With Marion Cotillard recently turning 46, she has been noted for her charming roles in both French and international cinema. However, there is another side to the protean actress who feels deeply for the planet. Not only has she been long associated with Greenpeace, but she has also used every platform available to boost the work of activists.
An embodiment of beauty and style, Marion Cotillard started her career in the French theatre circle in the early 90s. Stepping up to the small screen, Cotillard appeared in a few episodes of the sci-fi action-adventure Highlander. She played both a credited and an uncredited role in separate episodes of the show. She was just 17 when she set foot in the television acting world.
At 18, Cotillard broke into the silver screen, with her debut role in The Story of a Boy Who Wanted to Be Kissed. Following her 1994 debut, she went on to star in a few French romantic dramas. Her first lead role was in the 1996 telefilm Chloé, where she starred opposite the avant-garde Danish-French actress Anna Karina.
While she had starred in several Swiss and Swiss-French productions, her ventures in Hollywood began in the 2000s. Tim Burton gave Cotillard a promising start in 2003 with her supporting role as Joséphine in Big Fish. In the years to follow, the French actress was appreciated for her role in popular movies like Inception, Midnight in Paris and McBeth. She also played a major role in the Batman series as she took up the role of the supervillain Ra's al Ghul’s daughter in The Dark Night Rises.
Even though she stepped into the world of Hollywood she never disassociated with the French film industry. Her 2007 film La Vie en Rose saw the actress convincingly step into the shoes of the famed French singer Édith Piaf. The biopic had gained fame as the “most awaited film of 2007”. At the premiere of the film at the Berlin International Film Festival, the actress received a 15-minute standing ovation.
The reason why Cotillard was chosen to play Piaf was that director Olivier Dahan found a similarity between the two women’s eyes. However, Cotillard was able to fit into the singer’s role due to her musical bent of mind. The actress took up the task of writing and performing musical pieces for her film as well as for brands she was associated with.
For the 2001 French drama, Pretty Things, she performed two songs ‘La Fille De Joie’ and ‘La Conne.’ She had even co-written ‘La Fille De Joie’ for the movie. She also wrote and performed musical pieces for short films and advertising campaigns for Cartier and Dior.
Aside from her songwriting and singing, Cotillard has dabbled with the tambourine, guitar, bass guitar and keyboard. Expressing her love for music, the actress has even lived the rock star life. She toured with the French rock band Yodelice. Using her maternal grandmother’s name, Simone, as her pseudonym, she performed on stages across Belgium and France with the band in 2010. Her connection with the band involved her performing two songs for their album as well as starring in their music video.
The rockstar French powerhouse is not all about being the face of luxury brands like Channel. Taking advantage of her popularity as a public figure, Cotillard has always tried to draw focus on causes she believes in. Even though she has spoken out about several social issues, the actress has been most noted for her environmental activism.
Before she became a known face in Hollywood, she was known for her association with Greenpeace. Since 2001, Cotillard has been associated with the environmental organisation. The Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress had caged herself outside the Louvre in 2013. She performed the flabbergasting act to draw attention to the 30 Greenpeace activists arrested by Russia. To draw eyeballs towards the deforestation of the Amazon, Cotillard produced a series of films on the issue in 2010.
Speaking about her commitment to the environment, Cotillard shared that her conservations with her grandmother were engraved into her memory. She shared how her British grandmum would minimise waste when cooking. She also credited her parents for teaching her the importance of respect that should always extend to respecting the planet’s resources.
Cotillard understands and laments the duality of her career and her philanthropy. While advocating for the environment, she is still a part of the industry that is anything but eco-friendly. However, the public figure has found ways of making her fame matter.
Recently she has produced the documentary Bigger than Us. The documentary stars the 19-year-old activist Melati Wijsen. With Cotillard’s support, Wijsen meets other young activists to discuss their causes. "This Earth is our shared home, our only home,” Cotillard believes and she is doing all she can to help keep it safe for future generations.
The remarkable figure on her birth month this year became the face of the famous Chanel No. 5 fragrance. Time will only tell how Cotillard uses her growing recognition to better the planet.