Lea Seydoux: ‘The industry in America, I find it harsh on women’

My timeline was so peaceful when Dune Part 2 came out – just film nerds raving about the movie, about the actors, about the way Denis Villeneuve directed and told this complicated story. Lea Seydoux plays Margot Fenring, who apparently has quite a sexy scene with Austin Butler’s Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. It’s cool that Villeneuve cast Lea in a significant role in this franchise, and as it turns out, Lea is always looking to work in American/Hollywood productions, even if she thinks European films are less harsh for women.

Léa Seydoux is a superstar in her home country of France and has successfully crossed over to Hollywood in franchises such as James Bond (“Spectre” and “No Time to Die”) and “Dune” (she debuted as Lady Margot Fenring in “Part Two” and will likely return for the third movie if it moves forward). But Seydoux recently told Harper’s Bazaar U.K. that it’s much easier being a female actor in Europe than it is in America.

“The industry in America, I find it harsh on women,” Seydoux said. “It’s hard for women to age. I don’t want to be afraid not to be desirable or to lose my contract. In America it’s economic, and when it becomes a matter of making money you lose your freedom. I don’t feel comfortable with the fact that you have to tick all the boxes. Being a woman on screen is easier in Europe.”

“I have more freedom because I’m a European actress, which suits me,” Seydoux continued. “I’m not trying to be popular, I’m just trying to enjoy myself. In America you have to conform. I don’t want to adapt myself to the system, I want the system to adapt to me!”

Seydoux added that “it’s tough for someone who’s not totally American to lead a Hollywood film” and she “takes what I get” in terms of roles in major studio tentpoles. The actor told IndieWire in 2022 that one reason she enjoyed coming to Hollywood to make movies is because “I feel that in America people have more imagination.”

“I have been offered films very, very far from what I’ve done and I’m like, ‘Oh. Interesting.’ I love to feel that I can adapt myself. For me, that’s very exotic,” she added at the time. “I make the films that I would want to watch. It’s the only way I choose.”

[From Variety]

I think what she says is true, across the board – European filmmakers are generally not afraid to cast women over 35 in lead roles, and aging naturally is more acceptable in Europe generally, and specifically with European actresses. She’s also right that Hollywood is where she’ll get more interesting character work, just not lead roles. It’s also worth noting (because I know commenters will talk about it): Lea is a French nepo baby (népo bébé). The Seydoux family is very powerful in the French film industry and she’s always claimed that they didn’t help her at all (lol). I guess my point is that sure, Lea’s observations about the differences between America and Europe are correct, but also – she was always going to be a huge name and a big deal in France, whereas in America, we just see her as “oh, that French actress.”

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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8 Responses to “Lea Seydoux: ‘The industry in America, I find it harsh on women’”

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  1. AlpineWitch says:

    She’s had a few roles in films with full-on nudity, does she really think she’ll be cast in European films for certain roles past the age of 35? Because at some point, gravity will do whatever it does to all of us women or she will need ‘work’. It’s not just Hollywood, it’s the nature of the industry.

    The only country in which age counts a little less for female actors is actually the UK.

    • Elodie says:

      A lot of French actresses and actors, including Isabelle Huppert, have had nude scenes well past their 40s and 50s in French films and series.

    • Abbie says:

      Absolutely not true, and if you actually were familiar with French cinema you’d know older women are everywhere and get great roles. Not everyone is obsessed with superficial visuals the way Hollywood is.

  2. Latine says:

    I think she explained the system perfectly. In france they don’t care if a movie makes money. They will keep casting their boy/girl friend and the producers daughter.

    In France they cast almost completely based off relationships. In the usa most producers don’t care that she is Lea. They want her to act. I read this as they are making her audition. She can’t expect to make top dollar if the editors have to create tension and mood.

    • Eleonor says:

      I have been living in France since 2011…let me put it like this: she is totally overrated.

      • Lau says:

        @Eleonor, French person here, you are totally right. She would never be where she is today if she wasn’t a nepo baby.

  3. Zoe says:

    Seydoux has a lot of cringe quotes. This isn’t too bad, there is some truth in it. But French cinema is also incredibly problematic and hard on women depending on who you are. Seydoux’s name largely gives her protection, even there. France’s film industry majorly supports predatory actors and directors who prey on actresses who don’t have the power she does. It’s why Adele Haenel went into early retirement and lashed out at the industry as have other French actresses recently. Lea has a lot.of privilege that blinds her to some of the problematic issues. The Seydoux name carries a lot of clout in the country, which has no doubt served her well. Kudos for her working on projects she enjoys.

  4. Abbie says:

    She’s right, and even though she is a nepo baby, she is a good actress. She would have never made it this far otherwise. Yes, her name helped her in France but it didn’t propel her into stardom and popularity. Lily Rose Depp is also a nepo but has no talent whatsoever and nobody cares about her in France. Everyone loves her mom and that’s about it. No DNA in the world will make Lily Rose into Lea Seydoux unless Lily proves she has the talent for it.