Interviewed by Stephen Schaefer (Reuters Press Agency) - X-Mas 1996
Bardot May Bare All But Deneuve Says 'Non'
Catherine Deneuve may be an enduring icon of international glamour, but don't presume that means her life belongs
between pages. She's no Brigitte Bardot, she will have you know.
Deneuve was dismissive when asked by Reuters if she would ever
write her memoirs. And she was horrified at last summer's
autobiography by Bardot, the '50s French sex siren turned animal
"I read the Bardot book, and I find it so flat and very harsh. I wouldn't
presume to do a psychological study," Deneuve said, looking more like
a psychologist herself than the epitome of film glamour in a black and
gray suit and large, red-frame glasses.
"(Bardot) had a very tough childhood with a strict education. She
never liked doing films and retired very young. Her career had not very
many interesting films," Deneuve said of the pouty icon best known for
the bosom-baring "And God Created Woman" and "Viva Maria!"
"(Bardot) retired without having done important films. And then to
close yourself up in a house with animals and see the world through
that! It's very limited. You stop living at 40. It's a limited life if you
don't retire to a convent."
If Deneuve sounds harsh in her judgment of Bardot, the "flat" memoirs
of the busty star nevertheless made an impression on her. "I don't
mean it changed my mind about writing a memoir but it made me a
little cooler (to the idea)," she said.
MEMOIRS BARING PRIVATE LIFE 'SO CHEAP'
"What people expect in memoirs of an actress is not what I'd be
interested in: My private life. That's all people want to know -- and I
find that so cheap," she added with obvious irritation.
Deneuve's story as a liberated woman whose children resulted from
liaisons with director Roger Vadim and Italian screen star Marcello
Mastroianni, and who married British photographer David Bailey at
the height of the Swinging '60s-Mod England mania, has already been
told and retold. Her film career encompasses several "important"
motion pictures by some of the century's greatest directors.
Sipping a cappuccino in the coffee shop of the midtown Manhattan
hotel where she was staying, she seemed intrigued by the idea of
writing her autobiography -- but turned off by having to satisfy a
publisher's gossip quotient.
"I don't know if there is way to talk about what you've done and who
you've known that aren't things you'd read in gossip magazines. I'm not
interested, even as a reader," she said.
At 53, Deneuve continues to make films that are internationally
successful, such as "Indochine," which won her a Best Actress
Academy Award nomination three years ago, and last year's "Ma
Saison Preferee" (My Favorite Season).
Asked if she had ever considered retiring like Bardot and Greta Garbo
before her, rather than aging on film for the world to see and
remember, Deneuve replied: "At one time I was quite depressed, I
don't remember why exactly. I was shooting a film with Yves Montand
and I was in a 'bad' period. It didn't last long but for the first time I was
considering to stop."
AMERICANS OBSESSED WITH YOUTH
Deneuve, who lives in Paris, is happy she works mostly in Europe.
"Here in the States there's an obsession with age and youth, it's quite
scary. It's easier to grow older there. You can feel it, you see it in the
magazines: There's still an attraction of women over 45. They're still
Deneuve's latest film, Thieves (Les Voleurs), shares that assessment.
Even though its semi-documentary visual style is "quite hard, the
characters are not that good-looking," she said.
Deneuve plays a professor who discovers, after being married and
having become a mother, that she is in love with a young woman
(Laurence Cote). Daniel Auteuil, her co-star in "Ma Saison Preferee,"
is again her leading man but this time they are not brother and sister but
rivals for the young woman's affection.
Deneuve shares a scene in a bathtub with Cote. "It's as if it is a love
scene between two people who love each other," she said. "You feel
the relationship, not from kissing and making love (but) because it's
what it says about their characters, what they bring to each other,
which is quite soft and tender."
Even in her fifties, Deneuve was not worried about a discreetly
photographed nude scene.
"It was a good idea. The bathtub is very intimate and it's better than a
love scene in a bed, so I agreed with that."
This is the third time Deneuve has played a lesbian. The first was an
obscure French film in the late '70s. The second, 1983's erotic
vampire thriller "The Hunger" with Susan Sarandon and David Bowie,
won her an enduring lesbian fan base.
Now lesbianism has been on the cover of Newsweek as a hot trend, a
situation that dismays the actress.
"I'm worried it's becoming something fashionable, as if being bisexual
was a plus more than anything," she said.
"To accept the fact that in a woman and a man there's a masculine side
and a feminine side is fine. Maybe today it's easier to accept the fact
that a woman and a woman are together. And yet it's still more
disturbing for a man to be with a man."