'Blue is the Warmest Color's' Léa Seydoux on Channeling Brando for the Epic Lesbian Love Story

French actress Léa Seydoux is poised to make history in the epic lesbian-themed love story Blue is the Warmest Color. She chatted with us about her experience of making the film.
By: Tracy E. Gilchrist
September 11 2013 9:04 PM

Going back to the controversy for a moment, you were quoted as saying you wouldn’t work with Abdell again after the grueling shoot, and he came back very harsh, almost accusing you of being ungrateful. We know from history -- for instance, Alfred Hitchcock was notoriously manipulative with Tippi Hedren on The Birds--that some directors exploit actors to elicit a desired performance.

The thing is that it’s the way he makes his films. So that’s just the fabrication. It’s very difficult. But as a director and as a person I would never say something bad. I don’t want to spoil his image. It’s just that it was horrible -- the shooting was horrible. And yes, of course, as an actress it’s my job, and sometimes you can feel manipulated but in a way that goes beyond the movie, it goes beyond the character. It’s something that touches you deeply, the human being, and you can feel not respected and that this is not work anymore.

But I’m not a victim; I wanted to do this film. It was hard. People say how it’s beautiful, this film, it’s so realistic. We were able to do that because it’s about the emotions that you see in the film and it’s only 10% of what we’ve done, at most. We shot so many scenes that are not in the film and they were much more violent. You don’t see that, the violence that was in the shooting. But, I love his work and I’m very proud of the film.

Speaking of being proud of the film, I believe it will go down in history as one of the greatest lesbian-themed films in the history of cinema, and also as one of the greatest love stories of all time, straight or gay. It’s just an epic story. Have you considered that you’ve also played a role in LGBT pop culture history by making this bold, honest film?

I think this film will change things. I’m sure. Even in France, that’s why I think it got the Palme d’Or, because it’s really like a change. It’s very modern in the way that the story is shown. You know, it’s not a lesbian story — it’s just a love story. It’s just about love. I think that’s the big thing about it. Now, you should be able to love who you want to love -- anyone. It’s just a story about passion. It’s between two women -- it could be two men, or one man and a woman. That’s not the subject of the film. That’s why it’s very modern. There’s no judgment.

Have you heard from fans who are lesbians regarding the film and how it has affected them?

Yeah. Some of my friends were so touched. Even gay men were so touched by the story. Women that I know that are lesbians loved it. For them, it’s such a big thing because, as you said, it’s the first time we see a story like that. It’s a revolution, I think, for cinema and for lesbians, the gay community, even for men.

You and Adèle became the second and third women to ever win the Palme d’Or at Cannes. That was historical. How did that feel?

It felt great. We’re so proud and we are so thankful because it’s unique and the story is based on our relationship. So, the fact that we won the Palme, its’ also because I feel that, on this film, that we’re not only actors. It’s like we created, in a way, the story because there were a lot of improvisations and things like that, so it’s really based on Adéle and I. So, to have this recognition, is just amazing.

Seydoux with the Palme. 

You mentioned the violence that was not shown in the film, but there was one very brutal fight scene depicted in the movie that was just visceral. How did you get to that raw place?

The fight scene at the end? I was very scared because I knew that it was going to be hard. And with Abdellatif, I knew that he would push us to the extreme. So we were very scared to shoot that scene because we knew that we were about to suffer. We were scared and at the same time we were already in the state of mind. So I used the tension I had and I played with it.

Did you have to take a break after this film?

No, the problem is that I had three films in a row just after this one, but it’s okay.

If I were eligible to vote I would nominate both you and Adèle for Oscars. Do you think that could become a reality?

I don’t know how the American audience will react. That would be great and a step forward to have a nomination for this film because of its subject and the explicit scenes. That would be great, but we don’t know. We have to wait.

I’m going to cross my fingers for you.

Thank you, that’s very kind.

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