Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Interview: Mélanie Laurent


French cinema has provided some truly impressive actresses from Catherine Deneuve to Juliette Binoche but few have proven quite as talented as Mélanie Laurent. Not only has this icy blonde recorded a debut album (En T’Attendant) with singer and ex-boyfriend Damien Rice, she’s in cinemas this week in her first leading role opposite Ewan McGregor in the comedy-drama Beginners. With a clutch of French films, a part in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds in 2009, and directing experience (De Moins En Moins in 2008) under her belt, she is now the face of Dior’s fragrance, Hypnotic Poison. Stylist met her, feeling like a huge underachiever…

You filmed Beginners with Ewan McGregor. Is he a total charmer?

Yep, you said the right word [laughs].

Did you hang out together?

We had a burger on the road. Actually, I had two burgers and he was like, “Oh my God, you’re the first actress I’ve seen do that.” But that was about all of the spare time we had.

Your star is rising. Can you walk the streets without paparazzi following you?

Yes. I had my first paparazzi experience three weeks ago – they just took pictures of me at the airport, doing nothing.

Did you find it exciting?

No, it was weird. In France you don’t really see paparazzi as we’re protected [by laws]. For paparazzi to take photos you really have to be doing cocaine in the middle of thestreet… which I won’t be doing.

I had to learn English fast because I lied and said I was perfectly fluent. I watched '''Gossip Girl '''on repeat.

Why did you choose acting?

I met [actor] Gérard Depardieu on the set of Asterix & Obelix when I was 14 because the father of my best friend at the time was working there as a technician. Gérard asked me, “Do you want to make movies?” and I said, “Why not?” I did my first movie with him, so he kind of chose all this for me.

You then starred in Inglourious Basterds but didn’t speak English at the time. Was that difficult?

Yes, I had to learn fast because I lied to Quentin and said I was perfectly fluent. I watched Gossip Girl on repeat [laughs]. That’s the best way to learn.

Which roles would you like next?

I seem to get the serious roles but comedy would be fun. I also want to direct more. I don’t like being called just an actress because people stop referring to you as a human being. They say, “You’re an actress, you’re not real, you don’t have feelings.”

What are your career rules?

Gérard Depardieu told me three things: firstly, forget acting school. Second, don’t try to learn your text and what it’s meant to be – you do it. Thirdly, he said never be afraid to be ridiculous, which was great because if you’re afraid of that you won’t do anything.

Beginners is in cinemas on 22 July

Interview: Natalie Lukatis. Photography: Corbis/REX Features



And the French created cinema


Cannes: iconic artworks


Iconic Paris Quotes



Celebrity baby names: A-lister reveals daughter's unusual moniker

TV star opts for a nautical theme by Anna Pollitt

25 Nov 2015

Move over Taylor Swift, this is Hollywood's new A-list power trio

Squad goals by Anna Pollitt

25 Nov 2015

When cult TV and film casts reunite

The kids from Hocus Pocus got together on Halloween

24 Nov 2015

“Can’t cook. Won’t cook. Will eat”

Lucy Mangan explains why cooking isn’t for her

24 Nov 2015

Nigella reveals her seasonal must-haves for Christmas

"The smell of bread sauce being made says Christmas to me"

24 Nov 2015

We speak to the model who ran a 'realistic' Instagram account

Stina Sanders posted waxing photos and detailed her struggle with anxiety by Hayley Kadrou

23 Nov 2015

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's girlfriend sing on Coldplay's album

Even Blue Ivy gets a track by Anna Pollitt

19 Nov 2015

Self-help author forgives man who stalked her for seven years

'It was a peek into the dark side of insanity' by Anna Pollitt

19 Nov 2015

“Feminism has led to our casual hook-up culture, not dating apps”

The co-creator of Tinder speaks out by Hayley Kadrou

19 Nov 2015

Hollywood's leading stars discuss the gender pay gap

“The first thing I'd teach a girl of mine is the words ‘f*** off’” by Sejal Kapadia

19 Nov 2015