All change for The Artist star: Berenice Bejo explains how she"s playing a boy in her next film

All change for The Artist star: Berenice Bejo explains how she's playing a 'man' in her next film

Baz Bamigboye


00:39 GMT, 18 May 2012



01:24 GMT, 18 May 2012

Lady in red: Berenice Bejo

Lady in red: Berenice Bejo

Berenice Bejo was trying to tell me about her forthcoming sex change . . . Rewind. Say that again

The actress who starred in the Oscar-winning film The Artist, directed by her husband Michel Hazanavicius, saw the look of incomprehension on my face.

She gathered up the train of her scarlet Louis Vuitton gown and beckoned me to a quieter spot at the opening night dinner for the 65th Cannes Film Festival, and spoke slowly so I wouldn’t misunderstand.

Berenice toyed with her diamond earrings as she explained that Hazanavicius was writing a film that would be set in contemporary Chechnya.

‘It’s about a lost child, a boy who can’t find his family, and he’s an emblem of the horrors of war,’ Berenice stated.

‘Michel’s script is inspired a little bit by the Fred Zinnemann film The Search. It was made after the war and was set in Berlin, and Montgomery Clift played a soldier who helps a boy to find his mother.

‘The sex-change thing is that I am playing the part Montgomery Clift played in Zinnemann’s film. That part was a man; now it’s a woman, and I am playing her,’ she told me, adding that Hazanavicius was refining the script but hoped to start filming in Georgia by the end of the year.

‘We didn’t want to do The Artist II. It’s completely different,’ she stressed.

She added that she wouldn’t be playing a member of the armed forces, more a Red Cross-type person.

Berenice was winding down after being mistress of ceremonies for the Cannes opening gala, which marked the world premiere of Wes Anderson’s astutely observed comedy Moonrise Kingdom.

Will Young's a cabaret star

Award-winning theatre director Rufus Norris, whose first film had one of the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious opening slots last night, has not been lost to the cinema — he has just cast original Pop Idol star Will Young in a revival of Cabaret.

Young, who will be making his West End debut, will play one of the most famous roles in musical theatre, the master of ceremonies in Cabaret who sings and ‘willkommes’ patrons to a nightclub in pre-war Berlin as the Nazis begin their rise to power.

Norris and producer Bill Kenwright have been speaking to Young for eight months about him doing the role. ‘It’s one of those great, left-field casting ideas,’ Norris told me when we met to discuss his film, Broken, which had its gala last night.

‘It will change the trajectory of Will’s career,’ Kenwright told me. ‘He’s not done the London stage before, but he has acted in film and television.’

Will has been working on the part with Norris and choreographer Javier de Frutos. Norris staged a stunning production of Cabaret in London in 2007, but the new version, at the Savoy Theatre from October 1, will not be an exact replica. Rehearsals start in August, and Cabaret will play a four-week UK tour before moving into the Savoy.

The show is famously based on Christopher Isherwood’s tales of living in Berlin in the Thirties, which were turned into a dramatic play and then reinvented as a musical in 1966 by John Kander and Fred Ebb. The movie version with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey was released in 1972.

Norris didn’t follow the film’s reliance on glitter and looked for the darker shades used in Isherwood’s book.

Tilda Swinton runs her appearances on the red carpet with military precision.

Take the Cannes gala on Wednesday night.

The Academy Award-winning actress arrived with Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and the rest of the cast of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. She was wearing a bronze fitted gown (top right) created for her by Haider Ackermann.

Tilda Swinton in a Haider Ackermann-designed gown

Tilda Swinton in a black trouser suit designed by Haider Ackermann

Suits you: Tilda Swinton ditched her dress so she could dance in a Haider Ackermann-designed black suit

‘Beautiful, lovely — but after a while you can’t move in something like this. You certainly can’t dance in it,’ she noted.

By this point she had arranged to have an associate waiting by the ladies loo, carrying a bag containing a black trouser-suit outfit, also designed by Ackermann.

‘It’s simple as long as you do the planning. You want to be able to change into something that’s not complicated,’ explained Tilda, whose father, Major General Sir John Swinton was once in Army high command.

‘There will now be dancing!’ a trouser-clad Tilda declared as she strode away with her partner, German-born artist Sandro Kopp.

In Moonrise Kingdom, Tilda plays a social worker in Sixties’ America.

She said she modelled her character’s imperious look on the Frau von Kalteneck character played by Ursula Jeans in the classic British movie The Life And Death of Colonel Blimp.

Rafe Spall stars opposite Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace in Ridley Scott’s eagerly awaited sci-fi thriller Prometheus, a prequel of sorts to Alien.

‘Something bad happens,’ was all he was allowed to say, but he did tell me that he plays a character ‘who’s a bit of a geeky American scientist’.

He likened his role to the part played by Yaphet Kotto in the original Alien.

Spall, son of Timothy Spall, is currently filming the comedy I Give It A Year with Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne.