Emmanuelle Béart: There’s no such thing as a good actor. Nor a bad one.

“I don’t like to travel, and I’m always scared to fly,” said Emmanuelle Béart as we began our interview. Today at Art Film Fest the French actress will accept the Actor’s Mission Award. Even yesterday, despite spending half the day travelling, she felt great upon arriving in Trenčianske Teplice.

After appearing in 1996’s Mission: Impossible, you were offered role after Hollywood role. Yet you refused them all. How come?
Too much flying and too much travelling to the US. As an actor, you have to be on-set, at the director’s disposal. I’m not trying to say I want to spend the rest of my life in France. I’d happily go to China or Australia, and I’m glad to be able to attend Art Film Fest here in Trenčianske Teplice. But making a movie in the States just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Partially due to the fact that they always offer me the same kind of role: French girls, French women.

So do you believe a good film has to be a work of art?
I’d vastly prefer to act in films that aspire to be art than in ones that are shot purely for profit’s sake.

What do you see as your goal in life?
I’ve got quite a few. The most important part of life is life itself: Beauty. Love. Friends. The art of living…

You’ve expressed your support for various social causes, like when you defended illegal immigrants in France.  Do you consider social activism to be part of an artist’s life?
In my opinion, social responsibility and the expression of social and political viewpoints are not just for artists, but for anyone who considers themselves a citizen. I haven’t limited myself to the cause of immigrants, either. I try to be active on many different issues – supporting the war against AIDS, alerting people of the situation with child soldiers in Africa…

Which is more important to you – civil engagement or acting?
For me they go hand in hand. As an actress I have a greater opportunity to draw attention to issues I’m concerned about, because the media pay attention to me, giving me a venue to state my views. And at the same time I’m interested in creative projects that voice a particular opinion, like my upcoming film The Righteous of Albert Camus.

Do you think social activism is in what a good actor "does"?
There’s no such thing as a good actor, nor a bad one. An actor is always only as good or bad as their role and how the director directs them. And that’s why directors have all the responsibility. We actors can’t be blamed.

Sounds like quite the life.
You could certainly put it that way.

But you can, for example, be satisfied or unsatisfied with your own performance or with the final product, can’t you? What about when you appeared as a young girl alongside Pierre Richard in Door on the Left as You Leave the Elevator, or when you acted in François Ozon’s 8 Women? Were those interesting experiences?
My god, you still remember Door on the Left as You Leave the Elevator?! I mean that must have been my first or second movie. Even I don’t remember it all that well… But I definitely remember filming 8 Women. Working with François Ozon was fascinating.