do not want to live forever"
"The Lady prefers to meet
you at the Bar and not in a suite..." Athens-Paris-Athens. Flying
over the Charles de Gaulle airport, 24 hours before the interview. Walking
around Place Vendome one hour before the meeting. The famous doors of
Ritz open - the Parisian sun escapes. In the Bar the notes of an harp
are dancing with the perfume of the flowers along with the sound of low
"We have a small delay...Mrs Deneuve is not ready yet..."
In the corner at my left, the waiters are preparing the "scenery"
which will welcome once more "La Belle du jour" : fresh flowers,
a plate with small cakes, another light at her left...
- Bonjour Madame !
The heads bow with respect, the
talks stop. A woman of moderate height, with a well combed proud head,
makes her appearance smiling. I am looking at her as she approaches. The
woman-symbol of France is already 58 years old : "I feel okay with
my age - not necessary good" she will tell me, later, smiling. Her
eyes are checking the area, challenging, magnetizing. I look at ther and
then look at her face on the new advertisement of L'Oreal. Such a familiar
icon. The idol, the truth. She and...them.
How is it to live along with
the idols of your public self ?
When I look at myself on the pictures or the advertisements I say : It's
not me, it's somebody else ! I look again, I know that it's me, but in
a way I am not... But it depends on the photography : sometimes it is
very close to me, some other times it is a very beautiful picture, but
very far from me. I do not identify myself with the woman who looks at
When I ask her to describe this
idol to somebody else, she says :
Even if I look icy and cool, there is something that disputes it. I would
tell him "Look at my eyes"...
She smiles very friendly. She asks for an espresso.
Everybody is looking at her and she knows it. She starts speaking in a
loud voice and she looks so familiar, so accessible. She is a myth who
does not float on air but who - as she says - steps on the earth :
I do not want to live for ever, I have never thought
of it. I want to return to the earth, you know. This is a very conscious
decision. I do not want my body to be burned or kept somewhere. I wish
to return to the earth... I can not say, of course, that I am not afraid
of death - certainly you are afraid of death, especially when you have
lost people. I do understand it better, but I am not reconciled with it.
Thirty five years of history in cinema are close to
me. If I spread my hand I can touch them :
I rely on my instinct - what I have done is based on
it. I believe that most of the times it directed me correctly. Of course
there were things that I could have done or things that I should not have
done, but when I think of what I have achieved, then I say to myself :
"You did okay". It is very important for me to be here, working
with interesting directors, making, at least, two films per year...
I look at her almost indiscreetly. The jet-lag after her last trip in
America for the shooting of her last film has not left any signs on her
face, although - as she says - she was awake until four in the morning,
unable to sleep :
When I was in New York, I went to see the World Trade
Center. It was a great shock for me. I have never been in the bombarded
Yugoslavia or elsewhere - it was the first time that I saw a city in an
almost belligerent situation... Up to now I can not find something positive
in that - except, perhaps, that everyone of us must be entangled in politics
and be aware of what is happening in the rest of the world.
And although she hates violence, she admits its necessity
If you are not violent, you can not survive.This is
a law of life. You have to be protected and to protect the people around
you when somebody threatens you.
I am watching her constantly : small wrinkles around
the eyes, a new expression on her mouth, smooth and brilliant skin. I
have the feeling that her real beauty comes from her inside :
In my job it is necessary to be always beautiful. I
am sure that if I did not do this job, I would not have tried to preserve
my icon. You have to try, you know, you make efforts, you must do more.
You must sleep more, take more care of yourself, exercise more. It may
sound strange, but it was never a pleasure for me to take good care of
myself - it takes so much time ! I love to see the result, but the whole
process does not drive me insane...
Time, evolution, change :
Very few things on me have been changed through the
years. I have almost the same ideas and confidence I had when I was younger.
I believe that in my life I went ahead through the evolution and not through
Time, agony, limits. My own fight with the time has
started. Count down. There are only twenty minutes remained with Catherine
I was walking in Paris last night. It may sound
strange to you, but I noticed so many "sad eyes"
Sad eyes ?
Yes. I feel that here, as in
my country, the people are not happy, although "happiness is supposed
to be the purpose of life". Was it the purpose of you life, too ?
Affliction is something which I do not know very well. I have some periods
that I am in a bad mood, naturally, but to have to manage affliction is
different. On the other hand happiness does not last, you know. There
are only happy moments.
Have you "collected"
many happy moments ?
Yes, I try to have moments like these, because I recognize their value.
I had happy moments even without any effort. I was grown up in a big family
with four women. In families like this the atmosphere is better, I think.
So, happiness is something grounded on my family, on my education. I need
it, it is a part of the way of my life - and I must say that I know how
to enjoy life.
Is happiness a lonely experience
Happiness, for me, is something that I must share. When you are alone
you have moments of pleasure, not of real happiness. Like those I have
when I am in the country doing things which I like - taking care of my
Do you think that you have been
justified by the choices you have made in your life ?
I have made many mistakes, but not in important things. I have made mistakes
in my personal life mostly. I had a quite complicated life with many love
affairs, you know. I had many losses, you know... I did not have a constant
personal life. My love affairs were very strong, but unstable.
Was it because the men were
attracting you but they could not keep you for more than one or two years
I had relationships for more time than you say. But there was always an
end. When you reach that "end" more than twice, then you think
that there is something with you that is not going well... I think it
has to do with my character.
What, do you think, are the
reasons ? Do you want to have control ? Or the fact that you have so much
I do not have any self-confidence. I need to be confirmed. In my job everything
is different, of course. For my job I have much self-confidence.
Are there roles which you have
Have adored ? There are roles which I remember due to the excellent atmosphere
during the filming. "The umbrellas of Cherbourg" was a case
like that, because the atmosphere was wonderful. I could say the same
for "The last metro".
Do you doubt for your choices
in terms of your films ?
My choices were always based on my instinct. I was taking my decisions
because the films were attracting me somehow - every film had elements
which were saying something to me. I assume that people do not read a
scenario in the same way. Everybody has his own point of view.
The fact that sometimes you
have played personalities with a disturbed esoteric world had to do with
your own life at that moment ?
Not necessarily. But I like exploring characters. I am so much interested
in the composition of the psychology of the human genre. I think that
these roles are the most interesting.
Are you interested in people
Yes and I have long relationships with some people. I think that you learn
them better, you explore them better. It is very important for me to have
stable and long friendships.
Were there people who conducted
you in your life ?
I had people who were interested for me through our relationship. Certainly,
some important personalities affect you.
Do you distinguish some of them
Truffaut was very important for me. We had long discussions about films
and the cinema in general and not only of how I would become a better
actress. I would say the same for André Techiné.
Depardieu has said for you that
"you are the man he would love to be".
Yes, I remember that, it is funny...I understand what he means - especially
because somebody like him said that. We the women have masculine characteristics
and the men have feminine. Depardieu has a very "feminine" personality,
something very common with men actors. If he were a woman, I think that
he would love to have that part of the "masculine" personality
I have showed in many roles.
Which are your "masculine"
I am very daring. I have never been afraid of men, even when I was 20
years old ! Another characteristic, which I think is masculine, is the
fact that I do not like seducing people, I want to be honest. When I am
in love with a man I do not want to induce him in order to be simply with
The cliché "cold
like ice" is following you through the years. Is it true ?
I am reserved, but not as much as I was. I understand people better and
I have learnt to protect myself.
Are you shy ?
Yes. I was and I am shy. I think it is something that can not be changed.
Of course, when I was younger I was more.
Your eyes are - undoubtedly
- a very powerful characteristic on you. What else would you distinguish
I think that it is my hair. Historically, the strength is on the hair.
And I think that people with strong hair have good health. That was one
of the reasons that I decided to collaborate with L' Oreal, to promore
Regenium, a hair product. And I have to tell you that I was impressed
by the fact that for so many years I was not proposed to advertise a hair
product, because I always used to have very strong hair !
Now we go to the reason of this
meeting... Was it an easy decision for you ?
Yes, easier than a decision that would concern an advertisement of a cream,
for example. When L'Oreal made the proposition, I said "At last !!"
And I think that it is fair to make an advertisement like that in my age,
because I have very strong hair- although they say that the hair becomes
weak through the years. I was very pleased when they proposed to me, I
felt very comfortable. Especially because it was not necessary to tell
lies on that matter.
Were'nt you afraid or reluctant
to advertise a product for "older" women ?
Not at all, I am one of them. But I think that to have strong hair has
nothing to do with the age - I meet many younger women who do not have
strong hair. It is important for me to promote such a product, because
I know how important the hair is for the feminity of a woman. If you have
weak hair you feel weak.
How do you select the advertisements
you make ?
I have many propositions. But I always select those which can be harmonized
with me. I never promote something which does not make feeling comfortable
or if I doubt for the message I give for the product.
Have you ever thought to stop
working for the cinema and do other things ?
Sometimes, especially when I am tired. But when they propose interesting
roles I forget it. I am carried away by enthusiasm...
I think that some of your dreams
have not become real yet due to your strict professional life.
Yes. I want to travel, to meet people. I do believe that journeys open
your horizon. You know, I started working very early and bore my children
when I was very young. When I was finishing with my work I was going home,
trying to be as much as possible with them. I did not have the time to
travel as much as I wanted.
Madame Deneuve do you think that you have been
a "source of inspiration" for the people ? There are so many
sites in the Internet, made by your fans.
She laughs. And then, a little bit proudly,
she adds :
Yes, but it is now two months that I have my personal
site. You can visit it... As for your question, well I think that many
people - men, women, children - have been inspired by the roles I have
played. A part of me, a very real part, is included in those films. This
side of me I prefer to see...