70 years of Isabelle Huppert

By Daniel Andrés Ruiz Sierra (@TatoRuiz)

20 years ago in an interview with The country, Isabelle Huppert (Paris, 1953) He said that behind his works, almost always of rude and extreme women, was the search for a truth. Today, after 50 years working on around 150 performances (in film and TV), more than 20 in the theater and 70 years old, the Parisian continues to search for that truth, guided by the freedom to choose the roles she wants. , as well as the directors with whom you want to work.

From her, the writer, novelist, essayist and intellectual Susan Sontag he said she was the total artist, the smartest actress he had ever met. Isabelle Huppert’s fame includes the fact that she is classified as a surly and intractable woman, something that, in part, according to what she has made known to her, is not entirely unpleasant for her. Perhaps she is a protection shield to not allow the media to get into her intimate and private life, something the actress is very careful with. And is not for less! We really know little about her personal life, but perhaps everything about her work.

His debut was in 1972 with the film “Faustina and the beautiful summer” sharing credits with fellow European icon Isabelle Adjani (with whom he is said to have had a rivalry since the late 1970s, when they shared credits on “The Bronte Sisters” (Les Sœurs Brontë by André Téchiné) and playing a student who did not have much participation.

Born into a bourgeois family, Isabelle Huppert began studying philosophy and letters, but the cinema opened a door for her and, therefore, an offer that she could not resist. Popular for her ease in getting into the skin of complex, tortured and perverse women, just to give some characteristics, Huppert is firm when she admits that her thing is to tell mental states and exercise the art of seduction. And she is not wrong. Although the media constantly relates her character choices as risky, the actress says the opposite. Risky is getting on a trapeze, not her choice of roles. Her thing is to put herself in the shoes of characters that make her ask a variety of questions. “The mission of cinema is for us to ask ourselves questions,” she said in a recent tribute to her in Palma de Mallorca. There, Queen Letizia presented him with the Master of Cinema award, an award given by the Atlantida Film Fest.

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His rise to fame, at least among the most moviegoing public and in the European film industry, came with his character as Pomme in “The Lacemaker” (“La dentellière”, 1977), a film by Claude Goretta and in which she gave life to a young hairdresser who turned her social environment upside down, as she became involved in a love relationship with a university student, a relationship in which social differences they were visible. A year after her, her first prize would come at Cannes with “Prostitute by day, lady by night” (“Violette Nozière”, 1978), his first collaboration with Claude Chabrol (Paris. 1930 – 2010). Turned into her muse and fetish actress, Huppert and Chabrol made memorable films like “Women’s Affair” (“Une affaire de femmes”, 1988), the adaptation of “Madame Bovary” (1991)“The ceremony” (“The ceremony”, 1995) or “Thanks for the chocolate” (“Merciour le chocolat”, 2000)

Parallel to the work with the also Parisian, Isabelle Huppert has been a fetish actress of the Austrian Michael Haneke (Munich. 1942), for her, the second most important meeting of her career. The first, Chabrol.

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Isabelle Huppert and Michael Haneke could have started their duo in 1997, when he offered her to work on “Funny Games” (1997), that crude film in which a couple of students torture a family in the middle of a vacation. Huppert, who was on a tour of Scotland, gave him a resounding no, but the Austrian did not give up. She insisted and in 2001 they worked together on “The Piano Teacher” (“La pianiste”. 2001), the most famous film of both and with which she would receive her, up to now, second prize at Cannes. Yes, that movie in which she gave life to a sexually repressed teacher who ends up mutilating herself. (Yes, a spoiler! But the last straw that they have not seen it).

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Isabelle Huppert’s face might not have been as famous to the broader public until the turn of the new millennium, but she “renewed” her worldwide popularity with “Elle” (2016), a film by the provocateur Paul Verhoeven (Amsterdam. 1938). With that feature film he won his first Golden Globe and first Oscar nomination, an award that got out of hand before the work of Emma Stone and her “La La Land” of hers. What did not get out of hand was the opportunity to give himself a media shampoo and continue forging the internationalization of his career. After “Elle”, a film that, among others, Paul Verhoeven had to take from the United States to France. The character of Michèle (Huppert) was offered to actresses like Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard or Julianne Moore and others, but they all turned it down. The brave Isabelle Huppert took charge of it and it was a direct flight to all the ‘Hollywood’ sauce. With this “internationalization” came works with directors like Hong Sang-soo, Neil Jordan or Ira Sachs.

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But his flirtation with the Hollywood industry would not start there. She did it together with the American Michael Cimino (New York. 1939 – 2016) and the film “Heaven’s Gate” (“Heaven’s Gate.” 1980) which ironically did not lead her to any heaven. Although the film was in competition at the 1981 Cannes edition, it would end up on the not-so-enviable list of films nominated for the Razzie Awards. The film, a critical and public failure, raised only a tenth of its total cost, causing its production company, United Artists, to end its reputation in tatters, making its dissolution as a producer effective and very quickly. Isabelle Huppert then had to return to France.

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The actress has been decisive when it comes to diversifying her career. Hers is exclusively acting, be it in film, television, or theater, where she has given life to characters by authors such as Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, Ibsen, Virginia Woolf, or Florian Zeller, to name just a handful. Probably her work with fashion houses is a kind of interpretation or the direct result of knowing how to assume herself as a diva, that among others, she knows what it is to have good taste.

Someone with a career like hers can hardly escape becoming a diva or being an icon, and accept it with ease. The actress has been the face of Givenchy and recently of Balenciaga, a firm that, among others, was in a scandal over some publicity photos with children posing with teddy bears that included fetish themes. When questioned on networks, the actress and her team did not respond to anything at all. It goes without saying that the scandal did not escalate further.

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The actress, yes, has been intransigent in the face of scandals of sexual abuse and gender violence in the industry, but she is also against puritanism and opportunism in the media. Faced with the scandal that arose because the organization of the 2020 César Awards decided to reward “The Officer and the Spy” (“J’accuse”. 2019), when questioned, Isabelle Huppert was constantly annoyed in the middle of interviews, when not wanting to answer anything. However, on one occasion, and for the same scandal, she simply quoted a phrase from William Faulkner: “Lynching is a form of pornography.” She is a character actress!

Wes Anderson, Mia Hansen-Løve, JoachimnTrier, Guillaume Niclaux, Claire Denis, Christophe Honoré, Francois Ozon, David O. Russell, Ursula Meier, Olivier Assayas, Raúl Ruiz, Maurice Pialat, Jean Luc Godard and a long list of directors and directors They are the ones who have had the pleasure of having him in front of the camera.

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Isabelle Huppert’s work is more than mesmerizing, she is an artist who flees from the usual, who likes to get into the skin of other women who are not easy to decipher. At her now 70 years old, the actress says that she still has roles to play and the list goes on. To be released is the most recent with FrancoisOzon, titled “My crime” (“MonCrime.” 2023) or “The Syndicalist” (“La syndicaliste” 2023) by Jean-Paul Salomé, a film based on real life and where she plays a woman who faces violence and the drunkenness of power in a mostly male universe. She has said it, and many times, that as an actress she is interested in states of great fragility, being a predator of other people’s stories and making a portrait of a wounded woman, whatever she has been the cause of.

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70 years of Isabelle Huppert