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Everybody has a rebellious side, according to Anna Mouglalis. In “I Always Wanted to Be a Gangster,” the smoky-eyed French starlet dumps her usual Chanel uniform (she has starred in numerous campaigns for the house) to play a bored waitress who dreams of one day pulling off a holdup. At least the waiting tables part is old hat to Mouglalis.
“I worked in a tearoom in Brittany once, but I was always getting fired for not emptying the ashtrays, or whatever,” the actress says in her baritone voice, puffing on what must be her zillionth Marlboro Red. “I think I have a problem with authority.”
The indie flick, which scored the World Cinema Screenwriting Award at Sundance in January, was written and directed by Mouglalis’ dashing other half, Samuel Benchetrit. Having landed her big break at age 21 in Claude Chabrol’s “Merci Pour le Chocolat,” Mouglalis, who turns 30 in April, said that it’s the human side of the gangsters that attracted her to her current project: types who set out to commit criminal acts but who are too nice to actually follow through on them. She decides to stick around and try her luck.
Mouglalis plays the penniless Suzy, one half of the film’s bungling Bonnie and Clyde-esque lead duo, opposite Edouard Baer. In one scene, Suzy attempts to rob a cafeteria by knocking the owner unconscious from behind with a gun, only to spy a “waitress wanted” sign once he’s out cold.
And the shoot was not without incident. “We had loads of catastrophes. Somebody broke their leg, and the decor set fire, which meant taking a break for three months, with me pregnant, growing bigger every day,” recalls the actress, whose uniform throughout comprises biker boots and a crumpled cafeteria dress thrown over a long-sleeve T.
With her wiry, gamine frame, it’s hard to imagine the actress is a young mama. The couple’s one-year-old baby girl, Saul, even stars with Mouglalis in the film’s poster, pictured being breast-fed.
“Sam was taking photos of me nursing, stuck a toy gun in my jeans and voilà,” said Mouglalis. The resulting photo is reminiscent of a Wild West “Wanted” poster. “The idea is that even a mother can be armed and dangerous,” explains Mouglalis.
Helping her husband frame the shots gave the actress the confidence to have a go at directing herself: Mouglalis is currently polishing off a self-penned screenplay for a romance thriller about vampires. This time, it’s Benchetrit who will play the lead role.
“It’s about how people vampirize one another. I’m about to travel north to scout the female lead,” she says, adding that dark thoughts are something she likes to keep strictly for the screen.
“Life is so sweet otherwise,” Mouglalis adds.