Following the sad news that the French new wave actress Anna Karina has sadly died at the age of 79, we thought we’d look back at one of her iconic moments. As she handles an incredibly interrogative interview in her cooler than cool style.
The Danish-French actress died in hospital in Paris following a lengthy battle with cancer but we’re looking back at Karina’s early days of stardom. Following the success of her roles in Les Petit Soldat and A Woman is A Woman the 21-year-old actress was interviewed by French TV, though the term ‘interviewed’ may be a little loose.
Karina found fame in the 1960s as the muse for Godard where she became the mother of all French cinema. Karina got her big break after she was spotted by Godard walking down the Champs-Elysees and that chance happening is the first avenue of intrigue the interviewer explores.
After visiting the French capital with her father when she was 14, the actress arrived in Paris at the tender age of 17, something the interviewer picks up straight away. “Isn’t Paris dangerous for a 17-year-old girl?” Karina answers in her ice-cool tone, “Absolutely, but I didn’t realise it at that time.” This seems to annoy the interviewer who then accuses Karina of sneaking across the border, which Karina bats way.
The interview follows this pattern throughout the entire 10-minute clip. Where the interviewer, perhaps hampered to our ears by a language barrier, continues to take on the role of an interrogator – Karina continues to be as cool as the proverbial cucumber.
Later in the interview, Karina is asked about how she and her husband Jean-Luc Godard had met. The rumours swirled that Godard had placed an ad for a role in his film Le Petit Soldat saying he needed “a leading lady and a girlfriend”. It’s a rumour that Karina squashes with a flick of her cigarette ash.
The interviewer presses about Godard, whom Karina describes as an “odd, timid man” who she admitted “scared [her] a bit,” when she first met him. Godard did try to cast Karina in his most famous film Breathless but Karina turned him down as the role required nudity.
She said Godard had approached her with the role but confirmed “it’s a small role and you will have to take your clothes off,” a set of circumstances that didn’t appeal to Karina who continued,”I’m not interested in undressing, especially for a small role”.
Karina, in the interview, possesses all the grace and decorum that would see her be an effortless icon of French cinema and popular culture. Even though, as Karina says in the clip “you ask strange questions” she handles them all with the power and decisive cool that would see her remain as an icon.
Watch the interview of a young Anna Karina below.