THE RED BULLETIN: Some of your elder relatives are respected industry figures in French cinema, and now you’re an established film star yourself. Was there any question of you gaining an unfair advantage?
Léa Seydoux: No, because I’ve always done my own thing. It was my personal choice to become an actress. I’m very independent. No doors were opened for me.
Where did the desire to become an actress come from?
I was an outsider, always on my own. I was teased by the other kids when I was young because I was badly dressed, an ugly duckling. Later, when I was 18, I went on a sort of journey of self-discovery. A friend of mine was an actor and I liked the life he led. So I decided to give it a go, even though I was scared.
Why was that?
I’m afraid of a lot of things, like heights. And I hate flying. We shot part of the Bond film in the desert in Morocco and I was terrified because it was just emptiness and heat.
But as an actress, you must constantly be confronted with that sort of thing. Are you in the wrong job?
Absolutely not. When I’m working, I forget all about my fears, because I’m in the here and now. Being an actress isn’t just about acting, though. There are also auditions and all the networking… And actually that’s the tough part. Before I got the part of Madeleine Swann in Spectre, I met up with the director, but I was so nervous that I had a beer beforehand, which meant I lost my composure. I couldn’t remember my lines and then I started blushing… I was so embarrassed that I screwed the whole thing up.
But you still got the part. So you became a Bond girl while you were drunk?
That would be a good story, but sorry, no, I didn’t even finish the beer.
What were your experiences shooting the film, other than your nightmare in the desert.
That wasn’t the scariest part. The worst experience was going up into the Tyrolean Alps – I’m afraid of heights, remember. I had to do stunts, including an 26 ft. jump. Plus, I was nervous about acting in English and shooting with Daniel Craig, who I’d never met. But that’s always the way. As soon as the camera starts rolling, everything’s okay.
Haven’t you ever wanted to do something a bit less nerve-racking?
Never. I may be afraid of everything, but I like what I do. In a way, I’m addicted to the fear. Because as soon as I’ve done something I’m afraid of, I feel great. Without that, there would be something missing from my life.
Do you have tips for people who are plagued by anxiety? Not everyone can become an actor to help them conquer their fears.
But everyone can find the right thing for them. The most important thing is to believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid of being afraid. Try to get close to your fear and embrace it. That’s my advice. It’s exciting to conquer your demons. It makes you feel very strong.
So you feel stronger because of your fears?
Yes, I guess you could put it that way. My fear has taught me that I’m the only person I can fully count on.
Is there a fear that you just can’t conquer?
The fear of flying. It just doesn’t get any easier. I take a Xanax before every flight.