Ses interviews / Presse 2000-09 / Marie Claire 2001 (édition grecque)
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"I 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 voices...

"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 me

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 the revolution.

Time, agony, limits. My own fight with the time has started. Count down. There are only twenty minutes remained with Catherine Deneuve.

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 plants, gardening...

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 self-confidence ?
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 adored ?
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" characteristics ?
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 him.

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...

Par : Vally Vaimaki
Photos :

Traduction : Ephy Mantelou

Film associé : Aucun

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