Rachel Weisz has two films at Cannes this year: Yorgos Lanthimos’ absuridt “The Lobster” and “The Great Beauty” director Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” in which she stars with Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel. She took time to talk with Metro about both of these outside-Hollywood films — and she did it in perfect French.
You took to the red carpet last week for “The Lobster” and you are back today with “Youth”. Doesn’t it feel like deja-vu?
Having two films in selection is a pure coincidence. I shot “The Lobster” at the start of 2014, and “Youth” right after. I’m very proud to present these two films here because both the directors, Yorgos Lanthimos and Paolo Sorrentino, are true artists with a personal vision.
Did you have to audition for these films?
No, not for either of them. I think Yorgos knew my work. But I saw his film, “Dogtooth”, and I found it deeply unique and wonderful. I asked to meet him, and since he lives in London, we had tea together. I told him I wanted to work with him and he said he was writing something in English. With Paolo, it was different. He offered me the part. I met him in New York but he had already picked me.
Between Hollywood and European authors, can you choose which you prefer?
Yes, I prefer films like “Youth” and “The Lobster”. But some great films are also made in Hollywood. I don’t really care about the director’s nationality. He can be French, Italian, American, whatever. What I care about is his or her unique point of view.
“Youth” is about youth, as the title says, but also about the mind and body. Is it something actors are afraid to lose?
I don’t see it this way. The body of an actor is like the body of an athlete. We use it to express things. When you are a writer, you express yourself through the pages of a book, while a director does it through images. An actor needs to take care of his body and mind. He or she needs to look after them.
In the movie, your husband leaves you because he thinks you aren’t good enough in bed. But could it be because your father (Michael Caine) is too important in your life?
Absolutely! She is the assistant of her famous father, she is married to his best friend’s son. … She lives in his universe and her father’s fame is outshining her own life. That’s why she needs a break from him to find herself. That’s also why she leaves with a mountain climber, a man who makes her see life differently. He also tells her how to let things go — to overcome her fears.
As an actress, what are you afraid of?
I’m afraid of every role. I actually think that fear is essential for creation; fear makes you burn. And then, you have to let go, either in movies or on stage, and let your subconscious take control.
Is it scary to play with legends such as Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine?
No, as famous as my partner is, my job is to find the truth in a scene. It might sound a bit pretentious, but it’s true. On the set of the film, Michael Caine told us a lot of stories, but never about his career. Acting isn’t something that we discuss, it’s something we do. It’s not theoretical. For me, it’s a very down-to-earth activity.
Would you like to do another film with your partner, Daniel Craig [whom she met on the set of “Dream House” in 2011]?
Sure, why not. We could show it at Cannes…