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Bonding With Léa Seydoux

The stories in Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” take place in the fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé . Léa Seydoux — who plays a prison guard who models for an inmate — finds the name hilarious.

“It’s so great! It’s exactly the image that an American can have of the French: they are just so bored ,” Seydoux said with a laugh.

This year has been anything but boring for the actress. The long-awaited Anderson picture follows the equally long-awaited juggernaut, “ No Time to Die ,” starring Seydoux as Madeleine Swann opposite the outgoing Bondsman Daniel Craig. “The French Dispatch” screened last week in the New York Film Festival and premiered last summer at Cannes, alongside three other Seydoux-starring films: Arnaud Desplechin’s Philip Roth adaptation, “Deception”; Ildiko Enyedi’s period piece, “The Story of My Wife”; and Bruno Dumont’s satirical drama “France.”

The wild array makes it hard to have a single image of Seydoux herself.

The 36-year-old actress first broke through in art-house circles in 2008 with the French student-teacher romance “La Belle Personne.” She shared the Palme d’Or in 2013 at Cannes for the explicit “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” with her director, Abdellatif Kechiche, and co-star, Adèle Exarchopoulos. “Spectre” in 2015 brought her into the Bond franchise, following a “Mission: Impossible” installment .

Admirers took note of Seydoux’s seductive, quietly radiant hold on the screen. “Léa Seydoux is always a captivating actress,” Stephanie Zacharek wrote in The Village Voice . The New York Times review of “Diary of a Chambermaid” said that she held her own “in a lineage of actresses” including Jeanne Moreau and Paulette Goddard. “The antithesis of the ‘Bond’ Girl,” the critic Christina Newland declared in her review of “No Time to Die.” Seydoux, right, with Benicio Del Toro in “The French Dispatch.”Credit…Searchlight Pictures “Léa Seydoux has an impossible-to-replicate charm onscreen,” Cary Joji Fukunaga, who directed the new Bond film, said in an email. “She is paradoxically equal parts elegant (almost catlike, quiet, observing, sleekly moving through a scene) and truck driver.”

Despite her sometimes imposing roles, Seydoux in conversation marches to the beat of her own drummer. At a Midtown boutique hotel, she paused frequently, at times trailing off into silence, yet she beamed with affability and curiosity. Her first comments weren’t about Bond, or “Wes,” but rather the existential critique in Dumont’s “France.”

“She knows she’s part of the capitalistic system,” Seydoux mused about her character, France de Meurs, a TV journalist in crisis. “And she wants that — that was her ambition. But she’s conscious of the fact that she’s also a tool of the system. And she’s conscious of her own alienation.”

This was not what I expected to hear in the “Bond bubble,” as her publicist referred to the film’s press operation at the hotel. But Seydoux freely shifted from Bond talking points to off-handed analysis of her roles.

“When I played Madeleine, I was ‘first degree’: There was no distance, there was no irony. My positioning as an actor is something that I really love,” Seydoux said. […]

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