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9 Quick Questions for Juliette Binoche

Oscar-winning actress stars as Coco Chanel in Apple TV+ series ‘The New Look’


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Photo Collage: MOA Staff; (Source: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Oscar-winning French actress Juliette Binoche, 59, makes a fashionable splash as Coco Chanel in the new Apple TV+ historical drama The New Look, premiering Feb. 14. Binoche shares the challenges of playing a real-life fashion legend, her thoughts on turning 60 and how she feels about her upcoming empty nest.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Is it easier or more difficult to play a real person versus a fictional character?

Harder, especially when they’re not here anymore, because you cannot ask questions. So you feel responsible for what’s being said about the character you’re playing. You want to be accurate and give as much truth as possible, especially with [Coco], because she was hiding a lot of the past. It was difficult sometimes during the actual seven months of shooting because, in a TV series — I didn’t know before — you have these scripts quite late in the shooting [process]. So to reflect on it, to make sure that this is accurate ... I had to work a lot.

You wear some incredible costumes in the series. Are you a fashionista?

I appreciate [fashion] as an art form — the cuts or the choice of colors, the choice of material — very much. But I’m not obsessed with it. When I feel down, I don’t go out and buy tons of clothes. That’s not my thing. It was difficult in a way, because I couldn’t have the exact Chanel [pieces to wear] because of rights purposes. So we had to make the feeling of Chanel’s way of wearing [clothes and accessories]. I really enjoyed doing it.

spinner image juliette binoche and emily mortimer in a still from the new look
Binoche, on left, stars as Coco Chanel in the Apple TV+ historical drama “The New Look.”
Apple TV+

Do you watch much television?

Not that much, because I work too much, and I love reading and I love other kinds of worlds. … I need to nourish myself in different ways. I go and see plays and I go see exhibitions.

What do you like to read?

I love spiritual books. I need them because it nourishes my soul, and I have questions about life that I feel like I urgently need to understand this or that and be inspired by different kinds of spirituality. It’s always been like that since I was a young adult. But still, as I’m going through time, it feels more and more urgent in a way.

Is there a specific spiritual book that’s been helpful to you?

The one that I always go back to because it feels [like it’s filled with] infinite teaching — it’s called Talking with Angels [by Gitta Mallasz]. That’s the English title.

How are you feeling about turning 60 this year?

Should I be worried about it? I don’t know. I am excited. … I’m not the kind of person who looks back or loses myself in this kind of vertigo of the future. I really see life as day after day and the present time. Myself — I’m trying to accomplish everything I can. It feels that that’s the right way to walk down my path. I’m working probably too much, so it feels like I was never bored in my life.

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Do you have any professional goals or challenges you’d like to take on?

Well, in my profession, I think directing would be a challenge, and I’m doing a short film in March, so there’s a little bit of me that says: OK, what do you want to tell? You chose stories, but you didn’t write them, and you didn’t direct them. So what would be the stories I want to give? The only challenge is how truthful you can be until the end. And it means to not always look perfect. You have to let go of the idea of perfection.

Any personal life changes you are now facing?

My son [Raphaël Hallé, 30] left the house three years ago and my daughter [Hana Magimel, 24] is going to leave this year. It’s going to be a big change for me, because I have to rethink my life. I’m excited by it. … And at the same time, I feel, Wow that’s a page I’m turning. And life goes on. And that’s the deal. You have to accept the challenge and the deal. … So it feels like a new canvas. What’s going to be painted in my life? I have no idea. … But my life has been so full and rich. No regrets.

What’s the most important advice you’ve tried to impart to your kids?

I would say just go for it. Live your dreams. Be courageous. Be in the present time. Definitely that’s the key to me, because you’re not anticipating anything. You’re fully giving yourself. Give yourself to life. Because you cannot live life being frightened. Otherwise you wouldn’t live it fully.

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