Glass interviews French-British actor Stacy Martin

Stacy Martin talks to Glass about playing Anne Wiazemsky in Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable, her career so far and women speaking up.

In recent years, French-British actor Stacy Martin has become a star in independent cinema and a favourite of Miuccia Prada. The now 27-year-old actor shot to fame in 2013 when she starred in Lars Von Trier’s explicit two-part film, Nymphomaniac, in which Martin played a younger version of the sex-obsessed main character, Joe. Along with a kick-start in her film career, the role involved a lot of nudity, a prosthetic vagina and Martin’s own porn double. Since then she’s appeared in an array of projects and has worked with some of film’s most acclaimed directors – Ridley Scott, Ben Wheatley and Matteo Garrone, just to name a few.

Martin stars in Michel Hazanavicius’s French comedy-drama set in the late 1960s, Redoubtable, released earlier this year. She plays actor Anne Wiazemsky, the young wife of French film director Jean-Luc Godard (performed by Louis Garrel). When Glass spoke to Martin, she had just returned from Cannes Film Festival where she had presented her upcoming French drama directed by Marie Monge, Treat Me like Fire.

Glass interviews actress Stacy MartinStacy Martin. Photographer: Hew Hood

How was your time at Cannes?
It was great. I presented a film called Treat Me like Fire at the Director’s Fortnight and it was my first time presenting a film in that collection. You could really feel the public’s reaction. You could feel how excited they were or when they were scared. It was a really great screening. We got a standing ovation for 10 minutes, which was pretty moving.

What can you tell us about the film?
It’s the first feature by French director Marie Monge and it’s a love story that takes place in the underground world of gambling in Paris. It’s about addiction, but it’s also about emotional addiction and co-dependency. I play Ella who runs a restaurant with her father and she meets Abel, who introduces her to the gambling world and they fall in love.

Your first appearance in cinema was the two-part film, Nymphomaniac. How was working with Lars Von Trier on your first film?
It was a really wonderful experience that kind of catapulted me into the world of cinema in a way that I would have never anticipated. Lars is an incredible artist. He’s a great director for actors and really knows how to get the best out of someone in a really respectful and artistic way. I loved it. It was my first film and I didn’t really know what a film set would be like. He works with mainly the same people, so it was like entering a family of artists

Glass interviews actress Stacy MartinStacy Martin. Photographer: Hew Hood

Would you ever want to work in TV?
Yes, definitively. There are so many possibilities now in TV. I feel there are a lot more freedoms for the younger generation of directors in this genre, where their creativity or their voices are being supported. It’s becoming harder and harder for films to be made and television is a way of bridging the gap between a difficult financial time and a creative voice. Look at Netflix, for example; half the shows on that wouldn’t have existed if Netflix hadn’t supported them.

What has been your most challenging role to date?
I think Ella, the role I played in Treat Me Like Fire, was quite challenging in a way, as it was so interjectory, so dense and there were so many different elements to it. I wanted to portray someone who is co-dependent on her partner and still maintains her tenacity and courage. I think emotional co-dependence is something we don’t specifically know much about and we don’t think it’s a thing. Actually, it is. We are all dependent on something.

Glass interviews actress Stacy MartinStacy Martin. Photographer: Hew Hood

You’ve worked both in fashion and film – both industries with many powerful men facing allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. In recent months, have you noticed a shift in how men in the workplace are acting towards you and other women?
What happened was a real detonation and it’s not only in the film or fashion industry. I think it’s in every industry such as hospitals and law firms. I think what has changed is the global consciousness of people and the ability of women, or men, to be able to speak up. That is something I’ve felt a change in. In Cannes, I was a part of an 82-women march of those who climbed the stairs (that’s the number of female directors in the film festival’s official competition since it was founded in 1946). Cate Blanchett spoke and there was something so positive about it, about moving forward, about things changing acknowledging past behaviours and ideals.

Is that what the march meant to you, the acknowledgement that there needs to be a change?
Definitively. The great thing about it was that as actresses we have an ability to speak up because we are given a lot of space in the media. If it means we can speak up for industries where it is harder for women to speak up, then we’re obviously going to support that. I got extremely excited about the possibility of the future. I think there’s a difference between committing a crime and being indecent. Those are boundaries that are going to be made clearer and clearer. There’s a way of working within an industry like ours where even men are included in the discussion. That’s what is important. It shouldn’t be women on one side and men on the other side fighting. It should be everyone being inclusive and open to each other in terms of discussion and debate, so we can move forward and take action.

Before the march, you didn’t make any comment on the Me Too or the Time’s Up movements. Why was that?
I didn’t make any comment on it because it’s common sense to me that equality should happen. I think the great thing about Me Too is that it came from social media and that’s something I don’t have. I feel like these women who have gone from an extremely hard and horrible time, these are the voices that need to be heard. My support will come through other ways. For me it was a lot more common sense.

Glass interviews actress Stacy MartinStacy Martin. Photographer: Hew Hood

Yes, I noticed you don’t have any public social media profiles. Why is that?
For me personally, I don’t see the point of having it for myself. It scares me how uncontrollable and consuming it is. I don’t want it to define my identity, I want my work to define me as an artist. I do have to say, I’ve been amazed how social media has taken a role in educating about these movements, which is so vital because it’s so accessible for the younger generation.

Are there are any other issues that aren’t discussed nearly enough that you would like to shine a light on through film?
I think mental health is something that affects everyone and it’s not class or gender specific. I think it’s something that should be discussed more.

What was it that attracted you to the role of Anne Wiazemsky in Redoubtable?
We all know who Godard is and we have relationships with his films and what he represented in cinema but not a lot is known of his second wife. It was a relationship I was very curious about because she was a lot younger and she didn’t quite have a place in the world just yet. He was the opposite, he wanted to move away from that and it was a dynamic I was really interested in exploring. I also loved the fact that Michel was taking it under a comedic angle and not taking it as a serious biopic genre because I don’t think that is very interesting. Michel based it on Anne Wiazemsky’s book and there was so much joy and laughter. I just loved how she described that part of her life.

Did you feel a lot of pressure playing a real person opposed to a fictional character?
I did, but I made a very conscious decision to not meet her and not try and do a copy-and- paste version of her. The book contains how she feels, how she thinks and how she was at that time, and Michel kept all of those things. Because we weren’t making a pure biopic, I wanted to make a collage of all the pop icons we have of the Sixties and the Seventies and play around with all of those representations. It was only when I met her just before the screening at Cannes last year that I suddenly realised how risky that was, but she really liked the film and climbed the stairs with us. It was a really magical moment.

Glass interviews actress Stacy MartinStacy Martin. Photographer: Hew Hood

I was sorry to hear she passed away last year.
Yes, she passed away. That was a strange moment as well because it made me realise life has its own way and to give her that moment, to go to Cannes with her and to tell her story was quite special looking back.

You’re the face of Miu Miu’s latest fragrance, L’Eau Rosée and you’ve worked with the brand for a couple of years now. How did that come about and what does Miu Miu mean to you? 
They’ve been really supportive and they’re a great brand in the sense that they support women and artists; whether it be in cinema, in art or in music, they’re always excited to find new talent. They have such a strong identity in terms of female artists and I really enjoy that.

The theme of this issue of Glass is Vision. When you were younger, did you have a vision of how your career was going to turn out?
No not at all. I wasn’t ambitious in that way. I moved a lot as a child and I liked to discover new worlds and people. I was very curious, but I never anticipated I’d be an actress.

What are you looking forward to doing in the near future?
Just working to be honest and being on set as much as I can, meeting great artists and collaborating and being able to support artists newer to the industry.

Redoubtable is available on demand on Curzon Home Cinema.

by Tom Halford

Fashion Director: Katie Falstead

Photographer: Hew Hood

Images first published in Glass issue 33 – Vision

To make sure you never miss out on a copy of glass, please visit here to subscribe

Hair: Paul Donovan at CLM using VO5

Make up: Liz Pugh at Premier Hair and Make-up using Chanel

Fashion assistant: Rosie Borgerhoff Mulder

Model: Stacy Martin

Image one:

all clothing Gucci

Image two:

Jacket, skirt J.W. ANDERSON

Image three: 

Shirt FRAME

Dungarees PHILOSOPHY DI LORENZO SERAFINI

Image four:

Dress, tights VERSACE

Image five: 

Coat MARQUES’ ALMEDA

Image six: 

Top NATASHA ZINKO
Trousers STELLA MCCARTNEY