Marion Cottilard: I Know And Love Michael Fassbender Because He's Always Surprising And Involved In The Story

In a candid conversation with the Oscar winning actress gives us an insight into what Assassin's Creed is all about, from the London sets of the film

Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard is reuniting with Justin Kurzel and Michael Fassbender for her big release, Assassin's Creed. It is a screen adaptation of the video games by Ubisoft that tells a story about an ancient war between two rival sects: Assassins and Templars.

Assassins Creed

In the film, Cotillard plays Sofia, a scientist at the Abstergo facility who saves Fassbender’s Callum Lynch from a lethal injection on death row and introduces him to the concept of genetic regressions. Her motives are pure enough – a drive to eradicate violence from the human genome – but her methods, and the motives of the shadowy Abstergo organization are far from clear

.Last December, Cotillard was seen starring as Lady Macbeth in Kurzel's Macbeth opposite Fassbender. The trio seem have to have cracked a certain code of friendship which has percolated well into this big budget production, Assassin's Creed.

After speaking to Fassbender, caught up with Cottilard. Excerpts:

Who is Sofia?
Sofia has a very strong desire to find a cure for violence, and to erase it from our society. Everything in her life is dedicated to finding this cure, and she thinks that the only way is to find the “Artefact”. She will discover that her father has another agenda; she’s been blind to some clues that would have her question her father’s ideology.

She believes in what Abstergo is doing, but she’s not the bad guy.

Yeah, she’s a Templar, but she considers herself a scientist, which is something she puts above being part of a society.

What kind of relationship does Sofia have with her father?
It’s tough. She’s so involved in what she wants to achieve that she’s blind to what's happening around. Many times she forces herself to be blind because there are obviously things that her father does that should tell her they’re not doing the same thing at Abstergo . There is an internal fight and plenty of tension between the two of them.

How would you describe her relationship with Cal (Fassbender)?
She tries to gain his trust, and it comes from a good place. She saved him from death, and I don’t think he’s a character who trusts anyone.

Marion Cotillard

You worked with Michael and Justin on Macbeth. Has it been interesting to take that relationship into a new project?
I had such an amazing experience working with Justin and Michael on Macbeth; there are few directors who are that good at directing actors.

It hasn’t happened that much in my life, to have a relationship with a director who is so deep into the details of the emotions of a character, and when he asked me if I wanted to do another movie with him, I said, “Yes, of course.”

Go on...
Justin really enters the soul of the people he is telling the story about, and that’s what I want to do as an actress. I want to work with people who will dig into hearts and souls and make any story interesting because it’s about how human beings deal with any situation. Even the less significant scenes or actions, he does something great with it. He talks to all the actors on set, whether they have one sentence or 100. He is interested in what you can deliver, and he has respect for every actor. That’s why there is so much soul and life in his movies.

Does it help too, to have had that shorthand with Michael? The relationship between your characters in this film is very different from what Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had in your last film together.
I know and love who he is as an actor because he’s always surprising and involved in the story. At the same time, he’s super creative and he always wants something special. To get something special, he’ll really dig into authenticity, which leads to good ideas. Sometimes you have actors who want to make everything special and find an idea for each scene, and sometimes it can lead them to be over the top or doing too much. Michael has this intelligence – this actor’s intelligence – that will always create an idea that is authentic and it’s fascinating. I remember on Macbeth, I never knew what would happen in a scene, so I was ready to react to anything. But because there was this bond and this commitment from everybody, we were on it.

Does it sharpen your tool-set when you work with people like this?
Definitely. Working with good actors, you get to observe the way they work very closely. What was amazing the first time I worked with them was that we rehearsed for five weeks. So, of course, you learn, because you’re entering a place that most of the time, you never enter; the preparation of another actor for a role.

Michael’s passion for his job is very inspiring. His love for cinema is contagious and he will bring everybody together to tell the story he wants to tell. The difference here is that, because he’s also almost at the origin of the movie as a producer, there’s something different about the relationship we had on this one.

Marion Cotillard

It’s a project of two halves, because there is this whole section of the film takes place in the past. Are you sorry to miss that side of it?
No, I really love this character, and I actually never thought about that. I want to make Sofia live, and my focus was to create who she would be on-screen. I did a little bit of research on the Spanish inquisition, and specifically about the Templars because I felt I needed to.

There’s a huge fan anticipation for the film which comes from immense love for the games. How familiar are you with that side of things?
I really don’t know anything about the game, but after reading the script, I thought the story was very interesting because it was a reflection on the world we live in and violence in that world.

These two groups fight to bring peace, with all the inherent contradiction of that. Even your father, who is the “bad guy” – all he really wants is an end to the bloodshed. Your thought on that.
Yeah, he has his way and his ideology to eradicate violence, which goes too far. She has another vision. If I had to find a way to end violence, I wouldn’t do what she does, but it’s very interesting because it’s the confrontation of different ideologies for the same goal, which is basically what happens in the real world. We all want the same thing, but we don’t have the same books, and we don’t have the same vision. Wars are fought in the thought that bringing people to the same ideology or religion will make the world a better place, and that’s absolutely not working. Not that it’s right or wrong; it’s just not working. This thing that a lot of people think – that to eradicate violence we have to walk the same way and so there will be order and peace – is something that I really don’t believe in

Marion Cotillard

It’s interesting the film can have that argument given it’s essentially a studio movie. Do you think it’s important for even the biggest films to have something to say to the audiences?
I think it’s really bold and amazing because it’s going to be an actual subject for a long time. What it says is really interesting – the different visions. There are no good people and bad people; it’s all just different visions for the same goal, which creates war.

Would you want to continue exploring this character in future movies?
Oh yeah, totally. Sofia is a very mysterious person. She’s a little twisted because she’s dedicated her life to one thing. She has no life. I think she has issues, and I created my own Sofia – the one that nobody knows.