At the Toronto International Film Festival Léa Seydoux looked elegant in Louis Vuitton, as she did in our interview two years ago for It’s Only the End of the World.
“It makes things easier because you don't have to worry about what to wear,” the 33 year-old French beauty admits. “It’s true that I feel spoiled. All actresses want a fashion contract.”
How much time does it take out her life? “Not much.”
This probably helps as Seydoux has to take care of 18-month old Georges, her son with partner André Meyer. Interestingly in her new movie Kursk she is heavily pregnant and filming took place soon after she gave birth.
“I was a young mother and was still breastfeeding when I shot the film,” she recalls, “and I think I had more empathy for the character. Motherhood changes you emotionally, just the fact that you protect and are responsible for someone. We always ask women about this but I’m sure it’s the same big emotional experience for men when they become a parent.”
Her new film Kursk draws on this familial bond. It follows the real life story of the August 2000 Russian submarine disaster that claimed 23 lives. The submariners left behind wives and children in what was an unnecessary tragedy.
Seydoux plays Tanya, the wife of the commanding officer Mikhail Averin (Matthias Schoenaerts) and we watch as her impassioned character fights for the crew to be rescued. The film was directed by Thomas Vinterberg, who had also cast the hunky Beligan Schoenaerts as the romantic lead in 2015’s Far From the Madding Crowd.
“When Thomas approached me I was pregnant and I wasn't really thinking about cinema,” Seydoux recalls, “but I met him and I really liked him. I was really touched by the story and wanted to gives voice to the people whose lives were destroyed. We knew the story as a physical fact and here we have the more humanistic perspective.
“Tanya represents the frustration and the anger and how the wives and families didn't know what was happening. They were lied to and were unable to do anything.”
Seydoux worked with a dialect coach to get the accent right. “It’s something that I enjoy,” and she admits she loves working in English.
“It gives more distance. It's a challenge but I feel less judged. The thing in France they’re putting me in a box; you can’t be who you want to be. You’re always related to your background.”
The girl from the rich family?
“Yes and it will never change.”
Seydoux comes from a family at the top of the filmmaking world in France, which is probably why she broke into the industry. Still, she has proved her talent over and over. She famously appeared in the sensual Cannes-winning lesbian drama Blue Is the Warmest Colour and the historical drama Farewell, My Queen.
She is also a rare actress, of any nationality, to have appeared in both a James Bond and Mission Impossible film. Which franchise does she prefer?
“I prefer James Bond,” she replies with a chuckle, as if this was the fun side of her work. “I like the fact that he has a mission. There’s also something very classy about James Bond.”
Nevertheless she goes into raptures at the mention of Tom Cruise, the man who in his most recent Mission Impossible – Fallout banged into a building and managed to complete the film after recovering.
“He’s incredible. It’s crazy. He’s supernatural, a real superhero.”
While Seydoux would kill for another action woman Hollywood role, she’s about to play a gritty part in the French film Roubaix, une lumière.
“It’s a true story that happened in the north of France. I’m playing a criminal.”
A bad girl?
“Yeah, a bad girl,” she coos. “I like it. I want to show the beauty in a bad character.”
It’s impossible to be completely bad, I suggest.”
“Yes that's what I want to show. I want to show her humanity and I hope I will succeed.”