|The stuff I am really
interested in is her relationship with her boyfriend she calls him her husband
Polish director Andrzej Zulawski, with whom she has made five films. They met at
Cannes when she was 17 and known for the two Boum movies. He was 42, an auteur
specialising in psycho-sexual drama. He cast her in LAmour Braque, a version of
Dostoevskys The Idiot, in which she played a teenage prostitute, and persuaded her
to do her first nude scene. "Ill tell you a secret," she says. "It is
something actresses need to go through and I think they look forward to being naked in a
movie. I dont know why, but it is something you need to exhaust from yourself."
Her parents, a truck driver
and shop assistant who brought her up in a modest flat in a Paris suburb and divorced when
she was nine, were, one imagines, horrified, and she says they still do not get on with
Zulawski: "But it doesnt matter." Five years ago they had a son, but she
admits she is as amazed as anyone that they are still together after 17 years. They fight
"like scorpions in a nest" and he is notoriously critical of her work, not least
of Telling Lies, which he encouraged her to write and then reviewed unfavorably in print.
There seems to have been something of the
Pygmalion in Zulawskis relationship with this beautiful, under-educated teenager.
Having created her as serious actress, however (and recommended to her the books so
liberally quoted in her own: Paul Valery, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Virginia Woolf), he has
looked on uneasily at his creation. lt was reported they broke up when she took the Bond
role. "That was crap. Exactly the opposite and I am telling you the truth," she
says. He apparently thought it an excellent choice. "But when he sees a love story
with me and James Bond, he doesnt like it. Its uncomfortable for him. Which I
understand. But that is normal. Thats good. Otherwise it would be very
Maybe that is why he was critical of the
novel: too intimate? "Yes, maybe that part I understand." He is a jealous man?
"Yes!" Yet he directs her in films in which she makes love to other men.
"You must ask him about it." Where is he? "In the bathroom," she says
playfully. Last year Zulawski plunged fresh depths of masochism by directing her in a
three-hour stinker called La Fidelite, in which Marceau flirts with a younger man while
her infatuated older husband stands back helpless. How, in real life, I ask, does she cope
with the fidelity issue? "Very well, thank you." Touche.
Telling lies proves that stream of
consciousness can be a shallow rill, but while Marceau is no latter-day Virginia Woolf or
Dorothy Richardson (and Id like to have seen them do sex scenes with Pierce
Brosnan), her writing is not without its felicities. I liked her calling her sofa bed a
"mechanical skeleton", her description of a curled telephone cord as a
"pasta spiral" and the waspishness of her portrayal of her oleaginous director:
"Even from a distance, there was something perverse about his shoes."
Refreshingly, for the author of a book about
lying, she is honest enough to admit when she has fouled up. Presenting the Palme
dOr at Cannes two years ago, she meandered through an interminable speech ranging
through topics from sick children and warfare to the superficiality of film. The host,
Kristin Scott Thomas, had to tell her to stop. "She did her job and I didnt do
my job. She was right and I was wrong. I felt very bad. It was like black hole for me. I
didnt understand where I was."
The drink, I suppose? "Oh no, I heard I
was drugged or I was drunk. I dont drink and I dont drug myself. I was
perfectly clear-headed but I was hungry and I had just arrived from a very different world
outside Cannes." What happened aftcrwards? " I went back to my hotel and I heard
people from the street outside saying, Youre right, Sophie. Very
Actually, I say, that was the furniture
speaking. I am rewarded by her laughter which, as you can imagine, is an agreeable sound
to rnale ears. As to the real Sophie Marceau, it is, as she might say, bizarre but
100 pages and 90 minutes on, I still havent a clue.
Tellirig Lies by Sophie Marceau is
published by Phoenix, £6.99