Jack Smart interviews Marion Cotillard about her process in developing the character for Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night)

Marion Cotillard

To play Sandra, a middle-class mother battling depression, Marion Cotillard used a plethora of tools in her acting arsenal. First, it helps to have experienced a degree of the same kind of despair herself. “I came very close once,” says the actor, before smiling modestly. “But I have arms. I’m a pretty good fighter.”

Cotillard’s performance in the Belgian film “Deux jours, une nuit” (“Two Days, One Night”) showcases that same fighting spirit, but with a submissive, delicate restraint rarely seen from the acclaimed actor. After taking time off from the local solar panel factory due to a nervous breakdown, Sandra learns company management has offered employees a bonus if they agree to let her go. With dogged encouragement from her husband, Sandra spends her weekend tracking down her co-workers, convincing them to forego the raise and trying not to let depression engulf her completely.

“I came close enough to understand what it is to lose the purpose of being here, the taste of everything,” says Cotillard. Personal experience was the first step toward unlocking what seemed to her a sorrowfully complex role. “I really needed to understand this depression, how it affected her family and the people she loved.” She acknowledges the enigmatic nature of the condition for those not enmeshed in it; there exists a social stigma against Sandra’s behavior that makes her depths difficult to convey. “We have a lot of judgments when it comes to depression,” she points out. “It’s kind of mysterious.”

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