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Lea Seydoux - Belle Fleur

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Lea Seydoux - Belle Fleur

Sultry and enigmatic, Léa Seydoux has quickly become one of the hottest French actresses in the business.  

Her torrid performance in the erotically-charged lesbian love story, Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) turned her into an international star, along with her sensual nude pictorials in Lui Magazine, which in turn, made her into an overnight sex symbol. Smart career moves and her onscreen honesty and bravery also helped earn her a coveted role as a Bond girl in the new James Bond film, Spectre, not that she particularly cares for the term, “Bond girl.”

Formidably independent, Seydoux is quick to stress that her character, Dr. Madeleine Swann, is a serious woman who is much more than eye candy.

“She’s an interesting woman; very smart,” Seydoux says. “I wanted to create a character who is a strong woman and is very different from other Bond girls. I wanted to follow more in the style of Eva Green in Casino Royale (2006), who did something very special with her character. We’re in an age where audiences don’t want to see female characters who are passive and submissive sex objects, and I tried to show that (Madeleine) is a very capable and independent woman.”

Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes, and starring Daniel Craig in his fourth and probably final appearance as 007, sees Seydoux in the role of the daughter of an assassin who joins Bond on a hazardous journey across Europe, and in the process, she reminds him of certain key elements from his past.

The 30-year-old Seydoux is descended from French film royalty—her grandfather Jérôme is CEO of the French film and media giant, Pathé, while her great-uncle Nicolas is head of Gaumont, France’s largest film production and distribution company. Apart from various French films, she has established herself in several major American productions, including Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and most recently, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

In addition, she can currently be seen in the surrealist drama, The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) and co-starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. The film sharply divided critics at its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but it’s an example of Seydoux’s desire to work on both indie as well as more mainstream features.

Léa Seydoux lives in Paris with her boyfriend whose name she prefers not to reveal and who she described to Paris Match earlier this year as “the man of my life.”

STRIPLV: Léa, what was it like meeting Daniel Craig for the first time after you had been hired to work on Spectre?
SEYDOUX: He was very charming and funny. I met him just after I finished shooting The Lobster, which was about as different a kind of film as you could possibly imagine, and where we had a very small budget and a very strange story that we were telling. I got along with him right away and I also had a chance to become friends with his wife Rachel Weisz when we were making The Lobster.
STRIPLV: Did Craig try to help you get used to working on a mammoth production like Spectre?
SEYDOUX: I had already worked on Mission: Impossible with Tom Cruise, so I knew what the atmosphere and the way of working was like on a large set, which is like a big machine in operation. Daniel was extremely generous in how much time he spent with me talking about our scenes together and also how he was very protective in general. He wanted to make sure I was comfortable doing certain scenes and that I was enjoying our work together. I had such a good experience on this film with Daniel and also with Sam Mendes (the director) who wanted to keep adding new layers and many small details to my character while we were shooting.
STRIPLV: Did you also get to know your co-star Monica Bellucci?
SEYDOUX: Yes. For me, Monica is a goddess! She has such a graceful and striking presence. She also paid me the most beautiful compliment, saying that her character is an old-style Bond girl, dependent on men, while my Bond girl is the modern type who holds her own against men and is not the kind of woman who is going to let herself be swept away or told what to do by a man. We laughed about that.
STRIPLV: Did you have a lot of action scenes or stunts to perform?
SEYDOUX: I don’t have that many big action scenes, but I needed to get very fit for the film. You have to run and be able to move quickly and so I spent several months training and doing as many sports as I could, so that I would look as convincing as possible doing my own stunts. I liked that, because otherwise I’m lazy when it comes to fitness. (Laughs) The main thing that Sam Mendes kept reminding me was that I had to look very efficient and sure of myself during those scenes.
STRIPLV: Your career has taken off within the last few years and especially with the attention that you received with La Vie d’Adele (Blue is the Warmest Color). You seem to like pushing boundaries, as you’re doing in The Lobster.
SEYDOUX: I like taking risks in my work. I’m very shy in private and acting is my way of escaping a lot of my fears and anxieties. I feel this incredible freedom when I am working, because I approach my roles instinctively. I like to throw myself into the emotions of every character and find my way into the performance with my heart, rather than with my head. Often when I am preparing to play in a film I will try to write down a lot of my thoughts about the emotional journey of my character. I want to be able to understand the essence and spirit of whomever I’m playing, and that, for me, is the real art of the performance.
STRIPLV: Was it difficult to enter the absurdist world that Yorgos Lanthimos is creating in The Lobster?
SEYDOUX: It was a special situation where you can’t really prepare to play the character, but you have to allow yourself to follow the director’s vision and enter his world through the story and the atmosphere he is trying to create. I had wanted to work with him after seeing Dogtooth, and it was an incredible experience being part of that film and trying to understand something of the absurdity of human relationships, while also trying to tell a love story. One of the great things about acting is being able to enter another universe, and in this film, you’re taken into a very unique world and it has an odd effect on how you look at life and very basic things about how and why people care for or love each other.
STRIPLV: You’ve been very open about your battles with anxiety. How has acting helped you deal with that?
SEYDOUX: I would be a mess in probably any other profession other than acting or some form of art. Acting has been very helpful to me in enabling me to express myself much more boldly and fearlessly than I am able to in my private life. I am still very shy and sometimes when I think about some of the work I’ve done, especially in La Vie d’Adele (Blue is the Warmest Color), I wonder how I was able to be so daring. But once I am committed to my work, then I feel I can do almost anything. Something happens to me and acting gives me the courage to be a different person and not let all my phobias block me the way they sometimes do.
STRIPLV: You obviously don’t have any issues about nudity?
SEYDOUX: I’ve never really worried about how I look or nudity in general. My parents are artists in the way they approach life and I was raised in a very Bohemian atmosphere. So being naked in a film is not a problem for me and obviously I could never have worked on La Vie d’Adele if that had been a concern. In my own life, I would like to be more open and relaxed the way my mother is, for example, but she passed on to me one very important trait: I don’t worry about what other people think of me. I have a tendency to be very self-critical, but I don’t allow myself to be affected by what’s written or said about me. I just don’t care.
STRIPLV: Did coming from a famous family in France help or hinder your ability to establish your acting career?
SEYDOUX: I don’t think it made any difference ultimately. I never asked or received help from my relatives who are working in the business. When directors or casting agents are looking for an actress, they’re not interested in your background, but only whether you can play the part and do a good job. I worked hard to have this kind of career, and my family is proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. They never put any pressure on me and were only very encouraging.
STRIPLV: You’re also becoming known as a sex symbol. How do you feel about everything that comes with that type of image?
SEYDOUX: I don’t pay any attention to it, because it’s not real. I worry more about the constant attention that comes with being very famous. I can still live quite normally in Paris, although I am recognized more often.
STRIPLV: What kind of clothes do you like to wear in everyday life?
SEYDOUX: I dress very casually. I wear jeans mainly, I rarely put on makeup, and I’m the opposite of what people might expect from someone who is part of a glamorous world. But I only get very chic for film premieres or festivals, where I love the atmosphere and spectacle of it. I prefer wearing clothes that are comfortable.
STRIPLV: Your godfather is Christian Louboutin. Not a bad connection for shoes?
SEYDOUX: (Laughs) I wish I would wear high heels more often! I love his shoes, of course. He gave me my first pair of heels for my 12th birthday!

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