Bonding With Léa Seydoux


The tales in Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” happen within the fictional city of Ennui-sur-Blasé. Léa Seydoux — who plays a prison guard who fashions for an inmate — finds the identify hilarious.

“It’s so great! It’s exactly the image that an American can have of the French: they are just so bored,” Seydoux said with fun.

This 12 months has been something but boring for the actress. The long-awaited Anderson image follows the equally long-awaited juggernaut, “No Time to Die,” starring Seydoux as Madeleine Swann reverse the outgoing Bondsman Daniel Craig. “The French Dispatch” screened last week within the New York Film Festival and premiered last summer season at Cannes, alongside three different Seydoux-starring movies: Arnaud Desplechin’s Philip Roth adaptation, “Deception”; Ildiko Enyedi’s interval piece, “The Story of My Wife”; and Bruno Dumont’s satirical drama “France.”

The wild array makes it laborious to have a single picture of Seydoux herself.

The 36-year-old actress first broke by in art-house circles in 2008 with the French student-teacher romance “La Belle Personne.” She shared the Palme d’Or in 2013 at Cannes for the express “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” together with her director, Abdellatif Kechiche, and co-star, Adèle Exarchopoulos. “Spectre” in 2015 brought her into the Bond franchise, following a “Mission: Impossible” installment.

“Léa Seydoux has an impossible-to-replicate charm onscreen,” Cary Joji Fukunaga, who directed the new Bond film, said in an electronic mail. “She is paradoxically equal parts elegant (almost catlike, quiet, observing, sleekly moving through a scene) and truck driver.”

Despite her generally imposing roles, Seydoux in dialog marches to the beat of her own drummer. At a Midtown boutique lodge, she paused steadily, at instances trailing off into silence, but she beamed with affability and curiosity. Her first feedback weren’t about Bond, or “Wes,” but slightly the existential critique in Dumont’s “France.”

“She knows she’s part of the capitalistic system,” Seydoux mused about her character, France de Meurs, a TV journalist in disaster. “And she wants that — that was her ambition. But she’s conscious of the fact that she’s also a tool of the system. And she’s conscious of her own alienation.”

This was not what I anticipated to listen to within the “Bond bubble,” as her publicist referred to the film’s press operation on the lodge. But Seydoux freely shifted from Bond speaking factors to off-handed evaluation of her roles.

“When I played Madeleine, I was ‘first degree’: There was no distance, there was no irony. My positioning as an actor is something that I really love,” Seydoux said. By distinction, “in the Dumont, the subject is the philosophical dimension.”

When I requested Dumont about her performance, he put it merely: “Léa Seydoux brought Léa Seydoux! I liked how natural she was. I was interested in working with her nature to build an artificial character.” (“France,” also a New York Film Festival choice, opens in December.)

In “The French Dispatch” (arriving Oct. 22), Seydoux plays a caretaker and lover to an incredible incarcerated artist, Moses (Benicio Del Toro). Her briskness and wit keep up the comedian tempo.

“The rhythm, the body language, the way you move — Wes understands you can’t move in a normal way. Everything has to be tch-tch-tch-tch,” Seydoux said.

Anderson provided her the half in a cellphone text, which she read aloud to me: “The movie is sort of a collection of short stories. So I will send you just the parts that you need to read …” About her character’s get-it-done tempo, she says with fun: “I think I’m actually like that!”

Seydoux grew up in Paris with a father in enterprise and a mother with “an artistic spirit,” she said. Her grandfather acquired the storied French film studio Pathé, which dates again to the start of cinema, but she says they were not close.

“It was bohemian but not a happy bohemian family. I was very sad as a kid,” Seydoux said. “I really suffered from the fact that I was different. I had trouble reading.” In past interviews, the actress has described a really shy childhood of being “completely in my own world.”

To Seydoux, her breakthrough, “La Belle Personne,” felt like having her “first family in a way,” she said. Making movies gave her a way of goal: “What I like is to feel needed, and I like to share with people. It connects me to the world.”

There’s no mistaking Seydoux’s core of willpower in her profession. Other actors might need wobbled after the grueling course of of creating “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” The infamous shoot concerned repetitive takes of prolonged intercourse scenes and, she told me, Kechiche’s quite a few threats to fireside her. Public disagreements adopted.

She said proudly that she would do it once more. But she did realize something about selecting administrators.

“I don’t need to suffer to give the best of myself,” she said.

Seydoux isn’t shying away from new adventurous roles. She simply filmed David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future,” with Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart. The plot? “It’s a dystopian future where people eat plastic. They have organs growing. And I’m a surgeon. I remove these organs.”

Next is a family drama, Mia Hansen-Love’s “One Fine Day,” which she partly shot over the summer season, before buying a Covid-19 an infection on set. Seydoux needed to skip Cannes and quarantine in Paris (where she lives together with her partner and their toddler son). Her character is a single mother caring for her ailing father and discovering love.

At one level, the vary of her roles jogged my memory of a playwright’s quote about selecting material: “Nothing human is foreign to me.” Liking the road, Seydoux arms me her cellphone and asks me to kind it in.

Then she quirkily doubles again for a joke.

“So you think I’m human? Yes!”

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