Sunday, March 08, 2009

Podcast: Kristin Scott Thomas Interview

Kristin Scott Thomas is "Extraordinary"

When I spoke with the acclaimed British actress in January, as we both recovered from Golden Globe parties, I discovered that she loves describing other actors that way. Yet the adjective fits her like a glove. "Versatile" would be another apt descriptor. She's equally at home in drama, comedy or in period epics. You'll find her in French, British, American and even Romanian cinema. She also treads the boards. Her recent performance in the Broadway run of The Seagull could bring her her first TONY nomination this summer. Her film career from Prince's odd con artist flick Under the Cherry Moon (1986) [think of his "Parade" CD if you're drawing a blank -ed.] through the Oscar stamped The English Patient (1996) to the recent French hits Tell No One and I've Loved You So Long (2008, just out on DVD!) has been alternately celebrated and underappreciated.

She likens her past twenty years in the spotlight to a rollercoaster
You have moments of complete grace and glory and heaven. Others of failure or rejection... So much of it is out of your control



That zen like acceptance of the ups and downs of a screen career threads itself throughout our conversation. She's benefiting from France's affection for mature women but she understands the irresistible beauty of youth. She credits much of her screen performance to what's built in the editing room but doesn't discount her own efforts in front of the camera "If you haven't got good raw material you can't create anything". She's just as willing to discuss that first high profile Prince dud ("a baptism of fire") as she is to chat about how proud she is of a small French/Romanian film An Unforgettable Summer. When asked about future roles she's interested in, there's also a little bit of the up and down balancing...
Once you've done something you're not really interested in doing it again. I'm quite glad to be rid of 'the withering remark'. But then on the other hand I really enjoy the withering remarks, the witticisms and the puff of the cigarette.
Despite the rich variety of characters she's essayed I half expected her stickiest screen persona, the initially icy aristocratic beauty familiar from Gosford Park and The English Patient, to bleed over into our conversation. Not so. She was congenial, down to earth and in great humor -- hardly ready with a "withering remark". Her co-stars performances are often deemed extraordinary but after our quick run through of her career, she does allow herself a minor pat on the back.
You know, I look back at the list... 'You haven't done too badly, old girl'
It's an understatement.
*

*Go to iTunes for the enhanced interview or listen to the simple mp3

Listen and discuss.

What's your favorite screen memory of Kristin Scott Thomas? Are you excited for her pas de deux with Sergi López in Partir? Do you prefer those 90s arthouse films Angels and Insects, Bitter Moon or the big hits Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient? How drôle was she as "Alette" in Confessions of a Shopaholic? Finally, if you've just seen her Golden Globe and Cesar nominated turn in I've Loved You So Long (the film just hit DVD) what did you think of her performance as the withdrawn ex-con?

32 comments:

Kent said...

I've been waiting for this podcast for so long. I'm so glad it's finally up. Great interview.

Recently saw 'I've Loved You So Long' and was astonished by Kristin's beauty and emotion. The film is a mess, but her performance is honest and captivating. I just wanted to stare at her and those tiny character shifts throughout the film.

I've only seen her in 'Gosford Park' and 'The English Patient.' Liked her a lot in both, but the latter is still my favorite moment of her. She's romantic, elegant, sexy, composed, and heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure she's a great actress, but I never knew she was soo skinny. woah.

Brian said...

I liked her a lot in [i]Angels & Insects[/i] but her most indelible role for me is that of Lady Anne in [i]Richard III[/i].

Now off to listen to the podcast...

NATHANIEL R said...

kent yes, it's tough to beat The English Patient for maximum KST goodness. I have some problems with the screenplay of I've Loved YOu... but I am very grateful the film did as well as it did because presumably that'll mean more plum roles for Kristin.

Brian i should really see Richard III again. I saw it in college and I remember half sleeping through it (I think it was one of those very late nights when I probably should have been sleeping so I should give it another go. The cast is so wondrous in that movie: McKellen, Scott Thomas, Bening, Broadbent, Downey Jr, Hawthorne, Maggie Smith... I mean it's like one great face after another.

Daryn said...

Great interview, Nathan. I saw "I've Loved You So Long" and "The Seagull" in the same week last December and came away with a new appreciation of KST's versatile talent. Her performance in "The Seagull" seemed effortless--it wasn't the main role, but she left you wanting more of her without upstaging the other actors. In "I've Loved You So Long," you could really see the wheels turning behind her eyes, and she was in nearly every scene. I also liked that this film told an extremely rare story in that it focused on the rehabilitation of a violent criminal, and it was just slightly hopeful without being redemptive in the cliched Hollywood sense.

Anonymous said...

I really want Nowhere Boy to be a success.
Kristin Scott Thomas + Anne-Marie Duff really should = amazing.

Leehee said...

I'm so excited this is finally up! I'll listen in a sec, but first wanted to say two things:

My favorite KST performance is in a little British film called "Keeping Mum" - with Maggie Smith, no less - where she is absolutely delightful. That was the movie that made me rediscover her.

Also, I saw her in "The Seagull", and I do hope she is not only nominated for but also wins the Tony for her astonishing performance. She was THAT good. It didn't hurt that she was so, so, gracious and sweet at the stage door - not to mention breathtakingly beautiful. Those eyes are really something in person, let me tell you.

Off to listen! Yay!

Leehee said...

OOOh I forgot about "Life as a House" - LOVE that movie, as well, and her performance there is indeed extraordinary.
And "Gosford Park" has a very sentimental place in my heart, both for her and for Helen Mirren.

James Colon said...

Thomas would have totally been my choice for Best Actress in 2008, such a sincere portrayal of such an indistinct character. Also, I seem to be one of few who actually enjoyed the film itself. For a first-time filmmaker, I think Claudel did a great job with shape-shifting plot, with surprises being revealed at exactly the right moments.

Bing147 said...

I found I've Loved You So Long and her performance in it extraordinary. I'd never thought her more than a middling actress but this was for me the performance of the year, in any category and the film is my #5.

Paul Outlaw said...

Her work in I've Loved You So Long really was the outstanding leading female performance last year.

But my favorite KST (screen) role would have to be Plum Berkeley

Cal said...

Excellent interview. Really enjoyed it.

Kind of like Tomei she feels so giving as a personality and really made me think of the industry in a different light. I'm not keen on I've Loved You, Easy Virtue or Tell No One, but at least they're interesting films and KST is always wonderful to observe.

Luigi De Angelis S. said...

She's a very good actress.

I loved her in "Angels and Insects".

Jose said...

I have a confession to make, I never liked KST at all, I always thought she seemed evil and arrogant (in every movie), I was one of the ones who was glad she was left in that cave...
But then last year I saw "I've Loved You So Long" and became her worshipper.
I have no idea what she did in that film, because she was still icy and distant, but for the first time I saw her as human. I'd given her the Oscar in a heartbeat.

Ryan said...

Damn, did that podcast make my day— I do love my Scott Thomas. That riveting combination of cool elegance, psychological nuance, and vulnerability that she brings to her troubled characters gets me every time. So incredibly talented. So voluptuous… both in figure AND emotion. The woman is on my list of all time favorites for a reason.

And I’m so with you Nathaniel on lovin that voice of hers. I could listen to it all day. It’s up there with Katherine Hepburn’s formal yet dry wittiness or Heath Ledger’s low, gravelly, accented sexiness— actors who’s off-screen voices are as rich and spellbinding as those they create for their characters.

I already snagged my copy of “I’ve Loved You So Long”. I’ll admit the film itself is just above mediocre but Kristin is jsut brilliant. Love the way she diagrams Juliette’s soul-crushing pain with such characteristically cool precision. In terms of this last awards race, the exclusion of two of my three favorite female performances— Hawkins & Thomas—from Oscar’s shortlist only further solidified my preference to look at these awards as a whole season thing rather than just Oscar’s one big night (thanks BAFTA and HFPA for recognizing my dear Scott Thomas).

Your questions were awesome too Nathaniel— I loved hearing her perspective on such a wonderful, internationally flavored career. And “An Unforgettable Summer” is definitely worth tracking down for all the Kristin fans.

Also, the last bit of audio from the pod-cast had me drolling; Kristin’s post-love making interlude with Ralph in “The English Patient” kills me dead every time. Just hearing her reawakening to passion while minutely delineating guilt, faux-justification and lust gets me going. A performance of unusual maturity and true sexual honesty in my opinion— particularly in her line reading; “...a different life. And here I’m a different wife.”

This quality is what’s always drawn me to her quite frankly— that even when she’s playing such standoffish ice-queens, there’s more life and heat in any one of her scenes that in those of most other actors working today.

Thanks again for this pod-cast Nathaniel. You’re the best!

Ryan said...

Oh and one more thing... can I just say that Anthony Minghella will always have a special place in my cinema-crazed heart for… among other things like the performances he helped elicit from his actors and finesse in executing an unforgettable, profoundly intimate scene between two lovers (and not just in “Patient”, remember that beautiful, albeit crushingly sad scene of Tom and Peter cuddling in their ship cabin (with Peter’s haunting vocalization of Tom Ripley’s true qualities… or even the heated reunion of the “Cold Mountain” lovers.)

Opps. Went a little off track there. What I meant to say is not only do I love Minghella for what he does behind the camera… but also that if it weren’t for his tenacity, Demi Moore would have stolen the role of “Katherine Clifton”. Can you imagine? Do wait, spare yourself and don’t.

We’ll miss you Anthony. Thanks for helping to get (arguably) the best out of Kristin Scott Thomas, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Juliette Binoche… (Renee Zellweger, not so much) ☺

Arkaan said...

She was fantastic in I've Loved You for So Long (the film wasn't). She was marvelous in Gosford Park (and the film was awesome). Ditto Angels and Insects (a period drama with surprising vigour). Ditto Bitter Moon (her most surprising film). Ditto The English Patient.

adelutza said...

I am actually glad that she mentions "An Unforgettable Summer". I was born in Romania and I actually remember that film - it was made by a big director at that time in Romania and also a very courageous one . I keep looking for a copy of that film but it wasn't released on DVD - there are some PAL VHS tapes out there. One of these days I'll try to transfer it on DVD .I remember that I was thinking who that actress was and how come she speaks such good Romanian language :-) I love her that she remembers that and mentions it !
I can't say that's my favorite Kristin Scott Thomas role - I think it's a tie between "I Loved You So Long" and the performance in the "Seagull" , but I think it's so nice of her to mention this :-)

Jane K said...

Brava Kristen!

The only woman who could be allowed to attempt a portrayal of Dietrich.

That cameo in La Vie En Rose was made for her. Alas...

JoFo said...

For me, I've Loved You So Long was one of the very best films of 2008. It haunted me, and I contribute a large portion of the films success to the best performance of last year, and many other years, by the wonderful Kristen Scott Thomas.

mrripley said...

this woman was funny and tragic in 4 weddings and a funeral here line reading of "scarlett you're blind she looks like a big meringue" or "do you think i'd hate him as much if he weren't my brother".

or for the tragic "you charlie dear" unrequited love one of the 94 best supp actress performances.

mrripley said...

a quesion whats the significance in the english patient of her banging her head.

Will said...

Kristin Scott Thomas gave the best female performance of the year. She is amazing in Il y a longtemps que je t'aime ans should've won, it's a crime they snubbed her. No way Winslet was better.

Anonymous said...

"What's your favorite screen memory of Kristin Scott Thomas?"

ANGELS AND INSECTS...there are no words to say how much beautiful and talented she is in the role of Matty...I dare you not to be seduced when she draws or when she shows her long hair or when she makes Mark Rylance realize she knows the truth...

"Are you excited for her pas de deux with Sergi López in Partir?"

Of course I am, even if Catherine Corsini is not a such cherished director

"Do you prefer those 90s arthouse films Angels and Insects, Bitter Moon or the big hits Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient?"

Kristin is always wonderful...I'm just surprised that her career after THE ENGLISH PATIENT didn't skyrocket as she deserved...

"How drôle was she as "Alette" in Confessions of a Shopaholic?"

Sorry, I haven't watched "Confessions..." yet but Kristin is amazing in EASY VIRTUES as well...and since the Academy denied her the nomination for "I've Loved You So Long" I think next yeat it will be time for a second nomination, even if in the supporting category...

Mirko S.

Dr. S said...

You know, I really liked "Tell No One," which I borrowed from LoveFilm (the Euro Netflix) in May--it's been out on DVD forever there. And I really liked her performance in it, not least because I kept thinking, "Her French is so natural!" I hope that more people see that movie here.

NATHANIEL R said...

Dr. S... she's had French citizenship for a very long time (her children are born and raised there) hence the perfect French.

LZO said...

Nathaniel, thank you for sharing your interview with KST.

I truly believe that KST is the grestest actress in decades. She is just awefully brilliant and talented; she trully distinguished herself by her unusual authenticity on and off the screen/stage, fearlessly defining her own career path, her forever beauty, her elegance and charm. She has inspired me in many ways.

I went to NYC to see her in the "the Seagull" twice, she was just so great there, really make the play alive.

Of course, her performance in "I've loved you so long" was really one of a kind. I couldn't differentiate her from Juliette even the second time i watched that movie. Her performance in this movie, like the one in "english patient" will be remembered for a long long time.

Honestly, I still feel outraged and puzzled from her not receiving 2008 best actress awards in US, British and France for a such unusally powerful performance in "I've loved you so long". Can anyone tell me why she didn't receive those big awards? certainly not because she performed less effective or powerful than the award winners, such as kate winslet!!



P.S.: KST's early performances in "Body & Soul" and "Handful Dust" were really wonderful as well.

NATHANIEL R said...

handful of dust is a movie I've always meant to see but haven't ever gotten to.

Jessica said...

Kristin Scott Thomas was brilliant in I've Loved You So Long. Brilliant. Her performance was my favorite film performance all year, male or female, and she should have won an Oscar. I'm not sad about Winslet's win, as I adore her, but I would have rooted for Scott Thomas, and think it's disgraceful she wasn't nominated. The lack of attention given by the Academy to non-English language films is a terrible shame (case in point: Isabelle Huppert, 0 nominations, Julia Roberts 3 nominations and 1 win).

I also saw Scott Thomas on stage in The Seagull this year and she was wonderful, although it was very much an ensemble play with equally strong work from Mackenzie Crook and some of the other actors.

Wayne B. said...

I have limited experience with Kristin Scott Thomas' oeuvre but there's a moment in Gosford Park that still makes me chuckle out loud: Denton's come in for another rendezvous and she is at first slightly offended but then "I suppose life does go on. Unzip me." I don't know why but it still makes me smile, what a woman!

gabrieloak said...

I went to see Confessions of a Shopaholic today because it was the only movie that started at 5 at the multiplex and was pleasantly surprised to find Scott Thomas in the cast. She played a Frenchwoman. And had an awful hairdo. But she added class to the film.

Amanda said...

Can anyone tell mr when partir will be palying in ny? I find it hard not to be entranced by Kristen Scott Thomas as an actress and person. She is super lovely. I wan to be like her but I'm pretty sure I am way off on that route (wink). Hello from Brooklyn.