Backstage: Luke Blackall

Blue is the Warmest Colour's Léa Seydoux: 'The media made too much of the sex scenes'

Luke Blackall goes backstage at the BFI London Film Festival

The laughter in the auditorium was audible. About halfway through the graphic 10-minute sex scene between the two lead actresses in Blue is the Warmest Colour, which had its gala screening at the BFI London Film Festival this week, some cinemagoers could no longer contain themselves. This was soon followed by shouts of “Would you stop laughing, please?”

Extraordinary scenes for a  film that has enjoyed several publicity boosts since it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. First, the author of the graphic novel on which it is based described the film as “ridiculous”. Then actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos  and Léa Seydoux had a very  public falling out with director  Abdellatif Kechiche.

They told an interviewer that the 10-minute sex scene took 10 days to shoot, and claimed that Kechiche had thrown a monitor in frustration and made them film a fight again and again. Seydoux described the experience as “horrible” and suggested that had they filmed it in  the US “we’d all be in jail”. Kechiche hit back: “How indecent to talk about pain when doing one of the best jobs in the world!”

There was no sign of Seydoux at Monday’s screening – she was apparently filming – and Kechiche and Exarchopoulos looked reconciled as they smiled for the cameras. When we spoke afterwards, the actress played down the row. “I don’t really care because I know the truth and I think it’s really not the most important thing,” she said. “Press love conflict stories and fights. [Things] are cool, they are great – because it’s a human adventure and you get fireworks with people you love you know, it’s normal. It’s true, it was a hard shoot, but…”

She said the media had put too much emphasis on the film’s sex scenes. “Come on, it’s just sex.  I think it’s too bad to reduce the movie to this because it’s really more rich.” She also revealed that she is open to appearing in a  possible sequel, but would be  happy for other actresses to  interpret the role.

The Palme d’Or had given her “opportunities”, she said, one of which is appearing in M – the directorial debut of 27-year-old French actress Sara Forestier, who worked with Kechiche on Games of Love and Chance. Exarchopoulos will play a girl with a stammer. “It’s going to be more cool than The King’s Speech”, she joked. It’s also likely to be slightly less controversial than Blue is the Warmest Colour

NT's Norris can schmooze or booze cruise for funding

One question that might have come up during Rufus Norris’s interview for the role of artistic director of the National Theatre, is how well he would do at corporate fundraising in the times of cuts to arts funding.  I wonder if he mentioned an interview he gave to arts website Ideas Tap this year about how he started to make his name in the theatre with no family money to help him out. “I raised money to put things on: we used to drive to France, buy a load of really cheap beer and sell it at parties to raise money,” Norris (right) said. “I also wrote endlessly to famous people asking for £50.” Sounds like the perfect training.

Blood in the drawing room

Another change at Downton Abbey – not upstairs, nor  downstairs, but behind the stairs. Dan Hubbard, the man responsible for casting the current series, has departed. “I’ve got a number of TV and film projects I want to do,” he tells i, adding that he wasn’t worried about the show’s future. “It’s a very high quality team.” He will be replaced by Jill Trevellick, who cast the first three series.

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