates it from a lot of modern musicals.”
The press conference ends by addressing the tiny elephant in the room – the fact that Annette the baby is played by a puppet in the film. Carax talks of the struggle to find the right manufacturer, looking from LA to Tokyo and finally finding one is his native France. He did not want the puppet as a post-production insert and explained: “I wanted her on shoot. I wanted the actors to feel her, touch her.”
The conference meets an abrupt end as for the last few minutes, as he passionately talks in English and French, Carax waves around a cigarette and finally succumbs to his cravings and walks out. Awkward laughs from press, festival and cast echo through the room and that is the end of Annette at Cannes.
Annette does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Annette here: