Once set to star the lovely Léa Seydoux, Audrey Diwan’s Emmanuelle is seeing a bit of a casting shake-up asDiwan is no longer moving forward with Seydoux as the lead and has now brought in Noémie Merlant (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Paris, 13th District) to star in the title role of new adaptation of Emmanuelle Arsan’s classic erotic novel.
In an interview with Deadline, Diwan explained why she feels she has found perfect partner for the character’s romantic journeys in Merlant.
“She is a pure artistic choice, an obvious one, as was Anamaria Vartolomei for my previous movie,” Diwan said. “I love Léa Seydoux; I want to make a film with her one day. But to me, she was not the character I imagined. From Portrait of a Lady on Fire to Tár, I have never ceased to be seduced by the strength of Noémie’s acting. She embraces the idea of the character, able to play both authority and seduction.
“Noémie redefines the French woman. Her attitude, her smile, that hint of insolence that often surfaces. I am also sensitive to the idea of finding in my actress an intellectual partner, the one with whom I create the character. The film requires enormous involvement, mutual trust. And I know I found the one.”
Diwan dives into her personal connections to this story during her chat with the outlet, adding: “Initially, when I write, I always feel the need to seek an intimate connection with the story,” she said. “So my film will take place nowadays; Emmanuelle is a woman who is close to my age. I wanted to explore her quest for pleasure, what she represents when you have already made a way in your life.
“With my co-writer Rebecca Zlotowski, we imagined a woman who has power, who has fought her way out, climbed her mountain, and built herself an armor too. She feels alone. But how do we get out of loneliness? Emmanuelle is the story of a woman trying to let go. The whole film is about drawing a path to the other.”
Production on Emmanuelle will begin this September in Hong Kong. The novel was previously adapted for the screen in 1974 with Sylvia Kristel starring in the title role and returning for four of the six sequels between 1975 and 1992.