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Huppert Talks about ‘Bombs,’ ‘Love’ and ‘Elle’

Upcoming projects include Paul Verhoeven’s rape-revenge drama, 'Elle'

After spending four months in the United States in 2014, appearing in two feature films and a major theatre production, revered French thesp Isabelle Huppert is slated for further upcoming international co-productions productions, including Paul Verhoeven’s rape-revenge drama, “Elle” and “The Future”, directed by Mia Hansen-Love (“Eden”).

In 2014, Huppert co-starred with Cate Blanchett in the Sydney Theater Company production of Jean Genet’s “The Maids,” at the Lincoln Center Festival, followed by her film roles in Joachim Trier’s “Louder than Bombs,” alongside Jesse Eisenberg and Gabriel Byrne, and in Guillaume Nicloux’s “The Valley of Love,” with Gerard Depardieu.

In an interview at the 2014 Marrakech film festival in December, where she served as jury prexy, she stated that her recent intensive U.S. experience is simply a pure coincidence of back-to-back projects.  She nonetheless emphasised that she’s interested in stepping up her collaboration with international helmets, including on English-language pics, and talked about her upcoming projects with directors such as Paul Verhoeven, as well as other directors with whom she would like to work, including Christopher Nolan and David Cronenberg.

Huppert explained that she’s very happy with the roles that she has been offered recently and is not overly concerned about being typecast, for example by playing a succession of darker roles or lighter comedies.

The key criteria she applies when choosing roles is first and foremost the director, followed by the story and then the character.

“I still believe in the power of the director and his capacity to convey a very individual, subjective point of view,” she explained.

She said she really enjoyed working with Norwegian director Joachim Trier on “Louder Than Bombs,” which she recently completed in New York.

“Joachim is an extremely powerful director, and Norway should be proud to have such a talent. We met in the Stockholm film festival, where he won best film for ‘Oslo, 31 August,’ and we kept in touch afterwards.”

She talked about her extensive collaboration with Michael Haneke, including “Amour,” which won the Palme d’Or in 2012 and the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 2013.

“I see Michael as a cross between Bresson and Hitchcock,” she explained. “He is so radical and uncompromising and yet cares about his characters and uses the tools that cinema can offer to generate suspense and tension.”

Her forthcoming roles include Michelle, a businesswoman seeking revenge on a stalker who raped her, in the English and French language production, “Elle,” based on Philippe Dijan’s 2012 novel “OH”). Previous novels by Dijan adapted to cinema include “Betty Blue”, which Jean-Jacques Beineix lensed in 1986.

“Elle” is directed by Dutch helmer Paul Verhoeven (“Total Recall”), written by David Birke (“13 Sins”) and produced by Said Ben Said (“Carnage”).

She was already interested in the story, having read the book, and was delighted to learn that Verhoeven has been chosen as the director.

“Paul is one of the best directors in the world, I have loved his work ever since one of his earliest Dutch-language productions, ‘Turkish Delight.’”

At December’s Marrakech Fest, Huppert presented Marc Fitoussi’s “La Ritournelle” at the Red City’s iconic Place Jemaa el Fna, in which she she played a businesswoman-farmer living in a small village who goes to Paris for a few days in an attempt to change her life.

“Marc is really a brilliant director. I’d already enjoyed working with him on ‘Copacabana.’ He’s very gritty and yet very subtle.”

Although she believes that each director is very different, with his own personal universe, what she’s looking for in a director is someone who lets the actor create their own landscape. “A great director enables you to exist in your full persona rather than forcing you to resemble a character with which you can establish no connection,” she said.

She talked about the special situation of her recent film, “Abuse of Weakness,” in which she portrayed the pic’s director, Catherine Breillat, in an autobiographical film about her life after a recent debilitating stroke.

“In this film it was a fine line between fiction and documentary. I carefully observed Catherine and tried to portray her on the screen, including the limitations caused by her recent handicap. She gave me complete freedom. I just observed her and imitated her in order to get into the character.”

Huppert emphasised that she’s an avid filmgoer and likes to watch films on the big screen. Two recent films that she particularly enjoyed were Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age drama “Boyhood” and Ira Sachs’ French-American drama “Love is Strange.”

At Marrakech she underlined her appreciation of auteur cinema, but explained that she believes that high-budget commercial films can also convey a director’s individual vision, citing Christopher Nolan as a prime example.

“I would love to work in a large-scale genre film, for example playing a power villain,” she concluded.

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