Gray Paris

Web Exclusive! Daniele Thompsons valentine to the city of lights Avenue Montaigne has a melancholy undertone

How did you come to cast Dani, who will be familiar to some American moviegoers from her roles in Truffaut's Day for Night and Love on the Run, but who hasn't appeared in many films in the 25 years since.

She was really the only one I thought of. When I was just beginning to work on the script with Christopher, I met her at a dinner, and I hadn't seen her for a long time. I thought there was a story behind this face. And there is actually quite a heavy story, because she was a very young actress who played in a couple of Truffaut films and then had a difficult life. She had a very long period with drugs, and then about five or six years ago, she created a chain of rose stores, because she wasn't getting hired anymore. So she really had something very human—I thought that face had become older in a very interesting way. I shouldn't have done it, but I told her very early that I was thinking of her for a film I was writing, and as I'm a slow writer, she kept calling me every two or three months to ask if she was still in the movie, because very often you change your mind as the character changes in the process of writing. But I didn't change my mind and I'm very happy that we did this together.

Seeing as how you grew up in an artistic family, do you feel a particular kinship with any of the characters in the film? Is there a touch of autobiography at work here?

Thompson goes against the tide.
Thompson goes against the tide.

There are a lot of touches of autobiography. My mother played the same part in the same Feydeau play that Valérie Lemercier's character plays in the film. So, definitely I chose that play for this reason. My grandmother was very much an artists' groupie—she was a bit like Dani's character, who was not an artist herself but loved being around artists. My grandmother knew a lot of painters, so we've always been involved with art. There's a big melting pot of our family history in there, but it's not something I realized until afterward.


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