Louise Portal has established herself as one of the leading actresses of Quebec cinema. After fifty years spent shining on the big screen, she will now be honored by the Gala Québec Cinéma with an Iris Award in recognition of her rich career: the perfect opportunity for an interview at open your heart. For the account, the name “Louise Portal” and the expression “open heart” synonyms. Requiring transparency, it must be said that Louise is a kind of fairy godmother to the author of these lines. Interview in a tone of confidence, therefore.
What are your earliest memories of cinema?
I remember very well that I went to see with my sister Pauline [Lapointe] parental catcher (Parents’ trap ; 1961) from Disney Studios to Chicotime Imperial Cinemas. It was the story of twins, like us, that spoke to me. This was the first time I could get to know a twin character in a movie. Later, there was Jules and Jim…Jane Moreau has become my model, my idol. Years later, François Truffaut wrote me a beautiful letter after I read my first book: It is at the forefront of my novel actress.
As a child, was your dream of becoming an actress?
Oh yes ! With Pauline, we played the song “à la madame”, dressed up … As a child, I filled scrapbooks – returned to the National Archives – with pictures of actresses of that time: Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale … I was I imagine. In the 80’s I wrote the song record photoswhich is a biography.
your first movie the Bull, by Clement Peron, released nearly 50 years ago. What memory do you keep?
Keep a bright memory of that. This is where I really discovered cinema.
I have previously done television, at La p’tite Semaine, and Paradis Perdu teletheatre, at Radio Canada, which have received exceptional permission from the Conservatoire. But there, I found myself in the elements. By that I mean we were shooting in a boss, by a river, in a village, in a barn, in a real country house… Suddenly I was no longer confined to a studio: it was real life. I remember saying to myself, “Cinema is that. It was in keeping with my nature as an actress: I’m instinctive, emotional, not cultured. Being in a real pub, with real beer, helps me. I love when reality calls itself fiction.”
Speaking of “real bar”, from the opening the Bullyour character offers a number of striptease. Were you nervous at the time? Do you have any doubts?
In life, at that time I was very modest, but in my work, I was not at all. If someone asked me something, I did. On the other hand, if I didn’t “feel” it, I said so. For example, while shooting a movieDecline of the American Empirein the locker room scene where I’m in my chest, my back to the camera, Dennis [Arcand] She asked me if I would take my pants off so I could only be in my underwear. I refused, and did not understand the significance. Denis did not insist, because he has this sensitivity, this respect. On the contrary, years later, when I was filming MechanicalThere’s a love scene in the barn between me and Norman Damore: he was naked in my jeans. Between two words, the director, René Beaulieu, came to see us and asked if we’d like to be naked together. I replied, “No problem! It’s a wonderful sight in which so many women of my generation have spoken out, because it’s rare to see a woman in her sixties naked on screen. But in short, I’ve always taken responsibility for my choices.”
One of the most striking films in your movie is an accurate one Decline of the American Empire. Did you know while filming that you were part of a page in the history of Quebec cinema?
I had no idea how big it was, but I knew the movie was exceptional. I mean… the script is a gem; It’s a great. Dennis is very intelligent and relevant; He has a vision. The chemistry of the cast was amazing. Finding them all, seventeen years later, was, for Les Invasions barbares, a gift. And knowing that Dennis kept thinking of us… For an actress, an actress, when you know that the director with whom you tested something important and beautiful still thinks of you, it’s so precious.
For a good part of your career, there was often a common denominator of excitement, whether it was an iconic character like Cordelia or mature roles, as in full blastAnd the the orphan thinks where South. This lustful picture, from sex symbol-Have you weighed before?
It never weighed me down. However… let me, a word I prefer to “force”, make wise choices. in the BullI was 22, I was good, I was AttractiveI was doing striptease… Sure enough, after that I got a lot of offers for movies SexualFocus on nudity. I turned down four or five films because I didn’t want to turn into a pigeon. Sensuality was an asset, but it involved management very early on. I had a vision for the future. I wanted more than just a role in my body. I said to myself, “I have an inner life and I want it to be able to cross the screen, transcend incarnation. I wasn’t afraid to wait. If you look at my 1972 movie, there are three movies, and after that, there’s a lull. Then, in 1979-1980, it happened.” That suddenly Cordelia And the die out loud. I had these projects on my way because I waited for them. Perhaps I would have altered or weakened my journey, if I had accepted these other films beforehand.
At some point, in your movie, with Wolves Sophie Derasby to be exact, we feel like breaking this picture.
It’s a role that summoned my whole humanity, my background as a woman and an actress. I wanted to have white hair, but I was working on soap operas and it just wasn’t possible. But I let myself grow a good white regrowth. This regrowth was a confirmation. when i did Paul in Quebec Then in the front my hair is white and in the back it looks like a white half wig. After that, I wore my white hair. It is very liberating. I love that the actress is no longer the one who decides what a woman does. It’s an important step: you have to accept aging on screen and take responsibility for yourself. I am 72 years old and I am proud of that.
Has your style of work changed over the years?
I started working without agency support. I had a lot of ambition. I did not hesitate to come forward. For two years, and that’s a positive aspect of the pandemic, I’ve been left with a lot. At the moment, I don’t have a TV project and I have a remote movie project. But I do not lack. Literature and my conferences have achieved me… I have reached a stage where I no longer have any character between me and the people. I am no longer in ambition but in transmission.
Thanks to this Iris tribute, what kind of rating would you put?
I feel such gratitude…but I’d like to answer you with a paragraph from actress : «Tonight in Gaspésie from my last rest, I come back to my life. It’s like this every time I open one of my notebooks. Today my hair is white. I haven’t cheated for a long time. Youth, seduction and beauty are irreversibly gone. Behold, I am anonymous all my time closing notebooks and bags, closing this journey in nostalgia. I’m sitting a very long life, as long as my hair is now hanging down in foamy waves on my curved back from many turns over the years. »