Isabelle Huppert reveals approach to revenge role in Elle
Isabelle Huppert didn't want her character in 'Elle' to be a victim because of the rape revenge storyline.
The 63-year-old French actress recently won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama and earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance as Michèle Leblanc - the daughter of a psychopath who ends up playing a cat-and-mouse game with her rapist after she is assaulted in her own home.
Huppert prepared for the part by reading Philippe Djian's novel 'Oh...' - on which director Paul Verhoeven's movie is based - and decided that the character couldn't display the typical traits of a woman who had been wronged in the worst possible way.
Asked how she got the role, Huppert said: "I approached a producer and he approached Paul Verhoeven after I read Philippe Djian's book and I thought, 'That's a good role.' It's a wonderful story, very complex, very challenging, very provocative, very disturbing. Michele never behaves like a victim, even when she has every reason to, because of her mass murderer father and then her rapist. Even strong women in the movies have that temptation to veer towards emotion hanging over them. I resisted. Making her mellower would have been a serious mistake."
Huppert took many cues for her performance from Djian's book but she also gives Verhoeven - whose other work includes 'Robocop', 'Total Recall' and 'Basic Instinct' - a lot of credit for bringing out such an incredible performance from her.
In an interview with the Metro newspaper, she said: "Because the characterization of Michele in the book and the film revolves around the fact she doesn't act in a predictable way. I don't think she ever really knows what she wants so nor did I, as the actress playing her. You could say the film is a revenge thriller but the way it gets there is very mysterious."
Addressing the issue of whether you need courage as an actress to play a character like Michèle, Huppert - who stars in the film with Laurent Lafitte and Anne Consigny - added: "I don't think it needs courage. Of course, to do a movie like Elle you have to be in complete complicity with the director. It's all about mutual confidence and trust, which I had with Paul Verhoeven. Once you have that, nothing can happen to you, you just do it."