With the new film “Macbeth,” Marion Cotillard wasn’t just worried about playing an iconic character. She was also a French actor speaking Shakespeare. But the Oscar-winner learned to find her own Lady Macbeth, opposite Michael Fassbender as the murderous Thane-turned-King.
And she enjoyed it so much she’s already reunited with Fassbender and director Justin Kurzel for a much different film: The big movie version of the video game “Assassin’s Creed.”
How did you approach playing a character played by so many over the centuries?
When I started working on the role, I had this pressure that came from that fact that she’s so iconic. Many actresses have done it before, brilliantly. I was like, “What am I going to do to not be compared with Judi Dench, for example, who reached absolute perfection?” [Ed. She played the role in a 1978 version filmed for TV, opposite Ian McKellen.] As much as I loved her performance, I needed to get rid of her, because she was stuck in my brain. Pieces of her performance were so vivid in my memory that it was hard not to think about them.
Then I thought, Justin is such an amazing director. His vision was very special, and it’s very different from the Orson Welles one or the Roman Polanski one. Therefore my interpretation would be different, too. I stopped thinking about myself and started thinking of the whole project. That way I would find my place in it without thinking of the other actresses who have interpreted Lady Macbeth so brilliantly before.
Your Lady Macbeth seems a bit more vulnerable. It doesn’t excuse her actions, but it tries to understand them.
What I thought was so beautiful is that he wanted to find the intimacy between the two characters. He wanted to find the humanity. When I saw his first film, “The Snowtown Murders,” I saw he could find humanity in any human being. I would want to work with him my whole life.