Strategy never works with me

Adèle Exarchopoulos

Interviewed by Louis Lepron

Directed and photographed by Emmanuel Giraud

Between the November 1st release of her latest Netflix film Voleuses, directed by Mélanie Laurent, and her upcoming feature in Gilles Lellouche's new picture, we caught up with actress Adèle Exarchopoulos. In our conversation, we discussed her latest projects and had a chance to reflect on 10 years of a remarkably full career. 

Ever : What drew you to Voleuses? 
Adèle : I found it to be noble entertainment as well as an action film. It started from there. Then I read the script and saw that there was something very new for me in terms of physicality, something that was a bit out of my comfort zone. I accepted very quickly. Right after, we started shooting and stunt training. There was also the cast, whether it was with Mélanie Laurent or Isabelle Adjani: it was a combination of elements that immediately seduced me. 

Ever : Throughout your career, have you often had to train to prepare for a role?
Adèle : Never like this. I had never had to lose weight, train, or build strength, and it was also the first time I had shot a gun. I was lucky to work with a great armorer who was in Paris. He taught me all about the history of weapons before teaching me the technique and precision. I enjoyed it. It was super intense but resulted in a great experience. It was a new way of approaching work as an actress. It should also be noted that it was American-style training, in the sense that Mélanie Laurent left us with a personal coach who was present throughout the filming, in addition to training and a special diet. 

Ever : What's your process when it comes to choosing a role? 
Adèle : I don't ask myself questions and I don't force myself to watch all the films that the person has made so far. It's completely instinctive, meaning I read the script and see how I feel. And then, if I immediately like it, I try to get into the director's brain, either by watching their films or by meeting them. Ultimately, it’s with the heart that I choose my roles. It's also about a feeling, with a question I ask myself: "Do I want to follow this adventure?". I also ask myself if I would have gone to see this film if I wasn't in it, so it's also a selfish pleasure as a viewer. 

Ever : What was it like working in a duo with Mélanie Laurent, who was both director and actress for Voleuses? 
Adèle : It's quite exciting to see. She's a very enterprising person who is involved in several projects at once. I found it very inspiring. The film was fully choreographed thanks to the presence of Emmanuel Lanzi and a whole team of stuntmen, and you could feel Mélanie Laurent very inspired. She had a bit of a Tarantino thing as she loves rhythm cuts, mixing jokes with action. Overall, I think she was greatly inspired by her work in the United States, in the sense that she takes great pleasure in directing. She does a huge breakdown and it's pleasant to watch; and then even to play, because you have time to improvise and have a certain freedom. 

Ever : Was there a particular scene you were super excited to do? 
Adèle : Yes, there was a fight scene with Félix Moati. Unfortunately, I broke my nose during a rehearsal. I didn't avoid a right hook that resulted in triple fracture of my nose, which meant that the shooting was in jeopardy for 15 days. It was a bit my fault: we resumed a choreography and there was a new step that I hadn't assimilated at all. I asked to rehearse for the rhythm, and that's where I got a right hook. I had surgery right away and we resumed shooting. As a result, we had to revisit the scene a bit, which still kept all its intensity. Otherwise, I really wanted to play alongside Isabelle Adjani. 


Ever : In Voleuses, your character is so serious that it becomes comedic. It’s in line with your latest projects that have come out in recent years, whether it's Mandibules or La Flamme. 
Adèle : I love comedy. It even surprised me when I was asked: "So you like comedy?", whereas for me it's what I love in cinema. It's to think that it's a great playground in terms of directorial visions, genres, scripts. I was lucky to learn with the greats, like the master of the absurd Quentin Dupieux, and the master of improvisation and writing Jonathan Cohen. It's super hard because I consume very first-degree comedies like the series Seinfeld, not situational comedies. Playing this type of humor requires exactly, if not more, the same demands as drama films. And at the same time, it shouldn't become a selfish pleasure, it has to remain accessible. 

Ever : In October 2013, 10 years ago, with the release of La Vie d'Adèle, you exploded on to the scene. Did you see yourself doing comedies at the time? 
Adèle : To be honest, I didn't see myself in anything. I had pure pleasure and pure wonder. 

Ever : You didn't have any fantasy roles? 
Adèle : I had a childhood fantasy, which was to make action films, to shoot with Martin Scorsese, but I didn't have a career plan or strategy. With me, strategy never works. I tried, I gave up. Today, I appreciate the chance I have to practice a job I love. And so far, I try to do things instinctively. 

Ever : This year has been exceptional for you, from it's the release and success of Je verrai toujours vos visages by Jeanne Herry to Voleuses on Netflix. How would you define 2023? 
Adèle : I've been too lucky. I came out of Rien à foutre and I did Je verrai toujours vos visages. Then the Le Flambeau came out and there was also Le Règne animal by Thomas Cailley. It had been years since I had read such a powerful script. And finally, the film by Gilles Lellouche, L’Amour ouf, which is by far one of the most beautiful shoots of my life, in every way. 2023 is the year of luck. 

Ever : Do you feel that over the years the perception of you as an actress has evolved? 
Adèle : I feel that I am given more ease on broader grounds. La Vie d'Adèle obviously remains a classic that can either scare or excite. But it's true that shooting with Jeanne Herry, who has very controlled scripts, a knowledge of her subjects, or Gilles Lellouche, who invited me, is an honor. 

Ever : So, how was the shooting with Gilles Lellouche? 
Adèle : It was exceptional. I think it's a film that Gilles had in his head for 15 years, and today he knew he finally had the chance to express it as he wanted after the success of Le Grand Bain. It's a great love story. It's a very difficult film to genre, a kind of drama plus musical comedy. Because there are forms of dreaminess, we worked with the artist collective La Horde. 

It's a story that takes place over 12 years and the film could last 3 hours, so it's a huge adventure. The shooting lasted 18 weeks and I spent about 20 days on the set. Opposite me was François Civil who plays Clotaire, and other great actors surrounded us, like Alain Chabat or Raphaël Quenard. It's a film about love in all its forms: between brothers, of a mother, that you feel once in a lifetime, that is to say falling in love. And in fact, that's all we felt during the shooting: we fell in love with the film. We fell in love with our characters and Gilles is someone who, on his set, unites. He's a very cheerful person. 

I had seen it from afar when Leïla Bekhti was working on Le Grand Bain, and how happy she was to get up in the morning to go shoot. It was similar for me: in the middle of summer I had to leave my friends while I was on vacation to go shoot in Dunkirk in the rain with Civil, Lacoste, and Quenard, and I was running. I knew I was meeting great film partners, good humans too. I loved this shoot so much that I can't wait to see the film. I have absolute confidence in Gilles. I think the film will live up to the shooting. When you've given so much, and I'm talking about Gilles, it will be up to what we experienced.

Ever : What was it like to work again with François Civil, after the experience of Bac Nord by Cédric Jimenez? 
Adèle : His character is both a hero and an anti-hero. François found a very accurate depth in the rhythm that he seized right away. He has the technique and the freedom, which is very rare, so he's a very good acting partner.


Ever : You also shot Planète B this year, directed by Aude-Léa Rapin, with a script that makes you salivate. 
Adèle : It was crazy. This is really an experimental, anticipatory film. It tells the story of activists who wake up one morning and find themselves in a virtual prison. It was crazy to shoot because it brought us to thresholds of madness that were quite exhausting to play, and even to realize. In the cast, there are young actors, like Léo Chalié, Paul Beaurepaire, or Souheila Yacoub. I can't wait to see it. 

Ever : You're about to turn 30: what can we wish for you? 
Adèle : To continue to have crazy encounters, to work again with Jeanne Herry, and to relive shoots like the one I did with Gilles Lellouche. 

Ever : And to finish this interview, I have some quick cultural questions. First, what’s your current favorite film or series? 
Adèle : The latest season of "Demon Slayer" on Netflix. 

Ever : Your current favorite musician? 
Adèle : Mustafa the Poet, who recently released the track "Name of God". I listen to this song every day, it calms me. 

Ever : Your current reading? 
Adèle : "Naruto" with my child. I'm very into manga right now. 

Ever : Your current favorite creator? 
Adèle : The photographer Otman Q.





Credits :

Stylism — Marie Cheiakh @siwarcheiakh
Make up — Ruby Mazuel @rubymazuel
Hair — Mathieu Laudrel @mathieulaudrel
Nails — Rachel Levy @rlevyrachdav




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Being scared, it wakes me up