Stopping off at TIFF before its October visit to the London Film Festival, Wash Westmoreland’s Sundance hit Colette gave audiences a history lesson with the story of novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, also known as “the Venus of the Belle Époque”. As played by Keira Knightley, Colette was a woman ahead of her time, flaunting the dress codes and sexual mores of the time, leading a scandalous life with her husband Willy (Dominic West), a major literary celebrity in Paris.
“The starting point for Colette,” said director Westmoreland when he visited the Deadline studio with his cast, “was about 17 years ago. My co-director, co-writer and late husband Richard Glatzer was an avid reader, and he’d just started reading tons and tons of Colette books—her biography and her novels—and he just kept saying, ‘There’s an incredible film here.’ We focused in on the first marriage between Colette and Willy as the ideal format for a film.”
Praising his leading lady, Westmoreland said he chose Knightley because “she conveys such incredible life, electricity, energy, intelligence, and personal moxie that really was Colette”. “I think she’s just empowered, you know?” added the star. “I think she’s a singular being who wants to live her life in her way and won’t take no for an answer. And I think this is the story of her becoming herself. I was very empowered by it and very inspired by it. She’s a powerhouse and she’s unapologetic, and you very rarely meet people who are unapologetic about being themselves. I thought that was an extraordinary thing.”
You can hear more from the Colette team by clicking on the video above.