Stars of Michel Hazanavicius’ love letter to vintage cinema explain why actions speak louder than words.
JEAN DUJARDIN IS GEORGE VALENTIN
When Michel Hazanavicius said he wanted to make a silent black-and-white movie, did you leap with delight?
[Laughs] I said, “Are you lunatic? If you want a character like Chaplin or Keaton, it’s impossible because I’m not a genius.” But he showed me other movies by F.W. Murnau and Frank Borzage and I understood he wanted a story, not a pantomime.
We hear you’re not a big fan of dogs – so how was it working with your canine co-star Uggy?
I like dogs, but I prefer cats! But he’s not a dog, he’s a person. He’s made for movies, that dog. The sausages helped; I had a lot of treats in my hands and in my pockets, and they put a pate on my neck.
Award noms are looking likely – is that important to you?
I’m very conscious of what’s happening but I protect myself from those things because it’s nicer that way. It would be irrational to dream about it – and very funny if it happens because of the beginnings of my career. I started out doing stand-up in bars!
BÉRÉNICE BEJO IS PEPPY MILLER
You’re married to Michel. Is Peppy inspired by you?
He wrote Peppy with me in mind. As an actress, that’s the best. You know someone is writing thinking about you. And being my husband, he knows things about me he’s going to put on screen.
Who were your silent-movie inspirations?
I wanted to understand everything about that era, so I was looking at Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Clara Bow. I visualised each actress in every scene. I was like, “This is like Clara!”, and “Marlene would be like this!” But Michel said, “Forget everybody and be you.”
We hear you auditioned to be the new Bond girl…
Yeah, but I was very pregnant and tired so I wasn’t in the right mood. It’s not the first time – I auditioned for Quantum Of Solace and Die Another Day. I’m not going to be a Bond girl yet, but I’ll keep fighting for it!