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Marion Cotillard explores life as a double amputee in ‘Rust and Bone’

Rust Bone

Rust and Bone

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Updated: December 21, 2012 10:00PM

Marion Cotillard remembers the pain.

To play a woman who loses both of her legs in her new film “Rust and Bone,” Cotillard endured a painful physical process.

“When I was in my wheelchair, my legs were folded underneath me. It’s painful to fold your legs this way, but also so helpful,” the 37-year-old actress said. “It made me think of people who live painful lives. Many people walk this earth facing pain that’s almost unbearable.

“I’m one of the lucky ones. At the end of the day, I unfolded my legs and walked out of that wheelchair.”

In “Rust and Bone” (now in theaters), Cotillard plays Stephanie, a whale trainer who has a double leg amputation after a freak accident. She plunges into a deep depression, but finds herself again when she meets a bare-knuckle fighter.

Directed by Jacques Audiard (“Read My Lips”), the film centers on the growing relationship between Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a club bouncer, and the healing Stephanie.

All of this might earn her a coveted Best Actress Oscar nomination. She’s already up for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.

Cotillard says that she fell hard for this project. Ask her why and she sighs.

“It’s always hard to describe why you fell in love with someone,” she says. “First of all, I always wanted to work with Jacques and I was more than excited when he asked to meet me.”

At first the character seemed a mystery, but she made use of the shadows.

“Luckily, I didn’t have to solve the whole mystery because mystery is part of her,” she says. “She is this empty shell. After her accident, she has nothing left but herself to face.

“In all human trauma, you can just give up or you can do something out of it. I saw this film as a rebirth. She faces herself because he is looking at her like a human being. She learns to accept herself.”

Doing love scenes while imagining she didn’t have legs wasn’t easy.

“When Matthias carried me, I wore green socks that erased my legs through CGI,” she says. “He also had to figure out a special way to carry me because your center of gravity is different without legs.”

She is the daughter of Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. As a teenager, she began acting and later won an Oscar for the film “La Vie En Rose.” She splits her time between film sets and France, where she lives with long-time boyfriend Guillaume Canet. She has a 1-year-old son, Marcel.

“I remember when I was a kid watching a lot of movies with Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin,” she says. “In a way, I felt related to them. I wanted to be in their world of great storytellers who connect to so many people.

“I’m more than happy to be part of this process now where I can give something to someone I don’t know,” she says. “I love to share an emotion with a lot of people ... . It creates a creative, emotional connection.”

Big Picture News Inc.

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