“If I hadn’t known how to defend myself, a lot of things would have happened to me”

Success at the age of 14, with The party (1980), an unequaled status as the most popular French actress, around fifty films, an international aura, two books including this collection of short stories, The Underground (Seghers, 160 pages, 17 euros), which she has just published. And yet, Sophie Marceau, 56, has a personality that sets her apart, that of a little girl from a modest background who became a star without losing her mind.

I wouldn’t have come here if…

… If I hadn’t absolutely wanted to work at the age of 12. I wanted to earn some money, but above all to be independent. I have always thought that it was through work that we realized ourselves, that had a very important place in my family. The adult world, in my eyes, was the world of work and I wanted to be an adult.

Did you dream of a specific job? Did you have a particular calling?

No not at all. For me, we learned by doing. I come from a working world, so I had no idea that one could study. Besides, I didn’t go to school, I didn’t know how to read the statements… but I know how to adapt, imitate the necessary actions and gestures.

Didn’t your parents have plans for you either?

They wanted me to have a job, a family, to be someone responsible, but they had neither the codes nor the means to get me to study. That wasn’t a problem though: there’s always a way to get by in life.

It’s quite rare to answer this question in such a prosaic way. It is easier to talk about a talent, an education, a mentor…

Yes, I can imagine it. But it’s also because we scare people with the way we talk about working life. Today, work is presented as a servitude rather than an accomplishment. The world of work has become depersonalized, but at the time, what I saw of it with my parents was quite concrete. We knew who his boss was, we were connected. The world of cinema has also become more impersonal. We no longer really know who produces, who decides, we are no more than a pawn. I didn’t have that feeling before. Maybe it was an illusion, but I thought that to work was to be considered.

Also read the interview: Article reserved for our subscribers Sophie Marceau: “On all subjects, I go to the quarter turn”

At 12, what job could you find?

I went to the shops, to the markets, I am from a generation where you could start working at 13. My mother saw an advertisement in a newspaper for a child modeling agency. And we went there the following week.

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