The native French actress landed her most noteable role in the movie "The Beach". Virginie Ledoyen was born on , November 15th, 1976 in Aubervilliers, France, the daughter of Bernard, a salesman and Olga, a restauranteur. It has been said that she inherited her unusual eyes from her Spanish grandparents. Virginie got her first modeling job at age 2 and made several ads when she was only 3. She was cast in her first film, an Italian comedy at the age of 9 which was also the year she was enrolled in a performing arts school. By 11 years old she had also acted on stage as well. Obviously her talents had been recognized early on. Virginie was about 15 years old when she realized that acting would be something she wanted to pursue as an occupation and soon she had earned enough money to get her own apartment. Her big break in the movies was in 1994 when, at the age of 17, she was in the film Cold Water in which she played a troubled teen. This lead to even bigger things in the 1995 film Single Girl which received critical acclaim. It was a surprise hit in America, and the New York Times said, in reference to this film, that Virginie had a "natural screen presence." Following Single Girl, Virginie received calls from Hollywood including Woody Allen's agent. Up till this point she had yet to make an American movie though she was said to be a fan of Francis Ford Coppola and Stanley Kubrick. Virginie's biggest break in the American market came with the release of The Beach in February 2000 and this is sure to lead to even bigger and better opportunities. When she isn't acting, Virginie loves to read. She is also heavily involved with an organization called 'Pour le Tibet' which provides medical aid to Tibeten centers. Virginie's parents are divorced and her mother remarried. Virginie has a brother, Michel.
Virginie Ledoyen: The Basics
Who Is She?:
Actress/model Virginie Ledoyen, 24, is the first woman to pique Leonardo DiCaprio's attention on screen since Jack Dawson sank to the bottom of the Atlantic more than two years ago. In The Beach, American backpacker Leo splashes around warmer waters with Virginie, the French beauty whom he seduces away from her traveling companion on a secluded island paradise.
What Has She Done?:
The veteran of more than 20 French films, her recent roles include a young hotel maid in A Single Girl, a kinky, bohemian fashion designer in Late August, Early September and a promiscuous romantic in the movie musical Jeanne and the Perfect Guy. She got her first screen kiss (from Marcello Mastroianni) at the age of 14 in The Children Thief. Modeling since the age of two for everything from linguini to Lacoste, she is now on L'Oréal's dream team, joining the sisterhood of Claudia Schiffer, Laetitia Casta, Gong Li, Milla Jovovich and Jennifer Lopez. Look for Virginie next year in the cable version of Les Misérables with John Malkovich and Gérard Depardieu.
Why Do We Care?:
She's got Meryl Streep's talent and Liv Tyler's libido. This fiercely independent actress isn't afraid to get dramatic or undressed.
Virginie Ledoyen: One on One
Playboy.com: In the American press, you've been compared to all the Gallic greats: Bardot, Deneuve, Béatrice Dalle. Do you like these comparisons?
Virginie Ledoyen: I have no special idea about it. You're always compared to someone, especially when you're a French actress. There are few French actors known in the United States, so you always have these kind of comparisons, but it's fine. They're great actresses, so it's quite flattering, but I don't think that I have anything in common with them, other than being French.
PB: You moved out on your own when you were 16 years old. Is that common in Paris?
VL: It's not very common. I didn't move from my parents' place because I had a problem with them. I didn't move very far; we were living almost on the same street. It was just because I started working and I started having money and I just wanted to pay for my own apartment, my own phone bills. It was something very important for me.
PB: I hear you like to take the subway in different cities. Don't people recognize you, especially in Paris?
VL: Usually, they don't expect to see you in the Metro, so it's fine. And when I wear my glasses and running shoes, it's OK. I don't have bodyguards or limos.
PB: You're part of L'Oréal's dream team of models and actresses. Does this help your career as a serious actress?
VL: I don't feel like I'm a model. This contract with L'Oréal gives me a lot of freedom, because it's some money and it gives me the chance to do whatever movie I want to do without thinking, like, "Will I be paid enough?" I don't have any problem about it, like I don't have to prove that I'm an actress and not a model. I'm very comfortable about it.
PB: When did you first meet Leonardo DiCaprio?
VL: My first meeting was in Thailand, in The Beach.
PB: Of course, you'd seen his movies, but how much did you know about him before then?
VL: I knew he was a very good actor, but I didn't have a precise idea of who he was because there are so many stories about him it's hard to know what's true or not. I was very excited as an actress to work with him, because I think he's probably one of the best actors today. After working for a month with him, I had just a great time, because he's very playful.
PB: Can you clarify last year's tabloid rumors that said you were having a fling with Leo and that you were carrying his baby?
VL: There is nothing to clarify. There's no relationship except a professional one, a friendly one, between Leo and me.
PB: The Beach producer Andrew Macdonald said you were cast in the movie after Sean Penn called the director and insisted he had to cast you. You haven't worked with Sean, though. How do you know each other?
VL: I met him in Paris. He was there for a festival, and that's where I met him and that's that. But it's not my best friend, so I don't have any gossip about him or whatever. He's just someone that I think is a very good actor and a great director. I like his movies.
(In 1998, the jury of the Paris Film Festival, headed by Sean Penn, voted Virginie best actress for the sexy musical comedy Jeanne and the Perfect Guy.)
PB: In The Beach, you and Leo have to swim several miles across shark-infested waters to get to the island. How far did you really have to swim?
VL: Not so much, but I am a swimmer. It may be the only sport I practice.
PB: You're also a good dancer. You did your own dancing in the bed-hopping musical Jeanne and the Perfect Guy, although your voice was dubbed.
VL: I'm a very bad singer, but I've loved dancing for a long time, so I did my own dancing in the movie. It was a great experience. In France, it was the first musical comedy for 20 years, so it was very exciting to be a part of it.
PB: If The Beach is a big success, will you go to Hollywood, or will you continue to do French films?
VL: I absolutely want to keep working in France. What's good is when you're doing an international movie, like The Beach is, it's going to be released everywhere in the world, so many directors that probably never saw you in a French movie are going to see you. For me being an actress, it's also working with different directors from different cultures. I would like doing other American movies, but I also would like doing some Spanish or Italian, so it's a good opportunity.
PB: How does a French actress establish a career in American films? Isabelle Adjani and Isabelle Huppert have made some crummy movies. They all go back to France.
VL: There's not a lot of roles for French girls other than playing a French girl.
PB: A Single Girl was probably your biggest hit in the U.S. up to this point. After that, a lot of things happened. Is it true you got a call from Woody Allen's casting agent?
VL: Yes, it's true, but it was a call from his casting agent -- his casting director -- so it doesn't mean anything.
PB: If he had called, it would have been different?
VL: Oh, yeah. Maybe, but he didn't call me, so I don't know. [laughs]
PB: In Late August, Early September, your character, Anne, is kinky, but she has a violent streak. Tell me about her.
VL: Anne is a very unstable woman, even in her sexuality. She's very sensitive and in the same way she's very in love with men.
PB: What is it like doing a scene making love with two guys with all the crew watching you?
VL: [Breathily] It's great.... Usually, you know people on the set and if you trust the director, curiously it's less embarrassing. And it wasn't naked. It was very soft.
PB: What is paradise for you?
VL: There is not a geographic place for paradise.... I would say that paradise is when I'm doing what I like and when I'm with people I love.
Bon Voyage: An Interview with Jean-Paul Rappeneau & Virginie Ledoyen
Bon Voyage is an intelligent, clever film. Itís a stealth French history lesson draped comically in satire. I recently had the honor of interviewing its renowned director, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, and star, Virginie Ledoyen, in New York City . They were very friendly and not afraid to discuss the French surrender to the Nazis. Virginie was stunningly beautiful in her casual outfit. Her last American film was The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio. The film was mediocre at best, but her performance really stood out. Hopefully she will return to American cinema.
How much of this movie about the government, the way they acted, they way they fled, etc. is based on real and actual events in French history?
JEAN-PAUL: Everything in the film, and the historical background of the film, is absolutely accurate even down to the exact chronology, the timing, and the details. Everything is historically correct.
Was there really a French hard water scientist?
JEAN-PAUL: Actually, this is really where my story departs a little bit from history. The two scientists, who were the Pol and the Russian, were working on hard water at the College of France at the time.
Were you able to flee France at the time like they did with the English soldiers?
JEAN-PAUL: At the time, I was a very little boy and I fled with my family on the road just like this. People were fleeing like that, yeah. The idea of the government fleeing to Bordeaux was actually something that was established by the French government during the first World War. It was where they would evacuate the government to, and the reason was that Bordeaux was a port and so they could flee from Bordeaux, elsewhere, out of the country if necessary. So this is a French tradition, if you will. Also, this was the same thing that was true in the 19th century during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. So three times, the French government has found itself fleeing to Bordeaux.
Was Gerard Depardieu's character of the minister based on an actual person?
JEAN-PAUL: No, he's really a composite of several people. The backgrounds of the story are historically correct but the four leading characters are fictional characters.
Virginie, how much research did you do for your part?
VIRGINIE: I didn't have to make so much research because the script was so already detailed and also, Jean Paul wanted for Gregory and I to make it as natural as possible.
Did you like playing the role in your film?
VIRGINIE: I hated it, no just kidding! I loved it.
Could you relate to her? Do you think you would have reacted in the same way in the same situation?
VIRGINIE: I hope so, I really hope so. It's always hard to say. Of course, everybody now says that during the war, we would have chosen the Resistance. You can see now, especially in France, that most of the people didn't choose that direction so I hope and I guess that I will have done the same choice as her.
Was that a shameful thing that a lot of people chose to run away and not fight?
VIRGINIE: I think so, yeah.
JEAN-PAUL: This is a history that France has not really come out of yet, or has not emerged out of yet. That's why everything that is connected with this period remains to be a very difficult subject. This is actually a period where people in my generation ask themselves, or I ask myself this question, "What would I have done at the time? What side would I have been on?" It's still a question that preoccupies a large number of people. And there were a large number of options at that time. For example, some people decided right away that they would not be a part of this and they wanted to continue to fight. They could leave France either by going to England or escaping through Lisbon to Portugal out of France to the United States. Or, some went to North America. These were the people who decided right at that moment that no, they weren't going to give in and be part of the defeat. The second group of people were people who were just "wait and see." This was a majority of the people in France because they had to stay in the country and they had to populate the country. But these were the people who waited and were interested in seeing what was going to happen. And of course, there were people who decided that they would collaborate with the occupiers. Finally, there were people who said "No" and were part of the resistance in France.
The script has several different characters, from an actor to a politician to scientists to regular people... how did you go about developing the story of multiple storylines?
JEAN-PAUL: My original idea was to follow the story of a young man and to follow the story of somebody who's a little bit of an outsider and hasn't found his identity yet, with a fixation of this love for an older woman that he's had for a long time. Just to really follow his path as he encounters all these other characters during this historical and fateful weekend. These things kind of happened as we were developing the story and it became a sort of club sandwich of episodes that developed as the script developed. It was only later on that we had this idea that it would really be a kind of polyphonic film where there were other stories, that it wouldn't be just this story of a young man, but that there would be other characters.
You mentioned that the subject matter in this movie is still very much on the minds of people in France. What was the reaction to the movie when it opened in France from the public, the politicians, or the media?
JEAN-PAUL: The film actually received sensational reviews in France. It did good box-office but not the kind of big box-office that we were hoping that it would do. The reason for this is that it might have something to do with this collective unconsciousness of the French that are still hesitant about going to see something that deals with a very painful period in their history.
VIRGINIE: It's also because a film is a comedy. There are people who are also hesitant about going to see a film where they may laugh about a period which, for them, may have been a very sad period of time. It may either be this hesitance of not wanting to see what was happening or wanting to laugh what was happening. All of this may have played a part in the lower box-office receipts.
This is an all-star cast of French actors. Did you have these actors in mind when the script was being put together?
JEAN-PAUL: The screenplay was written without thinking of any particular actors at the beginning. This is really a polyphonic kind of film. Regarding which actors were going to play which roles, there was a lot of traffic going on various roles. There are a lot of French actors that I like and that I'm interested in working with. For example, with Depardieu, the role that he played was not the original role he wanted to play. I directed him in "Cyrano de Bergerac" and he got a bit part in "The Horseman on the Roof" and he said, "I want to be in this film." Originally, he wanted to play the young man, Frederic, but it's not his role anymore. It's not his type of role anymore. But then, he was cast in the role of the criminal who escapes with Frederic, the part that was played by Yvan Attal. But then, somebody else was scheduled to play the minister but he was out, and so Depardieu moved into the part of the minister. Of course, with Virginie, there was some traffic around her part. In the end, ultimately what I think is that the films are stronger than all of us. There's the film up there and ultimately, it's the film that's defies who's going to play which role. This is an idea that Fellini proposed as well and ultimately, it's the film that makes the decision of who plays what part.
Virginie, what was it about the script that drew you to the project?
VIRGINIE: When I received the script of "Bon voyage," I wanted to like the script because Jean-Paul was one of the directors I wanted to work with for a long time and so I was really flattered to receive the script. I know he's taking time between movies. He didn't make a movie for seven years so I was so happy to, maybe, be a part of his next movie. When I read the script, it was also for all the reasons we said about the historical meanings. We could make a comedy about it without being cynical or vulgar really interested me and I liked my part. She was the kind of heroine that I love playing.
The last mainstream American film you appeared in was "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio. Would you like to work in the States more?
VIRGINIE: I would love it if it's good, of course.
Would you ever take a big budget movie just to promote yourself more or would you turn it down?
VIRGINIE: It always depends on the director. It's very hard for me to dissociate the part from the person who's going to film you and having a point of view on what you're going to do. There's some action movies that I love and some American blockbusters that I love but there aren't that many parts for girls, especially French girls. I have no preconceptions about it. I just want to do some good movies and it's very subjective of what I think is good. But I won't take a part just because [the movie] is going to make $100 million dollars.
What are you working on next?
VIRGINIE: I just finished a movie called "Saint Ange," which you will probably see in the States. It's a kind of mystery movie and a thriller. It's like "The Others" or something like that.
What excites you most about French cinema today?
JEAN-PAUL: Specifically, with regards to French film, the one thing that interests and excites me is the diversity. There are so many directors, in fact almost too many directors. Every year we see a new generation of all different types of directors coming out, including more and more women, and one of the things that interest me is that you can have classical filmmakers of which I do, much more experimental films with other directors, and even other types of films so it's the diversity of it.
VIRGINIE: The same.
JEAN-PAUL: We also have films that are kings of the box-office in France but they're pretty much non-exportable because they're generally comedians who are familiar to French audiences and French audiences would understand, but don't travel well.
VIRGINIE: The same thing with Ashton Kutcher here. Nobody knows who he is in France. It's so funny when you read the stuff about this guy here, which is a huge story. Nobody knows who he is in France.
Virginie LeDoyen will play in "Da Vinci"
Move over Sophie Marceau and Julie Delpy it seems. According to the french magazine Le Parisien, Audrey Tatou will play the female lead opposite Tom Hanks and Jean Reno in director Ron Roward's big-screen version of "The Da Vinci Code".
The article confirms that Ron Howard and Brian Grazer met Vanessa Paradis, Sandrine Bonnaire, Marion Cotillard and Judith Godrèche between November and December. Then on early January, Sophie Marceau, Juliette Binoche, Virginie Ledoyen, Amira Casar, Elsa Zylberstein, Anna Mouglalis, Alexia Orlando, Julie Delpy and Linda Hardy had a screen test with Tom Hanks.
Audrey Tautou had a screen test with Tom Hanks in Los Angeles on January 13th, and then met Ron Howard on January 14th. At that time, Ron Howard didn't know whether he had to choose Audrey Tautou or Linda Hardy. Finally, several days later he flew to Paris to announce to Audrey Tautou that she is Sophie Neveu.
Meanwhile, Comme Au Cinema reports that French officials are close to giving Howard the final go-ahead to shoot scenes in the famed Louvre museum, according to published reports. "There is really a very strong desire to see the movie for this book, which has world renown, shot in the Louvre. It is a yes in principle from our side" the Louvre's director, Henri Loyrette told France-Inter radio.
Producers have been scouting exterior locations around Paris as well as interiors in the Louvre's Grand Gallery where the novel opens. Plans are also in place to roll camera in the room that holds the Mona Lisa, da Vinci's most heralded work, which plays a critical role in Brown's mystery.
First though, the museum must approve the scenes to be shot from Akiva Goldman's script based on proposed storyboards that Howard has submitted to them. Shooting will begin late June with two weeks of shooting in the Louvre Museum, most on nights.
Virginie Ledoyen: 8 Women
How did you become involved with "8 Women"?
I've known the director François Ozon for a long time and he sent me the script. As soon as I read it, I wanted to do it. What impresses me about François' films is that they are so different. This one is a weird mixture of music, comedy, and murder-mystery. It's also completely stylised - it's an homage to American Technicolor movies from the 50s.
How would you describe your character Suzon?
She seems to be the archetypal perfect young girl. She's well-educated and studies in England. She is tender and nice with everybody. Then you realise that she's not what she seems, in the way that none of the women in the film are.
Did it feel strange acting alongside so many famous female actresses?
It felt weird to have the chance to work with so many women of different generations. But I was so happy when I learnt that people like Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Huppert were doing the movie. I'd dreamed of these actresses when I was a girl. François respected everybody's personality. You never had the feeling that you had to fight to be in a shot, or that somebody was trying to be the biggest star.
Was it claustrophobic acting on just one set?
Actually, it was like doing a play in Paris, where you have the same location, the same costumes, and the same hairdresser. Usually most characters I play are quite realistic. In "8 Women" everything is artificial - the colours, the lighting, the dresses, and the hairstyles - and François wanted our performances to be theatrical.
Were you nervous about singing your own song in the film?
I was excited! François didn't expect us to be perfect because we're not professional singers. My song in the movie "Mon Amour, Mon Ami" is like a monologue, in which Suzon is saying so many things about who she is.
Why do you think "8 Women" has been so popular in France?
It's been popular not just in France, but in Italy and Germany. It really surprises people. I think it's a good movie and you have a good time watching it. One moment you're laughing, the next you're scared.