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I recently had the pleasure of speaking with actress Carrie-Anne Moss about her role in the upcoming Chocolat, also featuring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, set to open in New York and Los Angeles on December 15, and nationwide in early January. Moss is probably best known for her role as Trinity, opposite Keanu Reeves as Neo, in the Wachowski brother's science-fiction blockbuster and cult hit The Matrix (1999). In preparation for playing Trinity, the Canadian-born Moss trained for months to master martial arts before the film began shooting in Australia. In Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, director of last year's Oscar-nominated The Cider House Rules (along with other acclaimed films including What's Eating Gilbert Grape), Moss can be seen as the conservative and strict Caroline Clairmont.
Yet Moss's performance through subtle nuances shows that Caroline is not lacking emotions, even though she represses them. Chocolat explores small-town life in 1950's France, and the effect that the mysterious stranger Vianne Rocher's opening of a humorously decadent chocolate shop has on the various townspeople. Some scenes in Chocolat are pure slapstick, such as, for example, when Vianne offers the conservative Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), guardian of the village's morality, some chocolates called "Venus' Nipples." Some good moments of the movie are the humorous ones, such as the village priest Pere Henri (Hugh O'Conor) singing and dancing a rock-and-roll tune. But the really great parts of the movie are when Johnny Depp enters the scene. His presence, facial expressions and self-confidence are unique, and each of his gestures and body language expresses complete mastery of the young, yet mature and inimitable artist. His penetrating glances and smile lights up the screen. One of the young children who spends time with Depp at the chocolate shop, Gati (Marion Haudecoeur) has huge eyes in her tiny, unforgettable face. Juliette Binoche is also as great and beautiful as usual.
Although Caroline at first might seem in contrast to the sexy kung-fu mistress Trinity-particularly in terms of their historical and social contexts-under the surface both woman are rather similar; they are both strong, determined and believe deeply in their convictions. In Chocolat, Caroline attempts to stand between her libertine mother Armande (Judi Dench) and her own son Luc (Aurelien Parent-Koenig), wishing to prevent their reunion, until Vianne foils her plan. Along with Chocolat, Moss can currently be seen as Commander Kate Bowman in Red Planet as well as Natalie in Memento. She has also committed the next two years to shooting two Matrix sequels, for which she will begin training shortly.
THC: What attracted you to this script?
CAM: It was a beautiful story. I was just blown away by the story and how well-written it was. I also met Lasse Hallstrom, who is one of the greatest directors and nicest people in the world. I was darn lucky to get picked for it [Chocolat].
THC: When does filming for The Matrix 2 and 3 begin?
CAM: In March, for one and a half years of shooting.
THC: You have been in both theater [in Outward Bound in Los Angeles as well as in productions of Time of Your Life, Stage Door and The Sound of Music] and film. Do you have a preference?
CAM: Theater will always hold a fond spot in my mind, although it is so much work, much different than working on a movie. I would actually love to do a musical.
THC: What was it like to work on science fiction versus Chocolat, which is more of a love-story/comedy? Do you prefer either genre?
CAM: Every movie is different-there's a different location, different people. Chocolat was a joy to make, as we were filming in beautiful locations in France and England. Lasse Hallstrom is such an amazing director-overall it was a wonderful experience.
THC: You've worked with some amazing actors in this film, such as Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, and Judi Dench. Was it at all overwhelming?
CAM: Judi, Juliette and Lena are three of my favorite actresses, so it was very exciting to be with them. I feel so lucky to work with them.
THC: How do you feel about working on this film versus on a blockbuster?
CAM: I never planned to have that kind of career with blockbusters. The more I work, the more I know what I want. I want to continue to work with Lasse Hallstrom-he is a brilliant director and wonderful person, and I felt a real connection with him, I felt safe with him. It's a little like love-it's worth waiting for the right person. I had been acting for a long time, for ten years, and my career just happened.
THC: Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming Matrix films?
CAM: I will be working on it for the next two years-it takes up everything. I can't say anything about it, except that I will be training for it.
THC: What film made you want to be an actor?
CAM: Field of Dreams made me realize that I wanted to live my dreams, to risk things for what I felt and what I dreamt of. I continue to be inspired by actors and movies.
THC: How do you feel about the success of The Matrix?
CAM: I knew The Matrix was going to be amazing, and that people were going to respond to it. The outcome was truly a surprise.
THC: What was the training like for The Matrix?
CAM: I trained first for a few months to get in shape, then for six months to get the action shots. We trained for endurance, flexibility and martial arts. I love The Matrix a lot-I am lucky and blessed to be a part of it and I believe in it.
THC: Do you feel that there is a greater variety of women's roles in Hollywood today?
CAM: For me, I feel so lucky, that I had so many opportunities. I don't feel that Hollywood is not giving women a chance. Women have a shorter span of time, but it's really an individual process. Women still have bridges to cross.
THC: How does it feel to have your own action figure?
CAM: It's pretty surreal and kind of funny. I can never seem to find it in stores. I got one for free amd gave it to my mom. I bought one for my husband, but never saw it after that first time.
THC: Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?
CAM: In the whole movie, any scene with Juliette Binoche. There is a scene in which she talks to Judi Dench about her daughter [played by Victoire Thivisol], and it really moved me.
THC: Do you have a favorite scene in which your character was featured?
CAM: There is one scene with Judi Dench, in which we are both letting go, in a way, of our resentment. We are just looking at each other-there's no dialogue.
THC: How has your life changed since you've become a celebrity?
CAM: My life has changed a lot-really for the better. I now have great opportunities that I would never have had before The Matrix. My life is changed yet simplified at the same time, and I make it as normal and real as I can. It's all good, it's what I've dreamt of all my life. Now I have some new dreams of family, quiet time, and walks with my dogs.
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