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The Telegraph interviews Clémence Poésy: ‘Can Macron make it work?’

The French actor Clémence Poésy, 34, is best known for her roles in The Tunnel, In Bruges and as Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter films. In Stanley Tucci’s film of the life of artist Alberto Giacometti she plays opposite Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer. She lives in Paris and east London, and earlier this year gave birth to her first child, Liam.

Your character in Final Portrait is Giacometti’s mistress and muse, Caroline. She’s full of life and colour, but is very temperamental and often skittish. How did you want to play her?
I was constantly scared of her being too much. But Stanley had his film very clear in his head, and knew that the story needed that burst of energy at some points. I was quite careful that we had just a minute to show that maybe her life was a bit more complicated and maybe not as happy as it seemed, and maybe a bit tougher. So we had that conversation about having one silent moment that I think brings that world into the film, and makes her a bit layered, I guess.

What was it like to work with Tucci?
The film’s very much like Stanley, somehow: it’s got his sense of humour and his precision; it’s got a weight that makes it look like “we’re just playing here, we’ll just try this and then we’ll go and have a really nice dinner”, but actually he knows exactly what he’s doing and what he wants the film to be… It’s such a rare way to portray an artist: to have that much comedy in it, to make period not feel period-y. It didn’t feel like we were making pretty pictures and establishing frames for ever, which is very often what happens when people are filming art.

Thinking of your recent films – the psychological thriller The Ones Below and the Italian film 7 Minutes, about a group of factory workers – and putting them together with Harry Potter and The Tunnel, it’s clear you like variety…
I quite like to do something that’s entirely different to the thing I’ve just done before. I might stop doing that [laughing], because it’s becoming quite confusing for a few people.

And you also like a change of scene. You live in Paris and London…
Yes. I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to do that – we’ll see what Brexit’s got in store.

How do you feel about the referendum?
I feel so naive that we thought it couldn’t happen. I feel so stupid. Of course everyone was going to be like, “No, just change things, whatever it is”, but I’m just so mad that people were asked to vote on something that was a vague concept, but that no one explained to anyone and no one actually knew what it would be. I find the idea of that completely insane. You’re asked to make a massive decision without being told what it’s going to involve, and actually being lied to about what possible money saved would go towards.

Did it change the way you felt ahead of this year’s French elections?
It was kind of weird, because I remember the first time Marine Le Pen’s father made it to the second round in 2002, the first time the Front National was at the second round of the presidential election, and our horror, and how stunned everyone was at the fact that that had been possible. And now, we all knew she was going to be at the second round; it wasn’t even a surprise.

I think we were all scared that she was going to make it, but no one really believed she could. But there was a similar dynamic somehow, of people just wanting out of the old ways and trying to have something different.

And although it went somewhere much more moderate than the huge things that had happened in Europe and the United States before, it still, I think, comes from the same tiredness of things that have been in place for so long… [the fact] that people want something else.

I think Macron probably understood that before anyone else.

And what do you make of Macron?
I’m not sure really. There’s interesting things, there’s less interesting things – he’s got charisma, I guess, but then it’s very early to understand whether it’s all going to work. I’m waiting to see.

Your father, Etienne Guichard, is an actor and writer; your sister Maëlle is also an actor. It sounds like the ideal start in life…
I’m very aware of how privileged and lucky I am to have been introduced to words and stories and theatre and films so early, and to have had people guiding me through that. I remember in drama school, I was really impressed by people who had to tell their family that that was what they were doing, even if sometimes people had no idea, and didn’t understand, and thought it was pointless and silly. I’m always in awe of how people can be like: “No, this is it.”

One of the results of your career choice is public attention – particularly if you’re in a film as huge as Harry Potter. You’ve been very clear about maintaining a private life, haven’t you?
It’s nothing compared with other people involved in Potter… Dan [Radcliffe], Rupert [Grint] and Emma [Watson] probably have a much tougher time maintaining any kind of privacy – people are much less interested in my life than in theirs. But you learn a few lessons along the way, and you learn to completely close that door.

You’re pretty unimpressed by selfie and social media culture – though you do have an Instagram account. Is that a difficult line to tread?
No, I don’t think it is, if you don’t care about how many people follow you! I’m wondering what’s going to happen to the generation that grew up with that, and with the fact that it’s normal to have a wall out there full of pictures of yourself. This might be really weird coming from an actress… But to just curate a page of you – I find that such a strange concept.

This year, you also became a mother. How has that affected you?
I was thinking today how much it’s made me closer to women, somehow; closer to women in the centuries before, the whole clinical aspect of being pregnant and then becoming a mum and giving birth, it makes you think a lot… It’s made my admiration for women even stronger.

Final Portrait is in cinemas on 18 August

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