French actress Marie Moute is breaking into the American film world in a major way. She has a leading role in Welcome to New York, Abel Ferrara’s new drama based on the story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and starring Gerard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset. While the film continues its limited release, LA Fan Cultures Examiner sat down with Marie to talk about working on the project and the journey of a foreign actress finding an American audience.
Though she has a lengthy and impressive resume in France, Welcome to New York was one of the very first auditions Marie had here in the United States and she was thrilled to be asked to read for the role of Sophie, the daughter of accused politician Devereaux (played by Depardieu) and his wife Simone (Bisset).
“You have this project with this huge director, very well-known – Abel Ferrara is the kind of director you want to work with in your career. Gerard Depardieu, who’s an icon. It was the third [billed] role, and I was like this is huge,” she recalled.
“It went very quickly. The casting director spent a lot of time with me and the next day they organized a meeting in New York with Abel, so he could meet me. We spoke for two hours and that was it,” she continued, adding, “I don’t think you really hesitate when you have this kind of opportunity. You just go for it.”
Welcome to New York is a tough film dealing with very serious subjects, fictionalizing a story that the entire world knew about. Given the high profile of the project and the fact that it’s based on actual events, we asked Marie how it was to actually make the movie. She gave a lot of credit to Ferrara.
“Abel is a director who’s never compromising. He’s a very intense person and he does very intense movies,” she said. “I think Abel was probably the best person to treat this kind of subject, this kind of terrible situation, scandal where a very powerful man takes advantage of his situation over a woman and he has this sex addiction that’s going to take over his life.
“As an actress, when I get into a movie, I always put a lot of pressure on myself,” Marie added, explaining that while the film does not purport to stand as a definitive record of the real-life scandal, the creative team still treated the material as seriously as possible. “You have to be very truthful. You can’t know exactly what happened and it was not Abel’s wish to say it did happen that way.
“He really wanted to put us in a situation where, how would you react as human beings,” she continued. “I think it was a very universal situation, because generally speaking, many people have addictions and many people go through terrible moments in their life because of their addictions. I was really focused on the truthful reaction that daughter would have with her father going through that.”
“It was just a very unique experience,” she said. “It was getting a connection with Gerard, Jacqueline and Abel…We did spend a lot of time together and so we managed to have a very truthful connection. I think that really helps when you have a true connection with someone; you can see it in the scenes.”
With the film now released and the future in front of her, Marie gave us some insight into what it’s really like for an international actor or actress to try and transition into the American market.
“I think it’s very exciting,” she enthused. “It’s a challenge, of course, but it’s very exciting. It’s opportunities, it’s work experiences and after that you never know what tomorrow’s made of. You never know how things are going to happen.
“I lived in New York when I was young,” she continued. “In my heart, I love this country and I always wanted at one point to be able to work in the United States. I’m very excited about it and I’m just working very hard to be able to continue this.”
To that end, she’s still working hard in both countries. Just prior to Welcome to New York, she starred for three series as Lieutenant Axelle Ferrano in the French police drama Mongeville. Looking back, she pinpoints the root of her success as her first small-screen role as Alize Guillaume in the French drama La vie devant nous.
“It was kind of the Dawson’s Creek or Beverly Hills, 90210,” she reflected. “I did that for four years and it was the best way to start a career. That was really such a blessing to be on a set every day, to learn.”
A true student of the world she’s working in, Marie’s favorites are wide-ranging from Homeland to Dangerous Liaisons to Gone with the Wind. She has an appreciation for everything from period films to science fiction and fantasy, and you can sense how much she wants to keep learning and keep making even better projects. Now that she’s collaborated with the likes of Gerard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset, hopefully this tremendous actress will break through in the United States and have the worldwide career that she deserves.
Welcome to New York is in limited release through IFC Films now; for more with Marie, you can visit her website (mariemoute.net).