This week François Ozon’s new film In the House comes out starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Fabrice Luchini, and Emmannuelle Seigner. The film review went to a round table to talk to François and Kristin.
The film follows a 16-year-old school boy who insinuates his way into a French family’s house and affections with unpredictable results. We joined a group of journalists to ask Kristin and François about the project.
How did the project come about and how did you get involved?
Kristin Scott Thomas: I got involved because François asked me, but unfortunately I couldn’t do it in the beginning because I was doing a play here. I was doing another Pinter, I was doing Betrayal, so Pinter and Ozon always seem to be involved every time. So, that wasn’t going to work and then the schedule changed so I was able to do it and it was a miracle and everyone was very happy!
You said in the press release that you’ve been dancing around each other for some time. Have you been trying to work together?
François Ozon: I was thinking to work with Kristin for some time, but I don’t know if she was thinking about working with me.
Was it anything about the character that drew you in?
KST: It wasn’t actually so much about the character, but the whole project – the whole screenplay – which I found very funny as a read. And I was also very intrigued and excited with the idea of working with François on this kind of project, because I love his comedies, I think they’re great. And to be working with Fabrice Luchini, the part read like something that I could really take in and I would be very comfortable doing that part. I really wanted to say those lines with Luchini, I thought that that was going to be great.
Is it tricky as French is not your first language and the film is a comedy, was there a problem with timing?
KST: No, it was the character that I felt very confident about. But the comedy is another thing because it’s a question of rhythm and timing, but knowing Francois is very good at that, as is Luchini (Luchini is extraordinary with his timing and delivery), I was relieved to find when we were shooting it that François is extremely precise and extremely organised and can ask you deliver lines in a very precise way. So, basically, the fear was taken away. I was told how to do it. But it works! And it was very easy to work with Luchini, as I’d suspected.
Are you a fan of modern art yourself?
KST: Some of it, what I don’t like is bullshit. What I like about that character is how she has to wade through this insincere stuff when she’s trying to flog this work, pieces of someone else’s hard work. And she’s trying to drum up some kind of enthusiasm, and I could feel in reading it that she’d sort of given up because it wasn’t really working. But then the other pieces, such as the sound pieces with the headphones, so it was a mixture, of that could really work… but no it’s not actually going to work is it. That aspect of it appealed to me.
Did you do any preparation?
KST: Went and stayed with a gallery owner for six months. No, I went straight from Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre, where I’m not doing Old Times. I came straight off stage and straight to work.
I don’t know if you’ve been mis-quoted, but you’ve made out that you hate films and you never want to make films again?
KST: That was last week.
It seems quite dramatic
KST: I’m the queen of dramatic statements. I am going to make another film, it’s in the books.
Do you find you’re getting offered the roles that you want to do or do you turn a lot of roles down?
KST: Well, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to do it, because I’ve learned my lesson. But do I get a lot of offers? Yes, so there’s not need to worry.
Most of them don’t appeal?
It’s not that, it’s the whole thing, it’s the project, the investment. You are going to invest quite a lot of time and energy doing this, so you want to sure of the man you’re working for (or the woman you’re working for, although that’s pretty rare) the people you’re working with, the other actors, where it is, what it’s about. I’ve done some pretty different things last year. I went to Thailand and shot a film with Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling, that was an easy choice, then I came back to England and did a period drama about Charles Dickens with Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones. So it gets quite varied and now I’m on stage. So I like to keep things different for me.
What do you like about the French roles?
KST: They are very varied. I started working a lot in French cinema because I was really fed up with playing snooty, cold, distant people and I found that in France the roles offered much more guts. They were much gutsier, and they were more alive and more real. I fell in love with them much more easily. I was fed up with feeling sorry for my characters.
Did you have much time working with Emmanuelle Seigner, who you worked with in Bitter Moon?
KST: Not really, I don’t think we worked much together. There was one day we worked together, in the gallery.
FO: We had a scene between you two, but I cut it in the editing room.
KST: Why did you do that?
FO: Because it was a sex scene.
KST: Oh, that one!
FO: It was not very interesting for the film. It was a confusion between the reality and the fiction, and everybody was lost, so I preferred to cut it. I prefer that the audience has in mind the film of Polanski where they had a very good scene, a sex scene, a dance sex scene with Emmannuelle.
KST: Those were the days.
FO: A long time ago.
So, you deliberately cast for the reference to Polanski then?
FO: No, absolutely not. No, when I did the cast the first idea was to find Germain. It was quite obvious to take Fabrice Luchini because for us, the French, he is like the specialist of the French literature. He is very well know to do some show about the French literature, so it was obvious to have Fabrice. Afterwards I had to find his wife, and I needed a very good chemistry between the two actors. My first choice was Kristin, as she said. I had the feeling because they had the same theatrical background it could work between them and I think it works very well. They have they have the same rhythm, there was a chemistry between them which was obvious.
FO: I wanted to work with her for a long time. We had a project together a long time ago which didn’t happen. And I wanted to give her the opportunity to show something else because very often in French movies she is used as a very aggressive sexual woman, and in the case of Rafa’s mother it was more the idea of someone very tender, very maternal and very simple, a very simple woman. She was surprised, but I think she’s good in it because she has a tenderness and… she is a MILF. Do you say that? It is a word that has just arrived in France, so everybody use it! She is the perfect MILF for a young boy.