Marilhéa Peillard Stars In Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

Marilhéa Peillard has landed her first film role in Luc Besson’s epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The French sci-fi flick has made headlines for a diverse cast including Elite models Cara Delevigne, Pauline Hoarau and Sasha Luss, and singer Rihanna. Since winning Elite Model Look World Final 2012, Marilhéa has modelled for Replay and Etam, and magazines like Vogue. We caught up with her to talk acting classes, playing a boy and how to capture an alien’s facial expression.

How did you get the role in the film?

The agency sent me to a casting because they were looking for extras. I met Luc Besson, we talked for like 10 minutes and at the end he asked me if I would be interested for acting lessons. He gave me the number of an acting coach he knows in Paris. I did a few lessons with him, a few months after they called me back for a screen test, and two weeks before the filming, I learnt that I had got a role in the movie!

Did you ever think about doing acting before?

Never! I always found it interesting but I would never think I would play in a movie one day. We filmed for about 18 days in La Cité du Cinéma in Paris, in Luc Besson's studios. I know a part of the movie has been filmed in New Zealand but my part was only in Paris.

Did you get any good advice when you were learning to act?

I learnt to forget myself and play a character, it's hard at the beginning. I also exercised a lot about the pronunciation because the movie has been filmed in English. 

We saw the suits that you guys had to wear on social media! What were the dots on your face for?

We had a frontal camera and dots everywhere on the face to capture all our facial expressions. And same for our body, every morning, before going on set we had to put a grey suit on with sensors everywhere to record our movements.

You played a boy! Was that difficult?

With my acting coach I learnt how to walk like a boy, sit like a boy, to BE a boy haha! But on set it wasn't that difficult because there was no big difference between boys and girls in the world of Pearls. I just had to "change" my voice a bit. 

Which other actors were you working with?

Mostly Cara Delevingne, Dane Dehaan, Aymeline Valade and Pauline Hoarau. The funniest scene to film was was my very first scene! I had to play a negotiation with Igon Sirus, a big monster. I was armed and we had to pretend we were shooting, it was fun! 

Was it hard to keep things secret for so long?

Yesss! I couldn't wait anymore to see the movie. I saw it on Tuesday night at the French premiere. It was amazing to finally see the result of what we did and imagined for months.

How did it compare to being in a big photo shoot or fashion show?

It's different. I would say it's a bit more stressful because we have to speak, otherwise it's kinda same as modeling, except there was much more people on set that we normally have!

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