What was it about this story that attracted you to the project?
“The magical thinking that Anna chooses to live in order to face the tragedy of her life, the loss of her son, was fascinating to me. She’s not able to say the truth, not because she’s manipulative, but because she cannot say those words: ‘He’s dead.’ I resisted playing a woman losing her child after Three Colors: Blue, because my experience with Kieślowski was so joyful. Somehow I wanted to protect that memory. But when I met with Piero Messina, there was such an intelligence in his eyes and a will in his way of talking that I was really tempted to make his first film.”
Anna is almost always on-screen, but her motivations are often ambiguous. Why doesn’t she tell Jeanne the truth?
“It is probably impossible to imagine the pain of losing a child, and I can very well relate to the people who are inventing sort of a space in them in order to accept the loss. There might be an element of wanting to protect Jeanne from the pain... I don’t think Anna is perverse; she doesn’t know how to cope with her pain and loss. I was very keen to play moments where she’s willing, trying to say the truth, but she can’t. I hope the audience will be able to feel it.”
You’ve worked with a lot of the world’s best directors, including Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Abbas Kiarostami, David Cronenberg and Olivier Assayas. How is working with veterans like these different from working with a first-time feature filmmaker like Messina?
“I considered Piero as an experienced director from the beginning. If you’re behind the camera, you have to know why you’re there. We had a very straightforward and honest relationship on the set.”
You and Lou de Laâge have some very emotional scenes together. How was that?
“We never rehearsed. Lou has this quality of being in the moment; it came naturally between us. The silences made the relationship, as she’s trying to figure out what is going on.”
Is it important for you to explore the theme of female relationships?
“In The Wait, I think it’s more of a chess game: how far can she go, how far can I avoid her questions? There’s an obvious complicity as well as some distance... I love exploring behaviors, feelings, thoughts and going through them with a full sensation.”
The Wait opens on June 24.