Ten years after her debut with Eva Ionesco, her striking interpretation in the adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s book, will remain one of the peaks of the 2021 cinema year. Meeting.
You started very young, at 11 years old in the cinema. What made you want it and how you came to be in front of Eva Inoesco’s camera for the title role of My little princess ?
Anamaria Vartolomei: My primary school offered extra-curricular activities, including drama, poetry and staging. I followed a friend who took them. And I liked it so much that I asked my parents to enroll me in an acting class outside of school. And a few years later, my father who works in the building finds himself taking care of the apartment of a theater actress and therefore asks her for advice. She gave him the address of a casting site to do extra work. And it was while going to this site that we came across the announcement of Eva Ionesco’s film. Physically, I was what she was looking for, so I sent my photos and my contact details and that’s how I got this first casting.
How did you experience this first shoot?
I think my age has protected me. I did not realize the violence of the subject, the complexity of the role and the difficulty of the shooting. I took everything for a game. And I really liked it. I was also very protected by my parents and by Eva. I have been very lucky.
Did you watch a lot of movies at the time?
No. The first auteur films that I saw are also those that Eva advised me to prepare for the role. Lolita by Kubrick, The little by Louis Malle. At 10 years old, I was rather watching Shrek ! (laughs)
What do you say to yourself once the shoot is over?
Isabelle Huppert’s agent (who played her mother in My little princess, Editor’s note), Isabelle de la Patellière, offered to represent me. But I didn’t say to myself that I would necessarily like to make it my job. It happened much later. So I continued my education until the bac. Under pressure from my mother, I even enrolled in modern literature college. But I was only there for one day. My desires took me elsewhere. This is where everything became clear for me
What are the encounters that have counted for you in the years that follow, where you will shoot a dozen films between 2014 and 2020?
I had the chance to meet Gilles Porte who was the cinematographer of The Ideal by Frédéric Begbeider. He was the one who told Marc Dugain about me to The Exchange of Princesses. And when the actress he had chosen could no longer make the film, Marc opened the casting in which I was able to participate. Gilles is my mentor. We don’t speak much to each other, but there is something very fatherly about his precious advice. It counts a lot in my journey
How happens The event In this one ?
There again by casting but for which I was able this time to read the script, accompanied by a note of intention from Audrey (Diwan) explaining in particular the dimension of the nude in this project. Which I found to be very honest. And closing this scenario, I told myself that it had to be me, that I could not leave it to another. The role is so rare, nuanced, rich and complex! So I went to the casting with a little stress. Especially since Audrey was there. I had the feeling that it went really well. But when Audrey leaves me a message some time later, the tone of her voice is cold. I call her back, convinced that she is going to tell me that I don’t have the role… And the reverse is happening!
Have you read Annie Ernaux before?
No never. I did this before going to the first casting. Once chosen, I even had to meet her and it didn’t happen because of the confinement. But I think it’s bad for good. I certainly feared at the time that I was missing an essential piece of the puzzle. The need for her to validate me to be legitimate, especially. But knowing myself, I would have observed it enormously and then I would have been too much in imitation. And that would have blocked me.
Audrey Diwan explains that two of you built Anne, this young student who, in 1963, wanted to escape the fate of a girl-mother by deciding to go through abortion and therefore to defy the law …
It was the first time that I was so involved upstream in a role. On our first meeting at work, I drank Audrey’s words for 20 minutes before she said, “What about you?” What do you think ? “. From there, we called each other almost every day to exchange references from books or films and thus build the basis of the character. She would ask me to tell her what I thought of the films she had suggested to me and on what aspects they reminded me of Anne. In order to find the references that would serve as a basis
Which were the most important?
Rosetta. His determination. His warrior side. It is from Rosetta that we called Anne the little soldier. She was my physical guide, especially this way of never looking down to say with your eyes what she cannot say in words. To understand that she has set a goal and wants to achieve it. Audrey called it an intellectual partnership and I couldn’t say it better. With in addition, work sessions to find the rhythm and the phrasing of the 60s. To work on the form in addition to the substance.
THE EVENT: A COMPLETE SUCCESS [CRITIQUE]
How did you approach on set the crucial scene of the film, that of the abortion?
It’s very hard to transcribe physical pain because no one reacts the same way to it. But this scene was particularly well detailed in the book. I had kept it in mind. I had built this plan so much beforehand that on D-Day, I launched myself by remaining faithful to this passage from the book where Annie Ernaux explains bluntly that she was seized with a desire to defecate and that she rushed to the toilet to expel the fetus. But when I do, Audrey tells me that’s not what she expects. And I really struggled. I put a lot of pressure on myself because the whole story points to this scene and if I couldn’t, we would have made the film for nothing. It was a small space. It was hot. I was overwhelmed by the excess of emotion, I started to cry. And Audrey explained to me that it was important not to cry! That Anne is first and foremost in struggle. And while I was panicking, Audrey guided me in mirror to find the right gestures and that’s how the scene was built. Two more than ever.
Do you have any plans?
For the moment no. I want to take my time after what I have just experienced. I had a bad experience of the second confinement after the shooting. I read Annie Ernaux a lot moreover to keep part of her in me. Because if this film brought me a lot as an actress, it is also the case as a young woman. I really lived The event like a first shoot. It is an incredible chance to meet such a role in such an environment. It was so strong that I asked myself the question of the aftermath. I wonder if I’ll get there without Audrey.