French actress Marion Cotillard has had such varied and interesting career, from her debut in the 1990s Highlander TV series to her breakout performance in Tim Burton’s Big Fish to her Academy Award-winning role in La Vie en Rose to her turn in Christopher Nolan’s Inception (followed by her turn in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises).
She seems to pick her roles very carefully, and in Assassin’s Creed, she reunites with her Macbeth co-star and director, Michael Fassbender and Justin Kurzel, where she plays Sofia Rikkin, daughter of Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) and an Abstergo scientist who’s heavily involved in the creation of the Animus.
We recently sat down to talk to Marion about her work in the movie, why she came onboard a video game film, and how she picks her roles, be they in blockbuster films or more down-to-earth projects.
Assassin’s Creed is obviously your first video game movie. What was it about this project that made you say, yeah, this is the one for me.
Even before I read the script, the idea of working with Justin Kurzel and Michael Fassbender again was very exciting because Macbeth was one of the greatest experiences I had as an actress. I felt very, very lucky that they asked me to work with them again. Justin is one of the best directors for actors I’ve ever worked with. And he’s a real artist with a very strong vision, which is very important for me when I choose a project.
And then I read the script, and without knowing anything about the game, I thought the story was super powerful. I thought it was entertaining and at the same time very profound. There are very profound questions about humanity, about the world we live in, about all those themes that are in the movie. The divided societies, the relationship we have with power, with violence. Free-will. And also this fascinating concept that is in the game, the idea that within our DNA we have access to our genetic memory and that, with this machine, they created, the animus - that by entering this animus, you can relive the life of your ancestors - I thought was absolutely fascinating. Because it’s science fiction, but it’s plausible.
While this is your first video game movie, this isn’t your first blockbuster. You were in Inception, you were in The Dark Knight Rises, and now you’re in this. But you tend to play in more down-to-earth, independent movies that sort of favor performance over big spectacle. I’m curious - is there something inherently that you prefer about those films, or is it just…a good script is a good script?
A good script is a good script. My dream [as an actress] was to explore, the more I could, very different characters, very different stories, very different worlds, but with a common point of having a committed artist. I mean, sometimes you have blockbusters that are more studio movies. And they’re amazing, very entertaining and everything, but the director will be a technician, and won’t really have a relationship of an artist with actors.
And this is my need to have this very strong director, who’s an artist, who’s not only a technician. And each time I did big movies like this with Nolan, who’s totally involved, who’s not just a technician. He’s an amazing [technician], but he has a real vision and it’s a need for him to express himself through cinema. And Justin is the same kind of artist.