PARIS — Ask 33 different rising film stars how they are feeling about being thrust in the limelight, and you’ll get 33 different answers.
“I’m terrified,” blurted out budding 22-year-old actor Thimotée Robart, who stars in French film “Vif-Argent,” looking nervously at the swarm of photographers and journalists attending the Révélations cocktail on Monday night at the Petit Palais, an event celebrating rising French film talent supported by Chanel.
Thankfully, Robart was not alone that night. As goes the tradition, each of the 33 nominees competing for the award for most promising actress or actor at the Césars — the French equivalent of the Oscars, scheduled for Feb. 28 — was accompanied by a chaperone for the evening. In Robart’s case, the chaperone was Louis Garrel.
“He’s a family friend,” said Robart of Garrel, who recently made headlines for his turn as Professor Bhaer in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” — a surprising choice given that the Bhaer in Louisa May Alcott’s novel is depicted as being a little old and musty, two things that Garrel definitely isn’t.
“Louis actually taught me my first dirty joke,” Robart . “But I can’t tell it to you. All I can say is that it involves hand gestures.”
The actor wasn’t the youngest of the nominees in the Révélations category: Lise Leplat Prudhomme, who is 11 years old, was hanging on the arm of her chaperone Gilles Lellouche, anxiously eyeing the photocall.
“I’m super stressed out, too; it’s normal to be super stressed out,” murmured the 47-year-old actor reassuringly, proving that nerves have no age.
Even the most seasoned actors would have been intimidated by such a star-studded event. That evening, the Petit Palais welcomed a flurry of famous faces, including Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, who starred together in “Blue Is the Warmest Color”; Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet; “120 BPM” director Robin Campillo; “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius; as well as actresses Camille Cottin, Isabelle Huppert, Golshifteh Farahani and Laetitia Casta, who also happens to be Garrel’s wife.
Also present that evening were Mama Sané and Mati Diop, respectively the lead actress and director of “Atlantics,” the film that won the Grand Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, accompanied by chaperone Rossy de Palma who was fluttering her signature fan. Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel, also took his turn in front of the group of photographers, posing alongside French culture minister Franck Riester.
Once the photos were over and done with, the young nominees visibly relaxed — some even took a couple of selfies.
“I’m so happy to be with Marion Cotillard tonight,” said Lyna Khoudri, nominated for her role in “Papicha.” “She is both an exceptional actress and an exceptional person. She is full of love and kindness, it’s really warming.”
The budding actors weren’t the only ones to feel the love that evening. Exarchopoulos, who herself has been a Révélations nominee in the past, was gushing about Alexis Manenti, who plays in Ladj Ly’s film “Les Misérables.”
“I had seen him in the shorter version of ‘Les Misérables,’ and then in the full-length film,” the actress said. “And I’m so proud of him tonight. Aside from all the politics and competition that go with being nominated at the Césars, it’s always a moment of pride to be a Révélations contender.”
Sara Forestier agreed. “This evening won’t change our lives, it’s a party amongst others,” said the actress, who was chaperoning Zéa Duprez. “But I’m fully invested in my role, and I’m so, so flattered that out of all the actors here, Zéa chose someone so close to her age to be her chaperone. So I’m taking my role to heart.”