You may not have heard of Blue Is The Warmest Color yet, because it doesn’t get a US release until October 26th and it’s a French language film, but you need to educate yourself about it. It’s a seriously intense, insanely emotional three-hour love story that I’ll get way more into discussing on Friday when it comes out, but before then we should really talk about the feud going on between the movie’s two lead actresses, Lea Seydouz and Adèle Exarchopoulos, and its director, Abdellatif Kechiche.
Apparently things go a little differently in France, and once you sign onto a movie, you have very little autonomy over what you will and won’t do onscreen. You basically have to put all your faith into the director, and hope that they don’t abuse your trust. But an abuse of power and trust is exactly what Lea Seydouz is alleging took place during the filming of this movie, with Abdellatif asking bizarre, inappropriate things of his two stars that they felt extremely uncomfortable with.
The main elements of Lea and Adèle’s complaint surround the extremely graphic sex scenes, including a ten-minute one between the two of them, which they say took an unbelievable ten days to shoot. The first day they ever met — minus their brief interaction at a screen test when Lea had already been cast — Lea had to masturbate Adèle in a scene, an interaction during which neither of them received any assurances from the director.
Adele: “He warned us that we had to trust him—blind trust—and give a lot of ourselves. He was making a movie about passion, so he wanted to have sex scenes, but without choreography—more like special sex scenes. He told us he didn’t want to hide the character’s sexuality because it’s an important part of every relationship. So he asked me if I was ready to make it, and I said, “Yeah, of course!” because I’m young and pretty new to cinema. But once we were on the shoot, I realized that he really wanted us to give him everything. Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did, and they’re more respectful—you get reassured during sex scenes, and they’re choreographed, which desexualizes the act.”
In fact, as you can see above, they allege that all the film’s sex scenes were non-choreographed, which is incredible considering their extremely intimate nature and the amount that was asked from these young actresses. They say that there were long, exhaustive takes with no respite, and since the filming process kept getting extended from two months from three to four to five and a half, ultimately.
The scenes were shot chronologically, and they say that since the director wanted to really achieve the exhaustion and emotion that you see on the faces of the actors, he pushed them far beyond their breaking points emotionally, sexually, and psychologically.
Adele: “You can see that we were really suffering. With the fight scene, it was horrible. She was hitting me so many times, and [Kechiche] was screaming, “Hit her! Hit her again! She was really hitting me. And once she was hitting me, there were people there screaming, “Hit her!” and she didn’t want to hit me, so she’d say sorry with her eyes and then hit me really hard.”
Lea and Adèle are both clear that even though the film has been highly praised, winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes and receiving substantial Oscar buzz, that the process was unbearable, and they would never work with Abdellatif again.
Lea: “Well, thank god we won the Palme d’Or, because it was so horrible. So now it’s cool that everyone likes the film and it’s a big success. But I took five days off and did like… three films in a row.”
“If my film had not been rewarded at Cannes, I would be a destroyed director today – a dead man, as they say.”
He feels that Lea’s current views on the process are a ’180-degree pivot, one year after the shoot and after so many demonstrations of admiration, love and gratitude’, and that they came from the actress absorbing the negative opinions of others about her director, and regurgitating them for her own gain.
“Since the young Léa is opportunistic and is the (self-)proclaimed star of the moment, and surely thinks she belongs to some untouchable caste, she doesn’t feel obligated to explain herself. Because she is the star. Not the film. Not even Adèle.”
And then he makes what I think Vulture is accurately interpreting as a threat of legal action:
“She’ll have to explain herself before a judge, since she’s a major and is accountable for her actions.”
And if this is how heated things are getting before the movie even comes out, and before the rumored Best Actress campaigns for Adèle and Lea, I have a feeling that things are gonna get a lot more intense before this Oscar season is over.