It is the first time that you officially collaborate with a fashion and beauty firm. Why is the right time to become the Chanel ambassador?
The decision was no different than agreeing to make another film. I'm lucky to be in a place in my career where I can choose the projects I'm passionate about. When all the fingers fit into a glove, it becomes a no-brainer. One gets excited and goes with everything.
What elements of the brand speak to your own sensibility?
There is a level of trust, respect and timelessness regarding creative leaders and brand partners, both past and present.
Gabrielle Chanel said: "fashion goes out of style, style never"
That's a perfect way to put it! I'm going to steal that phrase. Chanel is a brand you could talk about in a college culture class. I remember in an anthropology class at the University, we talked about how there are brands where the product, the image and the narrative are synonymous and ingrained.
There is a long history between Chanel and Hollywood. From Chanel's first visit to Los Angeles in 1930 to dress Gloria Swanson to a genuine commitment to preserving cinematic masterpieces and continued support for directors. Did knowing this relationship influence your decision to collaborate with the firm?
As someone passionate about acting and filmmaking, collaborating with a fashion and beauty house that has an important relationship with the industry, meant a lot to me. In addition, Chanel gave me the opportunity to work on a short film inspired by Blue, directed by Martin Scorsese, the greatest living American director of our time.
Blue relates to a man connected to himself and the world. The aroma plays with dualities: shadow and light, dusk and dawn, woody notes with fresh ones ... what does this perfume mean to you?
What I like is that just like in the movies, the scent and narrative behind it are open to interpretation. It all comes down to the unique interpretation of the person wearing it and how that fragrance makes them feel. It doesn't matter what I think.
How do you feel when you use it?
For me there is a specific intention behind the fragrance. I'm not a person who wears perfume all the time. When I do, it becomes an emblematic moment. A significant moment.
Blue's spirit does not root to ordinary boundaries and looks beyond the visible to evolve. Does this resonate with your own path?
For me the idea of becoming revolves around the idea of owning oneself. A power to live authentically and manifest what one wants for one's life or even for a particular afternoon, something like a micro-manifestation.
Is there a memory from your childhood that you associate with a particular scent?
When my sister was young, she danced at the Rosella Hightoweren Mougins dance school in the South of France. Once our mother took us to a perfume shop in Grasse. I remember buying a wood and cedar spray for my room. I accidentally rubbed it on my clothes and the smell was unbearable. However I remember it as a creative expression to curate my room and as something very French and nostalgic.
What is your first memory of a Chanel fragrance?
When my grandmother gave my sister Chanel N°5 for Christmas.
What role does perfume play in helping to shape, inform and reinforce one's identity and how we show ourselves to the world?
The word identity is so current... Creative empowerment and how one designs oneself not to fit into a box is nothing new, but it continues to be amplified by social media. Smell is something that cannot be found in visual media. It is one of the last bastions of self-expression that was not commodified in that visual space. It's something really for you.
Chanel's creator Olivier Polge talks about the idea of making the invisible visible.
It's a great way to put it. When you spray yourself with Blue, before you go out it's like an act of self-affirmation.
What elements of your French-American upbringing define your personality?
I had a cultural upbringing unlike anything around me. I spent my summers in a small French town called: Le Chambon-sur-Lignon which was the opposite of my life in New York. However, the duality over what inclined me artistically or culturally, whether it was Jay-Z, auteur cinema, literature, my fondness for Saint-Etienne football, American tradition and the appeal of McDonald's and Xbox 360, was everywhere. That always felt good, it speaks to openness.
You seem to shift shape between the French and American dualities in an innate way.
There is a difference for me between how things are done in one place and another. In France I felt there was respect for tradition, time and conversation. As a kid I was not attracted to those habits and I was more attracted to the culture of the United States and its habits that are stereotyped. Over time I connected more with the French side. Which is why being a Blue ambassador right now is very meaningful. I accept the cultural contradictions within me, but French fashion, expression and customs are important to me.
What happens when something in your career confronts you with fear?
If something doesn't scare you, it's not challenging enough for you to do.
You are an avid reader influenced by thinkers such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Fernando Pessoa and George Orwell. What attracts you to literature?
I was always curious about philosophy. It is a means of understanding where one is at the moment. It all comes down to whatever it is that helps you make sense of each day and where you're going. I also always liked Arthur Schopenhauer when I was in college, because his work is nihilistic, and the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who did all his best work when he was 19 or 20. Bob Dylan was also inspired by him.
Where do you find inspiration?
Before in music. Now it can be anything. The good thing about maturing is that you also find inspiration in the people you admire.
What is occupying your mind right now?
I honestly think a lot about what life was like in the '70s in New York. As I'm preparing to play Bob Dylan in A Complete Unknown, mainly because nowadays it's very expensive to live there. At that time it was more accessible and at the same time very rich in culture. It's my thought of the day!
What are you most grateful for today?
All! To be able to do what I love and rest easy at night. And I'm grateful to begin this bond with Chanel and to be a small part of a historic and elevated legacy of a brand like Chanel.
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