Although she's probably best known at this point for her Oscar-winning portrayal of Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose," the fab French siren is multitalented, and also plays in the Expressionist-Surrealist band Yodelice fronted by composer Mazim Nucci: “I play the bass guitar, keyboard, and tambourine—I’m their one-woman band and all-purpose maid,” Cotillard explains. She’s taken to appearing with Yodelice on tour, dressed as a man, and using the name of her maternal grandmother, Simone. “It’s pretty refreshing to be in a situation where the spotlight is on someone else.”
With a new film out this month, Cotillard opens up to Vogue about her passion for music, and the inspiration for her character in the musical "Nine."
As with every character she portrays, she prepares intensely. To nail the half-French Indian Billie Frechette in "Public Enemies" opposite Johnny Depp, she lived on the Menominee reservation. After "La Vie" wrapped, she was still so deeply in character, it took globetrotting trips to the Amazon & Bora Bora to shake the Little Sparrow (“It was there that I found myself articulating why Piaf was still living inside me. She had been abandoned as a child; her greatest fear was to be alone. Now I didn’t want to abandon her. I finally was able to say, ‘She’s been dead for 40 years; it’s OK.’”).
And most recently, for "Nine," she spent four months learning to dance to play Luisa, the singing spouse of Daniel Day Lewis. Her inspirations for the cockolded director’s wife included Fellini’s wife, Giulietta Masina, and Eleanor Coppola’s documentary "Hearts of Darkness," about the shooting of "Apocalypse Now." Photos of Audrey Hepburn gave her “the hairdo with the big personality, the thick bangs and the ponytail. You paint your character with colors you have taken from everywhere.”
- Lesley Scott
(images: Mario Testino/Vogue; quotes: Joan Juliet Buck/Vogue)
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