Marie Antoinette Interview

by Clubplanet
10.20.2006

 

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Sex, money, parties and rock n’ roll. All the ingredients that makes the OC and Laguna Beach some of the most watched shows in all of teenkind. Has it always been like this? Yes. In watching Marie Antoinette, it's evident that gossip, intrigue and a healthy dose of distorted reality placed one of the most iconic royals into the annuls of infamy. Or is it?

Kirsten Dunst, Sofia Coppola and Jason Schwartzman chat about giving 18th century celebrity a modern-day makeover.

Clubplanet: You see this movie with its materialism, gossip, sex, partying and undeserving wealth and you can’t help but think Paris Hilton and other bratty celebrities. Are you trying to glorify their existence?
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Kirsten: I didn’t think about any of that when I was making the movie. Marie Antoinette was running the country and was influenced by other pressures. The only things that I drew connections to were being in an isolated world you’ve created for yourself, not being in touch with what’s really going on, and how frivolity can leave you feeling empty.

Sofia: If you read about Marie Antoinette, you’ll see that she was definitely a celebrity of her time and the pamphlets that were passed around were a lot like today’s tabloids. But that wasn’t my interest or approach, but I can see that there are elements that are still prevalent in our culture. I definitely see a relevance to people’s behavior today.
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Like how Marie and her peers were completely oblivious to the outside world?

Sofia: Yes, they were very insulated. Their advisors would try to keep them out of policy because they had their own political agendas. I’m trying to keep the story from Marie Antoinette’s point of view—she’s not interested in politics. As a kid, she’s not aware of what’s going on. I wanted to have them in this bubble.

Jason: They were living in a fishbowl that was encased in mirrors. There was only so far they could see. Although I think Marie Antoinette wanted to, but wasn’t allowed to. I just tried to focus on the moments. This whole movie is about distortion of truth—I don’t think they were told the truth.
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Kirsten, did you feel like you were playing a period or contemporary character?

Kirsten: I wasn’t asked to play anything. I took the etiquette classes, learned how to bow and those sorts of things, but when we were filming, Sofia didn’t want us to have accents. It was a very natural and spontaneous way of filming, even though there was a lot of preparation beforehand. When you get there, there’s a freedom to it. I didn’t feel like we were making a modern or period piece.

But with all the punk rock, American accents, shopping, and other behavior, it hardly seems accurate at all.

Sofia: Everything was based on 18th century design and fashion, but we did take artistic license. For example, the heels of the shoes were a bit wider then, but it looked more appealing to a modern eye to make them narrower. I wanted the shoes to be appealing to us because for the characters of that time, they were.

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Interesting. Especially, since you’re considered a muse to many high-profile fashion designers. What was your inspiration for the movie?

Sofia: I’ve been interested in fashion since I was a teenager, so I wanted to have that be a prominent element—one of Marie Antoinette’s main jobs was to dress up. I thought about John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood and how they interpret that period. It makes it more appealing to a modern eye.

How was it squeezing into those costumes? Any internal bleeding?

Jason: Kind of. I gained 45lbs for the movie, and I had asked the costume designer to make the clothes extra small. Well, they didn’t say, extra small, or large or medium, just to clear that up. I wasn’t like, “I’m an extra small.” I wanted the character to be uncomfortable so I wanted to feel uncomfortable. The garter belt was interesting, though—I never really put one on. (To me) Wait, you aren’t supposed to finish that part of the sentence… which I know you did. But yeah, I wasn’t used to it. It was itchy. On my hairy legs. It was like a costar.
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Kirsten: It changes the way you move and the way you breathe, but that’s a natural thing that becomes a part of you. I’m sure [Marie Antoinette] was uncomfortable with many things she had to wear.

Milena’s costumes were characters for me—they evoked so many feelings of that day or the scenes I was portraying. In the more childlike years, I wore a lot of colors, the cuts were different and I felt a little bit of a pastry puff or a dressed-up doll. But she let me collaborate on certain costumes. Every article of clothing was a complete journey and character.

Jason, how was it playing an inept king?

Jason: The ineptitude is what saved me. I know what it’s like to not be able to communicate, or what it’s like to not be able to look a girl in the eyes, or want to say something and it comes out wrong. You know it came out wrong because the look on the person’s face is disappointed. But you don’t know if you should correct what you just said. Probably not, because they’re walking away.
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What attracted you to this role?

Kirsten: Sofia first; I adore her movies. There aren’t many female directors and there aren’t many directors making movies about women and their personal journeys and intimate moments. I always know her film will be about a woman—ugly, beautiful, sexy, afraid and all those feelings. It’s a freedom that doesn’t come with a lot of characters people play. She lets things breathe and I like the way she works. Her style is like nobody else. She’s made a historical movie that’s completely different from anything else. Even if you don’t like it, it’s still provocative.

Jason: Coincidentally, I was reading the Antonia Frasier's biography, the book which this film is based on, when I learned I was going to be in this movie. It was a weird moment, which makes the next 100 pages a stranger read.

What’s next for you guys?

Sofia: (looking down) Well… I am having a baby in a couple of months. That’s my focus.
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Jason: For me? A movie called the Darjeeling Limited. It comes out… uh, I don’
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