One of the most expensive French films, Eiffel, was shot on a Hollywood scale. Especially impressive is the life-size base of the Eiffel Tower, built especially for the painting. The plot tells the love story of the creator of the tower Gustave Eiffel and a certain Adrianne, without whom the tower would not exist and Paris would be different. On the eve of the release of the film in the Russian release, Izvestia spoke with the leading actors – the sex symbol of French cinema Romain Duris and the star of the Netflix show “Sexual Enlightenment” Emma McKay.
– It seems that in the movie “Eiffel” everything is monumental, including the tower itself, the love of the characters and especially the monumental chemistry between you. How did you manage? Lucky?
Emma McCoy: Lucky, I guess. Of course, you can work on chemistry, there is a large toolbox, but in this case we were just insanely lucky. It all started with great mutual respect, and from the very early stage of work we already had some incredible contact with both Romain and director Martin Bourboulon. We had come a long way long before filming began. We had several readings, we worked on the elaboration of our characters, discussed all the details, down to the smallest. It wasn’t just communication: we became real friends, not colleagues or film partners. When that happens, it’s luck, luck. Because it either happens or it doesn’t.
Romain Duris: I think the reason is also because we were very motivated. This project is not only big, it is insanely big! And very complex. A real challenge. When you get into such a project, you really want to put everything into it, and others next to you have the same desire. And so everyone goes all out, and something wonderful arises. We gave a lot to this film. Hope it doesn’t disappoint anyone. On the other hand, we are now talking with Emma all this, but the director chose us, he did the casting and brought us together. So maybe all the questions about chemistry should be redirected to Martin, this is his merit.
Photo: kinopoisk.ru/ frame from the movie “Eiffel”
– You resumed filming after the lockdown, but the pandemic did not go away, the risk was higher than ever in your life. Wasn’t it scary?
EM.: I definitely wasn’t.
R.D .: Our film was the first project in France to resume filming after the lockdown. Actually, we were the first, we were the pioneers! We were finally allowed to work! We felt that everyone was looking at us, that everything depended on us. And that only inflamed us. Not only the actors, but everyone, every person on the set. It was joy, it was happiness. We waited for every new day of filming and could not wait. We have never had such a thing, perhaps. Probably, it’s as if every day there was the opening ceremony of the Eiffel Tower. Of course, we took tests every day, wore masks, and had the strictest safety rules possible. But somehow we did not pay attention to it at all. As soon as we started working, we instantly plunged into another era and stayed in it until the last day of filming. But even when they ended, I personally tried to do everything possible so that this rainbow bubble, in which I found myself during work, did not burst as long as possible. I know that I was not the only one who had this feeling. Probably, we all tried to keep that happiness and joy back to work.
– By the way, what were you doing until the end of the lockdown?
R.D .: Yes, in general, the same as everyone else. I was constantly checked to see if I got sick. Followed the news. I rehearsed constantly, every day and a lot. I was waiting for when it would be possible to return to normal life, to work.
– What does the Eiffel Tower mean to you now?
EM.: I am not from Paris, for me the tower is not a part of everyday life. I never climbed it, by the way, although my friends and I went to Paris at school, admired it. I can say that my point of view has changed a lot during my work. When I see the tower, I can’t resist a happy smile and an influx of all kinds of feelings.
R.D .: I first climbed the Eiffel Tower when I was very young. In my opinion, I sat on my father’s neck all this time. I didn’t really remember anything, then my father himself seemed huge to me, like a tower. But there was a sense of heights, I still have it somewhere in my subconscious.
Photo: kinopoisk.ru/ frame from the filming of the film “Eiffel”
– The film “Eiffel” is compared by many to the “Titanic”. Have you discussed references to your painting?
EM.: The director, Martin, was in charge of all of this. He looked for solutions in classic films, especially with regard to aesthetics. He was interested in how the light should be in the frame, how the camera should move. But no one gave us homework to watch urgently this and this films. I wouldn’t. I already have an interpretation of my heroine, why should I look for something else somewhere? It was all unnecessary, we already inspired each other. Comparison with the “Titanic” always makes me laugh. Well, that’s a completely different story! At least because she talks about a famous event, and we immediately know that the Titanic will sink. And about the Eiffel Tower, we know that it will be built. These are different types of plots. Both films are about love, of course, but …
– How did you sculpt your characters? Not only was it necessary to create the entire romantic, intimate side of Gustave Eiffel, but also to create Adrianne, about whom nothing is really known at all.
EM.: All I knew about my heroine was that she really existed and that she was from an upper-class family. In general, that’s all – no hint of what kind of person she was, with what character or goals. I had to create, weave this image myself. Well, or rather, not quite independently, we worked together with Romain and Martin, discussed, created together. But I was practically free in this process. It was interesting that we lead the heroes through a lifetime, we had to show the heroine in two completely different ages and states. That is I have a general feeling that I played two women, not one. Adrianna at the age is a married woman, with children, a completely adult person. And then she gets even older, her bond with Gustave grows stronger. I am happy that I managed to play such a heroine.
R.D .: We were very worried about the romantic aspect of this story. But I trusted Martin and Emma and was not afraid of what we could do. There were things that made me much more worried. For example, the technical side of the issue. After all, I had to play an engineer who designs an unprecedented structure, plans it somehow, explains how it should be built and how it will look. Both parts of the structure will be connected to each other. All this should look realistic, here the slightest mistake – and a disaster… I devoted most of my work on the image to be convincing in this regard. At the same time, the viewer should understand what my hero is saying and doing. This is not required of an ordinary engineer, but it was necessary for me.
Photo: kinopoisk.ru/ frame from the movie “Eiffel”
– Emma, since your character is responsible in the picture for love, how do you yourself relate to this feeling?
EM.: Wow, I didn’t expect such a question to come (laughs). Look, I don’t know how you can take it like this and answer in a few words. But it seems to me that true beauty cannot be described in words. This fully applies to love. You cannot say what it is, but you can point your finger and say: this is love. And this is it. And here, too, is definitely love. But here – no. Love is individual, it belongs to everyone individually, it includes an incredible amount of everything. It’s easier for me to talk about the film. Let’s say love in this film is above all honesty towards oneself. It is to be yourself. It’s about making a choice about who you really love and who you don’t. Our film is about how some people are made for each other. They need each other to complement each other, create together, inspire, lead by example, and help. All of this applies to Gustave and Adrianne.
R.D .: To be honest, I was always embarrassed when they say that someone was made for each other and that you must always be together. You seem to have to live your whole life, proving that this is really so. It seems to me that this is somehow too similar to something imposed, unnatural, there is something unhealthy in it. But I believe in the magic of meeting, for example. It can happen. But then, when the meeting happened, it could be anything. If your relationship is easy and pleasant, you can share life with each other. But that will be your decision.
– Don’t you think that “France” and “love” are synonyms?
R.D .: Ha ha ha, come and see for yourself! In France, everyone is constantly talking about love, with or without reason. Sometimes it may seem that the French believe that, in principle, love belongs to them as a phenomenon. I don’t know, maybe we are right about something (laughs).