Léa Seydoux on France’s #MeToo Movement: ‘Things Are Clearly Changing, and It Was High Time It Did’

Léa Seydoux on France’s #MeToo Movement: ‘Things Are Clearly Changing, and It Was High Time It Did’

Léa Seydoux addressed France’s growing #MeToo movement at the Cannes Film Festival press conference for Quentin Dupieux’s comedy “The Second Act,” which opened the fest on Tuesday night.

“It’s a wonderful thing that women are now speaking out. Things are clearly changing and it was high time it did,” she said. “I have the impression that this change has indeed taken place. The film also plays with this idea, it also talks about very current events and this movement, where women are now speaking out, and that was of fundamental importance for this change to take place.”

Seydoux continued, “#MeToo is very important. It’s a very serious issue. However, I think it is also necessary to be able to talk about it with humor. In the film, this is highlighted in a very funny way.”

Addressing the impact of #MeToo on the way actresses are treated on set, she said “respect is more present.” 

“There is respect on sets, there is no longer this familiarity, when we shoot certain scenes there is more respect and I sense a global change.”

Seydoux also said she couldn’t compared with other women “who are real victims” and “experienced really terrible things.”

The topic has been the buzz of the festival due to rumored new allegations against prominent players in the French film industry. In recent months, several actresses have been speaking out about alleged sexual abuse or misogynistic behavior from directors. Judith Godreche, who is at Cannes with her short “Moi Aussi” on opening night of Un Certain Regard, has filed complaints against Jacques Doillon and Benoit Jacquot, alleging sexual assault, while Juliette Binoche said in a recent interview with French newspaper Liberation she had some traumatic experiences in the early days of her career and was asked to do certain scenes she didn’t feel comfortable with.

At the jury press conference on Tuesday, president Greta Gerwig said, “I have seen substantive change in the American film community, and I think it’s important that we continue to expand that conversation. So I think it’s only moving everything in the correct direction to keep those lines of communication open.”

Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux had a different perspective on the matter, saying on Monday that the priority of the festival should be the movies.

“Last year, as you know, we had a few polemics, and we realized it, and so this year we decided to host a festival without polemics to make sure that the main interest for us all to be here is cinema,” Fremaux said. “So if there are other polemics, it doesn’t concern us.”

“The Second Act” received a muted 3.5-minute standing ovation at the festival’s opening ceremony on Tuesday night. In the meta film, Seydoux and co-stars Louis Garrel, Vincent Lindon and Raphaël Quenard play actors starring in a romantic comedy they know is pointless, as it’s the first movie written and directed by AI.

The film received mixed reviews. Variety‘s Peter Debruge wrote that “practically every scene overstays its welcome, including the otherwise smart final shot. Dupieux’s strategy seems to be flipping or repeating certain punchlines for fresh effect, which is fine for a while, until you realize that neither ‘The Second Act’ nor those second-degree readings have much to say.”

Seydoux, a mainstay of French cinema, has gained popularity among English-speaking audiences as a Bond girl in 2015’s “Spectre,” and most recently featured as Lady Margot in Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two.”

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