Fanny Valette • Actress
by Fabien Lemercier
24/01/2006 - Spotted at the 2005 Cannes film festival during Critics' Week for her performance in La Petite Jérusalem by Karin Albou, Fanny Valette made her acting debut at the age of 8 and then went on to star in a dozen television roles. At 19, she made her big screen debut and was chosen by Unifrance as Shooting Star 2006. We meet with this young woman in Paris, whose maturity – a mix of charm and simplicity – is deceptive.
Cineuropa: Before hitting the headlines with La Petite Jérusalem, you shot a dozen of telefilms and a feature film. Where does your motivation come from?
My motivation for acting came to me at the age of 4, as a child I loved to invent stories. I had the chance to be chosen at my first casting at 8 and to have quite supportive parents. La Petite Jérusalem is the first film in which I played an important role. But I am continuing my university studies because there's more to life than cinema. It's important to be open towards others.
How were you chosen and how did you go about preparing your role of Laura in La Petite Jérusalem?
The character's physical appearance was quite different to mine, but the director chose to pay more attention to personality than physical appearance. For someone my age, it's a fabulous role and I fell in love with the screenplay and the dialogue right away. La Petite Jérusalem deals with an awkward subject, but it is also the story of two women. It shows that regardless of their religious beliefs, they have the same feelings. To give justice to the role, I think it is necessary to understand that everything surrounding the character, the environment for example, comes naturally. So I worked more on the inner aspect of the character and on Laura's determination rather than on the Jewish perspective.
You have acted alongside such high calibre actors as Fanny Ardant, Josiane Balasko and Elsa Zylberstein. What have you learnt from them
We learn everyday from everyone. They are human beings like the rest of us, they are really down to earth even if they are very talented and I admire them for that. To develop my characters, I especially observe people that I meet every day, their gestures, way of talking, because they are obviously more natural than any actor who performs superbly. Through contact with other actors, we learn more about such things as concentration. How do you cope with your sudden rise to fame?
With much detachment. The awards won by the film, the promotional trips, my nomination as a Shooting Star, the award at the Etoiles d'or de la Presse and César nomination – all that is wonderful, but that's no reason to rest on my laurels. I am very proud to have been chosen for the Shooting Stars especially when I see the French actresses that have won them before me: Ludivine Sagnier, Sara Forestier, Zoé Félix... To choose a more specific example, Isabelle Adjani is my childhood idol, but I also like Meryl Streep and Paulette Goddard. And I would really like to work with Almodovar, Tarantino, Cédric Klapisch and Luc Besson.
What are your plans for the near future?
Since the middle of January, I have been filming Changement d’adresse, the new film from Emmanuel Mouret (Vénus and Fleur - Cannes Director's Fortnight 2004), a romantic comedy. There are many girls who have only been chosen because they are pretty. I have the chance of being neither beautiful nor ugly, so they could easily make me ugly – well without exaggerating (laughs). I don't want to play a bimbo, but prefer to look for the deeper aspects of roles.