Kering Talks in Cannes: Robin Wright says Trump stealing House of Cards best lines
Robin Wright – in Kering's debut Women in Motion talk – was in voluble form. Especially about women’s empowerment; directing a short film showing in Cannes; House of Cards, the Netflix series that has grown into a global cult; why Donald Trump is stealing all of the next season’s best lines; and why Michelle Obama would make a great first woman president.
“Feminism means equality – equal rights and equal pay. Many CFOs and CEOs of major corporations are women – who make billions for their companies. So, why cannot we do that in film? Or in politics? I want Michelle Obama up here. She would be great female president. She is breaking the mold, in psychology. Though maybe it will take time for Michelle to send that message,” said Wright, speaking in the seventh floor Kering suite of the Majestic Hotel.
Wright plays the part of icy Claire to Kevin Spacey’s power hungry President Francis Underwood in House of Cards. Were the characters based on real life politicians?
“They told me Lady Macbeth and Richard III,” quipped Wright drawing a huge laugh from the 80 people in the audience.
“Though I don’t think we have to delve into the politics of it. If you want politics you watch the news every night. We get ideas from that. And lots in past few days… Trump has stolen all my ideas for season six!” said the actress, earning an even louder laugh.
Why, she was asked, are only 7% of movies still directed by women?
“It’s a matter of time and breaking an old school of thought. Why don’t we have movies from Tunisia and Vietnam - yes we have it here in Cannes. But it is about opening up perspectives. We need more nationalities and perspectives back into film,” said Wright, poised in a black Stella McCartney pantsuit.
Her conversation opened a series of talks sponsored by luxury conglomerate Kering. Its dazzling guest list includes Isabelle Huppert, Yang Yang, Salma Hayek – wife of Kering CEO and owner François Henri Pinault – and Diane Kruger.
In Cannes, Wright is premiering The Dark of Night, a 7-minute short film; Huppert stars in Michael Haneke’s Happy End, and Kruger in Fatih Akin’s In the Fade.
“We got the crew of House of Cards to work for free on the weekends to make this short movie. We shot on Saturday and Sunday for 12 hours. Everybody just stepped up and did their best work. The reason I did it was discovering new styles. In House of Cards we are very regimented – we don’t take the 100 ml lens out of the box. In this film we wanted to see characters reacting in their environment - and not just lots of quick cuts and close ups,” explained the blond Texan, who reached out to friends and family to finance this “out of pocket movie,” and raised over $50,000 in crowd funding.
“Acting is a little like watching an animal preying for food… reacting to the other animal. To watch that as a director and let the actor play a little bit. Then, you try to direct them,” said Wright, who modeled in her youth in New York and Paris, before going on to direct seven episodes of House of Cards.
Speaking of Spacey, she argued that the series was “the perfect union of both genders. Where the president annihilates people and devours them. He is so expressive. He is so verbal. Building that balance between her quietness, stoicism and discerning," she said in a debate with Variety editor Ramin Setoodeh.
On a personal level, she mused: “It took me a long time to grow up as a woman. After growing up very fast as a child. Divorce and moving and being around a lot of people a lot of the time, and adapting to them. Because you are moving so fast through people you don’t want to engage with them as it hurts when you leave.”
Asked by a young lady in the audience what the most sexist role was that she had played, Wright paused and took a deep breath.
“When I was 17 in Paris and went into a go see and some one told me to lift my shirt up and show my boobs. And then they said ‘No! I'd like other girl more.’ And, that was a woman who asked me to do that – and I did not get the job.”
Asked whether the red carpet in some way exploited women, she shrugged: “That red carpet syndrome is always going to be about the fashion. That is why it is there! It’s a give-and-take we do each other a favor.”
Next up, she plays General Antiope in Wonder Woman. “What’s really great is that - this may sound cheesy, a Hallmark card and platitudes- but this movie is about a female super hero, so a generation of young girls and boys are going to flock to cinema. And the message is about love and justice and what a great message that is!”
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