Just a Minute With: French actress Marion Cotillard

Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:39pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - French actress Marion Cotillard has gone from playing singing legend Edith Piaf to portraying the girlfriend of another kind of popular hero, bank robber John Dillinger.

In the movie "Public Enemies" opening on July 1, Cotillard plays Billie Frechette, a woman who fell in love with Dillinger, played by Johnny Depp, during his ill-fated cops-and-robbers war with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in the 1930s.

Cotillard won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of Piaf in 2007 movie "La Vie en Rose." Her role in "Public Enemies" as the daughter of a Frenchman and an American Indian is her first since winning the Academy Award.

She spoke to Reuters in French from Chicago about her character Billie Frechette, her love of the Windy City and her upbringing in France in a family of actors.

Q: What did Billie Frechette see in John Dillinger that attracted her to him?

A: "At a young age, she was sent to a boarding school, and it was a very difficult place where they tried to erase everything that was Indian in her. And I think that she encountered there a great injustice, and she shared with Dillinger a suspicion of authority. I think the two of them saw that in each other and they fell in love immediately, and there was a very strong connection between them."

Q: Growing up in a household of actors, did you often practice scenes with your parents?

A: "Yes, because my parents were actors and theater directors. And my father was a director for children's theater after having been a mime for a long time. So, seeing actors rehearse was something very familiar to me."   Continued...

<p>Cast member Marion Cotillard poses at the premiere of the movie "Public Enemies" at Mann Village theatre in Westwood, California June 23, 2009. The movie opens in the U.S. July 1. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>