Cecile de France stars in “Switchblade Romance” (“High Tension”) and presents a very different image of women in horror. Frail and strong, weak but brutal, Cecile’s character Marie is both tragic and heroic while still being terribly terribly disturbing.
How did you get your role in “Switchblade Romance”?
I met Gregory and Alex in a café, we discussed the film and the role they were keen to offer me. I was very quickly interested; I took the script home and read it like a very good book. It gave me a real thrill; it genuinely scared me but I devoured it!
How was the shoot?
Mentally, it was not hard at all because I was so excited to work on the film, to see all of the workings of the special effects and make up which were provide by Giannetto de Rossi.
For me I was very excited. But physically, it was very hard. All of the exterior scenes were filmed in the middle of the night and I was barefoot. All of the crew but Maiwenn and I were wrapped up in warm jackets and I was just in my vest! As well as this, the imitation blood is very sticky so you cannot put a blanket or anything over you between scenes as this would create more work for Gianetto. But I was prepared because I did 2 months of physical training before filming began. I wasn’t used to such exertions so I lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of muscle. I did this for 2 reasons; Alexandre knew the conditions would be hard because it was a low-budget film. He was also aware that we would be asked to do a number of scenes which involved us running around so he wanted me to build up my stamina. He also wanted me to look thinner and my face more angular so to hint at the darker side of Marie’s mind. I am always keen to do whatever is required by my director to ensure that I bring all I can to whatever role I am playing.
Which was your favorite scene in the film?
My worst scene was the masturbation scene (laughs); it was very hard as it was so personnel! I was completely alone with a big crew just standing around. My favorite scene was the climax of my character in the greenhouse. I don’t want to spoil the film so I cannot tell you the details of what happens…you will just have to watch the film!
Did you watch many horror films when you were young?
When I was young I didn’t like horror films. But as soon as Alexandre offered me the role, he asked me to watch “The Hitcher”, “Duel”, “The Shining”, “Silence of The Lambs”, “Aliens”, “Rosemary’s Baby”.
Did you get on well with Maïwenn?
Very well. We were in the same boat so we gave each other as much support as possible. She was in pajamas, often soaked to the skin in blood. The harsh conditions brought us together. Sometimes we’d say we’d give anything just to be home in the warmth. I honestly think our characters gel really well. Alex, Greg and I went to see her on stage in her one-woman show and we all said immediately that it was like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw.
What was your reaction on seeing Gianetto’s effects?
I was so impressed when I first saw the kind of things he could create. I spent a great deal of the time in his trailer, asking questions about how he created such gruesome and realistic effects. It’s wonderful to see how impressive his works look on the big screen, especially the decapitation scene! I was transfixed when Gianetto was preparing that scene; even Philip Nahon was somewhat nervous as he didn’t want to make a single mistake! I was like a little girl who had just discovered what was happening behind the mirror. Gianetto is quite clearly a master of his work as well as being a terrific character and great fun to be around.
Marie, your character, is a dualistic character. At times tragic, at other times brutal. Was that a challenge for you?
For an actress. to play someone who appears so fragile and gradually reveals her true self is a dream! She is a bit of a tom-boy, in the shadows at first. She seems vulnerable. When evil arrives however, she tackles it head on. She is suddenly unbreakable and incredibly strong and it is interesting to see her determination and inner strength. It sounds obvious maybe but I much prefer to act in a role that requires me to challenge myself than something that I can just breeze through.