Marion Cotillard won an Oscar for playing Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose," so you'd think starring in a musical would be old hat for her. Well, maybe. Cotillard, one of a boatload of Oscar winners in "Nine," (the cast includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman), still had to rehearse. She spoke recently about that experience, as well as what it's like working with Day-Lewis and trying to act while still carrying a tune.
Question: Did the cast sit around and compare Oscars?
Answer: (Laughs.) No, no, no. We spent a lot of time together during the rehearsal and we shared a lot of things, but not Oscar stories.
Q: What was it like working with such a notable cast?
A: I think that a lot of actors share the same feeling. ... It's like it is for the first time. You go back to that point where you don't know exactly what's going to happen the first time. We were like a theater company arriving two months before shooting on set for the rehearsals. We were all so nervous about the singing, the dancing. We were all there to work and to try to do something good. You know, I don't think an actor is a confident person. So we shared the same feelings of excitement, of anxiety, and we really support each other.
Q: The women didn't have a lot of scenes together.
A: Yeah, that's why it was an amazing time during the rehearsal. We got to know each other and to work together. I had a lot of singing lessons with Penelope and Nicole, and dancing lessons also. It was really an amazing time to share our joy, to be part of this project with (director) Rob Marshall.
Q: Daniel Day-Lewis is well-known for his intensity. You play his wife. What was he like to work with?
A: He really carries you, the way he works, the way he's committed and how generous he is. It carries you to a very high level of joy in your work.
During the rehearsals, I remember one day I was working on (the song) "Take It All." I was going over the choreography, over and over and over again.
And suddenly he enters the room without saying a word. He took a chair and he sat in front of me. I did "Take It All" two or three times with his eyes on me. Then he just left. I mean, it was an amazing time, because suddenly it became more than technical that day. I had to forget, not what I was doing, but all the technique and put some emotion in it. Actually it pushed everything higher, even the technique was better because he was there and he was looking at me and he was giving me (his character) Guido's look that I needed at that point in the rehearsals. This is how generous he is.
Q: The songs are eventually dubbed, but you still have to sing while shooting. Is it difficult to act while singing?
A: I think that music brings a lot of emotion. I've always loved to sing, and I think in a way when you forget about the technique and you're just into the scene and into your character, I find it kind of, not easier, but it's a different level of emotion. The music carries a lot of emotion. I used to work with music even when not in a musical, because there's something about the music that makes you dive into something deep. I wouldn't say it's harder. I would say it's different and it's definitely really exciting and really emotional.