Emmanuelle Riva (left), director Michael Haneke (centre) and Jean -Louis Trintignant (right)
Cannes – Agencies
France\'s Emmanuelle Riva, the 85 year-old star of Michael Haneke\'s Cannes winner \"Amour\" (Love) on Sunday, says she threw herself into the role of a dying woman. Riva and her French co-star Jean-Louis
Trintignant, 81, bowled the festival over in the story of a couple of retired music teachers, Georges and Anne, whose rich and adoring relationship is cruelly tested when she suffers a stroke.
The Austrian director\'s wrenching study of love at the bitter end charts Anne\'s physical and mental decline, and the increasingly unbearable strain it puts on Georges, who cares for her at home to the last.
Utterly believable in the role, Riva told of how she invested heart and soul in the part, sleeping in her dressing room at the studio where the film was shot to remain immersed in her character.
\"I had a very, very strong desire to play this part\", said the soft-spoken actress. \"I had a kind of conviction that I could put myself in Anne\'s shoes\", she added.
\"I approached it with a very powerful passion, and nothing seemed too difficult\", she said. \"I would run onto the set in the morning. And it was for me a great, great source of happiness\".
Riva was last in Cannes in 1959 as the 30-something star of the French classic \"Hiroshima Mon Amour\", which was screened out of competition to avoid upsetting the US.
\"It was really quite different in 59. But I kept an excellent memory of it. I was 30, maybe a little more, I was seeing it for the first time, I was pretty innocent\".
\"The film made a big splash, and people still talk about it today. There was \'Hiroshima Mon Amour\" and now there is \'Amour\',\" the French title of Haneke\'s film. \"It\'s kind of amusing!\"
Trintignant slightly nuanced Riva\'s upbeat account of the Haneke shoot: \"She was shaken up - it would take her half an hour to recover from a scene.\"
And in Cannes last week the actress had to be excused from attending a formal dinner with the festival organisers, exhausted by a gruelling day of back-to-back press conferences and interviews.
But speaking to AFP, Riva said she still relished the chance as an actress to slip into different identities.
\"Every individual contains several lives within himself\", she said. \"In this profession you develop all these possibilities. There is a great joy in feeling that you are letting go of yourself, to go somewhere unknown\".
\"People talk about getting under the skin of a character. It may sound silly, but that\'s really what it is like, with all your body and heart. This profession can be painful, difficult, but it can be a source of great joy.
\"After the age of 80, and especially for women, there are hardly any roles left in movie scripts,\" she told AFP.
\"But from time to time, something like this comes along - and then it\'s a great gift. You don\'t hesitate for a second.\"