MY PERFECT COUSI ?
More tha two years after she practised her seduction skills on Ewan McG
reigor in Trainspotting,
KELLY MACDONALD is again beguiling her male co-stars on screen. This time, however, she swaps her school uniform for the corsets and bonnets of Cousin Bette. Words: Alan Morrison
MARILYN SMILES AS HER SKIRT billows up around her thighs. Marlon ﬂexes his leathers as he leans cockily against his motorbike. And Kelly peels back her lips into a tiger-ish snarl. a schoolgirl seducer ready to sink her teeth into every unsuspecting schemie on the dancetloor.
If Kelly Macdonald never made another film again. Trainspotting would have turned her into a modern- day cinema icon. 011 posters. Cl) soundtracks and videos. she'll always be the underage and oversexed Diane: but in real life. despite a film career that's really taking off. she‘s still a shy 22—year-old from Newton Mearns.
‘liven when it came out. I looked at the poster and knew it wasn’t really me.‘ Kelly says. ‘l‘d have to walk about in that sequined dress and make that face all the time. A lot of people think that‘s all I‘ve done: “Aww. isn‘t it a shame'.’ 'Ii'uinspntting — she only did that one film. ()ne-hit wonder.”
Of course. that‘s not true. Since 'Ii‘uins/mmng. Kelly has worked with actors as diverse as (‘olin Firth. (‘hris l-iccleston. Eric (‘antona and lIZ’s Bono. However. her latest release. Cousin Bette. based on the 19111 century Balzac novel. was her first brush with movie stars of truly international standing.
‘lt didn't really hit me until the
6 THE LIST 10* 2‘1 89;) 1998
rezul—through.’ she remembers. ‘lt was in a big loft somewhere in Soho. It was a bit like being at school. because all the actors had to sit round in this big circle of chairs. and you had to say what your name was and what part you'd be playing. I was really. really nervous: my heart was racing. pushing my shirt in and out. I mean. Jessica Lange was sitting two seats away and. if I looked across the room. Bob lloskins was sitting right opposite me beside John Sessions and Hugh
Laurie. But it turned out that a lot of
people were feeling the same way. no matter how high-profile they were.~
In the film. Kelly plays llortense llulot. daughter of a debt-ridden Parisian aristocrat. It was a giant leap for the young actress to leave home and head for a two-month shoot in France. where she‘d spend three hours each day being fitted into the intricate costumes. It helped that fellow Scot Laura l’raser. star of Small liars and family maid Mariette in ('uusin Bette. was undergoing a similar career— breaking experience.
'We had this caravan that was divided into three. and me and Laura had a box next to each other.‘ Kelly remembers. ‘So it was good to be able to just hear her through the wall. or knock on the door and sit in her room and smoke cigarettes.’
'Kelly reminds me of the kind of talent someone like Meryl Streep has — just a great actor in every respect, capable of completely transforming
herself.’ Des McAnuff, director of Cousin Bette
('uusin Betty's director. .Vchnuff. gushes with praise when it comes to describing Keily"s talents. particularly her ability to slip with ease into the linglish accent required for the film.
'She has a truly natural gift.‘ he enthuses. ‘She hasn‘t trained or done elocution. but I could tell she had that gift the second she opened her mouth. She has a fantastic ear. She‘s also not only very beautiful. but she photographs beautifully. She‘s emotionally very free and she's completely truthful. And those are unusual qualities to have. This maybe sounds a little bit hoity—toity. but she reminds me of the kind of talent someone like Meryl Streep has » just a great actor in every respect. capable of completely transforming herself.‘
Meryl Streep indeed. But when Kelly. unprompted. makes a connection to the very same actress. it‘s in a much more self-mocking manner. 'l-‘or a while I was looking like bloody Meryl Streep in that dingo baby story.. she says. ‘l had a horrible. horrible haircut. so I‘m quite glad that‘s gone.’
It's amazing how much a new haircut can change Kclly"s looks. The ringlets of ('uusiii lie/Iv. the slicked- down hub of 'lil‘uills/ml!le. the shoulder-length hlonde look that