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Starring on stage, in 'Chocolat'

Juliette Binoche faces acclaim

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Juliette Binoche is lounging in her downtown Manhattan hotel suite and musing about dressing.

The award season is upon us, and to the French actress that means more primping, more preening, and more attention than she would otherwise care to give to her maquillage, or makeup. If you can count on Hollywood buzz, though, perhaps Binoche should; her face may be everywhere before long.

The Foreign Press Association last month nominated her for a best actress Golden Globe award for her critically acclaimed performance as "Chocolat"'s Vianne Rocher, someone who brings the passionate power of chocolate to a French village. Some have called it an Oscar-worthy performance. Binoche won the Academy Award for the "English Patient" (1996).

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Binoche also is starring on Broadway in Harold Pinter's "Betrayal," in which she plays an integral part of a tangled web of love affairs.

CNN recently spoke with Binoche about her roles, the public's misperceptions of her and speaking the international language.

CNN: How do you compare the Golden Globes to other awards?

Binoche: It seems like it's the room before the Oscars.

CNN: So that's a good thing?

Binoche: It definitely is.

CNN: What attracted you to the role in "Chocolat"?

In "Chocolat," Binoche is a wanderer who brings the passionate powers of chocolate to a conservative French village. She stars with Johnny Depp  

Binoche: I think there's an echo in this story to my life. She (Vianne) works with her intuition, so she has the keys to open locked doors inside of people. I think she sees, like a therapist, through people, and I think I wanted to be that kind of doctor in a way.

CNN: How does this role compare to others you've played?

Binoche: It's special to me because it's a comedy. Many journalists ask me, "Why don't you make comedies?" and I felt very guilty not making comedies. So this was my first English-language comedy, and I'm kind of happy. ...I feel, well, I may be able to do comedies.

CNN: So do you feel confident playing English-speaking roles?

Binoche: It's a challenge in a way, because it's not your first language. But I feel freer in a way, because I chose this language. And, because (English) is an international language, I felt liberated -- not being stuck in France doing the same films or being judged in a certain way.

CNN: You're also appearing in Harold Pinter's Betrayal." What was the playwright trying to say about fidelity in this play?

Binoche: He's not trying to give answers. He's ... not trying to judge, but just to show that sometimes you get caught in situations. The character I'm playing, you can point the finger at her, ... but actually she's being brave. She's saying, "I was with your best friend for five years," and you know she's facing it. It's a mixture of comedy and tragedy at the same time, which is fascinating.

Binoche is currently starring in Harold Pinter's
Binoche is currently starring in Harold Pinter's "Betrayal" on Broadway  

CNN: Acting on stage is different from acting for film, isn't it? You have to be so much larger than life.

Binoche: Which is good, because in films they ask me to pull back. When I started as an actress in drama school, I tended to be much bigger because I wanted to express so many things inside of me and I didn't know how to. ...For me, (stage acting) is a way of expressing a certain freedom, because I'm not being edited.

CNN: You can be more expressive.

Binoche: I can.

The 10 best films of 2000
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