NICOLE KIDMAN: Marion!
MARION COTILLARD: Nicole, where are you?
KIDMAN: I’m in Nashville. Where are you?
COTILLARD: I’m in Paris.
KIDMAN: But weren’t you just in the Congo?
COTILLARD: I was until two days ago. I was in the Congo for a week because I’ve been working with Greenpeace for a while and I’ve been wanting to do a documentary about the forest there. It’s one of the most ancient forests in the world and I met all of these amazing people who are trying to fight against the timber industry cutting down the trees there. People were telling me all about their lives and how they are trying to survive in a country where there is so much corruption. I even slept in one of the forest villages. I really connected to the people there—their hopes and despair and struggles. It was an intense and beautiful trip.
KIDMAN: Are you hopeful that this forest can be saved?
COTILLARD: Well, the situation is pretty dire. The civil war there lasted for almost a decade, which in an odd way actually saved the forest from being destroyed during that time. But now that the war has ended, it’s easier for those who want the trees—businesses from Europe to China—to come in and take the riches of the country. There are really no rules about doing that. For a pack of smokes and a few beers you can gain the right to cut down the trees. So through the first days of my trip the problem seemed really dark. But when I started talking to people, I realized that there was some hope—they want to get their power back. That made me feel like there was hope to make things right. Hopefully I, along with the people at Greenpeace, can be a witness to what is happening over there.
KIDMAN: And serve as the international voice. How did this become your passion, this desire to protect the Earth?
COTILLARD: I think it comes from my family—especially my grandmother. I remember when I was a little girl at her house in Brittany. When she cooked, she wouldn’t waste anything. And my parents always raised me to believe that the most important thing was respect. Respect the place you live, be aware of the impact that you have on things. I was lucky to have this education growing up. I was born in Paris and raised in the suburbs and then lived in the countryside. We had a beautiful house with a huge garden. When I moved to the country, I was really connected to nature and the seasons. So when I finally went back to Paris, I had a very hard time connecting with the city again and the way we waste so much. I started to read and teach myself about the environment—and why it was not organic and natural to be living in the city.
KIDMAN: It’s a beautiful upbringing to have had because it was even before it became so politically correct to be environmentally concerned. It was just ingrained in you from day one. Where we live now, in Nashville, we support the little local farm up the road. We get them to give us vegetables and fruits that are in season and that’s what we eat. But you did that as a child.
COTILLARD: Yes. I’m very happy with what’s happening now and how the awareness is spreading. Because 10 years ago my mind-set wasn’t really normal for most people. I sounded like a crazy person talking about the environment. People saw me as a hippie who wanted to make my own cheese and live with animals in a house without electricity.
KIDMAN: [laughs] I wouldn’t mind doing that.