Cecile de France, a noted actress in France, thinks it’s her face that landed her the role of Marie, a journalist who has a near-death experience in the new Clint Eastwood film, “Hereafter.” “It is not a superhero face, like you have in America,” she laughs. But the conversation turned solemn as de France discussed how her life was changed by this film about death.
How did you get this role? Did Clint see you in other films and then go after you?
I auditioned. I did the reading and that’s it. It was hard, because I needed the answer fast — I was supposed to go on set to do another film. But they said yes very quickly. I was very surprised.
It must have been hard to be in limbo like that. Who’s going to press Clint Eastwood for an answer?
Honestly, I was sure it wasn’t me. Because it’s too much luck. I am a very lucky girl in my life and in my profession, but this — it’s too much. But perhaps it was because he likes to choose actors with interesting faces, not too perfect. And after I heard “yes” it was very simple. I just met him the day before shooting.
Is his directing style similar to the aura he projects — straightforward and no nonsense?
Yes, exactly. He does one take.
Sometimes, he even shoots the rehearsal and that’s it. He is confident with himself, with everybody, with each person of the crew. He is in peace with his ego. That’s how he finds trust. That’s how he trusts you.
Has this movie changed what you think about the afterlife and what happens after death?
It didn’t really change my mind. Honestly, it just opened my mind and it was very interesting to do research. I read a lot of testimonies of near-death experiences. … I haven’t dismissed the mystery yet. There is a mystery, so there is an answer. What is it? Nobody knows. I hope that in a few decades science will explain the near-death experience. For me, it’s not a question of belief or not but accepting that there are mysteries.