Magazine article Screen International

Isabelle Huppert Delivers TIFF Masterclass

Magazine article Screen International

Isabelle Huppert Delivers TIFF Masterclass

Article excerpt

Isabelle Huppert is in focus at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF), with the French actress starring in three films in this year's programme: Elle, Souvenir and Things To Come.

Speaking to festival director and CEO Piers Handling in a masterclass on Saturday (Sept 10), Huppert - whose resume includes over 100 films, television and theatre productions, peppered with a bevy of awards recognition including 15 Cesar nominations - spoke candidly about the highs and lows of her career.

Michael Haneke, Michael Cimino, Claude Chabrol and Claire Denis were among the list of directors she gave credit for helping her to grow as an actress. French New Wave director Chabrol, she said, gave her little direction, in turn granting her almost complete artistic license.

"Working with a director is like building a strong friendship. There is desire, there is love - and for me, reality and truthfulness," said Huppert. "With Claude, we trust each other very much, but often we have a limited amount of dialogue exchange. Sometimes he gives me just one line of direction for the entire production."

She remembered Chabrol asking her to play the lead in 1991's Madame Bovary, insisting if she didn't do the film, then he wouldn't do it. Huppert's trust in the director led her to taking the part, but it was only when she was on the plane to begin production on the film did she read the script.

"I thought to myself, 'Oh my God', but then it was too late, the plane was landing," recalled Huppert of his darkly romantic adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's 1857 novel.

Heaven's Gate

The actress also discussed Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate, one of the biggest disasters in film history.

"The film was a poem that audiences were not ready for," said Huppert of the epic Western that centred around the dispute between land barons and European immigrants in 1890s Wyoming.

Cimino, who died in July this year, discovered the actress when wandering into a French cinema in New York, and seeing her briefly in Chabrol's Violette. "I think he only had a few minutes away from his office. When he saw me on screen, he apparently said, 'That's who is going to star in my movie'."

The actress was scheduled to shoot for two months, but stayed for seven due to budget overages and delays. …

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