Catherine Deneuve at Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel ahead of the Hanoi International Film Festival this week. Photo: AFP

Catherine Deneuve on Hillary Clinton, ageing gracefully and Oscars

With a swag of awards on her mantlepiece and more than 100 films under her belt, 73-year-old French actress shows no signs of slowing down

At 73, French film goddess Catherine Deneuve is plenty busy – acting, scooping up awards, dipping a toe in social causes. But one thing she’s not fussing over? Ageing.

Having worked for more than five decades, the screen siren says she’s happy to still be active in Europe, where older actresses face less discrimination than their Hollywood counterparts.

“There’s a very big challenge in the United States when it comes to ageing, especially for actors and actresses,” says Deneuve in Hanoi, ahead of the digital re-release of her 1992 film Indochine, set in Vietnam, a former French colony.

“I’m not saying it’s easy in Europe, but in Europe we accept more readily to make movies with women in leading roles who are 40, 45, 50 years old. That is still very rarely seen in the US,” adds Deneuve in an interview in the famed Metropole Hotel.

Catherine Deneuve (centre) with director Regis Wargnier (second from right) and actress and film producer Bebe Pham (second from left ) at the screening of the digital re-release of the 1992 film Indochine in Hanoi. Photo: AFP

She’s appeared in more than 100 films, including roles as a bisexual vampire opposite David Bowie and a high-end prostitute in Belle de Jour, and continues to break gender boundaries in an industry notorious for sidelining female actresses beyond a certain age.

“You have to try to age as graciously as possible, to not be obsessed with your own image because there is a lot of pressure to do that and actors can easily fall into the trap of thinking just about this,” she adds.

She even has a thought to spare about one woman shattering glass ceilings of her own across the pond: Hillary Clinton.

“I think it’s great that there is already an American president that is black, and today there is a big chance – I hope at least – that it will be a woman who will be the leader of America.”

Catherine Deneuve with French actress Chiara Mastroianni after receiving the Lumiere Award from Polish-French director Roman Polanski (right) in France. Photo: AFP

Deneuve is showing no signs of slowing down after half a century of work. She stars in an upcoming film, Bonne Pomme, with Gerard Depardieu, and was recently awarded the Lumiere Award in France, which she dedicated to French farmers.

Deneuve is in Hanoi to promote the newly remastered Indochine about a French plantation owner, played by her, and her adopted daughter.

The film premiered this week at the Hanoi International Film Festival, in its fourth edition and seeking to showcase Vietnam’s little-known film industry at home and abroad.

Of all the films she’s worked on she says Indochine, the only film to ever earn her an Oscar nod, maintains a special place in her storied career.

“It’s a movie that’s had a lot of success, the release of the film, taking the film all the way to the Oscars, plus the countries that I brought the film to overseas, this was something very special,” she says, a few hours before hitting the red carpet in Hanoi for the debut.

Catherine Deneuve and Vincent Perez in Indochine.

As for what’s next, Deneuve says there’s no particular actor or actress she’s hungry to star alongside, and says she’s mostly drawn to the work of directors and scriptwriters.

With a litany of awards and accolades under her belt, Deneuve says the lack of an Oscar on her mantlepiece does not keep her awake at night.

“It’s not at all in my plans. These are things that happen sometimes, but frankly I don’t think very much about this.”