Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve interview

Interviewed by Jerry Lazar (Lazar Productions) - 1995

Q: It seems a lost opportunity that you came close but never actually collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock.
A: That's something I would have liked to do, because I am a great admirer of his films; I think I've seen all of them. I like the way he used actresses. We had a project. We met in Paris several times, almost at the end of his life, and then he died.

Q: What about Hitchcock's oft-quoted dictum that actors should be treated like cattle?
A: Well, if he treats cattle like I treat my cats, that's all right. But I wouldn't work with somebody really mean. Life is too short.

Q: In Francois Truffaut's `The Last Metro' you played a stage actress, but you've never actually been one. Why not?
A: It's not that I have no interest. It's that I'm scared. I have stage fright. It's something I haven't been able to get over.

Q: Your parents were theatrical actors. As a child, did you see them perform?
A: I saw my father, not my mother. But I never said, ``That is what I want to do.'' Even after I started acting, I was not completely involved. I was not really sure that I would stay being an actress, that that was going to be my life, until I had done at least three films.

Q: Your son and daughter have pursued acting careers. You seem ambivalent about that.
A: Because it's a very difficult profession, even more today than yesterday. It's not that I'm pessimistic, but if they asked me, I would tell them that it's not such a good idea maybe. They're quite good, but to work in that profession it's not enough to be good.

Q: What do you need besides talent?
A: There's the relationship with the camera. You can be a good actor and not really appear your best onscreen. It's like a chemistry; it's unfair in a way. And there's also the relationship with the people, and the opportunities you get. Some people know how to grab things and do things.

Q: Do you think you'll ever marry again?
A: Why not? I don't really think about it. But I have nothing against marriage. I don't think it's necessary, but who knows? Maybe someday I'll feel different.

Q: We imagine that someone like you would be showered with proposals.
A: No, no, it's not like that. People I know aren't that open. Even if some people dream about actresses, I don't think they'd like to be married to them in reality.

Q: What would be the disadvantage of being married to you?
A: I'm not there all the time, like other women who work. But also I know a lot of people don't like the attention actresses are given in normal life. It's sometimes boring for other people.

Q: So the man in your life would have to take a back seat to your profession?
A: But the men who interest me don't like to take a back seat, you know?

Q: You are the personification of cool elegance. What does it take to get you annoyed?
A: I'm very nervous, and I like things to go fast. I don't like to wait for anything. Days are very short, so I lose my temper if things take my time, things I don't want to be involved with anymore. So I speak very loud. That's what I'm told: very loud. But then it goes away very quickly.

Q: We're told you have a passion for shoes. How does your passion differ from most women's?
A: Even when I was very young, as a child I would draw designs of shoes and women's legs. So I have a lot of shoes. It's like my films, I can't put a number on it. I would say maybe a hundred. Sometimes there is a pair I wear only twice a year.

Q: How did you learn to speak English so well?
A: I learned at school, but I learned more when I went to England to work with [Roman] Polanski on Repulsion, my first English film. I was 20. I had to speak English, because it was taking place in London. After that, I went to America and married an Englishman who didn't speak French, so that also helped!

Q: American women would love to know your fitness and beauty secrets.
A: I rest, I sleep, I do exercise very little. I don't run, that's for sure. I go out into the country regularly because I like it. When I'm not working, I try to do things I like with people I like. It's important to be in a nice environment in your own life. I pretend that I only drink water, but that's not true. The most important thing I did for my health -- and, in a way, for my beauty, because it's bad for the skin -- I quit smoking ten years ago. I got hypnotized in America. I was not feeling that bad, but I was scared. I was smoking three packs a day.

Q: You once said that you were sorry you didn't take more chances. What do you regret not having done?
A: I would have liked to have been more assured about myself when I was younger, because today I am surprised by the incredible strength and character of actresses at such a young age. For so little experience, they are so definite about what they want to do.

Q: Have you ever been tempted to relocate to Hollywood?
A: No, because I'm very French. Paris is where I live. I was always happy when I came here [to the U.S.] to work, but I was always happy to go back to France.

Q: What do you like best about visiting America?
A: The excitement about things you do, and the way you do it. You go here and there, you have the impression that you are living faster. I like the freedom; I like the fact that people can walk the way they want, dress the way they want.

Q: And what bugs you most about America?
A: The fact that after two weeks I'm tired and I don't know if I could hold on to that rhythm for a long time. And I like privacy, and I don't know how private you can be here.


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