SHE WAS LATE, BUT
THE LADY WAS WORTH THE WAIT
By GUY FLATLEY
2000 was a good year for me. Not only did I land in Paris, but I landed in a hotel with Catherine Deneuve. Well, so what if it was only the hotel's bar? I had a real fine time. This interview originally appeared in the New York Daily News.
Do you imagine I was blase, even a little bored, during my 2000 interview with Catherine Den New York Daily News? Are you nuts? This superstar knocked my socks off. --GUY FLATLE
noon, and Im standing in the bar of the Hotel Lutetia in Paris,
feeling sad and stood-up. Then a blonde wearing a leopard-skin coat
and shades enters the dusky room. Poised, cool and only half an
hour late, she approaches me and says, "Bonjour! I have to
wash my hands."
With that, the lady vanishes. But I no longer feel sad, because
Im certain Catherine Deneuvecelebrated for her performances
in "Belle de Jour," "Repulsion," "The Last
Metro" and "Indochine" and arguably the worlds
most gorgeous movie star--will soon be back, sitting opposite me
and gazing intently into my eyes. Seated she soon is, but its
hard to see the gaze. The star may have shed her leopard-skin coat,
but the shades are here to stay.
Lighting the first in a chain of cigarettes, the 56-year-old actress
plunges into a discussion of "East-West" (Regis Wargniers
Oscar-nominated French film opening in New York on April 7), in
which she plays the small but flashy role of a passionately political
actress patterened after the late Simone Signoret, as well as "Belle
Maman" and "Le Vent de La Nuit," both featured in
the recent Rendez-Vous 2000 series at Lincoln Centers Walter
She is less eager, however, to discuss a private life that includes
the tragic, still-haunting death of her beautiful sister and occasional
co-star, Francoise Dorleac; a brief marriage to David Bailey, the
British photographer she met on a shoot for an intimate Playboy
spread; and relationships with director Roger Vadimthe father
of her son--and Marcello Mastroiannithe father of her daughter.
prefers reminiscing about the directors of her screen triumphs.
"When I made Belle de Jour, I was very young and
didnt realize it was such a big challenge. I was just so pleased
to be working with Luis Bunuel. A few years ago, I saw the movie
again with my daughter in a New York theater, and I was surprised
that it was so humorous in showing all the ways a woman can go in
a sexual fantasy. When youre in a film and see yourself for
the first time, you look only at yourself. On second vision, you
look at the film."
rating second visions from Deneuve were "Mississippi Mermaid"
and "The Last Metro," the two films she did with Francois
Truffaut, a man rumored to have been her lover. "Francois
and I were great friends until he died," she says, her husky
voice turning tender. "He loved women, and he was very delicate
with actors and actresses. He was the most dedicated director to
cinema that I ever knew. His life was film."
To a degree, so is hers, which is the reason she is so distressed
by the failure of "Place Vendome," "Pola X"
and other Deneuve vehicles to travel abroad. "Its not
fair. American films go all over the world, so why cant they
accept a little of our world in their country? They dont want
dubbing, and they dont want subtitles. They say no to everything.
Its a very little-minded idea to think of a world of only
Forget American films. Doesnt Deneuve still have her pick
of roles in top-notch European films?
"No, no," she says. "Its very hard for me.
Aging is so difficult for a woman. Men, of course, have the same
problem--you see them when they turn 50, divorcing and getting married
again with a very young woman. To me, thats very sad. But
for an actress, aging is especially difficult, because we live so
much in a world of image. I dont struggle against it, but
I cannot say that I like it. Women who say they like aging are liars."
Can Deneuve identify with a middle-aged woman who falls for a younger
man, like the maverick mom in "Belle Maman" who tumbles
into bed with her son-in-law?
"As a mother, I do not identify with that particular situation,
because I am so close to my own daughter," she says. "But
I have no problem identifying with a woman who falls in love with
a younger man. No problem at all!"
Suddenly, I detect a twinkle behind those dark shades.