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Isabelle Huppert: “We all have something to hide, actress or not”


What if the Huppert mystery was a paradox… Both restraint and a visceral sense of play? Interviewed for her roles in La Syndicalist and Mon crime, here she is in all her glory.

In any meeting with Isabelle Huppert, however pleasant, friendly it may be, there is a kind of fight.

It protects a mystery, saying itself without mystery, a secret, announcing itself without secret.

She says "my loved ones", leaves no room for a personal question.

On her life, her childhood, her parents, she is silent, dodges: “No report”.

If you insist, disarm: “No more than anyone”.

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I had been warned, she doesn't like to talk about herself, but she was so relaxed, without makeup, in housecoat, showing me - we were on FaceTime - the view of her pretty room overlooking the sea, which I continued.

She, smiling at my attempts, most often answered me “no” or “not really”.

Every time I got a "yes" or a "it's true", I was happy, I had gained a millimeter and she seemed happy to give me a good point, to please me.

(The night after this interview, I dreamed that she was in her pajamas in my kitchen, so much did I feel like I had spent an hour with a calm and kind big sister who knows that she is right in the face of rantings of a small butt.)

She is filming in Perpignan, playing in four or five films a year, and we have an appointment to talk about the next two.

 La Syndicalist

, by Jean-Paul Salomé (1), based on the true story of a CFDT delegate at Areva who was fighting against nuclear relocations to China, and who was raped under mysterious conditions.


Mon crime

, by François Ozon(2), a comedy in which she plays a former silent star ready for revenge.

In video, Trailer: "La Syndicalist" with Isabelle Huppert

"No sentimentality, trouble..."

In the first scene of Jean-Paul Salomé's film, her character is filmed in a hospital room, where she has just been examined after the attack.

She gets up, poses in front of a mirror, she is not in tears, her face is not flushed, there are no scratches, no visible trace of the violence she has just suffered.

She just takes out her lipstick and carefully applies some color to her mouth.

That's all.

She is a bad victim who does not complain, who hides what is wrong.

Besides, we won't believe her.

Isabelle Huppert has this talent to play this, an emotion buried forever.

How does she do it?

To ask her about what she is hiding is first to come up against a soft wall which refuses to throw the ball back to you, then which tightens.


likes emotions to be restrained, I find them much stronger that way, and I choose directors who also have this taste.

No sentimentality, but ambiguity, confusion, that's what I share with those with whom I shoot.

“The secret is not to resist”


Mon crime,

by François Ozon, she is, on the other hand, an extroverted woman, very voluble, extravagant, with jerky humor.

When asked about the technicality of the role, she denies any work, that it is difficult. I remember seeing her in


by Virginia Woolf, directed by Bob Wilson at the Théâtre de l'Odéon.

It was ten years ago, but the image remained.

She was spinning on stage, repeating a text in an impressive trance.

I remind her, she agrees to accept the share of work, “only, perhaps, because I am having fun.

There is the pleasure of technique.

It's work, but above all pleasure.

And adds: “It is thanks to the relationship I have with Bob Wilson, he is extraordinary, I trust him, I rely on him.

I'm not a dancer or an acrobat or an athlete, but someone like Bob Wilson knows how to get you to master body language."

And the effort?

She minimizes.

"Actor, it's blurry, it can't be learned like music or dance, it's a gray area.

It's like a sketch that we have in mind, more imprecise than for a pianist or a dancer.

Little by little the contours appear.

The secret is not to resist.

I retain the expression “not to resist”, promising myself to come back to it.

Where is the impassable block she is standing on?

Isabelle Huppert wears a Louis Vuitton outfit.


“Acting fills my life in a pretty perfect way”

In an interview for the program

À voix nue,

on France Culture, she says that she builds her characters not on reality, a work of investigation, but on her imagination. If the role is not developed on a work , an external reality, his imagination has to feed on something.

Would that be his life then?

I asked her if, for her, acting was like writing for Annie Ernaux, a way of understanding what happens to you, if her life is above all the material for her work.

She eludes: "I don't know if my material is my life, I know that acting fills my life quite perfectly."

A garment, a gesture are enough to inspire me, to find the state

Isabelle Huppert

On the real character of

La Syndicalist,

Isabelle Huppert says that she met her quickly.

They said nothing essential to each other, but the actress observed her: “For our trade unionist


with Jean-Paul Salomé, we were quite simply inspired by Maureen Kearney herself, we did not go looking for good far: her chignon, her rather Hitchcockian blonde, her very personal way of dressing, her lipstick, sometimes mask, sometimes defense… A garment, a gesture are enough to inspire me, to find the state.


“Explanations, there are none”

In a

New York Times

video from 2016, we see her with a wave of her hand showing the cameraman where he should stand, and, at a moment that she must consider fair, she tells him: "It's okay" .

How does she know that "it's okay"?

“Cinema is a language.

In principle, it provides the right answers to the wrong questions.

For example, a well-placed camera.

"If you know when 'it's going', are you as much an actress as an author?"

I thought I had found a first step there, a kind of victory, she had finally answered "yes".

I repeated to her: “Are you as much an actress as an author?


She wears a coat and waders, Lanvin, Cartier jewelry.

Rudy Martins hairstyle.

Makeup Morgane Martini.


She kept me from going too far, from believing that I had found something that could define her power, hiding behind the power of cinema – “I am subjugated by the camera, the cinematographer, the script, the 'lighting, editing… All those who make the film and take me away' – and reminded me of an experiment carried out with visual artist Roni Horn.

She took a new photo of herself every day for one hundred and twenty days.

“To obtain very different expressions, she asked me to find the feeling that animated me for each film.

At first, it seemed abstract to me, and then I discovered that each film corresponded to a state, a specific emotion.

"And yours ?

Your emotion?

She laughs.

“We are not always aware of what we are doing when we are filming.

I remember at the announcement "it's Isabelle's last shot", at the end of the shooting of


the film by Paul Verhoeven, I lay down on the ground screaming, as if I was possessed, it was very liberating.

When I finish a film, I say to myself “but how could I have done all that, I wouldn't be able to do it again”.

Come the time for explanations, and there are none.

"Being watched does not immediately cause joy"

I had admired the family films shot by her father, which she entrusted to Serge Toubiana for a documentary portrait.

A pampered little girl, in a white dress in a beautiful garden, a teenager in a bathing suit, whose crawl I was able to admire.

She admits that her father filmed little and well, that his amateur films where we see her as a child are of high quality.

“I found out by thinking about it – it happens to me!

– that the camera, unconsciously, or let’s say, the gaze, triggered in me rather a wave of melancholy.

The fact of being looked at does not immediately cause joy, but an interiorized feeling rather than an exteriorized one, I don't know why.

– Is this melancholy for a vanished world, that of your childhood?

– A priori, I do not see any connection with my childhood.

I don't see the resurgence of the family novel in the range of states that animate me when I play.

– Can't you deny that your way of being, of playing, is not linked to your childhood?

– Like everyone else, I am the product of what I have experienced, but no more.

Read alsoBlonde hair and bangs: Isabelle Huppert's radical hair makeover in

La Syndicaliste

“I am also a spectator, I know what it is to fantasize about an actress”

I remind her of what she confided to France Culture: “People are always looking for what I hide, but I have nothing to hide.”

She laughs: “We all have something to hide or not want to show, actress or not.

I am also a spectator, I know what it is to fantasize about an actress, to imagine things… When you are inside your own life, there is nothing mysterious.

I come back to the character of

La Syndicalist,

to the buried pain, the secret that she cannot reveal because it hurts too much.

I understand that she doesn't want to say anything about her father's dramatic past, but still she cannot deny the transmission between a father and his daughter.

“Perhaps, replies Isabelle Huppert.


La Syndicaliste,

the weight of the past, of transmission, is just mentioned a little in the film.

We hardly know that his father was a trade unionist and that there could have been a transmission.

I went to see Munch's exhibition.

Here is one who has never freed himself from the original sadness.

All his life he painted suffering, death, anguish.

Very little to do with the variety of states that the cinema allows me to cross.

Just watch the Ozon movie.”

Isabelle is wearing a Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture silk shirt, Alexander McQueen trousers and Messika Paris earrings.


“Blindfolded on the edge of a precipice”


Madame Figaro,

a few years ago, she had asked to be photographed by great photographers.

Later, Toubiana filmed her in a photo session with Peter Lindbergh, her face abandoned, open, without any trace of control, in contrast to the New York Times video footage where she is in complete


of what is happening.

She admits: "The art of Peter Lindbergh was the sophistication of the natural, I was very lucky to cross his path many times."

How does it go from control to abandonment?

"I'm not aware of it.

– A face that was so loved by his parents, nothing can scare him, he fears nothing?

– If you really want, because I feel that I must give you satisfaction, to train on the ground of childhood, I will entrust you with something.

She smiles, seems delighted to make me happy.

“The link with childhood would be total trust, as only a child knows how to give.

There is a scene in

The Lacemaker

which is its most perfect allegory: I am led blindfolded to the edge of a precipice, a fine illustration of what binds you to a director.

– For that, you have to have been loved unconditionally?

- Maybe.

You are right.

I admit.

It's true."

She laughs and adds: "And your children, are they okay?"

(1) “La Syndicalist”, by Jean-Paul Salomé, with Isabelle Huppert, Yvan Attal, Marina Foïs… Released on March 1st.

(2) “Mon crime”, by François Ozon, with Isabelle Huppert, Nadia Tereszkiewicz, Rebecca Marder… Released on March 8.

In video,

Mon Crime

by François Ozon, with Isabelle Huppert, the trailer

Source: lefigaro

All life articles on 2023-02-16

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