Thursday, October 15, 2015


One could say the same of Laurent, who attributes her positive outlook to being raised in an environment where she could choose to be or do anything. It gave her confidence, she says, but it also made her stubborn. “Later, when I found myself in a business that is as extraordinary as it is cruel, it never occurred to me to step on others to get ahead,” she says. “When you are lucky enough to do something that is about freedom, creativity and telling stories, there’s no reason to focus on anything but passion for what you do.”

Passion is the undercurrent in By the Sea, a story about two couples in a French seaside town in the ’70s. The elder couple, played by Jolie and Pitt, is struggling in their marriage; the younger pair, played by Laurent and Melvil Poupaud, is just starting out. “I didn’t know Angelina before she called about the role,” says Laurent. “After she offered me the part, I spent a long time pinching myself.”
On set, she got to know Jolie and Pitt as “a really normal couple – you can just sense this connection between them, and their kids are really polite and adorable,” she says. “Yet here they are, two monstres sacrés [superstars]. The hard part was figuring out how to act opposite them without being such a fan.”

Working with Jolie has only increased Laurent’s admiration. “Angelina is extraordinary,” she enthuses. “On top of being breathtakingly beautiful, she is extremely intelligent and kind. It’s not often you meet a woman who has so much going for her, yet possesses not an ounce of jealousy
She has such confidence that she can just explain her vision and then let the actors live.” Jolie let Laurent choose which actor would play her husband – a delicate decision, given the script’s intense love scenes. “When you care about an actor, you get so much in return,” says Laurent. “I’ve believed it for years, and Angelina confirmed it for me.”

The two actresses also share a commitment to activism. “When Angelina wants to do things and affect change, she just goes out and does it,” observes Laurent. The pair have stayed in close touch about their various projects. For Demain, Laurent’s environmental film, she wanted to tell a positive story. “We are all accustomed to hearing bad news, so I wanted to highlight the good that is possible, because countries are generating wealth with renewable energies,” she says. “I’ve become a little radical on certain things.” To wit: she declined a beauty contract because of the company’s involvement in deforestation.

That positivity seems to reward Laurent. Take her first Met Ball: the story begins with an invitation from designer Tory Burch, then a one-of-a-kind dress in vintage fabric and hand-sewn pearls, and a stunning moonscape inside the gala. Fast-forward to a lunch in Paris: “I found myself telling my tablemate about that moon; how I wanted one for a play I’m adapting.” As it turned out, she was talking to Andrew Bolton, the curator of the Costume Institute at the Met, who promptly packed it up and sent it to her. For Laurent, it was more than serendipity. “When you approach the world with an open spirit,” she says, “sometimes it just happens that you can unhook the moon!”

By the Sea is out Nov 13

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