‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’: The women, the scenes, the director
In the French lesbian love story “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” 15-year-old Adele has plans to become a teacher, but her life changes dramatically when she meets Emma, a blue-haired art student at a nearby college who initiates a romance.
Adele Exarchopoulos, right, plays the 15-year-old protagonist in the three-hour coming-of-age drama “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” She starred in several French films before this one, which catapulted her success. (Sundance Selects)
Lea Seydoux plays cheeky Emma in the coming-of-age drama “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” Seydoux was previously cast in a handful of notable American films, including Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” and Brad Bird’s “Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol.” (Sundance Selects)
The love drama “Blue Is the Warmest Color” won the hearts of French critics. But as Los Angeles Times’ film critic Kenneth Turan pointed out, English speakers were divided and “called it everything from voyeuristic to the gold standard for lesbian romances.” The film received an NC-17 rating. (Sundance Selects)
When Adele Exarchopoulos, pictured, was 9, her parents sent her to acting classes to remedy her of her shyness. She continued to take classes until she was 12, and made her debut in the French drama “Boxes.” (Sundance Selects)
The romantic story “Blue Is the Warmest Color” premiered at the 66th annual 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Lea Seydoux, left, and Adele Exarchopoulos plant kisses on the film’s Tunisian-French director, Abdellatif Kechiche. (Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images )
The French film “Blue Is the Warmest Color” went home with Cannes’ highest honor -- the Palme d’Or award. And the award went not only to the movie, but to the director and main actresses, pictured. (Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA)
The romantic drama “Blue Is the Warmest Color” is titled “La Vie d’Adele -- Chapitres 1 & 2" in French, or “The Life of Adele -- Chapters 1 & 2,” in English. Here, the film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche, from left, poses with French actress Adele Exarchopoulos and French actor Jeremie Laheurte during an event for the film in Italy. ( Claudio Onorati / EPA )
In a solo Q&A session, actress Adele Exarchopoulos, right, said “Blue Is the Warmest Color” director Abdellatif Kechiche is “a genius, he’s tortured.” (Juan Carlos Hisdalgo / EPA )
Actor Jeremie Laheurte, from left, director Abdellatif Kechiche, actress Adele Exarchopoulos and actress Lea Seydoux attend the “Blue Is The Warmest Color” premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2013. (George Pimentel / WireImage)
Lea Seydoux, left, told an interviewer from the Daily Beast that filming “Blue Is the Warmest Color” was a “horrible” experience. Adele Exarchopoulos said “there was a kind of manipulation, which was hard to handle,” referring to director Abdellatif Kechiche and the many graphic sex scenes the pair had to act out. Both actresses said they would not work with the director again.
Then, during a news conference with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., director Kechiche fired back with a nearly 20-minute rant against the actresses, saving especially strong comments for Seydoux. (Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images for Variety)
Director Abdellatif Kechiche said the film’s shoot was originally scheduled for 2 1/2 months, but he ended up spending double that time to get the performance he wanted from Lea Seydoux, pictured. The extra time, Kechiche said, cost him more than 1.5 million euros out of pocket. He also said he gave Seydoux ample opportunity to quit, even during production. Seydoux said she didn’t let the director faze her. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Lea Seydoux, right, comes from a privileged background with several family connections to the French film industry; two of her relatives are CEOs of major French studios. Director Abdellatif Kechiche used these facts to suggest her family motivated her to criticize him.
Then, during a news conference with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and in between tears, Seydoux said of her family: “It’s difficult for me to be here and to defend the film. And I gave so much to the film. My family never helped me. You can ask them. I feel there is something very unfair, and anyway that’s all I can say.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
When choosing Adele Exarchopoulos, pictured, as one of the film’s leading ladies, director Abdellatif Kechiche said his casting process was based on instinct. “When I meet actors, I need to have a sense of complicity with them,” he said, adding, “my casting process is very much based on intuition.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Reflecting on her casting experience, Adele Exarchopoulos, pictured, told the New York Times: “In France, you always see the same actresses, and that’s great; they’re good in different movies as different characters. But at castings, you feel like you have no chance. [Director Abdellatif Kechiche] takes people like me and tries. It was a huge adventure, up and down, really intense.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
The love story “Blue Is the Warmest Color” was written, produced and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. It was released too late in French theaters to be eligible for a 2014 foreign-language Oscar. The award-winning film arrives in American theaters Friday.
Days before the film was set to debut in American theaters, director Kechiche issued an open letter on French website Rue89, declaring actress Lea Seydoux an “arrogant, spoiled child,” who continues to chastise him with attempts to secure her rebel image and further land the covers of magazines and newspapers. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)