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Call My Agent!’s Camille Cottin on the show’s upcoming movie and working with Lady Gaga

With two forthcoming Hollywood crime dramas and a new season of the smash-hit series Call My Agent! in the pipeline, 2021 is shaping up to be major for CAMILLE COTTIN. The Paris-based actor talks to KATIE BERRINGTON about navigating her accelerating global profile, working with Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, plus bringing her standout Call My Agent! role to the big screen

Camille Cottin

You might assume that Camille Cottin would be exempt from getting starstruck at this stage in her career. Not only because of her own significant plaudits as an actor, but also from watching the nonchalance of her most well-known character in the face of celebrity. In Call My Agent! – the French TV show based in a top Paris talent agency – Cottin plays the ruthless and self-assured Andréa Martel, who manages some renowned figures in the film industry. In its four seasons, the series has seen the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Monica Bellucci, Isabelle Huppert and Sigourney Weaver make cameos as themselves (at least in name) as the team of agents navigate the lives and careers of their famous clients.

But on the set of one of her upcoming movies, House of Gucci, which is hotly anticipated for release later this year, Cottin found herself particularly struck by one of her co-stars. “Talking about people you’d never think you’d meet, well, I never thought I’d meet Lady Gaga,” she smiles, her eyes widening with incredulity. “I didn’t dare to ask her to sing Shallow with me, [and] that’s definitely a regret…”

I have a lot of respect for my agent. I already had, but now I have even more! I’ve been in situations and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this is exactly what happened in [Call My Agent!]

Cottin, 42, is Zooming me from her Paris apartment, having spent much of lockdown in a work-in-progress Normandy farmhouse with her husband and children, where she learned to cook. “It’s quite hopeless considering my age, and it was a project I had completely abandoned. You know, I have my motorbike license, so I have developed other skills in life, but now that I eat vegetables, my skin is much better and my children are healthier,” she laughs with a shrug.

After the pause that was last year, 2021 sees a number of major releases added to Cottin’s résumé. Next is Stillwater, a crime drama directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy. It stars Matt Damon as an oil worker in Oklahoma who travels to Marseille to visit his daughter, Allison, who has been charged with murdering her girlfriend. He is assisted by a local woman, Virginie (Cottin), and her young daughter, who offer him a place to stay while he attempts to clear Allison’s name.

“The trailer gives the thriller aspect of the movie, but it’s much more than this,” says Cottin. “[McCarthy] really managed to film the intimacy in this Marseilles flat – the cocoon that this woman and little girl create, the warmth and the care they give. Tom really built that with us; there’s something extremely tender in the flat.”

Cottin is pleased they held out for a cinematic release – “[the movie is] pure cinema; the city’s a character in itself” – and confesses she felt an affinity with her character that she hasn’t experienced before. “Virginie is the closest [character I have played] to who I am. You know, I get women who have very strong tempers and Virginie has a strong temper, but I’m also very joyful and happy and warm!” Her smile radiates exactly that. “I think I don’t have this distance that I often get with my characters. This woman, with her warmth and humanity, she has a kind of brotherhood – or sisterhood – attitude that I felt close to.”

A former English teacher, Cottin – who was born in Paris but spent her teenage years in the UK – rose to prominence in France in 2013, starring in candid-camera series Connasse. She was cast in Call My Agent! in 2015 and has since landed more cult roles in TV (hello, Killing Eve) and Hollywood movies. And, in navigating the recent acceleration of her career, she says she is “learning to trust her instinct” more.

Ridley [Scott] is somebody who really trusts his actors. When we rehearsed, we just had one reading and he was like, ‘How do you feel about your character? How do you think she reacts to this?’ It was beautiful to be trusted in that way
Cottin in her role as Call My Agent!’s Andréa Martel

“When I read a script, I always read it like an audience; like, do I want to see this movie? That’s what draws me into it,” she says. “I pay attention to how the female characters are written, all of them… It has to be a character I believe in, it has to have nuances and contradictions and failures.”

Later this year, we will see Cottin return as the mysterious Hélène in season four of Killing Eve and, of course, in the aforementioned House of Gucci, which was directed by Ridley Scott and is stacked with star talent. Lady Gaga plays Patrizia Reggiani, who was convicted of orchestrating the assassination of her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci, the former head of the fashion house, played by Adam Driver. The cast also includes Jared Leto, Al Pacino and Salma Hayek, while Cottin plays Paola Franchi, Gucci’s girlfriend.

The whole experience was exhilarating. “Ridley is somebody who really trusts his actors. When we rehearsed, we just had one reading and he was like, ‘How do you feel about your character? How do you think she reacts to this?’ It was beautiful to be trusted in that way.”

[Lady Gaga] was really into the method, and I think she went quite far into herself to meet that character… She’s a very complete artist and, as we can see – and as we might guess – she’s very demanding with herself

Driver was an “incredible partner” to play opposite, doing “everything he could to make me feel at ease” and, while she might not have managed a karaoke moment with Lady Gaga, she was impressed – though not surprised – by her work ethic.

“She was really into the method, and I think she went quite far into herself to meet that character… She’s a very complete artist and, as we can see – and as we might guess – she’s very demanding with herself, so it’s been very interesting to see her work.”

Meanwhile, the fourth season of Call My Agent! aired in early 2021, and with its move to Netflix came the news that it would be brought back for a fifth season, plus a movie. The recent success, five years after it was first released, has felt like “an echo – the stone was thrown five years ago, and here comes the sound of it,” Cottin muses.

“When we started working on Call My Agent!, it was this national TV production and I would never have imagined it would be seen in America; in Britain,” she recalls. “The producers were rejected a few times and the argument was that it would only interest people working in show business. So the success in France was already a surprise and, worldwide, it’s been even less imaginable.”

Stillwater, in which Cottin stars opposite Matt Damon, will premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival

The way the cast found out about the reboot could almost have been a storyline on the show. “It was quite funny, because the announcement of season five was made by the company that had rebought the production, and it was like, yeah, there’s going to be a fifth season [but] nobody was aware! All the actors started sending texts to each other, like, ‘Has anybody approached you? I haven’t been approached. Do you think I’m out of it?!’ So then the producers called us one by one to say, ‘Please don’t panic, nothing has been [started].’”

The movie will come first and is speculated to focus on Andréa Martel, who we last saw contemplating her future in the entertainment industry. “We had a conversation like, what would you like your character to go through? And we realized that Andréa has been through quite a lot already. She’s very different from season one to four, and it’s nice to have a character evolving that much. You know, I was talking to my analyst and she said, ‘You’re not the same woman who came in five years ago,’ and I think it’s interesting to see that in a character, too.” As for what she’d like to do next, Cottin is careful not to give any potential plot spoilers, but admits, “It’s interesting to go with your character where no one would expect her to go, or to react in a way that no one would expect her to react.”

I wonder whether working on a show that is so tied to her own job has changed the way she perceives the industry. “I have a lot of respect for my agent,” she smiles. “I already had, but now I have even more! I’ve been in situations and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this is exactly what happened in [the show]’.”

Stillwater will be in cinemas July 30

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