Interview: Louise Bourgoin talks Going Away


Before she makes her Hollywood debut in “Mojave” with Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac later this year, French actress Louise Bourgoin was in Melbourne as a guest of the French Film Festival. Mandy sat down with Louise to discuss her film “Going Away”, a character driven, dark romance set on the beach of France, a beautiful background to the rough road of redemption.

Congratulations on the film and welcome to Australia, have you ever been here before?

No, this is my first visit.

What was it that drew you to the film and your character?

First of all, I’m a great fan of Nicole Garcia’s cinema and filmmaking and was very attracted by several of her past films, which have since become quite iconic.  Also the role that I was offered had a depth that wasn’t in previous characters that I’ve played – so it was the depth and the drama of the character that attracted me to the role and the opportunity to work with Nicole Garcia.

You have an incredible bond with Mathias Brezot who plays your son, you can very much believe you are family. Was it difficult to create that kind of bond with a young child?

Nicole Garcia believes in the intelligence of people and trusts the instinct and understanding of the spectator.  Therefore, the way in which she writes the script enables the person viewing to actually participate and understand.  The film sounds very authentic but in fact there was no particular relationship between Mathias and myself – it was the unity of the script and the effect of the script on us, the actors, and the way in which the characters related to each other within the story which gave the viewer the freedom to have their own opinion.  In fact, if you stop and think about it, the child has a very small part  – he’s only in a few scenes and doesn’t say very much – but it was written in such a way that it resonated with the audience.  It was also the manner in which Nicole filmed it, managing to capture the way that people looked at each other.  Her dialogue also created an atmosphere.

Watching the film I had a flash back to many years ago when I worked two summers in hospitality in the Greek Islands, and I could definitely relate to the lifestyle Sandra lives – down to the beach cottage and staff meals out the back (but luckily no experience being stalked by loan sharks). What was it do you think that kept Sandra in that cycle?

She had the ambition to leave that life and to make something of herself but as she’s not a businesswoman she has unfortunately become dependent upon less than reputable people.  She tries and when she falls she still gets back up.  She takes blow after blow, but she doesn’t give in.

There is a scene where Sandra is physically attacked – was that tough to film?

Acting can be a very physical profession.  Of course, you get used to it, but it can be tough and the hardest scene was the one where they had to push her against the wall – that was difficult, but at the same time it helped me to project her feeling of pain and disillusionment.  I think that it added an extra dimension, which in some ways, was quite perverse as it enabled me to discover something within myself of which I was previously unaware.

The film takes place in two very beautiful locations, did that make it easier coming to work every day?

Louise comes from Brittany and I’m not from the south, so although the beautiful scenery did have an effect upon me it wasn’t great, because I was in the framework of the role.  But what was impressive was being able to work with the great actress, Dominique Sanda.  For me, she is one of the great screen icons of the last few decades, so in some ways the class distinction was recreated in the film because Dominique has always starred in what could be considered high art cinema, and that sense of hierarchy came across during the scenes in the castle.  Dominique was playing the chatelaine, the hostess of the castle, the matriarch of a long aristocratic lineage and Louise, whom I played, was this working class girl who was surprised to find herself in that environment – so it all helped to create a sense of wonder and admiration.

You’ve worked with Luc Besson for “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec”, and this film was directed by actress Nicole Garcia, who is also your co-star’s mother. Can you explain a little bit about their different styles of directing?

Luc Besson already has everything worked out, in terms of the action and the acting and where it’s going and how it’s going to be.  So the actors learn what he’s after by doing several takes until he says that you’ve got it.  He knows exactly what he wants.  Nicole is the complete opposite, Nicole has a story, but will welcome any suggestions that you may find useful and will encourage you to contribute and will also allow you to find your footing and character within the script.  She will also question her own script.

Thanks so much for your time!

The French Film Festival runs until March 23. Details: