French actress Marion Cotillard has fully invested in playing Edith Piaf in the feature film “La Môme”, broadcast this Sunday evening on Arte. A look back at an extraordinary preparation.
With La Môme, Marion Cotillard has won over both the public (more than 5 million admissions in France) and her peers (a Bafta / César / Oscar treble on the clock). It must be said that the performance of the Frenchwoman, who has fully invested in her incarnation of Edith Piaf, is bluffing. While Olivier Dahan’s film is broadcast tonight on Arte, we look back on the preparation of the actress to become this kid like no other.
To obtain this iconic role, Marion Cotillard first trained in minor mode. “Before the interview, I had simply looked at some photos of Piaf “, she says. “I especially didn’t want to put the cart before the horse and invest myself too much in the character before being certain of being chosen, but I could not help but go to discover this woman.”
“When I understood that Olivier really wanted to make the film with me, I immediately wanted to invest myself fully”, she continues. “He gave me Jean Noli’s book on Piaf’s last three years. I already admired her, but I got even more when I discovered what her life had been like. . “
Once chosen to play Piaf, the time for the preparation itself came for Cotillard, who this time invested without restraint. “I love to sing, but the technical work on the backing tracks was the hardest for me because I wanted them to be perfect “, slips the actress. “I worked with a teacher. I wanted to understand how Piaf sang, how she placed her body, her tongue, the slightest of her breaths. I was going crazy, it was so complex.”
“If I had videos of her on these songs, I would take it all apart”, she adds. “I realized that it is not enough to be in rhythm to make a good playback. Breathing is essential. I noted the moments when she took her breaths on sheets. After, I put the music, I filmed myself with a camera. I spent entire nights taking notes on what was wrong! I wanted it to be Piaf. “
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The director Olivier Dahan, who immediately thought of Cotillard for the role of Piaf because of a certain physical resemblance to the interpreter of Life in pink and of No, I do not regret anything, evokes his collaboration with the Frenchwoman. “This is the first time that I have such a strong relationship with an actress “, he admits. “We shared the same perception of Piaf. His work and mine were done in symbiosis.”
“She sings herself a few times, but most of the time we used playback”, adds the filmmaker. “Piaf’s playback is complex. It’s not just about putting on a record and singing on it. It’s something that she worked on upstream to find the breaths, the rhythms. She managed to associate the soul of the character in his incarnation. It makes him come alive. “
Marion Cotillard still knows Edith Piaf’s songs by heart: