LOAN CHABANOL ON THE BIG SCREEN
By Crash redaction
WE’VE SEEN HER FACE IN THE MAGAZINES, BUT IT’S ON SCREEN THAT LOAN CHABANOL NOW WANTS TO WIN US OVER. LIVING IN NEW YORK AND ACTING ALONGSIDE WOODY ALLEN IN JOHN TURTURRO’S UPCOMING FILM, THEN WITH JAMES FRANCO AND MILA KUNIS IN “THE THIRD PERSON,” THIS YOUNG LADY’S BIG YEAR WILL BE CAPPED OFF WITH AN AD CAMPAIGN FOR A MAJOR COSMETICS BRAND… SHE GIVES US HER TAKE ON HER VERY RECENT AND INCREDIBLY PROMISING OPPORTUNITIES.
You grew up in the south of France… What made you decide to move to the United States?
It was a permanent decision I made at one point. Before acting I was a model. and I went to the Us to pursue my career because the market was more diverse and more accepting of racially diverse backgrounds like mine. I’m part Vietnamese and sometimes that would take on too much importance in France. I did a lot of TV and advertising work in the Us, including a lot of cosmetic ads. and that’s how I started to transition into film. I realized I really liked acting and decided to study theater. so I quit modeling and started going to the Lee strasberg Theater and Film Institute in New York. I did a semester there but the workload was a little intense for me, since I also had to work on the side. so instead I took individual lessons with two coaches from the school. They’re both really great teachers and they really taught me everything about the acting business. all that lasted two years, and then I did some stage work before moving on to the screen. screen acting was totally new for me at first.
Was it easy for you to transition to the screen?
starting out I didn’t know anyone in the film industry. I just knew I wanted to work in movies. I was still taking classes when I auditioned for John Turturro’s film “Fading Gigolo.” acting is all about reacting to your partner. It seems like a simple concept, butit’s the simplicity that makes it so complex: you have to make it all look easy and natural. Little by little I’m learning to simplify my approach to acting. I’m definitely not a natural! as a kid I used to draw a lot and I was very shy. Modeling helped me mature as a woman, then acting helped me blossom as a human being. It’s a difficult process. and in acting, you’re always afraid that what you’re doing just won’t work out. With every new scene I’m always wondering if I’ll get it right. It’s terrifying! But fear can help motivate you. The most important thing is to find people who have confidence in you. I’ve been lucky enough to find a few directors who really gave me a chance. I’ve also worked with some really talented actors. You learn a lot from other people.
How did you meet John Turturro?
I met him in Los angeles at the callbacks for “Faded Gigolo.” We were supposed to read a scene together. right away I was struck by how warm and human he was. as a model, I
was used to directors who look you up and down without saying anything. But John started off by asking me about myself. He made me feel comfortable by caring about who I was. On that particular day John wanted to improvise rather than read so he could see what I could do. a week later I found out I got the part.
Coming from France and starting your career in the United States… it’s the reverse of the typical pattern!
It all just kind of happened on its own for me. I didn’t do much planning. Taking classes at Lee strasberg was my dream. I wanted to learn the art of the actors studio and that’s as far ahead as I had thought! But I had traveled to the Us a lot before living there. I already spoke fluent English when I moved. sometimes English even feels more natural to me than French. acting in English comes very naturally to me, at least. On the set of “Faded Gigolo,” Woody allen even complimented my English! You have to have clever responses and comebacks when you talk to him, since that’s his specialty! (Laughs) Woody is always improvising, so you have to be really aware when you’re working with him. Lucky for me I like improvising almost as much as him! I just decided at the very beginning: “If he starts improvising, I have to just jump right in, even though it’s my first film, because that’s what I love.”
What have you worked on since then?
I just did one scene in “Faded Gigolo.” But it was a really important scene both for me and the film, because it’s the last one. I’m in it alongside John and Woody. after the shoot I
was cast in a romance directed by Paul haggis, called “The Third Person.” I have a supporting role in the film. It’s an ensemble film that combines three different stories
and has a lot of big names like adrien Brody, Liam Neeson, Kim Basinger, and Olivia Wilde. Each story was shot separately. For my story I acted with Mila Kunis and James Franco. Later on I met the entire cast at the world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
Did you become friends with any of the other actors?
With James Franco, yeah. I knew a little bit about his career beforehand. he’s an actor, but he’s also an artist and a writer. he does a little of everything. he’s completely unique and does his own thing. he’s incredibly interesting. I worked with him again afterwards in a short film he directed. It’s a silent film done like a segment from a 1920s movie with a lot of the legendary actors like chaplin and Buster Keaton… I play Keaton and he’s charlie chaplin! I like those male characters from the silent era. Most of the opportunities I’ve had have come to me by chance and circumstance. This one was a little different: playing Buster Keaton was really a dream. I love the whole universe of miming and circuses. The film was shown in London last summer during a show at the Pace Gallery with a few other films by James.
What are you working on now?
at the moment I’m working on my next exhibition, which will happen in april. It’s about miming, actually. When I’m not acting, I’m working on my other artistic pursuits, especially drawing. The art world is much more open in the Us, whereas in France we’re generally very quick to slap a label on people and professions… That’s why I was afraid to show my more personal work. But seeing the different things other actors do, especially James, really inspired me to express this side of myself. I’ve organized a few exhibitions, illustrated a book… They’re projects I have to do because it’s important to stay creative. I really admire Juliette Binoche, who gave herself the freedom to explore dancing, for example. Experiences like these help us evolve.