Parisian woman

23 juin 2008

Au printemps, Isabelle Adjani fit la couverture du magazine In And Around Paris destiné à promouvoir la capitale auprès des touristes en visite dans notre beau pays. Ce magazine, essentiellement en langue anglaise, profita de l'exposition sur Camille Claudel au musée Rodin pour nous livrer une interview d'Isabelle Adjani à propos de... Paris bien sûr.

Isabelle Adjani lights up screen and stage with glamorous aura. She retraces her path fo fame for us.

In&aroundParis - What are your earliest memories of Paris?
Isabelle Adjani - I was born in the 17e arrondissement, but was brought up in a run-down suburb called Gennevilliers. When we went to Paris, the bus stopped at Place Clichy, somewhere with so much hustle and bustle it terrified me. My father worked on Boulevard Berthier. It was to the Le Berthier cinema that he took me to see films that marked me for life, such as Doctor Zhivago or Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman.

IaP - And then you enrolled at one of Paris's greatest institutions, the Comédie-Française.
IA - I was still an adolescent, and divided my time between high school in Courbevoie and the Place Colette, mystified by the aura of the theatre. It was quite an expedition, I was very shy, going from one place to another made me anxious.

IaP - This division between high school and theatre wasn't too difficult?
IA - I was dead tired. I had to learn several plays at once and carry on studying. But my stay at the Comédie-Française didn't last long, as François Truffaut came and fetched me to star in L'Histoire d'Adèle H. The director at the time didn't want to give me the necessary time off to make the film. At that point, Paris for m e was a place for decision-making, for choosing the future, my destiny, my career. This giant city had to be tamed.

IaP - How did you manage?
IA - By stopping going home to my parents. At first I spent the nights with friends who lived on the rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I wasn't a real provincial, but I did sense how much Paris had to be earned. Afterwards I became Parisian, more Parisian than French.

IaP - What do you mean?
IA - I am not moulded by French culture. I am suffuded with what I have inherited : Algeria from my father's side, and, on my mother's, Germany. There is a part of me that is not in tune with the French spirit, so cerebral. But in Paris, I have my bearings, my universe. I have felt homesick for Paris while living abroad, when given the opportunity to spend time in Los Angeles or London.

IaP - What do you like about Anglo-Saxon world?
IA - Everything that is lacking here : a form of openness, kindness, selflessness, a capacity to offer up your time... values that are no doubt a bit guileless. And in France we still haven't acquired the elementary reflexes of respect for the environment. I am an absolute fan of organic products.

IaP - Do you take more advantage of the city when you play at the theatre every night?
IA - People are often mistaken about the amount of free time actors have. They think that as soon as everything has been memorised, we can relax before the evening's show. In fact, the more assimilated the exercise, the less relaxed we are, the more haunted... but in the odd care-free moment, I buy books at Galignani, or take my son to the Cité des Sciences à La Villette... I take advantage of the diversity the city has to offer.