Jane Birkin - The cinema and me part 2: from Je t'aime moi non plus to La Pirate (tribute)

Jane Birkin – The cinema and me part 2: from Je t’aime moi non plus to La Pirate (tribute)

At the end of 2021, she received us at her home, on the occasion of her daughter’s documentary, Jane by Charlotte, to discuss her journey. Second part of our tribute where it is a question here of Gainsbourg, Pierre Richard, Piccoli and Doillon.

It was an afternoon in November 2021, a few weeks before the release of the magnificent documentary Jane by Charlotte that her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg had dedicated to her. Jane Birkin opened the doors of her Parisian apartment on rue du Cherche-Midi to us to retrace her career as an actress and director. The welcome was as warm as the place, a real cabinet of curiosities that would require hours to explore the thousand and one treasures and memories that make it up. Her dog had settled down peacefully at our feet and had begun a nap which would last throughout the hour of confidences to which she had lent herself without reluctance to borrow the time machine. It was probably because she was deeply rooted in the present that the past didn’t scare her. When we learned today of her sudden disappearance at the age of 76, we wanted to open the book of this unforgettable memory with her. In three parts to fly over his almost 60-year career. Here is the second


In 1976, the film of the seesaw arrives for you: I love you too

Yes, before shooting it, I know it was going to be different from anything I had shot before. Firstly because I inspired it and also because, suddenly, I was certain that no one could play it better than me. Which had never happened to me before. Dirk Bogarde had been considered for the role for a while, but Serge was right to take Joe from Alessandro. His youth is essential to the film. I have never seen such dedicated technicians on set, Serge was so attentive to everyone. It was an absolutely idyllic shoot. Serge admired his team as much as his team admired him. I wear a wig because he didn’t want me to cut my hair. Otherwise, I would have had the same haircut, therefore the same head in The Devil at Heart which I was shooting right after. This toupee helped me become this character. We were so into it that I almost suffocated to death when Hugues Quester put a plastic bag over my head and Serge took a long time to cut

You were aware that this film was going to shock?

I didn’t think of it. I was just measuring the incredible chance of being able to play such a role. It was my mum who brought me back to that reality by telling me what I was doing in a film that was shown in London in a porn cinema. It was no use explaining to him that Truffaut had said to go and see Serge’s film before his Pocket money which came out at the same time! But I understand my poor mom who didn’t know what to say to her friends!

Which director was Gainsbourg?

He was like a painter and his plans like paintings. I wanted this role as if it were Shakespeare. This is the first time I enjoyed playing

In those years, you also made comedies under the direction of Claude Zidi, Mustard up my nose And The shallot race… Do you immediately feel at ease in this register?

My real joy was to work both times with the same director. It was a first for me to be trusted in this way. To not be afraid of being fired at any moment. What’s more, both times with the wonderful Pierre Richard. When Claude hired me to Mustard up my nose, I told him he should ask a real star like Bardot instead. And there, he said to me: “after this film, it is you who are going to be a star”. So I owe a lot to Claude. Pierre was so irresistible. It’s funny because last week, a Russian stopped me down the street to tell me about these two films! It will be great to meet at 80 each for a funny movie! I have never had a partner so loved by the public

And which partner was Pierre Richard?

Delicious… because he was afraid of everything! (laughs) I remember he came to see me in London when IRA bombings were hitting the city. I had transported him hidden in a trolley to take him to Kate’s bed. His clumsiness was marvelous too. And that these shoots were joyful! We went to the casino every night. Serge had drunk so much that each time the guy said “nothing is going well”, he ran headlong into the wall! (laughs) Everything was funny and charming. Probably because the gags were very physical

After Serge Gainsbourg, you will shoot several films with another man in your life, Jacques Doillon. And there again there will be a scandal in Cannes in 1984 with The Pirate. Did you expect it?

Again absolutely not! I felt like the leader of a vital cause that went beyond a movie. Women came to thank me for making this film. I was so proud. In Cannes, I really thought that we were going to triumph on the charts. So I stayed until the last evening, certain that we would have a prize. But Dirk Bogarde, the president of the Jury, had hated the film and we were the victim of a flood of hatred from part of the press where shouting, insults, jeers started from my first kiss with Marushka (Detmers ) never to end. People whistled the music from the Dim pub as soon as Marushka stripped. I got spat on as I left the room. We still don’t know where this cabal came from except that it must have disturbed the people there. But on my side, it is one of the most beautiful texts that I had to defend. As The Prodigal Daughter which I shot with Jacques four years earlier. It’s Bergman. They would make two wonderful plays even today

Which actor director was Jacques Doillon with you?

This is someone who believed you could be a gigantic long distance runner and jumper and asked you things of infinite complexity to prove you right! He could take up to 80 10-minute sequence shots with one goal: to make his actors shine. The actresses are always magnified at home. And it was in me. In The Prodigal Daughter with Piccoli, whom I consider my adoptive father, The Pirate Or Comedy!. And for me, a slightly frivolous actress not really taken seriously, he gave me my first dramas. Jacques saw in me in life someone much more depressed and gloomy than the image I projected in my TV appearances. I liked defending his texts and my career changed from that moment on. I was taken seriously for the first time. So it was after seeing La Pirate that Patrice Chéreau asked me to play The next Fake to almond trees. My theater debut.

You mentioned your special relationship with Michel Piccoli. How did you meet him?

He lived in rue de Verneuil like Serge and me. It was he who asked that I pass the trials in 1975 for Seven Prescription Deaths that I ended up picking up when no one thought I would be able to play Depardieu’s wife in this beautiful film. Jacques (Doillon) then immediately thought of him for The Prodigal Daughter and in The beautiful noisemaker, it was really very natural for me to play his wife who is jealous of him and of her relationship with the model played by Emmanuelle Béart. I can say that Michel was part of my family. I respected him as much as I loved him. He was so straight. As soon as there was a fight to lead, he responded present. He’s the only one I was able to involve in my clip in support of Doctors of the World and to denounce torture during the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Jane Birkin and cinema and me part 3: from Jane B. by Agnès V. to Jane by Charlotte

Similar Posts