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Adèle Exarchopoulos: “The difficult thing about cinema is not showing emotion but the mundane”

The French actress has just released Rien à Foutre, an intimate and realistic story about the need to connect. Led by Bulgari, Adèle shines with her own light and reflects on her steps in the cinema.

Her film debut was risky to say the least. However, it was precisely that leading role, in the controversial and intimate lesbian drama La vie d’Adèle by director Abdellatif Kechiche and alongside Léa Seydoux, that gave Adèle Exarchopolous (Paris, 1993) international projection.

With an intense look and a childish smile, the French actress chooses characters like her, intense and emotional, fragile but brave. The last one she has played is that of Cassandra in Rien à Foutre, a mandatory drama about the world of flight attendants and the need to connect emotionally that, after the pandemic, lands on the screen just in time.

What was the exact moment when you decided to be an actress?
I really never dreamed of being. My parents asked me to choose an extracurricular and I chose improvisation. During a class, a casting director saw me and took me to an audition. I got the job and I remember thinking, “Are people getting paid for this?” I’m still looking for that feeling that comes with telling someone else’s story. My passion stems from a childhood desire rather than a professional choice.

Nine years have passed since the success of La vie d’Adèle. How do you value that experience now with the perspective of the years?
It was a great human and emotional experience. Now I see the opportunities it brought me and the credibility it gave me. At that time it was risky because I had to make the right decisions, but today I have worked enough to appreciate what I got thanks to her.

In fact, the emotional complexity of Adèle’s character is very present in Cassandra, her new role in the film Rien à Foutre. Do you share anything else?
I see the similarities in the filming process and the directors’ perspectives. There is a kind of tenderness in the way they see this generation, a bit of irony, humor and a lot of emotions. We were surrounded by real people, playing real characters, who brought out the naturalness and reality in us. There was no hairdressing and makeup team, the only wardrobe was for the stewardess, and the rest, whatever we had on hand. I was wearing the director’s sweater, a tracksuit of mine and the other director’s sandals.

Was it difficult to interpret it?
The difficulty in playing her was that she never gets attached and I’m the complete opposite. I am much more emotionally dependent. The challenge of playing Cassandra was not being able to fill the void that she found herself in. It’s what I find most difficult in cinema: it’s not showing emotion, doing love scenes or fighting scenes, it’s the mundane. The real things that happen every day.

If she could play any character, which one would she choose?
The gift of this industry is navigating between genres. If I had to pick one type of character, it would be someone from a big sci-fi movie, like X-Men.

What is it and who gave you the best advice to dedicate yourself to the film industry?
It was Christopher Waltz, just after getting the Palme d’Or at Cannes for La vie d’Adèle, he told me: “Work”.

She always makes powerful characters, but what is Adèle like off screen?
I am like them, intense and emotional. It’s hard to define yourself, but I guess the difference is in my simplicity.

She is jealous of her private life, is it possible to combine fame and everyday life?
I try to find a way. I know that many people found out late that I had a son because I would never post anything about him online. We cannot forget that it is a virtual world and most people use it to validate themselves. For me it’s simple: the less they know, the less they can get to you.

You have also made your foray into fashion, what attracts you to it?
For me it is a game of fantasy and mystery. I choose the brands I work with because of what arouses me… Bulgari, because of her family heritage; Fendi for his chic character, or Paco Rabanne, for his sensuality. I also like that diversity of cinema in fashion.

Source :

Photoshoot by Anthony Seklaoui for Le Monde Magazine

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Adèle Exarchopoulos: “I dived into the underside of low-cost flights”

The actress, revelation of La vie d’Adèle, is dazzling in Rien à foutre, a film currently in theaters which tells the daily life of an airline flight attendant.

Nine years after her Palme d’or obtained at the Cannes Film Festival with Léa Seydoux for La vie d’Adèle, the only Palme d’or in the history of the festival awarded two actresses – and it was Steven Spielberg, then president of the jury, who had made a point of rewarding them -, Adèle Exarchopoulos finds in her latest film, Rien à foutre (currently in theaters), her most significant role. Totally moving and with phenomenal accuracy, it portrays a somewhat lost low-cost airline stewardess, who flees reality – in particular the death of her mother – by multiplying trips, parties and shots. one night.

By immersing us behind a fascinating backdrop, of which until now we only knew the tip of the iceberg, the film imposes itself as a Polaroid of the modern world, that of a certain youth. From Morocco, where she is recharging her batteries before preparing for the Cannes Film Festival, where she will present two new feature films, the actress tells us about the amazing shooting conditions of this film on the borders of the documentary.

We only see you in Rien à foutre. From the first to the last frame, you carry it admirably on your shoulders… Did you expect to have such a presence?
No not at all. For the simple and good reason that Emmanuel Marre, one of the two directors, whom I met first, had been very clear from the start: he did not want to follow a precise scenario but to reinvent everything according to the meetings, having total freedom during filming and improvising a lot… I had seen one of his short films which took a look full of humor and depth at our generation and I had total confidence in him. Just like Julie Lecoustre, her partner, whom I met later.

At first, both were considering giving the role to a real flight attendant. What made them change their tune?
I don’t really know… They actually met hundreds of flight attendants before we found each other. I had also been warned: “It is not certain that you will have the role, perhaps they will find the hostess of their dreams”. And then with Emmanuel, during this meeting, we liked each other… They still asked me to do some tests, in a small hotel room, on the Brussels side, all made up with a hostess costume, to be sure of their shot… He wanted to see how I carried the ritual of loneliness of an air hostess who gets up at dawn, unable to have an emotional life…

You then took training courses. How was this immersion phase?
I left with a low-cost company to do empty legs: Paris Madrid, Madrid London, London Paris… And I dived into the underside of these flights, in terms of preparation, security, pressure of numbers to sell as many products as possible for the passengers… That’s when I started to understand one of the essential elements of the character: this notion of having no hold on the present… One day, we were about to take off and I get a phone call from my young son’s school principal, who usually only calls me when there’s a problem. And there, for 3 hours, in full flight, I realized that I couldn’t do anything for him or for the people I love. I couldn’t talk to him, couldn’t act… We suddenly realize the constraints of this job, and the impact of these on their lives.

There is also this notion of the mask, very present in the film, that these hostesses must display, of perpetual representation… Is there a parallel to be drawn with what you sometimes experience as an actress?
A little yes. In the air, they must disconnect from reality, forget their problems and smile no matter what. Not to mention those passengers convinced that they will soon die and that you must reassure. And with the exception of this last point, when we actresses find ourselves on a promo, we are asked the same thing: to take a certain posture for the photos, to be pretty, with a smile on our lips and also to forget our worry. Moreover, to show you how important the notion of the mask is, I remember that when I became pregnant, after the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival for La vie d’Adèle, I could not find no more roles and I went back to work in my father’s little sandwich stand, where I worked before breaking into the business. And for people, it was just inconceivable that the glamorous actress they knew would sell them popcorn. When they told me that I looked like him, no matter how much I told them that in fact it was me, they were convinced that I was telling them canards: “You say nonsense! Come on, put me some M&M’s with that…”.

The filmmakers mentioned filming sometimes hastily in airports… Concretely, how did it go?
We would arrive in the morning and I would go to the toilets to change and do my make-up… For certain airports, notably that of Dubai, we did not have authorization to shoot. So we pretended that we were doing scenes for a wedding between us. There were a lot of moments stolen or worked on in a hurry.

How does improvisation work?
Already, you need directors who know how to put you at ease enough so that you can completely abandon yourself. And it was. Afterwards, they asked a lot of hostesses or flight attendants to play their own role and it immediately creates something extremely natural. We also shot during real flights where the production had offered passengers to travel for free in exchange for being filmed. As for the party scenes, we were totally embedded in real fiestas. After all, not everything was improvised. We still had a script, with a few key scenes written that had to be respected.

Do you identify with this lost youth portrayed in the film, who only has Instagram or Tinder as a real landmark?
In part, yes, because I know how society works today, where everything is consumed very easily, where we constantly seek everyone’s approval. I practice social networks, Instagram often for my work, and it has very good sides. Afterwards, it’s already starting to scare me for my son. I don’t want him to fall into it too young. However, I am unable to do a Tinder. I’m not judging, I’m sure there are great love stories on that side too, but when it comes to feelings and encounters, networks, it’s not for me.

Last year, Rien à foutre was presented in the Critics’ Week selection at the Cannes Film Festival, where you will be present twice this year, with Fumer fait tousser, by Quentin Dupieux, in the Official Selection, and with Les cinq diables, by Léa Mysius, at the Directors’ Fortnight. Are you rejoicing? Can you tease these two films for us?
Cannes, it all depends on who you share it with. If my best friends are there, Leïla Bekhti, Tahar Rahim, Géraldine Nakache or Jonathan Cohen, I know I’m going to have fun, yes. Afterwards, for the films, I have not yet seen Fumer fait tousser. I only want a small role in it, but it’s still a very wacky film, with a team of fallen superheroes who must go green to tame their fears by telling stories. And Les cinq diables is a fantastic film where I play a young woman who lives with her husband and daughter in a village. And this child has powers allowing her to go back in time through smells and she will notably revisit her mother’s past…

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Photoshoot by Arno Lam for Grazia Italy