Clemence Poesy Fan
mobile version

001-2~1.jpg 001~95.jpg 003~59.jpg 004~55.jpg 005~53.jpg

Photoshoots > 2016 > 0010 for Telegraph UK

When Clémence Poésy arrives at the east London café where we’re due to meet, I expect all heads to turn. I imagine it will play out along the lines of the scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where her character, Fleur Delacour, arrives at Hogwarts from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic to compete in the Triwizard Tournament.

Delacour drifts in wearing the elegant grey satin uniform of the visiting school; her beguiling presence attracts everyone’s attention and prompts Ron Weasley to whisper: ‘Bloody hell.’

And yet – despite her being an exceptionally beautiful and discerningly stylish woman – no one here even raises an eyebrow. Clémence sits down unnoticed. She is dressed in a full-length black leather skirt, biker boots and a navy mohair jumper. Her look is topped with a caramel beanie hat. She seems wholly aware of her style-icon status and says she is ‘flattered’ by the attention she gets in magazines. But she does find it amusing.
I might get into costume design and I have always loved fashion,’ she says. ‘I am aware of how much of a privilege it is that I get the opportunity to meet designers. Maybe there is a sense of my appreciation and joy that comes through.’

Clare Waight Keller, Chloé’s creative director, sums up precisely what it is about Clémence’s style that grabs attention: ‘She has this lovely French-Anglo mix,’ she says. ‘She loves the boyishness of British fashion, but has a Parisian approach to her wardrobe – an edited sense of style. She doesn’t jump on trends and knows what works for her.’
‘I don’t think I’ve ever met a person in real life who has said, “I like what you wear”’

Clémence says if she weren’t French, no one would bring up the question of style with her. She doesn’t dispute that her nationality puts her in a certain fashion bracket, and she recognises the elegance of Paris when she is there.

‘There is something really beautiful about watching women there going off to work in the morning,’ she says. ‘They are discreet. It is an elegance that is understated. When I look at these women, I envy their gracefulness and how put together they are, but I never quite feel like that. I always feel like I am a bit scruffy.’

Since she made Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire just over 10 years ago, Clémence has worked equally in Britain and France and now lives between London and Paris. Alongside Fleur Delacour, she is best known in the UK for playing Isabelle Azaire opposite Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Wraysford in the BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong. Gossip Girl fans know her as the girl who saved Chuck when he was shot in Prague.

And since 2013 she has played French detective Elise Wassermann in the Anglo-French crime drama The Tunnel, which returns for a second season this month.

The Tunnel is adapted from the hit Scandi crime series The Bridge. Clémence’s Wassermann parallels Sofia Helin’s Saga Norén in that she exhibits behaviours suggestive of Asperger syndrome and she drives a Porsche. Clémence hasn’t seen The Bridge. ‘I don’t want there to be any influence on my choices while playing Elise,’ she says.

Stephen Dillane plays the laconic British detective Karl Roebuck, who Wassermann works with in the first season to find a serial killer who left the upper body of a French politician and the legs of a British prostitute in the exact centre of the Channel Tunnel. This second series, The Tunnel: Sabotage, is an entirely new story and departs from the original.

The two detectives reunite to investigate the case of a couple abducted from the tunnel, who leave behind a traumatised child. And things get more complicated when a plane crashes into the English Channel, killing everyone on board.

It was an easy decision for Clémence to sign up for a second series. She says she has never learnt more about acting than she has from watching Stephen Dillane.
‘I never feel the need to go in straight away and talk – if you take up too much space, you miss out on what people have to say’

‘He’d probably hate me saying that, but it’s mostly why I wanted a second season to happen,’ she says. ‘It was just an excuse to have time with him again. My favourite thing to explore in the first series was the relationship Elise had with Karl.’

Clémence has said before that the characters she plays always teach her about life. Wassermann, she says, ‘Is so fragile and pure and I look at her like a kid almost. Whenever someone I know has seen the show they tell me how unbearable Elise is and how she should just smile for once. I think I learnt something when I realised what comes across with Elise is not entirely how I see her. It probably happens every day in life; the people you find painful to deal with might, at heart, be just like Elise.’

Mike Barker, who directed the first two episodes of the second series, says what Clémence brings to her character is ‘much more subtle, more rooted in experience, more approachable and more engaging’ than Saga Norén is in The Bridge.

‘She is very clever,’ he says of Clémence, ‘and completely in control of her craft. She is thoughtful and protects the character. She will want you to explain exactly why you would like her to change something if you ask her to. Not once in the entire process did she ever not know a line or the meaning behind a scene or where it was going.’

Barker says when he first met Clémence it was at dinner to discuss the two episodes he directed. ‘She was absolutely adorable,’ he says. ‘When there is no pressure on, she is funny and engaging; very disarming.’

She has recently been in cinemas starring in British psychological thriller The Ones Below. She plays Kate, who is expecting a baby with her partner Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore). A couple moves into the flat beneath theirs, who are also expecting a baby, and the story tracks their contrasting emotions.
‘I’m aware of what a privilege it is to meet designers – maybe a sense of my joy comes through’

‘I always enjoy playing characters that allow you to take a back seat. Kate is quiet. I like that,’ she says. ‘I never feel the need to go in straight away and talk – it is not shyness, just a timing thing. If you take up too much space right away, you miss out on a lot of what people have to say.’

Clémence grew up in the suburbs of Paris. Her father, Etienne Guichard, is a theatre director – her first role was in a play of his – and her mother, now retired, taught French literature. She has one sister, Maëlle Poésy-Guichard, who is two years younger and an actress and theatre director. ‘She lives in Paris and has three plays on this year,’ Clémence says proudly.

The sisters went to an alternative bilingual school and Clémence then gained a place at the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris. She attended for a year before she was allowed a year off to film Harry Potter. She didn’t go back and finish her studies, which she says was one of the hardest decisions she has had to make.

‘It was weird because it felt like giving up on everything I had worked for. It is so hard to get into that school and I didn’t even get into it the first time I applied,’ she says. ‘I had no idea how much Potter would change things, but it did.’

Clémence says she owes her independent, confident nature to her mother. ‘She always gave us her trust. She was very good at telling us when we were doing something right, as well as when we were doing something wrong.’

Another thing she inherited from her mother was her love and appreciation of books. ‘My mum would come to our room and read us stories at night a long time after we could read by ourselves,’ she says.

A particular favourite was Anthony Fon Eisen’s Le Prince d’Omeyya. ‘He has this beautiful relationship with his horse and I vividly remember my mum reading the chapter when the horse dies. My sister was on the top bunk and the three of us were all crying together.’
‘I don’t understand how it became acceptable to stage your whole life through social media with constant self-promotion’

Clémence says she is currently reading a book her friend recommended called We Are Our Brains by Dutch neuroscientist Dick Swaab. ‘It is an evolution of the brain from birth to the death,’ she explains. ‘I was on holiday with a friend who was reading it. She came down to breakfast every day either terrified or excited so I felt I must read it.’

If you look at Clémence’s social media accounts you will find that often she posts about books she’s enjoyed. ‘That’s my way to deal with social media,’ she says. ‘I resisted it for such a long time, but then there were lots of fake accounts and journalists would start talking to me about them in interviews as if they were mine. I don’t understand how it became acceptable to stage your whole life through social media with constant self-promotion. I find it really strange.’

Clémence has always refused to talk about her private life. ‘I realised that was something I really didn’t want to have a public existence and I thought if I open the door just a tiny bit people would feel like they have the right to come in further,’ she says. ‘People in my life didn’t choose to be public personae. I even feel a bit like that about my parents. I mean, maybe my mum will read this interview and think I’ve shared something that was her thing.’

Today is a day off from filming her latest movie Final Portrait, a biography about Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, directed by Stanley Tucci. Clémence plays Caroline, a young prostitute with whom Giacometti sparked a special relationship when she posed for him near the end of his life.

‘The experience has been very moving,’ she says. ‘He is one of my favourite artists and when I arrived on set, I was blown away. They have recreated so much of his work and all those sculptures were standing right there in front of me.’

‘The Tunnel: Sabotage’ starts on Tuesday 12 April at 9pm, Sky Atlantic

Posted on Apr 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment  •  Filed under Gallery, Interview
Comment Form