BOX OFFICE GOLD: Joining a gaggle of French starlets at the Alexis Mabille show in Paris on Wednesday were two of the country’s most bankable stars. Though virtually unknown outside France, Catherine Frot beat out Marion Cotillard to become the highest-paid local actress last year, with total earnings of 2.2 million euros, or $2.9 million at average exchange rates for the period, according to a ranking published by the daily Le Figaro.
Not that she was thrilled to have the information made public. Like most French people, Frot considers talking about your salary distasteful. “It bothers me when my daughter goes to school and she hears things like that about her mother,” she said. “There is something slightly vulgar about divulging people’s financial particulars.”
The Figaro survey, published this month, came at a time of intense debate about actors’ salaries in France, which is struggling to pay down its public debt even as it continues to heavily subsidize its film industry.
Frot, who is currently starring in Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days” at the Théâtre de l’Atelier, was unapologetic about her paychecks. “I think it’s great to be well paid, because I make a lot of money for producers,” she said.
Clovis Cornillac, best known for his role in “Asterix at the Olympic Games,” was ranked 38th overall among male and female actors, after starring in smaller projects last year. He said ranking film stars by salary made little sense in France, where financing comes from a mix of public and private sources.
“Films are not produced the same way here as in the United States. In the U.S., someone puts up the money and the movie gets made. In France, a whole cultural system is involved,” he noted. “Actors are part of the system, for sure, but we are only the tip of the iceberg.”
Cornillac is currently touring France with Patrick Süskind’s play “The Double-Bass.” It turns out it’s not the first time he has completed a Tour de France. The actor cycled 6,000 kilometers, or 3,700 miles, to play an amateur cyclist who completes the famous bike race in “La grande boucle,” scheduled for release in June.