ANAIS DEMOUSTIER IN PARIS, DECEMBER 2014. TOP: A.P.C. STYLING: MARINE BRAUNSCHVIG. HAIR: MARION ANÉE FOR BUMBLE AND BUMBLE/ AIRPORT AGENCY. MAKEUP: MARION ROBINE/CALLISTE AGENCY. MANICURE: HUBERTE CESARION FOR MARIE-FRANCE THAVONEKHAM.
French actress Anaïs Demoustier was cast straight out of grade school in northern France for her debut cinematic role in Michael Haneke’s 2003 postapocalyptic drama Time of the Wolf. It was the kind of dark first turn reminiscent of Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional (1994) or Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone (2010). For Demoustier, it was the experience of playing the daughter of actress Isabelle Huppert’s character that was the most rewarding aspect of the role. “During the take, she’s totally in the moment,” the 27-year-old recalls about her phenomenal co-star. “It was very rich to see the amount of concentration she put into her work.”
Demoustier made her first trip to Cannes after the release of Haneke’s film. Since then—and over two dozen film roles later—she’s gone back four times, most recently for last year’s French drama Bird People, in which she plays a hotel chambermaid. In the span of 12 years, she’s acted alongside Juliette Binoche and Audrey Tautou and worked with famed directors like Robert Guédiguian and Christophe Honoré. And for her upcoming performance in the French drama A New Girlfriend, in which she plays a woman embarking on an unconventional relationship with the husband of her late best friend, she teamed up with filmmaker François Ozon. “It was very interesting to feel the look of the director behind the camera,” she says of Ozon’s precise style. In fact, Demoustier and Ozon were able to communicate through looks and gestures. “It was a very special language, without a lot of words. But I knew exactly what he wanted.”
What may distinguish Demoustier from so many other actors on the rise is just how long she’s been taking lessons from the greats she’s managed to work with up close. “I realized that the most important thing when you’re an actress is to cultivate your singularity,” she says, referring to the lasting influence Huppert had on her. “To me, the best actresses are the ones who put their individuality into their roles. You can hear the music of this sort of actress in each part—and without her, it wouldn’t be the same film.”