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31 Jul, 2010 10:39

French actress: What is love?

There are actresses, and actresses. One of the most unconventional and cutting-edge French artists, actress-turned-director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, is among the chosen few who do not conform to type and shun clichés.

In an exclusive interview with RT, the sister of First Lady Carla Bruni spoke about love, passion and profession.

The star of Francois Ozon’s “5X2” and “Time to Leave” has recently played one of the most emotional and moving roles in her career.

Her character in Cédric Kahn's “Regrets” – Maya – is a married middle-aged woman who re-enters a relationship with somebody she was madly in love with in her school years.

The question in “Regrets” is whether or not one can enter the same river twice, and what happens if you try to. And does the film’s title actually suggest the right answer?

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi says the film does not come up with any answers.

“It’s a film about the mystery of love, and that’s what I like about it. It poses questions, accepting the fact that we are all strangers, even strangers to ourselves. We don’t know ourselves one bit!”

She says she feels close to her character, who is guided by her passion.

“When we have a passion for somebody, it’s an important moment in life, intensive and particular. Passion can also calm down at some point, but when it’s there, it’s so exciting! Quite naturally, it’s exciting to play a role full of passion…like in Chekhov’s plays, whose characters can be calm and tranquil until they meet their first love and their youthfulness is back again, as well as regrets of everything they once wanted to do…”

Questioning herself has clearly helped the thoughtful actress feel at home in the shoes of her character.

“I don’t know how many times one can fall in love. Love… What is love? For instance, the first boy for whom I cried when I was 12 years old didn’t even notice me, was it love? Yes, maybe. Maybe we can love many times, if each time you have a crush you call it love. Love is probably something that lasts longer and passes the test of time. Perhaps that’s the difference between a temporary crush and true love. “

The roles of women in love, in search of love, in need for love, have become Valeria’s signature roles. What’s her method?

“There’s no universal technique for getting prepared for this or that role in cinema. Each film is different. As for this one, well, something seemed to be easy to me, because I thought I understood everything, but in fact it was an illusion. I decided to learn my role in advance, two months before the shooting, so that it became part of me and in the long run part of my subconscious. We worked on the role a lot, although it doesn’t show. Getting used to the costumes of my character, who lives in the countryside, also took me some time. We also worked a bit on the storyline with Cédric Kahn. “

Back in 2003 Bruni Tedeschi tried her hand at directing. Since then, acting has ceased to be the be-all and end-all in her creative world.

How did she become an actress in the first place? And does she like herself better as an actress or as a director?

“I don’t like myself. I don’t want to love myself. It’s not my problem! I like being both! Sometimes I like to work on my personal project, film, scenario, meticulous work, and I like it. It takes years of work! I also like being an actress. It’s a chance to enter a universe – I love it. Then I put my own film project on the back burner. I like both and miss one and the other. It’s like living in two rooms within one house.”

“I didn’t become an actress. I’m somebody who moves on and when I play, I try to bring part of myself and my truth to the character which I’m offered to play. But it’s not about playing, it’s about being myself, in the heart of this or that situation. For instance, my name is Maya, although I have a different name; she lives in the countryside, whereas I live in the city, etc and etc…It’s very easy, like a game played by children – all you do is, use the magic ‘if’ – and if I was your mom and you’d be my dad; and if you were a king and I was a queen; and if my name was Maya and I met the guy whom I loved when I was 20… I didn’t become an actress, I didn’t become anyone. I am what I am, at my age, with my experience, my past and my emotions, my fears and I try to offer all this as generously and honestly as possible to the character and to the director.”

She says, however, being an actress as well as a director has somehow limited her chances as an actress.

“I want to make it clear, once and for all: when I work as an actress, I don’t act as a director! When I play a role, I’m all ears and at the service of the director. I have neither any desire, nor a reflex to sit in the director’s chair when I’m engaged as an actress. Sometimes when we work on a scene, I can just voice my ideas on things which do or don’t work for me as an actress, but that’s really it! I never ever give any guidelines on set, telling the camera to be here or anyone there… Meanwhile, I’ve got an impression that directors are a bit scared of actors-turned-directors. It even seems to me that when at times I’m less engaged as an actress, it’s because of that…I find it wrong at heart!”

Valeria Paikova, RT