Friday, June 20, 2014
By Abbey Khan
French model Loan Chabanol is quickly becoming a name in the acting world, making the transition from model to actress very fluidly. In Third Person, she plays Sam, the compassionate girlfriend of Rick (James Franco), a famous artist who lacks her compassion when it comes to his ex-wife Julia (Mila Kunis). Chabanol shares her experience on working with an all-star cast, how she’s different from her character, and how she’s made the leap from model to actress.
FUSHION: I think it’s amazing that this is only your second film and you have already worked with so many high profile actors in this film and had Paul Haggis as the director. I think most people would be intimidated or nervous. Were you ever nervous about taking a role in this film?
LOAN: Oh yeah, I was terrified. Let’s be honest, I was really terrified, but first of all because I’m new so I haven’t been acting for a very long time, and second of all I was working opposite some real legends from the industry, so I was really scared. But I was lucky because Paul was so amazing and even before I shot with John Turturro and Woody Allen, they never made me feel that I was new, they made me feel like I was a part of it with them and I was here with them, and along the film I felt that I belonged there and I felt comfortable to work with them. So I was able to relax and do my job.
FUSHION: Did any of the actors give you any pointers or advice, or did you go to them for any advice?
LOAN: No, because I’m really shy so I don’t really ask so much. I like to just look at them and watch what they do. That’s usually what I do. I just go on the monitor and I just watch what they would be doing. The only person who came to me was Woody Allen.
LOAN: Yep, he was the one who, I mean besides the directors I worked with, but as an actor because I worked with him as an actor, he came to me in the middle of the day and he was really, really kind and he told me that I was good. He said you’re really good. Well he said you’re good, and he said you are very pleasant. Some of the actors are just acting when you say action and he said to me basically that I’m just being. So that was a really, really great compliment from him and it gave me a lot of comfort within my job and what I was trying to do and I felt really happy after that day, especially coming from him, I’m like I guess I must be doing something right.
FUSHION: Did you shoot that film with Woody Allen before you shot Third Person? I know it came out first.
LOAN: Yes. And then I’m filming Third Person I mean I was working with James Franco, but they were all great and really professional and very giving, that was amazing and I felt trusted by everyone. So I’d say it was a good place.
FUSHION: Now you modeled for many years before transitioning into acting, did you bring any experiences from your modelling days into acting?
LOAN: Yeah, I think I left that at the door.
FUSHION: Oh okay. Why so?
LOAN: I think I left it at the door because I felt that being an actor was a lot about being, not really about looking a certain way, although I can look a certain way. But it’s really about the inside, not really about the outside. And I was really always interested in that depth of being so I was really happy to actually stop modelling to experience the role of acting because that’s something that I enjoy much more. So yeah I left it at the door. Basically it’s like dying to be reborn again and trying to walk and then you fall, and then you start to walk again and then maybe someone will hold your hand and then you can walk with help and then by yourself. So it was not easy.
FUSHION: In addition to being a model and an actress, you’re also an artist, right?
FUSHION: Was it a coincidence that you played the girlfriend of a famous artist in this film or did you kind of go after that role?
LOAN: Yeah, totally, it was a happy coincidence. I was really happy to see that I was evolving into the character and she’s actually an artist as well. Not well known and recognized the same that the character James plays, but she does little things in her corner. She’s about art, she’s about creating, yeah she’s a little artist herself too. So it was really exciting to do that part.
FUSHION: It’s funny because you said before that you’re very quiet and you’re all about watching, and that’s how your character was as well. So it was a perfect fit.
LOAN:: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean I learned a lot from her. I feel that I used to talk a lot.
FUSHION: Nothing wrong with that.
LOAN: Yeah, when I was a little girl I had my quiet moments, but I was always talking too much, and my mum was like stop talking, you know. Like I was just talking nonstop and then along the way I learned to be a little bit quiet because you don’t really learn much when you talk all of the time. You learn more when you don’t talk, when you listen. So let’s say when I played her, Sam, it really, really opened me up to that place of listening. And I told Paul thank you so much because I learned so much from her and I’m trying to be like her, although she is really not judgmental which is not what I am. I’m like I don’t like that, I don’t like that, but yeah much more for sure she’s like a little Buddha. But let’s say I’m trying to teach us both as a human being, so I try to learn especially from the characters that I’ve played. It’s helped me so much to understand human beings and who is the person in front of me and understand where they’re coming from. So that’s a process that fascinates me.
FUSHION: Okay. Now let me ask you, I think anyone who sees this film will have their own definition of the title Third Person, but what does that title mean to you?
LOAN: Well, directly to me that would be the distance that you put between the situation and the feelings that you’re going through when the situation is happening, bad or good. So I like the idea of having a distance where you can exactly see what’s going on instead of reacting on what is happening, but just not reacting and understanding that maybe someone else is suffering more than you are and you can just make a different move that will help everyone. So I like that distance not as all the things, I mean Third Person, you know triangle and situation and boyfriend, lover, a mother, I mean there’s always a third person involved into a life situation if you really think about it deeply. But yeah, the first answer will be my answer.
FUSHION: What other projects do you have going on?
LOAN: I’m working on an art exhibition for 2015. I’m working in collaboration with a very talented artist and I’ll be his muse for his next exhibition in April 2015. It’s going to be showing next to the LACMA in L.A. and it’s going to be really, really big. It’s related to the movies as well. It’s just really amazing. I’m so thrilled to be collaborating with him.
FUSHION: Oh, that’s great. You’re getting back to your original roots so it seems like you’re combining all of them– that’s so amazing.
LOAN:: Yeah, I always like to do other things. I think it’s good for the soul.
Third Person tells three stories of love, passion, trust and betrayal. The tales play out in New York, Paris and Rome through three couples who appear to have nothing in common and only tangential connections. But there is always a third person in any relationship — perhaps not romantically, perhaps you aren’t even aware of their existence, but they are there.
The film is directed by Oscar winner Paul Haggis and stars Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Adrien Brody, Mila Kunis, James Franco, Maria Bello, Moran Atias and Loan Chabanol.
Third Person opens in select theaters in Los Angeles and New York today, June 20, 2014.