When Jean-Luc Godard’s peculiar 3-D movie “Goodbye to Language” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the absent director’s cryptic persona hogged the spotlight as usual. But the movie has found another spokesperson in the form of newcomer Héloise Godet, one of two main actors who appear in the film. “Goodbye to Language” finds Godet acting alongside Kamel Abdeli as a married couple whose relationship starts to crumble in conjunction with the world around them. Godet spent a year waiting for Godard to shoot the movie and over the past year has promoted it without him. The upshot: a whole lot of publicity for the emerging actress.
In New York, where “Goodbye to Language” made its U.S. premiere, Godet spoke to Indiewire about her new ambitions now that she’s finally receiving more exposure.
I did a lot of research before I met Godard. I read biographies, interviews on the web, retrospectives. So I knew what the guy was like. I was expecting the worse and found him really normal after all I’d read — not in the way of communication, of course. All I knew about the project was, “There’s a man, there’s a woman, there’s a dog. You have to be naked.” That was it. I was really excited that he took me. I didn’t tell too many people for a year. He kept putting the project off. I kept waiting, which was really annoying. I did other projects, but only small ones. There was this theater thing I turned down. If I had been fired because I wasn’t available, I would’ve felt desperate. I was looking forward to working with an auteur. But I never expected to work with Godard.
I always felt like I needed Godard to validate my participation in the film. I was very happy to hear that he was happy I was doing it and representing him. I heard it through his assistant. I’m not calling him, but I sent him the card when my baby was born. He’s now part of my life. I wonder how he’s doing and I get regular news, but not directly — only through his assistant.
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He’s so unpredictable. Sometimes, he would say, “This morning I don’t feel like shooting.” And you’d be all dressed and prepared. It was annoying, but I think that [is] part of his character. People expect him to be weird and aggressive. He doesn’t show up for interviews or when he gets a prize. But he doesn’t expect me to answer questions. His assistant said, “You just talk about your experience. You’re not Godard; nobody expects you to be Godard.” They know it’s not an actor movie; it’s a Godard movie. I’m just answering for the curiosity that Godard creates. I really love this guy. He’s not a myth; he’s a person. I don’t know if he was thinking love is a disaster and wanted to make a movie about that. I think he’s simply romantic. But anything I say about him is my own interpretation.
Once, last summer, when I went through Switzerland to go to the Locarno Film Festival, I was driving by myself and went through his town. I dropped a letter in his mailbox to let him know I was around. He sent me a message saying, “Yes, let’s have a meeting,” but it was 48 hours too late. I was gone.
Just after the movie was released in France in May, the kinds of projects I was offered were really weird — too weird, almost like art projects. And they weren’t Godard. I don’t want to be just stuck in that kind of weirdness. You have to feel good about it. I didn’t feel good about these projects. They weren’t from famous directors, so I won’t name them.
I’m scared to be bored as an audience member. As an actress, you just want to work, and have many parts. But as an audience member, I’m getting harder with my choices.
I want to work with the people of my generation now. I want to work everywhere. I don’t think that’s impossible. Maybe because of the Godard movie, maybe not, but I hope other filmmakers share common interests in certain kinds of movies — movies by people who can do anything with less money. I don’t wish to just do blockbusters. What’s the point? OK, I was just in a Godard movie, and now I’m going to do “Twilight 5”? No. I don’t want to think in terms of production budget. I want to think in terms of acting and whether, as an audience member, if I’d like to see this. I don’t believe much in meeting people at parties at 5 a.m. when everyone is drunk.
I recently had a baby. People don’t think about you when you’re pregnant. I kept saying, “I’m not going to be pregnant forever.” I didn’t go out. But now he’s born and people realize I’m not pregnant and I’m looking for roles again.
I’m really bad with name-dropping, but who would I want to work with? Here is my list: The Safdie brothers, Alex Ross Perry, Noah Baumbach, Spike Jonze, Harmony Korine, Mike Leigh, Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, Julian Schnabel, Steve McQueen, Arnaud Desplechin, Mathieu Amalric, Leos Carax, Alain Guiraudie, Abdellatif Kechiche, Céline Sciamma, Louis Garrel, Stéphane Demoustier, Serge Bozon, Joachim Trier, Guillaume Brac, Benjamin Crotty, Atiq Rahimi, Athena Rachel Tsangari.