Home Entertainment Call My Agent!’s Camille Cottin on becoming a sex symbol in her 40s: ‘There’s a desire to see women who’ve been invisible’

Call My Agent!’s Camille Cottin on becoming a sex symbol in her 40s: ‘There’s a desire to see women who’ve been invisible’

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It is a beautiful late winter’s day in Paris, and in a resort foyer off the Place des Vosges, the picturesque historic sq. that counts Victor Hugo amongst its former residents, a sharply dressed concierge asks if I’m right here to fulfill Madame Cottin. She guides me to a nook seat by a comfortable open fireplace to attend. It feels very formal, very elegant, very elegant.

When Camille Cottin arrives, a couple of minutes later, she is elegant, too, informal in denims and a navy shirt, somewhat nervous, warning me that as we’re doing the interview in English, she may ask me to assist her discover the phrases. “I really feel like I’m expressing myself like an eight-year-old,” she says, apologetically, although I ought to be the one apologising: it shortly turns into obvious that her English is immaculate and completely exact.

Cottin, 43, has been well-known in France for a variety of years now, however in the course of the pandemic she went international. The French comedy-drama Name My Agent! (often called Dix Pour Cent in France, after the ten% lower that brokers take from their purchasers) discovered a world viewers through Netflix, although it was all however over in its residence nation – although extra on that later. Cottin performed the agent Andréa Martel, a swaggering, blazer-wearing character whom she describes as a “feminine Don Juan”. The purchasers Andréa represents are French appearing royalty, with stars resembling Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert and Sigourney Weaver showing as heightened variations of themselves. She was the guts of the present, virtually as devoted to seducing girls as she was to her job, and far of the collection dealt together with her failed makes an attempt to discover a life/work steadiness whereas wanting hanging in an impossibly stylish wardrobe. Name My Agent! followers could be exhausting pressed to explain the tough-but-brittle Andréa as an enormous snort, however as soon as she warms up, Cottin, goofier and sillier than her most well-known function, positively is.

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Why did individuals love Andréa a lot? “Andréa,” she says, “is tremendous horny.” As she says this, she swings her arms out huge with such enthusiasm that she sends her teacup and its contents flying throughout the desk. It’s the second time in the course of the interview that she has to ask the waiter for a material. She apologises to the expensive-looking couple eating on the desk subsequent to us, then collapses on to the couch, mortified. “I’m sorry! I’m, like, banging issues! I used to be simply saying that Andréa is powerful, however she’s very clumsy, too.”

Camille Cottin and Jodie Comer in the ©BBC series : Killing Eve - season 3 (2020)
With Jodie Comer in Killing Eve. {Photograph}: Landmark Media/Alamy

It has been an enormous few years for Cottin. She has entered what I strive calling her Hollywood period. “My Hollywood pop-up?” she suggests as an alternative, drily. She had a small half within the 2016 spy movie Allied, which starred her good friend Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt. She co-starred with Matt Damon in final yr’s considerate drama Stillwater, and drove a wedge between Adam Driver and Woman Gaga within the epic Home of Gucci. Is she working her method by way of an inventory of Hollywood hunks? “Brad Pitt, executed. Matt Damon, executed. Adam Driver … ” Who’s subsequent? “Do you suppose I may ask?” she says, with a throaty snort. “I really feel like I’m simply getting into the room, saying: ‘Hey’ after which it’s executed,” she demurs, however the elements are clearly getting greater.

She is right here, formally, to speak about her return to Killing Eve. Cottin first appeared in collection three, in 2020, taking part in the murderer coach Hélène, who each taunts and flirts with Jodie Comer’s Villanelle. However there’s strict secrecy across the present, and he or she is frightened about what she will and may’t say. “It’s fairly humorous,” she says. “It’s very difficult to speak about one thing you’re not allowed to speak about. How can we do that?”

We strive vagueness. Cottin has by no means performed an murderer coach earlier than. “Completely not. That may be a first.” The opening episodes of collection 4 may as nicely be known as Discovering Hélène, as they’re largely involved with monitoring her character down. She is stuffed with reward for her co-stars and was thrilled to have the possibility of working with Fiona Shaw, whom she calls “probably the most beautiful individual” – although, cautious of spoilers, she is cautious to say that their two characters in Killing Eve merely have a risk of assembly one another.

Camille Cottin in oversized suit against beige background
‘Was I a shy little one? Wild could be extra exact.’ {Photograph}: Jean-François Robert/The Guardian. Go well with: Acne Studios. Jewelry: Dior

Cottin starred within the short-lived French remake of Fleabag, known as Mouche, and Shaw tried to introduce her to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was in control of Killing Eve’s first season. Nevertheless it was to not be. “She tried, we missed one another,” Cottin says. It could occur but. “That’s nonetheless one thing nice, to be lived,” as she places it. She speaks softly and poetically. She hits on an concept, then talks it by way of, figuring out its creases till she is lastly happy.

Cottin is a local Parisian, born within the Faubourg-Montmartre, and he or she lives within the metropolis together with her husband and two youngsters. In Paris, she explains, the normal type is navy blue, easy, traditional. “However I’m a really large fan of the British trend, the surplus and the eccentricity, the way you combine Liberty and leopard print. I actually adore it.” When she was 12, her household moved to London, the place she went to a French faculty, returning to Paris when she was 17. She soaked up British tradition, significantly its music (“Freddie Mercury is my icon”), although admits that, as is the expat method, she largely frolicked with different French individuals. “That’s one of many issues I’d change if I may do it once more.” She had at all times wished to behave, however as a young person was too shy to go to drama lessons in London, afraid her English wouldn’t be ok.

Was she a shy little one on the whole? “Wild, could be possibly extra exact?” She laughs, then takes an extended pause. “I’m attempting to determine the distinction between being shy and being wild. I imply, wild, like a wild animal, like not being domesticated. So you’ll be able to’t actually method the animal. However on the similar time, I feel I used to be shy, too, and on the similar time, eccentric and excessive.” She discovered the principles and restrictions of college to be stifling. “In my schooling, they had been like, whoa, whoa, we’ve to calm this one down.”

Cottin’s mom arrange a drama membership at her daughter’s faculty in London, the place they placed on a French play concerning the Trojan conflict. Cottin was to play Helen of Troy and he or she was thrilled concerning the casting of Paris, the Trojan prince with whom Helen elopes. “I used to be actually blissful, as a result of there was this very cute man one grade above us, who got here to the theatre membership, and he was going to behave Paris.” Two weeks earlier than they had been resulting from carry out, the lovable man dropped out. “So guess who acted Paris?” she says. I maintain my breath. “My mum. I used to be on stage with my mum, disguised as a sailor. And he or she was speaking in a low voice and holding my fingers like my lovely lover. I wished to die. Freud would have liked this.”

Amazingly, Cottin was not delay appearing. She did the equal of a grasp’s diploma on the Sorbonne, finding out English and American literature and historical past, and spent a lot of her 20s doing theatre in Paris. “From my 20s to 35, actually,” she says. In Stillwater, which got here out in 2021, she is a lady immersed in fringe theatre in Marseille; it’s a job, she says, that’s the closest she has performed to herself. “Truthfully, I did every thing. I did a number of comedies, in rooms with 30 seats, the place you enter the theatre and also you’re there on stage.” She did greater performs, smaller performs, some movie and TV in France. Did she suppose that may be her life? “I used to be performing some castings, however it by no means actually labored. So after a sure time I assumed: ‘OK, nicely, this may by no means occur. However there are some thrilling territories to discover nonetheless, even when I by no means work in cinema and tv.’ After which it occurred.”


Cottin’s first large breakthrough in France got here when she starred in a hidden digital camera prank present known as Connasse, by which she sends up the stereotype of a impolite Parisian lady by being terrible in public. She smokes on a petroleum station forecourt; parks in the midst of the street; talks loudly on her cellphone on the Métro, slating the individuals round her. As profession trajectories go, it’s a peculiar starting, as if Dom Joly went on to co-star with Cate Blanchett. The title is tough to translate. On The Graham Norton Present, Cottin opted for “Parisian bitch”. “Nevertheless it’s not the identical. I feel a bitch is any person making the most of individuals, whereas this woman, she simply behaves like she doesn’t care about anybody. ‘Connasse’ is like this road phrase. It’s just like the insult that you simply give to any person you don’t know, who mistreats you, however in an impersonal method.” She lowers her voice, for the sake of the diners close by. “Actually, the phrase comes from ‘cunt’,” she says, cheerfully. “So I feel it’s ‘cunt-esse’.”

Camille Cottin in Call My Agent, on phone in a car
In Name My Agent!. {Photograph}: Netflix

In 2015, they made a movie of Connasse in London known as Princess of Hearts, by which Cottin’s character tries to trace down and marry Prince Harry. She was arrested twice throughout filming: for climbing the gates of Kensington Palace and strolling between the horses in the course of the altering of the guard. She was jailed for 2 nights and banned from attending the latter for all times. “I don’t suppose I’d do it now.” One other lengthy pause. “On the similar time, I’m telling you this, and I don’t know. I don’t know. Possibly I’d. Possibly I’d, yeah.” Is that your wild streak? “It comes again,” she says, with a smile.

After Connasse got here Name My Agent!. The raucous story of a expertise company and its roster of stars, it was a slow-burn success. At the start, some feared that it might be of curiosity solely to individuals within the business, and within the first collection recruiting well-known visitor stars was exhausting work. However by the second collection, celebrities started to grasp the joke, and storylines had been written to mock stars’ public personas: the famously lovely Monica Bellucci can’t discover a boyfriend; Charlotte Gainsbourg is caught doing a very arty sci-fi venture; Isabelle Huppert sends up her workaholic tendencies.

Cottin is usually requested if any of the friends made her starstruck and normally she declines to reply. “I at all times say, look, they had been all superb.” Maybe it’s as a result of she has chucked her tea throughout me, however she decides to call names right this moment. “Once I began appearing, Isabelle Adjani was it for me. What she did in Camille Claudel, Bonne Nuit, La Reine Margot and Subway … I wasn’t significantly a cinephile, and I’ve some gaps in my tradition. However for me she was a goddess of appearing. I keep in mind that I used to be shaking fingers together with her, I bear in mind holding her hand, and he or she has this very tiny voice. And I used to be like, oh my God. I used to be moved. A really sturdy emotion,” she says.

As a lesbian lead character, Andréa was uncommon for French tv. “And the truth that her sexuality was not a difficulty was additionally one thing very trendy,” Cottin says. “The drama was round: can she have a relationship, can she be devoted, can she be home, however not: why is she a lesbian? So I feel that was one thing very optimistic concerning the present, and really welcomed.” She based mostly Andréa on a real-life agent who, she says, can also be “super-sexy”. “And I used to be a bit influenced, too, by Ally McBeal, this blond woman who can also be a lesbian.” Portia de Rossi? “Sure. I bear in mind her lengthy hair and I assumed, I like this dichotomy, of getting this tremendous female hair, and strolling in a really grounded and easy method, and this blazer, which had a really strict and sharp match.”

Actor Camille Cottin in black jacket and shorts against beige background
‘I’d have liked to go full technique in Killing Eve.’ {Photograph}: Jean-François Robert/The Guardian. Garments: Dior

In 2021, the present’s producers introduced there could be a feature-length film and a fifth series, which got here as a shock to many followers, who felt the ending had been emphatic. I don’t know what is going on with it, I say. “Me, neither,” Cottin says. “They’re transferring step-by-step. I do know they’re engaged on the movie.” Is she concerned? “Within the writing? No.” In its return? “In precept, sure. I don’t suppose anybody would depart the ship. You understand, that may be like not turning up at Christmas.” Andréa’s ending was a comparatively darkish one, so she sees it as an opportunity of redemption. “She was consuming the mud. So it might be fairly cool if she comes again. Some associates stated to me, ‘Andréa is Daenerys. She’s the mom of dragons. What’s taking place? She will be able to’t be like this!’ So in a method, it might be fascinating that it’s not her final phrase.”

Such was Name My Agent!’s success that, inevitably, it’s now being remade around the globe. She says that within the Turkish model, Andréa will likely be straight, which saddens her. “I imply, I’m greater than unhappy,” she says.

W1A’s John Morton has adapted the programme for the UK, the place it would function cameos from Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Corrin, Kelly Macdonald and Dominic West. Rebecca, loosely modelled on Andréa, will likely be performed by Lydia Leonard. “I’ve an awesome belief and religion within the British remake,” Cottin says. “I’m not saying this since you’re British, however I’m an enormous fan of British fiction, and TV, and I feel you’re doing superb issues.”


Cottin is now a fixture of the Hollywood world that Name My Agent! satirised. She shares a big-time agent with Sigourney Weaver, who guest-starred within the fourth collection. In Ridley Scott’s Home of Gucci, she performs Paola Franchi, for whom Adam Driver’s Maurizio Gucci leaves Woman Gaga’s Patrizia. Her character arrives on a ski slope, in a wonderful blond wig, and faces off with Gaga over apple strudel. By no means has pastry been so dramatic.

The movie was famously filled with technique actors, with Gaga not breaking character at all; she informed Cottin that as a result of their characters had been enemies, she couldn’t speak to her outdoors their scenes. “She did it in a really pretty method. I didn’t know her, however I’d seen the documentary about her. And you’ll see how she wouldn’t be the place she is that if she wasn’t such a tough employee. Very targeted. I’ve a number of admiration and respect.”

Was she ever tempted to go full technique herself? “To be trustworthy, I’d have liked to do that,” she chuckles. “However as a mum, if I come and choose up my youngsters as an murderer coach? Handing them a croissant and saying: ‘Watch out, we’re being watched,’ pushing them right into a black automobile.” She laughs. “I’m kidding. However actually, I’d have liked to do that, as a result of the result’s sensible.” She hopes that she and Gaga will meet once more, underneath totally different circumstances. “I actually remorse that she’s not nominated on the Oscars, as a result of I feel she’s improbable.”

Actor Camille Cottin in prinstripe suit, sitting on wooden cube
{Photograph}: Jean-François Robert/The Guardian. Styling: Chloé Dugast, assisted by Léna Kalflèche. Hair: Perrine Rougemont at Caren Company. Make-up: Christophe Danchaud at The Wall Group. Go well with: Isabel Marant. T-shirt: Dior

I ponder if discovering success in her 30s, then extra in her 40s, fits Cottin’s persona greater than if it had occurred in her early 20s. She nods. “Undoubtedly, as a result of I’m grounded.” She chooses this phrase intentionally, as a result of her husband is an architect and he or she likes the metaphor. “I perceive how one can lose steadiness. There’s a sure fragility that may emerge from success, so having constructed a powerful household, and I’m speaking about associates additionally, the individuals round you, I feel it helps.”

Do her youngsters perceive her fame? “I feel they do. Generally they query it. They’re like: ‘Are you kind of well-known than [the footballer Kylian] Mbappé?’” She laughs. “I’m like, much less, much less, much less. And I like Marion Cotillard, she’s good friend of mine. And my son is like: ‘You’re a lot much less well-known, aren’t you?’ And I’m like: ‘A lot much less, yeah.’”

There have been moments when she has frightened being older may imply she has much less time left in her profession. “However I feel that’s not true. Being a lady over 40 now within the business is fascinating. I feel that’s one thing to bear in mind, moderately than considering, oh, this can be a difficult second.” She mentions the Oscar nominations; aside from Kristen Stewart, the very best actress candidates are throughout 40. “I feel there’s an enormous demand for creating content material and seeing these girls of a sure age which have been invisible. There’s a want for that.”

After Killing Eve, Cottin will seem within the biopic Golda, as Lou Kaddar, secretary and assistant to the Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, performed by Helen Mirren. There was debate over Mirren’s casting, which some critics have labelled “Jewface”. “I do know, I’ve learn that,” Cottin nods. “I feel Helen answered in a really, very sensible and clever method, and likewise respecting the standpoint, as a result of that’s positively a difficulty of illustration.”

There was an identical dialogue about whether or not homosexual roles ought to be performed by homosexual actors. “Effectively, having performed a homosexual character,” she says, “I had this dialog this morning with a good friend, a homosexual good friend, an actor, and we laughed about it. And I stated: ‘Possibly they thought, she’s homosexual, she’s positively from the group, the one factor is she doesn’t comprehend it.’” She laughs. In Killing Eve, Hélène is a lesbian, too. “Yeah. However we had been speaking about how appearing permits you to be your self, by exploring another person. So which a part of me is that lady? That’s the thriller, and I don’t know till I discover it and uncover it.” She provides that if she had not been capable of play Andréa, she would have been “devastated”.

After Golda, Cottin is engaged on one other venture, although she will’t say what, for now. She is within the early phases of establishing a manufacturing firm with a good friend, a feminist documentary film-maker, and is studying novels to see which they may adapt. Because the desk is cleaned of tea, she provides me a advice for a e book she is contemplating engaged on. Cottin is such talker that we’ve chatted for a lot longer than we should always have.

What would she love to do subsequent, career-wise, I ask? “There are such a lot of issues I haven’t executed,” she says. Possibly theatre; maybe carry out on stage in London, in the end. She doesn’t skip a beat: “However this time, with out my mum!”

Collection 4 of Killing Eve is on now on BBC One and iPlayer.

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