No wonder Suzanne Clément took the best-actress prize in the Cannes Un Certain Regard competition earlier this year. Her performance as Fred, the lover of a man who transitions to female in Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways, is riveting. As the film was set to screen last week at TIFF, Clément talked to NOW about collaborating with Dolan, her experience at Cannes and more.
This is your second film with Dolan after J'Ai Tué Ma Mère. What's it like working with a wunderkind?
Xavier and I are explosive together. We like things to be edgy.
Do you mean you yell at each other on set?
[Laughs] No, I'm not a yeller. We just are like kids together. Our energy builds, and we love impulsive actions and reactions. I sometimes worry, "Am am I doing the same thing over and over again?" But Xavier would talk during the scenes. "Turn your head to the right," "Move your hand here." It keeps you off balance, but at least you know you're not going in the same direction. We love experimenting, even though there's a lot of discomfort while you're doing it.
There's a scene where your character loses it in a café after a restaurant server keeps saying inappropriate things to Fred and Laurence. How did you prepare for that?
I do prepare, but if I prepare too much it becomes too heavy for me. I have to trick myself to get out of something that would give me too much stress. Xavier and I met eight months after I read the script, and he played the whole scene. He has this fire in him - he tried to explain the scene and he yelled so loud I thought we'd wake up the entire hotel. He likes to give scenes to actors. "Are you challenged by this, is this something you want to play, do you want more?" He wants to know what will make people work with him.
What was Cannes like for you this year?
It was strange. It's kind of like the festival had a love-hate relationship with us. We were kind of wanted and not wanted. Xavier thought the film would be in the Official Competition - he was almost told that. So we had that expectation and were disappointed. But we found a family in the people from Un Certain Regard. The jury said, "Oh, we like the movie," so we thought there might be a prize. Then best-actress prize went to someone else [Emilie Dequenne, for A Perdre La Raison]. I had hopes, because they said, "You have to be there." And then they gave a second best-actress prize to me. [Juror] Tim Roth wanted it that way. He wanted the thrill of it. It was crazy.