‘Call My Agent!’: Camille Cottin on Portraying Paris Without the Clichés

The final season of the hit French show is now on Netflix.


If there’s been one unexpected hit during a time when our main activity is Netflix and, well, more Netflix, it’s Call My Agent!

The French television show set at a Parisian talent agency has been a lighthearted salve thanks to its razor sharp depictions of the relationships between stars and their agents—not to mention the added charm of Paris as its backdrop. It’s fourth and final season is now available to stream here in the U.S. and comes complete with cameos from big names like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sigourney Weaver, as well as the usual competitive antics we’ve come to expect from its beloved cast. We caught up with Camille Cottin, who plays the incomparable Andréa Martel, to talk about the challenges her character faces, Parisian clichés, and what she has missed most about the city during lockdown.

The show launched in France in 2015 but it really only landed on most American’s radars this past year. How do you think it’s been received by the different audiences?

It’s difficult to have popular and critical success at the same time, but that is what happened in France, and it’s funny to see all this interest starting again now. I just read an article in the New York Times saying that what makes the show interesting is [the way] it talks about the industry. Previously, the industry was always shown as cynical, and this is a tender show. There’s humor, there’s satire, we make fun of the people we’re depicting, but at the same time, there’s love, big love for cinema, big love for actors, big love for the people of the industry.

The producers [told me] they were quite surprised that it had an international echo, though, because it only talks about French actors. But it really depicts a star: the selfie star, or the nervous star, or the jealous star. Plus, the [agency] is like a family, they are all figures with whom you can identify with—and their [dynamics] of power, competition, and jealousy. The problems they deal with are human ones.

Paris, of course, is the backdrop to those relationships. What have been some of your favorite locations to film in?

Well, I loved the flat they gave [Andréa], which is twice the size of mine! But one true favorite is the scene at the end of season one: [My character] just got dumped and I feel lonely and sad, walking along that very famous bridge,

Pont des Arts. We treat the city as we treat it as Parisians. We love it, sometimes we have a breath of ‘Wow, it’s beautiful,’ and then we forget it. We’re just in the electricity of the city. And it’s not always clean, it’s not always… I think it’s a different vision from Emily in Paris.

In another interview, you describe Call My Agent! as “Paris without the clichés.”

[What you see on the show] is really the Paris that we live in, not the fantasy. That said, there is a little bit of romanticism. I recently wrote to Sigourney [Weaver], saying ‘I’m going to work with your agent,’ and she replied: “He’s just the best. But you know, he might not take you around Paris on the back of his scooter.” Which is what happened with Gabrielle and Monica [Bellucci] in season three.

Your character, Andréa, feels like such a breath of fresh air. What has playing her taught you?

She has a very, very modern femininity. She’s not seductive in the old fashioned way, which is coquettish—something that girls are taught. She showed me you don’t need to behave that way. Her sexuality is also something that she is totally at ease with, and accepted by everyone around her, so [the show] can discuss her character instead: her trouble to settle down, to be domestic, to fall in love, to be faithful. Season four is really hard for her. She’s losing herself a little bit. The way it ends feels so premonitory of how we have been this [past] year, wondering how things will turn out and how to reinvent and find another way of working. It’s really hard for women to work and raise children. The state doesn’t really help you and when you’re really dedicated to your work it’s difficult. You’re always [caught] between assuming your desires and also feeling a kind of guilt. And that is very particular to women.

Speaking of the challenges of the past year, what is life in Paris like now?

There has been a lot of contest concerning culture. For the first lockdown, when we were told we could only leave our homes for necessities, there was quite a big movement to keep libraries open, and to consider books a prime necessity. But we didn’t win that fight. It was the same for cinemas. You know, why should the shops be crowded but the cinemas closed? So it’s quite sad. We can walk around, but it’s crazy because it’s a life without meaning if you take away culture. Films are still being shot, but my friends mainly work in theater and it’s a really dreadful situation. When you’re out of a job in theater, which happens sometimes, then usually you work in a restaurant. But of course they can’t.

If you could flip a switch and have a normal day in Paris, what would you do?

I would [have] a café. Having a coffee in the morning with your newspaper [in Paris] is a cliché that really is true—except that now people can’t smoke anymore inside. Then, I would go to Studio Harmonic, where I take dance lessons. It’s so cool [there] and I’m very worried for all those dance teachers. After that, I’d have lunch at one of the terraces and later, go to a nightclub or the cinema.

It’s like at the end of season one when Andréa and Arlette decide to go see a late-night movie after a rough day.

Yes, that’s it. When everything goes wrong, you still have the cinema.

Source: ‘Call My Agent!’: Camille Cottin on Portraying Paris Without the Clichés | Condé Nast Traveler


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