Agathe Rousselle, the titanium lady: “I stopped being a model because your identity disappears” | Culture | ICON

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Agathe Rousselle (France, 33 years old) was not exactly a stranger in France when, last May, the premiere of Titanium at the Cannes Festival he stirred his whole life. Vetements or Wanda Nylon model, photographer, writer, founder of the fanzine Peach and the clothing brand (embroidered by her) Cheeky Boom, the protagonist of the Palme d’Or-winning film moved more or less well in certain alternative Parisian circles. She had been working tirelessly since she left home at 18, fleeing a home broken up by her parents’ complicated divorce. She dedicated herself to what she could, but above all in that which brought her closer to her real dream: to be an actress.

“From a very young age I liked to be the center of attention and at 15 or 16 I began to think that I wanted to be an actress, but without the support of my parents, without a famous last name or contacts, it was almost impossible. So I started working on whatever I caught and every time an opportunity to be in front of the camera presented itself, I jumped there ”, he explains now, with the expression between happy and puzzled: that of someone who has just fulfilled a dream.

The director of Titanium (or “director of the year”, as the critics call her), Julia Ducournau, found Agathe Rousselle on Instagram and made her go through various tests without ever letting her see the full script of her feature film. Rousselle didn’t know anything about the director either, she hadn’t seen her previous movie, Crude (2016), who already shook the pillars of the fantastic a bit with his female gaze mixing maturity, identity and cannibalism; but in each test I was capturing a little where the film was going to go, its objective of destroying the genre, of going over identities.

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Agathe Rousselle poses exclusively for ICON at the San Sebastian Film Festival dressed as LOUIS VUITTON.
Agathe Rousselle poses exclusively for ICON at the San Sebastian Film Festival dressed as LOUIS VUITTON.Antonio Macarro

Something with which this model and, finally, actress, has always felt very recognized. He doesn’t exploit his androgynous physique, he enjoys it. It shows. “In my day to day they have come to refer to me as a man, I don’t care,” he defends himself. She both shaves her head (she did, during a severe depression in 2017) and chooses for the red carpet delicate dresses inspired by 19th century fashion from Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest collection for Louis Vuitton. The key was owning herself. “I stopped being a model because your identity disappears,” he explains.

All his experiences in this regard were revealed to his director in a letter. And that was what was able to decide Ducournau, Rousselle believes, to give her this golden opportunity: absolute protagonist in a difficult role, that of a psychopath, a lover of cars (in an almost literal sense), who finds refuge in a anabolic and self-destructive firefighter. It was a lot to digest. But if it turned out well, that it did, it would be a lot to celebrate. “As soon as she gave me the role, Julia explained the whole film to me in detail, everything that was going to happen, she gave me security, she told me who would be on set in the most compromising scenes and she gave me confidence to push my limits” , recalls. And there must have been many because she laughs now when explaining that, as a spectator, she could not bear blood or terror.

Physically, Rousselle dedicated herself to losing weight and gaining muscle and worked with a pole dancer for choreography. Emotionally, he not only saw Crude, also all the YouTube videos he found with interviews of psychopaths like Ed Kemper or Ted Bundy. He was left with the empty gaze of those men: his eyes were going to say it all in a movie in which he hardly articulates words. Also saw Monster (2003), We need to talk about Kevin (2011) and, of course, returned to Crash (nineteen ninety six). In general, all the cinephile references to which he resorts are from American cinema. As a young man he went through a phase new wave, and Arnaud Desplechin, and, today he speaks wonders of his compatriot Quentin Dupieux, but his references are from the United States.

The idea of Titanium It can open the doors of Hollywood and allow you to settle in New York, your favorite city, it is much more than you would have dreamed of. Although success for her is something else. It is accepting yourself. “Know that you can choose.” You have earned that power.

Realization: Pedro Canicoba

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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