Life's lessons give screen siren everywoman aura

PARIS — For somebody who has become one of France’s biggest box office draws, Sophie Marceau comes across as remarkably nonchalant about her good fortune.

“In France, people like familiar faces — actors who’ve been around for a long time,” she says. “We’re far more attached to longevity than success.”

With “LOL” (Laughing Out Loud), which topped the French box office, and the social satire “Changing Sides,” which grossed $14 million, Marceau is riding high.

The one-time Bond Girl has logged almost 30 years in the business, giving her the kind of perspective few screen ingenues can boast.

“At 15, it’s always difficult to immerse youself in a role,” observes Marceau about achieving early fame in the teen comedy “La Boom.” “Today, I’ve matured, I’m a mother. I feel that I can play more complex, interesting parts and draw from my own life experience.”

She portrays a fortysomething divorcee and single mom in “LOL,” which captured the zeitgeist of today’s French upper-class teens and their confused parents.

“She’s succeeded in becoming a very glamorous star — one of the rare French actresses to star in Hollywood films — and at the time, she’s kept her image of a relatable, middle-class French woman,” explains Thomas Sotinel, film critic at Le Monde.

After starring in such homegrown fare as Philippe de Broca’s “Chouans” and Bertrand Tavernier’s “La Fille de D’Artagnan,” Marceau achieved international stardom as Mel Gibson’s love interest in “Braveheart” and the femme fatale in “The World Is Not Enough.”

But an eventual retreat from the spotlight and a preference for smaller-budget pics, both in front of and behind the camera, didn’t pay off as planned. “I don’t make films for the public,” declares Marceau, whose more auteur-driven films have received scant support at the box office.

She’ll next play a tetraplegic woman in the romantic drama “Cartagena,” due out in November.

IN A NUTSHELL

Job title: Actress

Mentors: “Picasso, for his energy and creativity, and Ingmar Bergman, because he went far in his exploration of the human soul.”

Career mantra: “Stay centered on real things and be true to myself.”

Leisure pursuits: “I like painting, drawing and creating objects while listening to baroque music.”

Philanthropic passion: Arc-en-Ciel, a nonprofit org dedicated to helping sick children.

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