Piera Detassis: How has your experience been of this period of suspended time that has been imposed on us?
Carole Bouquet: I'm angry. Borders closed, my film Boutchou halted, the shoots for my two series En thérapie and Grand Hotel interrupted… I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it. I'm actually as made as hell.
A more hidden explosive side of your character is coming out…
Am I wrong? We have neglected and impoverished health, education and, of course, culture, always considered useless! For these sectors there has never been any money, only budget cuts and "rationalisation." Over the years I've seen entire hospital services disappear, and when I made a plea for funding for my association for the defense of abused children I never got a response. The result is that now money will have to be doubled or tripled if we're to stay afloat. When I was little – I was born in 1957 – tuberculosis was rampant, and I myself had it: you were sent away for treatment, but you didn't lock up a whole country at home. That's barbarism, and why? Because we don't have the necessary sanitary equipment to cope. Will they arrive? We hope so. In 1969, we sent people to the moon and in 2020 we don't even have paper masks, yes, I said "paper masks." I started making my own at home from scraps of cloth. I am angry and very sad for old people who die alone, for young people with no job prospects. Forty years ago, there were hospitals, where the sick were treated; people weren't confined. AIDS has caused fifty million deaths, no vaccine has ever been found and no one has been locked up. If we have to live like this, waiting for definitive treatment, I prefer to be told clearly how to live with this virus, and without feeling like a prisoner. It seems to me that we have all shown incredible patience and responsibility.
What will cinema be like afterwards?
You'd have to be psychic to answer that question. I'm supposed to start shooting again in June, but how? How will the crews' security be ensured, and at what cost? And us, the actors, how will we maintain social distancing during filming? We'll only be able to shoot costume dramas, those from Marie-Antoinette's time, when the underskirts were three foot in diameter! In short, I don't know, just as I don't know how we will convince students to maintain distancing in schools. Of course we'll resume because the economy can't hold out, but we're not ready. You know what worries me a lot? The level of potential violence in families locked down in small spaces. I myself, who am privileged, am going crazy: this imposed solitude is cruel, dangerous. On Sunday I went out for the first time. Everyone told me about a flowering peach tree on the corner, I trembled with joy. If the lockdown doesn't end, sooner or later I'll be found talking to a tree all alone – freed from polluted air, they are so vigorous!
What have you learnt from all of this?
That the planet is angry with us, that the Earth is fed up with our mistreatment, disinterest, pollution. Politicians will forget, not us. And many things will have to change, starting with hospitals.
The muse of the Chanel fashion house and of Buñuel, you've also worked with the Vanzina, Dino Risi, Francesco Nuti, and even Celentano in Bingo Bongo. How did this come about?
Out of love, purely out of love for Italy. I'm not sure I would have made these films if they had been offered to me in France: I wouldn't have dared, my image was different there. For me, Italy was freedom, entertainment, if someone wanted to work with me, I would go there. It was a time when people still made films with recklessness and grandeur. Francesco Nuti was supposed to start Donne con le gonne, but it was too hot for him in Florence, and we stayed there for a month without doing anything – and I was lavishly housed with my children and nannies. Then Nuti decided to move to Cinecittà, but he didn't like the set and had everything brought from his home. It was madness, but with such lightness of being! I was walking around the studios and I met Fellini, Comencini. And even though Bingo Bongo didn't go down in history, I adore Celentano, he's excellent, even more so as you get older. What else can I tell you? Life was sweet, in Italy the fees weren't as high as elsewhere, but the welcome was always royal. I had a lot of fun with these crazy people, exuberant personalities with whom I was at ease. I'm not as wise and aloof as I seem. I have a gift, even in difficult times, for enjoying life. Very much so.
The full interview has been available in Elle Italia since May 7.