How do you feel about the paintings of Charlotte Salomon, this German Jewish painter of the 30s and 40s to whom you lend your voice?
There is a mixture of naivety and power in his work that I find singular, vibrant, and which overwhelmed me. I also like these writings that she inscribes in her paintings: as in graffiti (when they are good), this claim by the word seems strong to me. Those who write on the walls or, like her, on the painting, touch me, without my knowing why.
As if it were the inner voice of the artist speaking?
I happen not to paint, but to make collages: I would never dare to call that “works of art”, but let’s say that it is a creative activity that I do totally in my corner, that I will not share never with anyone and that makes me feel good. And without me needing anyone to decree that I have a special talent for it!
And suddenly, in my collages, I too insert words: like a part of myself, yes, to whom I would speak…
How did you compose the voice of Charlotte, and how, despite her tragic fate, she who was murdered in Auschwitz, do you manage not to fall into pathos?
In this cartoon, there is at the same time the naivety, the simplicity of the line and the harshness of what is said. I think you hear all that in my voice: an apparent calm, even if inside, it is bubbling.
Charlotte has lived through extremely violent things, but all this violence, that which a young Jewish girl suffered because she was Jewish, she put it into her art, she fought with her painting. She, unlike her canvases, had nothing of a dramatic figure about her.
You’ve done a lot of cartoon dubbing. Is it a freedom to embody a character only through words, without your face or your body coming into play?
It sure takes me less time in the morning to get ready! But this aspect is minor: what the cartoon allows me to approach, even if I always try to find my freedom when I physically embody someone, they are characters crazier than those that cinema gives me offers…
She was still a little crazy, in The ghosts of Ismaël by Desplechin, this Carlotta that you played, who returns to her husband’s life as if nothing had happened when we thought she had disappeared, right?
Ah, you see her like that, you, this poor girl? Goofy, maybe. Lost, anyway. But we’re not into the evil psychopath either, like this Scarlet Overkill that I dubbed in Minions and with whom I had exploded. For her, I had invented a crazy witch’s laugh, like “AHAHAH” (she mimics laughter, the telephone crackles, editor’s note), I had completely transformed my voice, with this farted helmet thing that only cartoons allow and that I adore as a spectator – moreover, even before having children, I never missed a Pixar or a Miyazaki.
The actress “revolted” by the persistent wage inequalities
Charlotte also tells us about the trajectory of a woman artist whose work has been made invisible by history. Are you sensitive to this aspect?
Oh yes ! We all have to realize that in art, but also in science, fashion, gastronomy, in all areas in fact, there has been an erasure of women. This is explained by patriarchy, the power monopolized by men, access to education, less for women than for men, but we must continue to dig into the reason for this exclusion. (there is work) so that one day, I hope, we can look at a work beyond the gender of the person who created it.
And then, more materially, let’s also talk about salaries: that we still have to fight for women, whatever their profession, to be paid as much as men, it’s revolting.
When you’re an actress, you go through wonderful things, but other extremely hard ones.
Have you ever banged your fist on the table to be paid at the same level as a fellow actor?
No, because I never found myself in a position to demand it. When a man was paid more than me, it was because he had a more important role or greater notoriety and that, I hear.
I have already been paid more than a man for the same reasons. But at equal level and profession, for an actress to be paid less than an actor, it doesn’t make sense and it must stop.
Unlike in the United States, where Jennifer Lawrence or Patricia Arquette speak out loud and clear on the subject, we hear few voices here to denounce wage inequality…
We live in a country that does not have the same relationship to money: talking about your salary, in France, is much less accepted!
A few years ago, in an interview on France Inter, you regretted not having played enough with other actresses. What excites you so especially when you share the poster with another?
I have a passion for actresses. Each time I worked with one of them, a special bond, a deep sisterhood was created. When you’re an actress, you go through wonderful things, but other extremely hard ones too, so I have the impression that on the place of the feminine in this profession, on the way we are looked at, on what we live , we understand each other, between actresses.
I have just shot with Kate Winslet, Noémie Merlant and Zita Hanrot (in Lee, biopic on photographer Lee Miller directed by Ellen Kuras, editor’s note) and immediately, like something that came to light, I felt a great love for these women. Yes, we formed a kind of love band and it was very beautiful.