Kylie Minogue: Hold on to your hotpants! Pop's princess goes arthouse

Kylie Minogue tells Emma Jones why she has swapped the charts for experimental French film

Everyone loves Kylie. When Gary Barlow, on host duty with the Queen at her Diamond Jubilee concert, needed a lovely assistant, he chose Kylie Minogue, OBE. After a performance as a punk pearly queen, the dainty princess of pop changed into angelic white to guide the Prince of Wales perfectly through the rock-royalty introductions. Minogue's hotpants may be naughty; she isn't.

After celebrating her own silver jubilee in music – she released her first single, "The Loco-motion" in 1987 – Minogue could be forgiven for a little anti-establishment rebellion. No one, however, would have expected it to take the shape of a Leos Carax film, Holy Motors, which premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Carax, 51, is an experimental French director; his last film, about incest, Pola X, was released in 1999. Holy Motors, in which Minogue has a supporting role, has been described by critics as "a lunatic odyssey" or, more succinctly, as "bonkers." And Minogue loved every mad minute of it.

"I'm sure I'm going to wake up and find out it's been a dream," she confesses. "It's been the most incredible experience – making the film, meeting Leos. It's mind-blowing. I've experienced quite a lot in my life but this is something else. And even though I just came off the biggest tour of my life, I'd put this part as a highlight of my career."

Fresh-faced, eager, joyful, she looks years younger than her 44 years and that's nothing to do with the cosmetic fillers it's widely believed she uses. She declares herself "gobsmacked" by the positive reaction to Holy Motors.

The film may be mad, but it's not bad. Les Amants du Pont-Neuf actor Denis Lavant stars as Monsieur Oscar, the "employee" of a "firm" who journeys from one life to another, from beggar to businessman. Minogue is another "employee". She gets to keep the day job too, at one point breaking into a tune written by Carax and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy.

The movie received a long ovation from the notoriously tough Cannes crowd. She may be terming it a debut, but as movie experiences go, she went straight to the top.

"I had no idea that it would ever show at Cannes, though," she says, " It was a really leftfield decision for me to take the part. I knew that Leos was adored in France, that there was excitement he was making a film again, but he was not on my radar at all."

Leftfield isn't such an odd direction for her to take. Back in the early 1990s, she was the prize racer of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable with 13 Top Ten singles in the UK – and then she bolted. She took up with Michael Hutchence, and then later produced her indie album, Impossible Princess. One of the tracks she did at that time – a duet with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "Where the Wild Roses Grow" – won her the part in Holy Motors.

"Leos didn't have any idea who I was, he had heard nothing I'd done except that duet with Nick. I found that all very refreshing. I was suggested to him by our mutual friend, [White Material director] Claire Denis and we met in Paris. I said to him, 'you're either very brave or very crazy to give me this role'. And just like that – he hired me."

Her roots are in drama, of course – in the Australian soap Neighbours as toothy mechanic Charlenewhose affair with Scott, played by Jason Donovan, preoccupied the nation. Their 1987 wedding attracted 20 million UK viewers. Before that, she and sister Dannii and brother Brendan grew up in the Melbourne suburbs and both sisters worked on TV shows; Kylie started off in The Sullivans, aged nine. She may have done little acting since launching her pop career – a part in 1989's The Delinquents, the fairy in Moulin Rouge and a Dr Who Christmas special – but surely, as Kylie Minogue, if she'd wanted to act, she could have done nearly anything she wanted?

"But this is a film which is an opportunity to do something that is utterly different from what I normally do," she points out. "I wanted the chance to change the way I present myself. I was able to strip everything away and become someone else. That's liberating." Liberating in the sense that she could escape Kylie Minogue, a pop star with a reputation for being perfect?

"Yes. I entered Leos' world, on his terms. And I would turn up by myself every day, without any kind of entourage. That was difficult for my team as I know they would have loved to have been there for the experience and I had to say to them, 'no, sorry – no one is allowed to come'.

"I wanted it to feel like back when I was a kid, when I was just starting out, when I wasn't 'Kylie', with all the machinery and production and hoo-ha surrounding me. I was just a person acting."

She sounds wistful. After a quarter of a century in the music business, challenges must be few and far between. In 2000, she donned the gold hotpants for "Spinning Around" and reinvented herself as such a successful disco diva that one track, "Can't Get You Out of My Head", went to No 1 in 40 countries. She has sold nearly 70 million records and has been awarded an OBE for services to music. Yet it's 15 minutes of acting which seems to have reignited her.

"I was as nervous as hell," she admits. "I had to hand myself over completely to someone else, I had to trust and make myself vulnerable. I do feel that the whole experience has been cathartic. I feel like I have been slightly regenerated, that a side of me has been renewed. It's been a whole different experience from albums and concerts and it nurtures another side of me which has been neglected for a long time."

She adds. "I am just a chameleon, a chameleon who likes to take on different forms. I love being on set, it takes me back to being 10 or 11 years old again. Ideally, I'd like to do a musical in the future, something that would tick all the boxes for me. But to act more – now that would be a beautiful thing."

'Holy Motors' is released later this year

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living