Star of “Hereafter” Cecile De France Interview with Sarah Knight Adamson
I interviewed Cecile De France at the Elysian Hotel in Chicago on October 14, 2010. She’s a Belgium actress who most of us haven’t seen in too many American films. She’s starring in Clint Eastwood’s new film, “Hereafter.” It’s about three people who are haunted by their mortality in different ways. Her character, Marie, is a French journalist. She has a near death experience and she starts to question her reality.
Backstage Notes: Cecile is strikingly beautiful in person, she has had a former modeling career and her photos really don’t do her justice. Her manner is warm and welcoming which includes many smiles. She was delightful to meet! We chatted about her schooling in Paris, Belgium chocolates and waffles, Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon.
SA: Did you come all the way from France for this press tour?
CDF: Yes, I’m living in France but I’m from Belgium.
SA: That’s wonderful so you grew up in Belgium?
SA: Did you always want to be an actress?
CDF: I wanted to do theatre. I never thought I could be an actress. I never thought I could be in a Clint Eastwood film one day in my life. Because I love to tell stories – when I was six years old, I was in my classroom and the teacher asked me to read a poem and it was very good. Everyone applauded and I was very happy. I did theatre and cinema and now here we are!
SA: For our listeners, I must tell you I have seen the film and you are absolutely fantastic in it. Amazing!
CDF: Thank you!
SA: I want to ask you some questions about Belgium. Is it true – the waffles are really great?
CDF: Yes! Wow, they are hard and sweet! But here you have very good bakeries and waffles too and pretzels! Your pretzels are very good.
SA: Well, thank you, I appreciate that. How about the chocolate? I heard the chocolate is very good. CDF: Yes, there are many sorts!
SA: I’ve read that you left at age 17 to go to Paris, is that correct?
SA: And study? CDF: Yes, I did a private school when I was an au pair in Paris and I took theatre lessons with an assistant actor. After that, I was received at the National Theatre School of Paris.
SA: Fantastic. Wow that’s amazing at such a young age, too. I bet your parents are very proud of you.
CDF: Yes, they are (laughs)!
SA: I was wondering – Clint Eastwood, did you know much about him before you auditioned for the movie?
CDF: I knew a lot of his films, you know? Of course, not much more though – it was just about as an actor and as a director. He is very loved in France and in Belgium. He is like a God (laughs).
SA: What I enjoyed about the film were all the different locations: France, London, San Francisco and Paris! I wanted to talk to you about the tsunami scene in the water. I have to tell you, I was in the screening room with my colleagues in some very tight quarters (Roger Ebert was sitting behind me) I actually screamed when you were being taken away from the tsunami and you hit your head!
CDF: Me too (laughs)!
SA: (Laughs) I’m sure you did! It was so realistic. Are you a good swimmer?
CDF: Yes, I am (laughs)! I did all of my own stunts. I did two films in France under water too so it was not the first time. But it was the first time with English men all around me and they took care of me but of course, I was a bit scared. We did everything in one day. It was a tough day. At the end of the day, I was very happy to drink a good beer with Clint Eastwood (laughs).
SA: So, I’ve heard that working with Clint Eastwood, as an actor, is kind of great because he has such a tight time schedule. That can be good and bad, I guess.
CDF: Yes, for me, fortunately, it was good. The fact that he only does one take is thrilling. It’s very exciting. It’s like a shot of adrenaline and its good. It makes you trust all of the members of the crew. I was so happy to have the confidence of Clint Eastwood. It is great to have that in your life. I felt great. I felt strong and free as a bird. It was good because its possible to be good in one take. Your job, as an actor, is to adapt yourself to any kind of direction. If Clint Eastwood is like that you must be that way.
SA: What about working with Matt Damon? He is our American movie star that we all adore.
CDF: It was too short. Only two days for two quick scenes with him. It was not enough, it was sad. It is not by chance that Clint and Matt are friends because they are very similar. They are very cool, easy, sweet, they laugh a lot, they are cool with crew and just simple.
SA: That’s so perceptive of you. That’s amazing – I’m sure we are going to be seeing more of you. Is there anything you’d like to tell our listeners about the film?
CDF: It’s difficult because, of course, it’s about death and there is a paranormal aspect in the subject but that’s not everything in the film. The film also talks about us. We can identify ourselves with them. Those three characters have had traumatic experiences in life and they are very lonely. It’s more about now and here. It’s about hope too. In very difficult moments destiny drives each person to watch the other. It’s a film with a lot of hope…
SA: Yes, that’s fantastic. For our listeners, there are three main characters. Of course, Cecile plays one as well as Matt Damon. There are also two boys who play twins and they all come together in the end. I never give away the endings (laughs) but it’s a nice ending too. I want to thank you so much for chatting with me and I know we’ll be hearing a lot more about you!
CDF: Thank you!
Sarah Knight Adamson© October 14, 2010