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Despite having done her fair share of turns on the red carpet in recent months, Bérénice Bejo admits to being more at home in jeans than gowns.
“Every other week, there are four children in the house,” said Bejo, who has two young children with partner Michel Hazanavicius — her director in “The Artist.” (He also has two daughters from a previous relationship.) What’s more, “I have a dog, and I’m pretty active, so being glamorous in everyday life, for going to the supermarket or to school, is not what’s most important,” added the actress. She described her taste as classic and simple when WWD recently caught up with her at a pre-Cannes International Film Festival event in Paris hosted by Chopard, for whom she is a brand ambassador.
“But when you’re promoting a film, with the race for the Oscars, it’s important as an actress to play the game, and that consists of having an image and working on it,” said Bejo, dressed in a black Louis Vuitton dress and blush Christian Louboutin sandals.
Apart from jewels by Chopard, of course, Bejo said she has not yet decided what to wear for Cannes, where it’s rumored she’ll be named master of ceremonies for the festival’s open and close.
“I know now that I have to prepare in advance,” she chuckled, admitting that she had not necessarily been fully prepared for the media attention that came with the success of “The Artist.”
“We thought the film would do maybe 200,000 entries at the box office, that maybe the French cinephiles would go and see it but that would be it,” she marveled. “When I read now how ‘obvious’ a success it was, it makes me laugh. If you had seen us two years ago, nobody believed it. Now, it is the biggest-grossing French film ever in the U.S.!”
Bejo recently finished working on “Populaire,” a Fifties-set comedy, and is currently filming an adaptation of Daniel Pennac’s novel “Au Bonheur des Ogres” (“The Scapegoat,” in English), directed by Nicolas Bary, in which she plays Tante Julia.
“She is a character that has traveled a lot and wears lots of accessories, three or four necklaces, earrings, things in her hair. It’s part of the character, but it’s the first time I have played such a role,” she said. “Costume is not the most important part of a role for me, it’s an accessory.”
Two weeks ago, Hazanavicius began writing a new part for Bejo, as a woman working for an nongovernmental organization during the war in Chechnya who takes in an abandoned child.
“It’s about the relationship between the woman and the child, and how she, who cares more about her job than her personal life, will find a new relationship with life through that. It will be a very powerful film but full of hope,” Bejo said.
The international triumph of “The Artist” has inevitably opened doors for the actress, who was born in Argentina and speaks English fluently.
“I don’t have anything concrete planned for English-language films, but there are possibilities,” she said. “If anything interesting turns up, it will be with great pleasure.”