The Cannes Film Festival has become a second home of sorts for Léa Seydoux.
It’s here Seydoux had the biggest moment of her career so far — the previously unheard of honor of winning the Palme d’Or for her acting in “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” She had four films in the festival last year and two this year. If the festival had a patron saint, she would be it.
“It’s very rare in a career to make a film that really changes cinema,” she says of the 2013 epic that depicted a lesbian love story. “I had one of the biggest experiences of my life here, and still every time I show a movie I’m really excited to present something to the world. It’s the place where you travel through films, literally and emotionally.”
After two years of coronavirus restrictions, the return of the full festival is a moment of levity. “It has brought me back to life, in a way, to return. We need a bit of joy too, and cinema is joyful. There is nothing serious about this, not serious in the sense that we’re not saving lives. But even if it’s something playful, it’s nice to play a little bit.”
Starring in David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future,” part reflection on the state of the environment and part meditation on the pain of creating art, Seydoux takes on what it means to — literally — turn yourself inside out. Her roles often require a level of personal exposure.
“Dark, always quite intense,” she says of the roles she chooses. “I think it’s maybe because I am a bit intense. The way I receive things, I think I’m very sensitive, and I get very passionate.”
“Future” is about the eruption of emotion that comes from within, and what can happen when we suppress emotion and desire. Seydoux can relate, she says, as acting is pretty much a compulsion and if she couldn’t do it, couldn’t release the emotion on to the screen, it would consume her.
“I need to act, it’s a necessity. I need to express myself through it and it’s more like an existential necessity. I’ve always felt I had a melancholy inside me, and that I had to just make that melancholy express itself.”
That inner melancholy translates to a bit of cautiousness the morning after the red carpet, as the star measures her words carefully. She lights up when speaking about Louis Vuitton artistic director of women’s Nicolas Ghesquière.
Since Seydoux became an ambassador for the house in 2016, her friendship with Ghesquière has grown. The two collaborate on looks, from her showstopping embroidered silver gown and cape at the “No Time to Die” premiere in September to the black lace gown for her “Crimes of the Future” premiere Monday, to the custom-made black vinyl gown she wore to walk the red carpet ahead of the festival’s 75th anniversary gala.
Seydoux was the one who suggested latex for the look. “I don’t know why, it was an idea that I had. I just wanted that vibe. I just wanted something sexy. I like to be sexy on the red carpet,” she says.
Cronenberg’s “Future” is fixated on flesh, so maybe the film’s focus on form influenced her idea of a sculpted, shapely creation. The piece started as a pantsuit, but it didn’t really work, she says. At the last minute the duo changed it to a full-length gown with a mousseline cape, skirt and thigh-high slit.
Posing for WWD on the balcony of the Louis Vuitton suite with slicked-back hair and sipping from a glass of Champagne, the mission was accomplished.
“What I find fascinating is how from an idea, something that is intangible, how he will make it into something, into an object of art [and] just how the idea becomes reality,” she says. “It’s a bit like David’s film, which is a metaphor about what it is to be an actor. It’s trying to create beauty out of emptiness, out of potential.”
Is this existential drive to be on screen what keeps her working constantly, what with four films last year, two this year and one big Bond film in between? “It just happens. I [read the scripts] and it’s hard to turn down, I mean, it’s impossible. I only make the films that I think for me are a necessity. But they all are,” she laughs. “I really wanted every film I made. It’s not a compulsion, it’s just I have to say yes.”