I reposted this cover from the September 2023 issue of Harper’s Bazaar France in my Instagram Stories Wednesday night and was disappointed that some followers couldn’t identify the signature blonde hair of one of France’s most famous actresses. They must not have been paying attention since I have posted her many times including just recently in my Interviewing Myself post. Catherine Denueve is an absolute icon so it’s fitting that she should grace the cover of the French Icons issue.
What I thought was interesting is that Harper’s Bazaar France chose to include icons from the US edition of Harper’s Bazaar but the US edition omitted Catherine Deneuve. Seems par for the course of how the US views older women. This is actually one of the reasons I want to move to Paris in the next few years. There is much less emphasis on youth and much more respect for older people, especially women.
Part of the reason for the interview is that Catherine Denueve has a new satirical comedy coming out this fall, Bernadette, where she plays Bernadette Chirac, the wife of the French president Jacques Chirac who was elected in 1995.
An adviser explains that the new first lady will have to work on her image, which is judged “old-fashioned, austere and cold. But don’t panic. We’re going to make sure the French discover the real you,” he says before engaging Karl Lagerfeld to give Bernadette a makeover. The film is said to be based on real events during the Chiracs’ tenure at the Élysée between 1995 and 2007.
You can watch the trailer here. It will be released in France on 4 October 2023.
Deneuve, 79, has said she was sceptical about the project until she read the script. It was “the story of a woman who emerges from her mould and acquires strength and freedom over time. It was never a question of copying her, but of taking inspiration from her,” Deneuve told the French newspaper Libération last year. via The Guardian
HARPER’S BAZAAR: What was your first reaction when you were offered the role of Bernadette Chirac?
C. DENEUVE: When my agent told me her name on the phone, I exclaimed Bernadette Chirac followed by a question mark or rather an exclamation point. She said to me: Listen, read the script, and she was right, because it was very good. I had not at all imagined that it could be a biopic on Bernadette Chirac. It changed everything and as soon as I met the director, Léa Domenach, I had the impression of someone very precise who knew what she wanted to do, who had a certain idea, a little quirky, of its characters. Her vision convinced me right away: a comedy about Bernadette Chirac’s revenge or rather about how she recovers her personally from the public. It’s not a biopic where you settle scores, where you would sum up your character as a fairly firm, fairly dry woman, with a rigorous upbringing.
“Jacques Chirac is not unpleasant, but he is very cruel in the film, he does not realize his casualness towards his wife.” – Catherine Deneuve
HARPER’S BAZAAR: He (Jacques Chirac) considers her a bit like a piece of furniture…
C. DENEUVE: A piece of furniture? You must not exaggerate! A wife of president, it is very important publicly. He needs her figure, the idea of what she is, what she represents, but he doesn’t want her to exist because he doesn’t have enough admiration for her. Bernadette does not act like this to make him love her and he loves her in his own way. It’s more the idea of finding your place, of existing with your pride, your intelligence. It is a woman from a very classic French education, who found herself alongside of Chirac confronted with the world of politics and who had good intuitions in this world. Even if he speaks badly to her, he loves her and she knows everything.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: We have the impression that Bernadette is a mix between Le Bon Plaisir for the underside of politics and Potiche for satire.
C. DENEUVE: Potiche, yes, compared to the idea of a woman in the shadow of an important man. with a strong personality. Many women are not underestimated but treated badly by some men who have strong professional positions and responsibilities. Their wives must be there. but above all not to disturb. It is not necessary that their personality exists too much, that a rivalry arises.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Your desire to perform never seems to have waned.
C. DENEUVE: Because I really like cinema, and I go a lot. I invest myself a lot in the films that I shoot. Today, moreover, since my children have grown up, I have more time, I am more available. The cinema has been able to take up more space.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: What turns you on in a man?
C. DENEUVE: It’s a lot the eyes, the gaze. It’s not linked to physical beauty, but to the intelligence that I feel, to the natural charm, to what one cannot manufacture. I like young men-not a question of age-who have remained young in spirit and who have a good sense of humor. That’s a lot of men, after all…