«I'm not bankable»

 By Marguerite Baux, Grazia, 2011

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Gildings, Louis XVI style furnitures, heavy curtains, pastoral decorations on the wall. This is there, in the huge lounge of a luxury hotel in the rue de Rivoli, that rises a blonde figure mounted on springs, an elastic walk in very slim black jeans, short boots and a large charcoal sweater with a hole under the arm. More a look for a rock concert than for a presidential suite. Forget the cliches about bloomy forties : Robin Wright is a young girl. Not only because of her prepubescent body line, but of her disarming natural. Alternately laughing, serious, thoughtful, with an expressive face, thin and pale skin, but not fragile either. The portrait of the former Mrs. Sean Penn, often portrayed as a victim of her husband's escapades, sticks bad with her assertive personality. Robin Wright is a true star : not capricious, but headstrong. After the success of The Princess Bride and Forrest Gump, she is famous for having refused the blockbusters Batman and Jurassic Park : her children before her career, the scenarios which speak to her before the war strategy. Today her children are grown, and the shootings come the one after the other with Robert Redford, Ari Folman, David Fincher... She looks mischievous, impatient. But she has always been suspicious of journalists and jumps on any opportunity to talk about something else. To interview Robin Wright is a little like play cat and mouse. And this is not the cat who wins.

You've been a model at 16 years old and have described the experience as traumatic. Why did you do it again for Gérard Darel ?

I knew Charlotte Gainsbourg, it was her who introduced me to Mrs. Darel, and I immediately appreciated her. I do not speak French, she does not speak English, but we are on the same wavelength. And I like what she represents : there is something elegant in her restraint. When you play, you'd better do it for people with whom you feel in harmony.

This is not exactly a role like any other : it is yourself that you play.

It was their intention, and I think they have succeeded. I recognize myself. I have been a model, I know wear clothes, but Peter Lindbergh really knew how to seize me. And at the end, it is always what they want : you.

You have cultivated a certain discretion, and suddenly you agree to play with your image.

What matters is how you play with this image, or rather how you are represented. The fact that it is not like me to do this was also an appeal for me.

It is said you're not interested so much in fashion. In Paris, will you see the fashion shows ?


You said you almost look "French" on the photos. What did you mean ?

Who said that ? Me ? I never said that ! You see, that's why I hate doing interviews...

You hate that ?

So much ! Do not take it for you, it's nothing personal. I'm doing this business since I'm 20 years old, and I always hated it. I also avoid to read articles on my favorite actors, not to be influenced.

And your own image, what do you think of it ? You're said to be quiet, discreet, natural...

That's what you're saying. Of course I prefer this rather than to be hear that I'm a neurotic madwoman cramed full with antidepressants. Thanks God ! But I have no idea of the image I give. This is not my thing. Make the cover of magazines, to give interviews, that's not my job. Judge us on our work instead.

You refused roles in big movies. How do you choose ?

This is a whole thing, it depends on the script, the director, the other actors. Sometimes, you also need to work to earn money.

To "warm the pool" as you say...

Yes, it makes me laugh, it's a sentence I stole from a Hollywood producer. It's so Californian, as saying : "I do have to pay my driver ! Or the champagne, the maid...". (She makes a pause to admire the sunset she says to be "mauve" in French (purple) with a long "o", the eyes lost in the horizon. Not easy to get back on topic).

I found an irresistible interview of you when you were playing in Santa Barbara (reproduced on this website). You said : "I have two oil rigs in Texas (...) If the price of oil goes up, we will have enough money for thirty years."

Oh, it's touching. But it did not work ! The rig has dried up. We get paid back our 5000 dollars investment, but that's it ! I was 20 years old, I was convinced it was a big blow and it could have worked, look at the prices now !

So you could not stop working ?

No ! You know, I do not earn much as an actress, I do mostly low-budget independent films. I'm not in the "box office" category and it will not get better as I get older. I've never done a movie that makes money. Except Forrest Gump, or The Princess Bride, but the budgets were not the same, it was twenty years ago, f... !

And if your daughter wanted to become an actress, would you discourage her ?

Yes, if she has to fight, if she is not good enough. But she is very talented. I want my children to do what they want to do, but I think they are too smart to be actors !

You say you never wanted to be an actress. It is always true ?

I love my job. I've always loved it. But I was never satisfied with my work. I am very critical, I get angry, I want to start all over again and again... I also recommended some other actresses for the roles they offered me... and I was right, they were really better than me !

You can not know until you try.

It is true, and now I realize that. Now I want to try everything. When you're young, you're afraid of failure. You are perfectionist. But in life, you must take the risk of failure, because there may be something magical waiting. Maybe... I try more things now.

To grow old does not seem to worry you.

It does of course. But it is a discipline : to tell to yourself, 47 million times a day, "we must accept it, get over it, because anyway, you grow old" and wake up everyday with a new wrinkle... I go to the gym, but not enough. Besides, it's been four days since I did nothing and I have to go tonight, if not I kill someone !

You pay attention to yourself ?

I smoke, I drink... a little. A few cigarettes per day, and when I go out, I smoke ten or so. I'm more in moderation. But according to the moments of your life, you pass through extremes, of course.

So you happen to be excessive ?


In your couple, you gave the image of someone stable, wise.

Really ? This is funny how people invent stories. Imagination should be reserved for books and movies. It's very annoying to see your life transformed into fiction.