Juliette Binoche can’t seem to have a shallow conversation. The woman who is arguably the most well-known French actress to work internationally laughs easily, and gestures enthusiastically, slapping her hands together for emphasis as many French people do…in conversation she unapologetically shows her passion, as she goes directly to the heart of every subject.
No wonder she was drawn to work on the new release THE 33, based on the story that made international headlines. In 2010, 33 miners in Chile were trapped after a collapse, and rescued after a mind-blowing 69 days. She sees the film as very important and topical, and says she was honored to portray real-life spitfire Maria Segovia, whose brother was trapped. Maria became known as “the Mayoress” of the tent city that sprang up next to the collapsed mine. Her stubborn determination to get the miners pulled from deep underground was a major factor in their ultimate rescue.
In this Juliette Binoche interview, she speaks about Maria Segovia and The 33, as well as other aspects of her life in and out of Hollywood, including being a painter and dancer, and about growing older without fear. She is thoughtful and often inspiring. Here are audio clips and quotes from the interview:
On choosing to do the role portraying Maria in The 33 and the gift Maria brought her from the pope:
“Symbolically to have the masculine the 33 men being stuck in the womb of the earth and going through emotions and having the women calling for the men to be raised and come up i found it very symbolically very strong and worth telling. I feel like this is what’s happening now. that we are in a crisis, our masculine side is showing off so much and trying to be on top of the world and control the world all the time and we aren’t listening to Mother Earth, the voice of the feminine side of ourselves.
I was touched by Maria Segovia but i didn’t know her yet, but (I was touched by) the way that she speaks out her truth and she doesn’t let it go. she’s like relentless. and when I met with her it’s really what i felt, because she knows surviving. and whatever happens in her heart she says it. That’s why she became known as the Mayoress. She became outspoken truth on two feet.”
On how she works as a woman in Hollywood, and carving her own world:
“I never thought about it too much, because I create my own world, I provoke things. I go to directors I want to work with. I’m not a dance and yet I went on a tour of 11 different countries and I didn’t know what was going to come out of this thing. It was kind of a crazy idea because while I was training, I kept thinking, I’ll never be able to do this thing! I was 40-something years old! But you have to go for the new, because that’s what life is about.”
On learning from every role:
“Even though some were not perfect, you learn from them. Your flaw becomes your gift, because there is something there that makes you evolve, that makes you transform. So I take everything in. I don’t make divisions of good and bad, because it’s part of my life, part of my choices, and in that way it becomes part of me.”
On getting older, and the passage of time:
“For me time is a gift, because if you don’t have time, you don’t have the tool to transform. If you die at 20, or you die at 30, that’s not fair, unless you really accomplished something you came here for. Time helps you accomplish your real being, because at the end you leave with your soul, you’re not leaving with your body. If you focus only on your body, you’re going to be in trouble in the end. If you focus on your soul, you’re a winner. If you try to accumulate things only from the outside, you cannot win at the end of the day. So yes, use the outside but it’s for the inside. You always have to be relating things to the inner self. Otherwise, the game is dangerous!
As a woman i can tell you, of course you take care of yourself, but at the same time, I know very well where the emphasis has to be. I have to be able to work with a world and in a world that’s specific about the ideas of women, and I put on the high heels, but nevertheless I know exactly where the emphasis has to be, and it’s the inner self. There’s no other way. It’s the way life is. It’s normal to freak out about time. It’s normal to freak out about physical transformation. But then you have to put your bets all on the inside, and that’s where the liberation starts.
As a woman, I think time is your best friend …but you have to recognize it. You have to honor it.”
THE 33 is in theaters now in the US, and opens January 29th in the UK.