Juliette Binoche has made movies in France, South Africa, Hollywood and the United Kingdom. She’s worked for such legendary filmmakers as Krzysztof Kieslowski and Hou Hsiao-hsien, acted alongside Daniel Day-Lewis and Ralph Fiennes — and she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1997 for “The English Patient.”
But Binoche, 46, is far from finished.
We spoke with the iconic performer in a serious and intense interview (sprinkled with sudden bursts of laughter) about her starring role in Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy.”
The film, about a pair of mysterious strangers spending an afternoon together in Italy, opens Friday after premiering at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.
What drew you to Kiarostami?
I more and more find myself wanting to work with artists I admire and can have a connection with and develop my skills with. … As far as [expressing] what’s happening inside, he really set me free.
How’d you make sense of your complicated character?
I phoned [Kiarostami] and said, “Listen Abbas, I don’t know how I’m going to reach this.” And he said to me, “Just play Juliette — just who you are.” … After a while, I understood what he meant: “Don’t act. It’s you.” It really resolved it, because no matter what situation it was, she was always true and talking to her emotion.
How automatic is acting on film for you?
It takes you by surprise when it works [laughs]. So you’re never sure it’s going to work out. I don’t think I feel comfortable. ... I never feel too sure of myself.
What research did you do to play a New York reporter in your next film, “The Son of No One”?
When I arrived here to shoot … [director Dito Montiel and I] actually met in Queens, and we ate pizza on a bench and talked about the neighborhood [Astoria] and where he grew up. … He took me from Manhattan, and we took the train and went there so I could feel the colors, the smells, the feeling of people outside.