Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel, actors in Christophe Gans’ Beauty and the Beast

French stars Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel play the lead roles in the classic tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve in Christophe Gans’ Beauty and the Beast (see article), available on VoD in the Walk This Way catalogue from Thursday 30 April in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. 

Here are some excerpts from the video interview conducted at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, where the film was screened out of competition:

Are you fans of fairy tales?
Léa Seydoux: As a child, fairy tales deeply affected and moved me; they transported me to another world. I loved losing myself in them.

What do you remember of Beauty and the Beast?
Vincent Cassel: Like everybody else, I had mostly an image of the film in black and white, as in Cocteau’s version.
Léa Seydoux: I have quite a strong memory of Beauty and the Beast because I watched Cocteau’s film about 350 times; I knew it off by heart. Even today, it’s one of my favourite films. In a way, the movie lives within me.

Why such a fascination?
Léa Seydoux: It’s the story of a young girl who leaves the family home to discover love and face up to her fears. I think that’s something that a lot of little girls can identify with.

How does one transform oneself into this legendary character?
Léa Seydoux: I have a very natural connection with this character. I was and I have become the character. The act of putting on this dress, of just being here in this scenery, plunges me immediately into this other universe, in a rather magical way.

What is it that you like about the morals underlying this story?
Vincent Cassel: What I find particularly interesting is the male tragedy, this man who loses everything because of his vanity, and then mopes around in lonely self-pity, consumed by guilt and remorse, until he starts to hate himself and become terrible, a beast. He is paralysed by this idea he has of himself. So much so that when he meets a woman again and begins to feel something for her, he thinks the only way to hang on to her is to control her, to buy her and imprison her. I find that very masculine. It’s a metaphor for a human character.

It’s often said that it’s the costumes that create the characters...
Léa Seydoux: The costumes are extremely important; they reveal so much about the film and the story. For example, in the beginning, the dress is white and brings to mind Belle’s youth and innocence, then it is red to evoke the feeling of love, and eventually she wears this pink dress that symbolises maternal comfort.

The film is quite magical, although the shoot itself was rather less so, since you were filming against green and blue screens. Was this not too much of a paradox?
Léa Seydoux: The shooting was a little less glamorous than the end result. I had to adapt to the technique, which was the governing factor. At the same time, however, it’s also quite enjoyable having to find a new way to act.
Vincent Cassel: There was some real scenery too, though: the dining room with its large fireplace, the bedroom with its magic well... but in fact it wasn’t a problem: you can act a scene almost anywhere; you don’t need scenery to act.

How do you envision the character of the Beast?
Léa Seydoux: The Beast didn’t really scare me that much, because he didn’t have a face, just a green cross in its place. I had to make quite an effort to imagine that this was a terrifying and monstrous beast.

You got to see the film once the special effects were finished. Was it a nice surprise?
Vincent Cassel: I was fairly familiar with this world; I had a pretty good idea of what it was going to look like. But I have to say that when I got to see the finished product, with the grass, the snowflakes, the rain... all those things that you don’t necessarily consider... it’s surprising, magnificent, outlandish, fantastic. I would even go as far as saying that it’s one of the reasons that I made it: a film that has the potential to be really popular, at this moment in France, and in French cinema – that could be good for us. 

To watch the whole of the video interview with Léa Seydoux (in French):

 

To watch the whole of the video interview with Vincent Cassel (in French):

woensdag 6 mei 2015, van Cineuropa

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