CULTURE

Rising star Anna Mouglalis

“Cinema is risky and that’s what I like about it. It is a world inhabited by many vampires and you have to be vigilant with vampires,» says Anna Mouglalis in her husky, captivating voice. Careful as she may be, however, Mouglalis’s career, so far, has had to do with encounters, both in front of and behind the camera. «I became an actress because of people I met, and decided to take the drama school entry exams,» says Mouglalis. «At the school, I had an amazing physical sensation. It was in the theater, at that moment when the actor’s stage fright turns into excitement and then into enthusiasm. Chemically, it is a state of grace.» Grace is an appropriate term to describe the 24-year-old’s rapidly rising star in French cinema. As one of the guests of honor at the fourth French Film Festival, Mouglalis visited Athens recently to present the 2002 film «Novo,» along with the film’s director Jean-Pierre Limosin and her Spanish co-star Eduardo Noriega. «It is important to support this kind of festival, which offers a counterbalance to American film. It is important, therefore, that the actors get involved. It is a matter of politics; they have to aid those distributors who buy French productions rather than American ones.» As far as cinema is concerned, confrontation between the USA and Europe goes back a long way. For Mouglalis, however, American film also has its virtues and the actress is interested in getting involved in independent film, not to mention working with American directors, such as David Lynch, for instance. «American cinema can be magnificent. It is the only film industry that is able to make grand, popular films. It is also the USA’s second biggest revenue,» notes Mouglalis. «In France, on the other hand, cinema loses money. It is a different kind of relationship.» For the time being, however, Mouglalis has no immediate French or American projects. Instead, she is heading to Italy, where she is about to start filming under director Roberto Ando, whose credits include the year 2000’s «Il Manoscritto del Principe,» based on the life of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of the celebrated «Il Gattopardo.» In a sensational script, according to the actress, she will interpret the role of a Polish immigrant alongside Daniel Auteuil. «They are constantly offering me the roles of foreigners; it’s amusing,» says Mouglalis. «There are perhaps feelings of exile, transmitted from father to son.» And from father to daughter too. Taking a look at the family tree, members of the Mouglalis clan include a grandmother from the island of Kastellorizo and an Alexandrine grandfather. A frequent visitor to Greece, Mouglalis is planning to further reinforce her links to this country. After wrapping up her next film, she will, no doubt, begin courses in Greek, in order to reach some level of proficiency before she begins filming her first Greek feature, under the direction of Panos Koutras, whose 2000 film «The Attack of the Giant Moussaka» attained cult status in France. «It is superstitious to talk about the film beforehand; all I can say is that it will be a story about dependency,» says Mouglalis. «We begin shooting in September – in Greek.» A star is born Born in Nantes, Brittany, in 1978, Mouglalis graduated from the Conservatoire National Superieur d’Art Dramatique, before embarking on a career defined by risk-taking roles. «Cinema is generated by desire,» she says. «And you have to let yourself go.» Letting herself go in «Novo,» for instance, Mouglalis takes on the role of Irene, an accountant who falls in love with a man suffering from amnesia – making every day seem like the very first. In 2000, in Claude Chabrol’s «Merci pour le Chocolat,» Mouglalis interpreted the role of Jeanne, a piano student investigating her family history, where she played alongside Jacques Dutronc and Isabelle Huppert. In Philippe Grandrieux’s «La Vie Nouvelle,» in 2002, she became Melania, a Ukrainian prostitute trying to survive war-wrecked Kosovo. Besides building up a cinematic CV, the actress is also present on stage – just recently she appeared alongside Christine Boisson in Martin Crimp’s «The Country,» a play about urban anxiety that is transferred to the countryside by those who want to escape it. And then there’s the question of Chanel. Following in the vertiginous heels of models and actresses such as Ines de la Fressange and more recently, Carole Bouquet, Mouglalis is the new image of the French fashion powerhouse. Chosen by the house’s venerable artistic director, Karl Lagerfeld, Mouglalis’s looks seem to inspire yet another master. «Being someone’s muse is not an actual job,» says Mouglalis. «Lagerfeld is demanding but, at the same time, offers me a lot and the fact that he trusts me and pushes me forward is a great opportunity.» Similar to the world of film, the world of fashion has everything to do with generating desire, in ourselves and others. «What they are really asking of me is to interpret a certain spirit. At the same time, Chanel helps me in my films. Becoming this image means that wherever I go I am associated with Chanel, and that allows me to gain something in terms of a certain elegance, which for me is actually quite cinematographic,» says Mouglalis. «But this is not a job per se. If they wanted a pretty girl, they would have chosen a model. They came to me because I’m an actress. I’m not a product.» As her career soars to even loftier heights, the only danger for Mouglalis seems to be that she will not have the time to savor the success, to enjoy the moment. «I have no bulimia, I adore cinema. In the movies, you have to be free, and you can’t do that with just anyone. It’s like a love affair. You don’t change lovers every day. Right now, I want to do everything and I don’t have a strategy for my career. Cinema is huge, it has to do with feelings and you can’t have a strategy when it comes to emotions,» says the actress. «In the meantime, you have to make time, no matter how many things you’re involved in, you must maintain a certain art de vivre, to take care of your soul as well.»