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Clémence Poésy on her role as Elise in The Tunnel, Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter, the possibility of Brexit and why the Parisian actress loves spending time in London

Clémence Poésy has been a regular magazine fixture for decades, whether in glossy adverts for French designer fragrance Chloé, or papped in her everyday coveted style of ‘Parisian chic meets Dalston hipster’. Notably, she played Fleur Delacour in three of the Harry Potter films, Chloe in In Bruges, Rana in 127 Hours and Eva Coupeau in Gossip Girl.

Now, she’s focused on series two of Sky Atlantic police thriller, The Tunnel. Poésy stars as French detective Elise Wassermann who once again, teams up with English cop partner Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) to uncover a series of gruesome crimes and a plane crash in the English Channel and Channel Tunnel. It’s been hailed as the French version of The Bridge, a label Poésy is keen to shake off. There are certainly comparisons – both are gripping, emotionally charged and feature a socially awkward and promiscuous but brilliant female detective – but Poésy says this is where the similarities end and the show forms its own complex identity.

With blonde hair tied into a messy bun, clad in a long red skirt and black faux fur Topshop jacket, she speaks softly, carefully considering each answer and stopping at one point to daintily apply lip balm. She reflects on her expansive career, what’s next for her, why she hates watching herself back, and should we really Brexit?

You seem to favour these gritty characters. Have you ever considered a lighter project? 
I would love to do comedy. No one ever asks me to be in comedy. I shot a comedy earlier this year and I’m still the most serious person in it, certainly not the one delivering the funniest lines. I want to take on roles that are a bit lighter. It’s about finding the right project.

Have you ever been tempted to write or direct?
I co-write here and there, but on very small projects. It’s quite a different experience for me, so hopefully I will see if I’m any good at it. The beauty of being an actor means you work with so many directors and you can see how they approach storytelling – they all have to deal with the same elements but have different methods. That’s changed quite a bit of the way I am on set; I used to be more oblivious but now I’m more interested in the way someone is choosing to tell something.

What research did you do before playing Elise again?
Well, before shooting the first series I watched all of The Wire, and this time I watched Fargo. I also talked to police officers in Paris, one of whom took me gun-shooting, which turned out to be one of the scariest experience I’ve ever had. We went to this ranch in the French suburbs, it was really isolated and eerie. Most people in the club weren’t even police officers; I don’t know who they were.

Wow, how did it feel firing a gun?
Terrifying. Not my thing! But talking to police officers was interesting. They mainly talked about all the paperwork you have to do and how it’s nothing like as action-packed as it is on television.

Was there any of Saga Norén (protagonist in The Bridge) that you incorporated into Elise?
I still haven’t seen any of The Bridge. I deliberately didn’t watch it, Dominik [Moll, The Tunnel’s director] was also keen for me not to watch it, so that I wouldn’t make decisions influenced on her. I wanted to make her mine. I do want to see it, though.

Do you ever watch yourself back on film and TV?
I used to, but I find that very difficult now. I try to not be too self-conscious about what I look like, but until I know whether or not there will be a third series of The Tunnel, it’s nice not to see anything so I don’t start fixing things that don’t need to be fixed and so I don’t get vain about it.

But you’re a model, too; surely you’re comfortable with looking at yourself?
Oh, that’s OK, because they Photoshop everything! It looks like someone completely different [when I see myself in a magazine]. Modelling is just another way to tell stories.

Do you feel very different in your 30s to how you did in your 20s?
There’s definitely confidence that comes with getting older and being able to take more control over your choices. There are some actresses who, even from their early 20s, seem utterly confident in what they want to do and I’m in complete awe of them. I never had a clear idea of what I wanted to do, but I was always curious. I tried a few things to see whether I liked it or not. I said no to things people thought I should do and maybe I should have done. My 20s were really fun but being in my 30s is pretty nice. I’m stronger than I was throughout my 20s, but not yet reaching mid-life crisis!

You live both in London and Paris, is that strange with the uncertainty around the future of Britain and the EU?
It’s very weird. It’s such a weird time for Europe in general. I’m slightly terrified. I’m certainly going to live in London until I’m kicked out! Which I might be. Who knows?

How do you spend off-duty time in London?
I love going to museums, though I don’t go as often as I used to. But the Hayward Gallery and Tate Modern are wonderful. I like green spaces, too. In Paris it feels everywhere you go needs a purpose, whereas in London you can just stay in a park and drink coffee. On a rare sunny day, that is. There’s a café in Victoria Park I love to go to for breakfast.

Have you adopted any British traits?
I love fish and chips! Especially when you film in Kent for six months. I love Radio Six, does that count as becoming an Anglophile?


Posted on May 12, 2016  •  Leave a Comment  •  Filed under Interview
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