Carole Bouquet: “It was by doing my job that I learned to be a woman”

At 65, the actress, former muse of Chanel, has played in around fifty films since That Obscure Object of Desire, by Luis Buñuel (1977), and too beautiful for you (1989), by Bertrand Blier. In 2021, we found her in the series In therapy, on Arte. From September 15 to October 12, she will play Berenice, at La Scala, in Paris. She recounts a gray and lonely childhood, a sometimes heavy beauty, doubts and wounds, but also a luminous life force.

I wouldn’t have come here if…

… If my father had not looked at me, from childhood, with love and trust. He always believed in me. This look determined my life. He raised us, my sister and me. My mother left us when I was 3 years old.

In what family atmosphere did you evolve?

My father was very solitary, not very talkative. Child of the petty bourgeoisie, he was a pure product of meritocracy: centralien, engineer, he worked in large construction groups. He had friends but we only saw them in the summer, in La Baule. The rest of the year, he worked a lot, and no one came through the door of the house. We lived in Neuilly, then in Versailles, which I hated. He didn’t organize anything for us, not knowing that children need cheerfulness. I loved my father, but there was no life. With my sister, five years older than me, we lived in isolation. When he decided to send her to boarding school with the Dominicans, I wanted to go too. I didn’t want to be left alone. And I wanted to run away from this life.

How did you experience the pension?

These nuns were feminists! Their ambition for us was not to see us married sewing at home. They wanted us to have a job. I remember a literature teacher, with whom I was a bit in love. I loved poetry and painting. We were very protected. I stayed there between 10 and 13 years. Then the sisters summoned my father and kindly sent me away, I was too unruly. I went to live with my mother, in the South. It didn’t go very well and my father came back to get me, without a word. He died when I was 21. We were never able to talk. Neither of my mother nor of the reasons why he had kept my sister and me, which was rare at the time. But on his hospital bed, I told him, “Don’t worry about me,” like a promise.

What have you learned from this education?

A sense of duty, perhaps. On the other hand, the Dominicans did not help me to find faith. I am an atheist, and spirituality does not interest me, even if it is to this fight with God that we owe the most beautiful works, the Requiem of Mozart or Italian painting. I also inherited the taste of others. I bought a house in Italy, in Pantelleria. At first it was a cube, with a room. Today, there are twelve! This summer, we were eighteen in the house. I sometimes say to myself: “I dreamed of a family, here it is. »

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Carole Bouquet: “It was by doing my job that I learned to be a woman”