Interview with Isabelle Guiard
by Linda Compagnoni Walther

October 2012


 

Mistral : Bonjour Isabelle, let me first thank you openly for your generosity towards the “Catherine de Montsalvy website since the launching of the site. Your entry in the guest book was such a wonderful surprise, not only for me, but also for the fans of Isabelle Guiard, who adored you in the role of Jeanne d’Arc. And this is also my first question:  Will you let us know, about some circumstances how you got your role as “Jeanne d’Arc”?

Isabelle :
Very classicly: Marion saw my picture in a professional data base, contacted me (or my agent, I don’t remember after all this time!)  and I came to audition. It all went very simply. A funny detail, if you like: At the time, I had a very intelligent dog whom I took along everywhere. So he was there too and Marion liked that (lucky she was not a dog hater!). I think he contributed in making us feel nice and relax…

Mistral:
Can you tell us how your feelings were, when you knew for certain that you were going to play the beloved real character “Jeanne d’Arc, ”, France national heroine?

Isabelle :
I was impressed of course, but not as much as if I’d been a believer… Mainly, I felt the obvious necessity of reading all kinds of books to know more about her and nourish my imagination. And, since I’m very fond of history I was really happy, beside the joy of getting the part, to have the opportunity to learn more.

Mistral :
What are your memories from working under the stupendous Marion Sarraut,the director of four of Juliette Benzoni’s books?

isabelle:
It was one of the great lucks of my life to have met her. After that first encounter, there has been 8 other experiences, very different, with wonderful parts, including the most important I ever got, queen Marie-Antoinette in La Comtesse de Charny. (It is funny that I got to play this character twice: in le Gerfaut, it was like a trial gallop, I suppose…) Actors will tell you it is always very exciting and joyful to work with her: her energy, enthusiasm, and generosity are incredible and nobody can resist that! You just have to go with her flow!


Mistral:
In “Catherine, il suffit d’un amour, we see you in a double role. That is, as Jeanne d’Arc in the beginning of the series and later on as the imposter “Claude des Armoises” Was it difficult for you to change from the saintly Jeanne to the false Claude?

Isabelle: I don’t think so, although my memory of the whole adventure is faint, now… I’ve always loved to do that sort of thing. It’s a challenge. And with Marie -Antoinette, it was the same: a double role with an imposter too. Isn’t it strange?

Mistral: Do you remember the reaction of the public, press and journalists, when Catherine had its premiere and people were able to see you as Jeanne d’Arc?

Isabelle:
No, sorry, I don’t. It was really a secondary part. But I know I always felt some kind of respect from the people I met who knew I had played that character. I’m always impressed to see how we, as spectators, have a tendency to mingle reality and fiction, how we are influenced, in the perception we have of the actor in real life, by the character he played …

Mistral:
From Saint Joan, you played next under the direction of Marion Sarraut, the beautiful but unlucky Queen Marie-Antoinette. Are there any anecdotes from that time you would like to share with us? 

Isabelle:
Yes, in connection with what I was just mentionning: in la Comtesse…, it was funny how, outside of the set, during lunchtime for example, the whole team behaved with me in a completely different way depending on whether I was costumed as the queen or as Nicole, the servant/imposter: a lot of respect for the former and a lot of familiarity with the latter! I suppose I didn’t behave the same either…

Mistral: In 1991 what allured you to play” in La Florentine” – the heinous character “Hieronyma Pazzi” ? (For that role you would have deserved the Caesar, you were absolutely outstanding!)

Isabelle :
Thank you! (I think I should thank the costume-designer for that!) Yes, it was a lot of fun to play an absolutely evil person. The character is so far from me that it was the same kind of pleasure that I found as a little girl when I dressed up as a queen (that, I had with Marie-Antoinette too, of course!) or made believe I was the dreadful teacher who terrorized her dolls and teddy bears! Besides, we were so lucky to shoot in the most beautiful places: Firenze, Sienna etc…

Mistral: What is your greatest memory of the shooting of “Catherine”, Le Gerfaut and La Florentine?

Isabelle :
Greatest, I couldn't say.  But a funny one: as Jeanne d’Arc, riding a horse in an armour, many funny things happened that were quite far from the solemnity of the character. For example, the  trainer had to put the horse on his belly so that I could be carried on it…! And you should see the funny walk it gives you to wear that kind of a costume!

Mistral:
You are an actress, musician, composer and author. We know that you sing your own chansons. Will you tell us where your fans can have the chance to see you perform or buy your CD’s?

Isabelle :
I’m afraid this is not a topical subject… No project for the moment. Many things in my head but I don’t know when they will come out! As for the CD, there was a platform on the net where you could get them. If someone is interested, he should ask me, I suppose…

Mistral: You have a long and successful career on TV and played many different and interesting roles. Is there one role you would love to play and have never been able to do or asked to do?

Isabelle : Yes, of course! Not so much roles as authors: I’d love to play Tchekov and Feydeau… And Moliere, and…

Mistral: Can you tell us a bit about your future plans, on the stage, television or cinema?

Isabelle : with two friends, we have been playing and singing a litterary and musical little show about Jules Renard and the Belle Epoque humour. It’s a lot of fun. I also have this duet with another friend, “Chansons à réaction” that is in a parentheses at the moment but that  I like a lot too; I hope we will find new perspectives for it soon. Apart from those two things, I’m all at see! I write, compose music, teach and many other things but have no plan for acting myself.

Mistral: If you had one wish free, who would you love to be for twenty-four hours?

Isabelle :  Leonard Bernstein recording West Side Story!

 

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 © webmistress Mistral October 2012
 

Thank you once more very much dearest Isabelle, for your gentleness and your friendship to answer my 12 questions. It is always a great honor towards my website to know that all of you have given me your trust! I will never disappoint any of you


Merci beaucoup chère Isabelle


Isabelle Guiard
sings:
Gaïa

text, music
Isabelle GUIARD

chanson by Isabelle Guiard

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