Charlotte Le Bon, the 27-year-old Montreal-born actress and former model, got her on-screen start as the sunny-with-a-chance-of-crazy weather girl on the French talk show Le Grand Journal. Steven Spielberg saw her comedy chops and knew she would be perfect in his latest movie, directed by Lasse Halström: The Hundred-Foot Journey, in which Helen Mirren plays a traditional French chef at odds with a man who opens an Indian restaurant across the street (played by Omi Puri). It’s a busy summer for the actress: she also stars in the much-anticipated Yves Saint Laurent biopic (out Aug. 15), and in Michel Gondry’s latest film, Mood Indigo. Le Bon, 27, sat down with FLARE to talk about her own journey from the misery of modelling to becoming one of Hollywood’s most-wanted.
Why did you quit modelling? I felt really alone. In eight years, I didn’t make one friend. With modelling you could be the most intelligent and wonderful and funniest person on earth and no one would know it because you’re just a face. You don’t have the right to say you don’t like the way you look or you don’t like what you’re wearing, and in the end, it’s still your face on the image.
Was there any specific incident that made you realize it wasn’t for you? My first shoot. I was 16. I remember having this weird makeup with black underneath my eyes, and I looked at the picture and I really thought I was super ugly. And I could say nothing! You are modelling and you are a tool.
You have said that you put a lot of yourself into the audition for The Hundred-Foot Journey, and you that were hired based on your genuineness. How much of yourself do you see in the finished film? Marguerite is really ambitious and she puts her dream to become a chef before everything else. That is what I like about her. She has a dream and I think it’s a luxury to have a dream. I don’t have a precise dream—I’m just going with the flow, and now it’s going pretty well!
You also play Yves Saint Laurent’s muse, model Victoire Doutreleau, in the biopic Yves Saint Laurent. What was it like to wear all of those beautiful Dior pieces from the archives? It was beautiful for, like, two minutes. It was July, we were sweating, hot, and because they’re archive, we had maxi pads under our armpits [so sweat wouldn’t damage the clothes]. There was this group of women working for the Dior house following you everywhere. You could not sit, you could not do anything. It was not glamorous at all.
When you did the weather, did people yell at you on the street when you were wrong? They still do today! “What is the weather going to be tomorrow?” or “What are you doing to us?” when it’s raining. After three years, I’m getting a little annoyed.