Camille Cottin is having quite a year. As more and more folks locked at home tuned into Call My Agent! (Dix pour cent), the Netflix series in which she stars, her profile has risen internationally. The comedy-drama about the trials and tribulations of a Parisian talent agency already had helped her score jobs in Hollywood films pre-pandemic, and now she’s definitely someone to keep an eye on as she continues to build an enviable cross-border résumé.
The Paris native, who spent ages 12 to 17 living in London when her family moved for her stepdad’s job, is appearing in two films in Cannes this year including Directors’ Fortnight closing title Our Men (Mon légionnaire) by Rachel Lang, and Tom McCarthy’s out-of competition drama Stillwater.
Both of those films tackle serious subject matter (more on that later), which may seem out of character for an actress who broke out locally in the Canal+ hidden-camera sketch series Connasse (literally translated: Bitch) in which she inserted herself into daily life situations and turned the tables on unsuspecting Parisians (one notorious episode featured her making penis shaped balloon animals at a children’s birthday party). Connasse spawned a feature film in 2015, The Parisian Bitch, Princess of Hearts, also a hidden-camera comedy, which saw her travel to London in an attempt to marry Prince Harry.
Cottin got her initial start in the theater, while also studying English, and did everything from the comedies of Feydeau to Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Though she also played the antagonist in Season 3 of BBC drama Killing Eve, many of her French film roles have been in comedies. Unsurprisingly, Cottin prefers not to be defined by genre. “I think comedy, like drama, can elicit emotion,” she says. “That’s what I’m looking for. For me, it’s about rhythm. I see comedy like accelerated drama. Chaplin is dramatic, but it goes so fast that we laugh at it.”
Call My Agent! straddles both worlds, just as Cottin is doing in her career. Her character, the tightly-wound Andrea, she says, “is not a funny person; it’s super rare that she laughs. She’s always concentrated, always stressed. She spends her life trying to solve problems. It’s really the situations that are funny and she’s always getting tripped up. I try to keep a small distance where we know we are playing, that’s also part of comedy, so it’s a miniscule bit of complicity with the audience. We fully embrace the situations which are sometimes dramatic, but it’s also the way they are treated that makes comedy.”