Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Emmanuelle Seigner

Emmanuelle Seigner, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2007

I WON'T LIE - I REMEMBER SOME VERY STRANGE CHEMISTRY HAPPENING DURING THIS SHOOT. Perhaps I imagined it; I might have been projecting my own very conflicted feelings about my subject and her circumstances into an otherwise normal situation. Perhaps. But as I'm someone who struggles to remember much about the thousands of shoots I've done, any memory at all has to be significant.

Emmanuelle Seigner was at the film festival promoting her role in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a big critical success and directed by the painter Julian Schnabel. (Another shoot with some weird chemistry, but more about that here.) Seigner wasn't a household name here but she was a major one in France, where she'd probably have been a celebrity even if she wasn't married to the (in)famous Polish director Roman Polanski.

Emmanuelle Seigner, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2007

Perhaps it was because she was French. I'm not the first person to observe that cultural differences accelerate once English-speaking people cross eastward over the English Channel. But Seigner walked into the room acting both wary and wired at the same time, like she had some sort of agenda in mind for her photo shoots, though she wasn't going to let any photographer know what that might be. I honestly can't remember anyone who'd given off a similar vibe since my shoot with Bjork, a decade previous.

It's not like Seigner was flirting with me - though the broad wink she gave my camera might suggest otherwise. But she definitely had an image of herself - former models-turned-actors have that extra level self-possession that normal people never have enough practice to formulate - and it felt like she was seeing if I was able to catch it on the fly. It was a situation where her English and my French were probably never going to provide the common ground where we'd come to a mutual understanding. And whereas I often imagine that a little bit more time might have moved us toward that goal, I'm not sure if that would have been the case with this shoot.

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