Elegant and poised, there’s just something about Sophie Marceau that lights up a room when she glides in gracefully. At 46, the ravishing brunette beauty, who made her debut in the 1980 French comedy La Boum (The Party) and has 38 films under her belt to date, shows no signs of slowing down. She burst onto the international scene as the Princess of Wales in Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning epic Braveheart and subsequently heated up the big screen as sultry villainess Elektra King in 1999’s Bond film The World is Not Enough. A string of impressive roles in Hollywood and French movies like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anna Karenina, With Love… from the Age of Reason and LOL (Laughing Out Loud) followed, leading up to her latest offering: the French comedy Happiness Never Comes Alone (Un bonheur n’arrive jamais seul).
Marceau plays successful business woman Charlotte Posche opposite French-Moroccan stand-up comedian Gad Elmaleh, who takes on the role of Sacha Keller – the 40-something jazz pianist whose life revolves around his music, friends and freedom. He gets a kick out of partying and playing the field; she loves her three children and still maintains contact with her two ex-husbands. It’s hardly a match made in heaven, but when they (literally) bump into each other one rainy afternoon, they embark on a passionate, poignant and at times comedic love affair, and their lives become irrevocably intertwined in spite of all the obstacles. James Huth helms the vivacious romcom, and, as Marceau describes it, the director ‘has his own way to treat French humour,’ as the film sees her doing quite a bit of slapstick ‘stunts,’ falling over anything and everything.
But laughter aside, the message behind the story is one of love – in particular, the existence of love at first sight. Is Marceau a believer? Well, to her, everything is possible with love. 'Cinema is inspired from reality… Of course I believe in love at first sight,' she says.
'We all play a game in life, but behind that game there’s always some fragility. That’s what characterises this character – she seems to have everything but love,' Marceau muses. 'The movie’s very much about love, about the struggle, about the difficulties, about making these two people together stronger.'
In a classic case of reel life imitating real life, she’s a working mother juggling children and a relationship while maintaining her slim physique and youthful appearance. But for her, it’s simply a matter of organisation and priorities.
'Sometimes, you just have to make choices between your personal and professional life. For me, there’s no question about what is the priority,' Marceau says. 'I really believe that women are good at doing many things at the same time… But it’s long days, short nights.'
Despite her busy schedule, it’s clear that the French beauty is passionate about what she does. 'One of the reasons (why) I like this work is that I can change personality, and that’s a little bit of the essence of being an actor – it’s to go into someone else’s life for a while and to live different lives,' Marceau says. 'A movie is not just a movie. It should be meaningful; it should be a real point of view from somebody who absolutely wants to say something.'
Since her foray into acting at the tender age of 13, she has ventured into directing (her first feature film Speak to Me of Love debuted in 2002), screenwriting and even authoring a semi-autobiographical novel, Menteuse (Telling Lies) in 2001. Marceau may be famous the world over, but she never lets any of it go to her head – whether it be criticism or praise.
'The bad memories, I forget them. I’m very good at that. Sometimes we learn more from mistakes; I always take the positive thing out of an experience,' Marceau explains. 'I’m very wise about that. If it did happen, it’s because it should have happened, and for sure it taught me something.'
With new projects lined up for next year, rest assured you haven’t seen the last of Sophie Marceau.