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Emmanuelle Seigner interview: "We didn’t have time to fight—it was perfect"

The star of Roman Polanski’s psychosexual Venus in Fur opens up about power, work and her husband—the movie’s director

A runway model since the age of 14, Paris-born Emmanuelle Seigner is used to the spotlight. It only got brighter when Roman Polanski chose her to star with Harrison Ford in 1988’s Frantic. Famously, Seigner became Polanski’s muse and wife, a collaboration that spawned three more films—including their latest, a frisky adaptation of the theatrical S&M head game Venus in Fur—and a slew of unwanted attention. As ever, Seigner, 47, is forthright about her life and career.

Vanda, your character in Venus in Fur, sweeps into her audition, seduces the director and peels down to her leather undies. She’s amazing and a little unreal.

We don’t know what she is! Is she a goddess? Is she coming from the play-within-a-play itself, from the 19th century? Maybe she’s just in the director’s mind. I don’t know. That’s what’s great about her. I think when [playwright] David Ives wrote that part, he was trying to capture a woman, with all the good and bad.

Mathieu Amalric, your costar, slowly wilts. You’ve had that effect on a director before.
[Laughs] Not at all. I don’t think my husband would ever let any actress treat him that way.

No? You don’t see your husband at all in Amalric’s performance of Thomas?
[Pause] Thomas is smug. He’s very pretentious and he thinks he’s amazing. I think she’s making fun of him. Roman is not that type of director.

Glad you cleared that up. Is it tricky leaving work behind when you two make a film?
Maybe when I was younger, on Frantic. But this was the first time I had responsibility for a real role with him. And I always wanted that. We didn’t have time to fight—it was perfect.

Do you ever feel overshadowed by your husband’s history? Has that been hard?
Yeah, really hard. Especially because it’s not my story and I had nothing to do with it. It always leaves scars. But that’s life. I think everybody’s got his own stuff. There is no perfect life.

Vanda seems pretty perfect.
After a role like that, you want something meaty. It can’t just be walking in a movie looking beautiful. That’s so boring. I’ve done that so many times and I’m sick of it. I would rather make pancakes with my kids, you know?

Venus in Fur opens Fri June 20.

Watch the trailer for Venus in Fur




Rated as: 4/5
Roman Polanski follows up his Albee-lite burlesque Carnage (2011) with another single-set farce—the initially subdued, soon gloriously unhinged Venus in Fur, adapted from David Ives’s hit Broadway play.

Read the full review for Venus in Fur

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