On March 27th, IFC released the controversial film Welcome to New York. The film is inspired by the true events leading up to the 2011 New York hotel maid scandal that derailed the former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s career and political aspirations.
One of the stars of the film is Marie Moute, who plays the daughter of Gerard Depardieu’s character. Marie got her start as an actor on the French television series La vie devant nous. The series followed the lives of young teenagers in a hip and upscale Paris high school. She went on to work on several other film and television projects in France before setting her sights on the American film industry. She is currently starring in the French police drama Mongeville as Axelle Ferrano.
Marie sits down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about her experience working on Welcome to New York, why she decided to become an actor and what her plans are for the future in the business.
Pop Culture Principle – What was it about the script for Welcome to New York that made you want to be part of the project?
Marie Moute – First of all, Abel Ferrara is such an amazing director and so talented. He’s one of those directors that you really want to work with in your career. The story is inspired by true events, but what was interesting is that he only wanted to film to be inspired by those events and make the film about real human relationships. You really don’t know what happened because the only people who know what happened are the ones who were actually involved with those events. When you get into a project like this, you have to know the limits of what are the inspirations. I think that Abel was not focusing on the events, but how people would actually react in those situations.
The film is about addictions and I think there are many people out there who are dealing with many types of addictions. When these addictions take over your life and make your life collapse, there are many people who have dealt with that situation and can relate.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us the basic premise of Welcome to New York?
Marie Moute – It’s the story of a very powerful and successful man. He loves women and has a sexual addiction. He crosses the limits with his addiction and the film is about what happens when you cross the limits. We see that his entire life is destroyed in a few minutes and the interesting thing is how this affects his life and the people around him.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us about your character Sophie Devereaux?
Marie Moute – Sophie is his daughter and he comes to New York to visit her. She is in the city when he gets in trouble and she is obviously going through the situation as well. Her father is someone very famous and this situation will affect her and her life as well.
Pop Culture Principle – What was your experience like working with Gérard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bissett?
Marie Moute – Oh my God, it was so unique. They are geniuses and have so much experience when it comes to their careers and are just fabulous human beings. It was a very intimate set and that is because the purpose of the movie is something intimate. What was magical is that we did manage to have this intimacy between us and I was on set each day with them and we talked a lot. It was a very true and simple relationship and the connection we managed to have as human beings was very helpful with the scenes on set.
I am still in contact with Gerard, Jacqueline and Abel. The beauty of it is that when you are an actor, you go from project to project and you meet a lot of people. Everyone says that we will stay in contact and most of the time it doesn’t happen, but when it does happen it shows that you did have a true connection with the people you had worked with.
Pop Culture Principle – Welcome to New York was directed by Abel Ferrara. What was your experience like working with him?
Marie Moute – You know, he’s a very passionate person and of course, if you’ve seen his movies, he isn’t fake. If he doesn’t believe that you absolutely believe everything you are saying and doing in a scene, he will yell cut. He only wants the truth of how a character can feel. He’s really demanding of the people he is working with, but he is also very demanding of himself as well. He’s a beautiful person and there is a lot of live with him. He is a true artist and it was an amazing experience and I hope to work with him again. It’s those kinds of experiences that you look for as an actor.
Pop Culture Principle – Were you aware of the controversies surrounding the film Welcome to New York?
Marie Moute – Well, the film is inspired by true events and the rest of the film is fictional. When you are referring to an event that was a huge scandal like this one was, you would expect some strong reactions. This scandal was all over the world and for a while there, you couldn’t turn on your television without seeing that story. Abel doesn’t have the pretention of wanting to know the truth of what really happened because again, the only people who truly know are the ones who were involved with the scandal. That is the main take away from this project, some of the film is inspired by actual events, but the rest is just fictional. This film looks at human relationships in those kinds of terrible circumstances.
Pop Culture Principle – What would you like the audience to take away from Welcome to New York after they see it?
Marie Moute – I think when they leave the theater, everyone will have a strong impression about the film because it is really moving. When Abel does a movie, he really goes deep into strong scenes and strong feelings because that is what happens in true life. The most beautiful thing was that someone came up to me and said that he destroyed his family because of his addiction and that it was good to show that people who have addictions have to see that you not only destroy yourself, but your family and friends too.
Pop Culture Principle – What made you decide to become an actor?
Marie Moute – I love that question because when you start going to drama classes, you are 100 percent sure that the teacher will ask you that question to make sure you are there for the right reasons. I think I’ve always wanted to be an actor. I loved putting on clothes, imagining things and playing with costumes. I’d seen so many movies and just loved it. After that, it is a question of choices because becoming an actor is a big investment and I think you have to fight for your passion. I have been lucky and blessed to have been a part of some amazing movies. I think for me, it was always obvious that acting was going to be what I was going to do.
Pop Culture Principle – Looking back at your career, you were part of the very popular French teenage drama series La vie devant nous for several season. What was your experience like on that series?
Marie Moute – It’s actually very funny that you are mentioning this because that was my first audition ever in my life and Welcome to New York was my first audition in the U.S. It’s funny that you made the connection between the two. The show was kind of like Beverly Hills, 90210 or Dawson’s Creek because it was also a teen drama. How can you not realize that you are so blessed to start your career by being on a set every day for almost three years? I did all the episodes and you are with great people who love to be on set. The more interactions you had with the cast, the more you can give to the show and the more life you give to the audience. What’s funny is that show is still airing on cable years later.
It was pretty different from the teen shows at the time and I still hear it all the time that people love that show. As an actor, you love when you make people happy and allow them to escape if just for a little while.
Pop Culture Principle – You also were in the theatre comedy Oscar by Claude Magnier in 2008 and 2009 which toured France, Switzerland, Belgium and Tunis. What was that experience like for you?
Marie Moute – It was an international tour and it was great. It was my first experience in theater and it was really amazing. It was a comedy with a great team. You got to work and travel for eight months and I just had such a wonderful time. It was a great experience and I am very blessed that I have been a part of very unique and enriching experiences; this being one of them.
Pop Culture Principle – Did you enjoy the instant feedback of being on stage?
Marie Moute – Of course and I think what was really exciting is that each night you got to see a different reaction. The interaction between the audience and you is so exciting because it makes you improve every night. You can improve stuff every night, test stuff every night and you see the interaction right then and there. It was a comedy, so you love to see people laugh and this comedy is well written and very funny. People were really enjoying it and seeing that live was just amazing. Just getting that energy back from the audience instantly is just so unique.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you see yourself writing, producing or directing in the future?
Marie Moute – I am actually working on developing a film right now. It’s a very big process and since it’s my first time, I want to take my time and make sure I learn everything. The purpose is to learn new and different stuff every day. It’s very interesting and very demanding but I love it because it’s totally new. You get to see the other side of it because not only are you the one who gives lines reality and life, you are now trying to create the process of making a movie happen and it’s really nice.
It’s a long process and I want to be so deeply involved in it. I don’t want to jump into it too fast and I want to be very careful about every detail. I don’t want to rush it; I just want to take my time with the project.
Pop Culture Principle – As an actor, what advice would you give to someone who wants to be in show business?
Marie Moute – I would probably ask them, “are you sure that you really want to be an actor?” When you see an actor in movies, on television and in magazines…that is not the truth. The truth is that it is a lot of education and you have to give 100 percent of yourself. You can have some amazing experiences, but it can be really tough. I’ve seen many actors who are struggling in the business. You have to be aware of the fact that you have to be totally passionate about being an actor. You have to be a warrior because you may have to wait one, two or ten years before something actually happens for you.
You have to be prepared to fight like a warrior and if your purpose is just to be famous, just go on one of those reality shows. Be aware of what you truly want; if it’s just to be famous, go for it straight away and don’t waste your time and energy going to drama classes because it is a big commitment. If you do have a passion to become an actor, be prepared to work hard and never give up. Sometimes it is not fair and you have to be prepared for every possibility and be very strong.
Pop Culture Principle – Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Marie Moute – I just finished starring in a cop show in France. It was great and very intense. I did that for two years and had fun. There are other things in process right now and I am in town here currently for meetings in LA. I really would love to continue working in the US industry. I lived in New York when I was young, so the US is a part of my heart. I have to try and deal with both French projects and projects in the US, so it is very exciting.
We would like to thank Marie for taking time out of her schedule to talk with us. Welcome to New York is out now and is definitely a film you should see. You can keep up to date with all of Marie’s news and projects by visiting her official website here or follow her on Instagram by following @mariemoute1.
***Welcome to New York images courtesy of IFC Films***
***Professional photos used courtesy of Diana Ragland***