Julie Dreyfus: The Q Interview

Although of French origin, Julie Dreyfus, 31, is famous in Japan, where she is the face of the cosmetics giant Shiseido. She is also a TV star and has her own page in Marie Claire Japan. Fluent in Japanese, French and English, she has appeared in two French films (including the lesbian vampire drama Bathory) prior to being spotted by Quentin Tarantino, who wrote the role of the lawyer Sofie Fatale in Kill Bill specially for her. Dreyfus is single and at present lives "out of a suitcase".

How did you and Tarantino meet?

He says that when he came to Tokyo he saw my face on lots of billboards around town. I was doing several advertising campaigns at that time. Then I met him at a small film festival in the north of Japan. I don't remember the precise moment but I remember being blinded by his force of personality. All that energy. We kept in touch and then it was like a dream when he came after me for Kill Bill.

Do you kill or get killed?

I get to live. Apart from Uma [Thurman], I was supposed to be the only one, but then Daryl Hannah's character also got to live. I felt a little jealous, but good for her. I live, but damaged. Badly damaged.

Is Tarantino a sadistic director?

No. There's no inflicting pain in his toolbox. He's very supportive. He doesn't use a monitor, unlike most - he's right there with you by the camera. He's an actor, so if you're stuck, he'll show you what to do. He's there, wriggling around the floor in pain. David [Lynch] and Quentin both put all their dark neuroses and their dark world on to film. They don't need to be dark in real life.

What was it like watching yourself in Mulholland Drive?

Well, I got cut out of that one.

Oh, sorry.

That's OK. Ha ha ha! I was in the TV pilot but then, for release in theatres he shot extra stuff and re-cut it. And I was gone. But I take it as a Hollywood vote of confidence that he chose me at all.

What, for you, is the epitome of style?

The most stylish thing I saw recently was at home in Paris - we have this great Seventies Swiss leather sofa, like a big cream meringue, and our white cat posing on it, like a statue. That was stylish.

Are you a cat or a dog?

I'm a cat, definitely. I'd say I am a loner, independent. I can take care of myself. I like being on my own. I've lived alone ever since I left home.

What's your favourite possession?

I have very few things. In Japan all I have is a table - you even sit on the floor. I hate the way clutter piles up. I suppose my treasured item must be my director's chair from the Kill Bill set, with my name and the character's name on it: Sofie Fatale. Isn't it a great name? I saw that and thought, oh, I've made it.

Are you in love?

Ooh, no. Pretty uneventful on that count. I dream about working with guys. But as for sleeping with them, I don't know...

Are you a seductress or a seductee?

I'm not at all a flirty type. I think it would be better in this business if I were, a little. I think it's those years working in Japan where I didn't have to work by Western codes - try to charm people into hiring me. I didn't suffer sexual harassment or sexual pressure a single time. Because I was not Japanese they kind of set me aside. So, as a result, I have not developed those dark skills which, I understand, come in pretty handy. So, to answer your question, I don't seduce.

Were you a head girl or a rebel?

I was pretty painless for my parents. I did my homework. They were lucky. I hope they realise that.

Do you like going to parties?

No. I'm really uncomfortable at parties where you have to do all that chit-chat. It's a good skill, but I'm really shy. I try to avoid cocktail parties. But if by any chance I do go there I cling to the one person I know like a limp... er, limpet little thing, which must be very boring for them. Or when they break free, I find myself up against the wall, as far as possible from the action, and I just wait for it to end.

People probably think you're really mysterious.

I wish. They don't. They think you're cold, that you're unfriendly, that you think you're better than everyone. You have to schmooze - it's the rules of etiquette. So when you don't play the game - if you're lucky they think you're shy and if not they think you're an arrogant bitch. But I'm just shy.

Is that why you're hiding behind that long hair and you've kept your sunglasses on all this time?

No, that's my Japanese hair complex. It's not naturally this straight, but in Japan I have hairdressers who don't give me much of a say.

They make you have Japanese-style hair because you're the face of Shiseido?

Yes, but that's OK because Japanese hair is beautiful, I think. But with Kill Bill I was in a position of authority at the hairdresser's. I wanted it long so I told them "you can't cut it because of continuity". Which was just a big fat lie, because it's in a bun in the film.

What are you currently reading in bed?

I was trying to plough through this French feminist book about how feminism had lost its way. But I took a break and read Harry Potter.

Who are you looking forward to meeting in heaven?

Cleopatra, because she was powerful and glamorous. I always wanted to time-travel. I wouldn't want to meet any of the nasties. The Pol Pots, the Hitlers. But then I guess they'd be burning in hell.

Have you ever stolen anything?

There was one episode. I was kind of stalked by this girl who bullied me into stealing a little diamond-y ring. When I got it home I was so scared I put it in the loo, and tried to flush it away. But then, that's my European Catholic guilt for you.

'Kill Bill' is on general release now