Camille Cottin: 10 things to know about the French movie star

Camille Cottin

Who would have thought that, in just a few years, the French actress Camille Cottin would go from doing street sketches as a character called ‘The Parisian bitch’, all the way to Hollywood movies with Matt Damon and Lady Gaga. Focus on the French actress revealed in the popular French series Call My Agent! (10 pour cent).

1- She was a (not-so-good) English teacher

As far as she can remember, Camille Cottin liked acting. She didn’t come from a family of famous artists, however. She had no connections in the business, so the road to success was never going to be an easy one. Early on, her family supported her and her dream of pursuing cinema. But on one condition: that she would first finish her education, which in her case, was a master’s degree in English. This was easy as she spent several of her teenage years in England, watching Monty Python films and going often to London theaters. These years in the UK developed her love for acting and for the English language. After getting her master’s degree, she started to teach English in a French junior high school. According to Cottin, she was not made to be a teacher. “I was young and didn’t feel very qualified. I couldn't really say ‘I don’t know’ when students were asking for a word. So I would just make up one. And in the evening, I would check what the actual word is and tell the class the real word the next day. I would explain that the one from yesterday was more American-English! I can’t tell if they learned a lot of English with me but at least I was a good nanny to them”. 

2- She co-starred with Brad Pitt in a commercial directed by… Wes Anderson!

While teaching, she took classes at a theater and at a school to pursue her dreams of being an actress. She then joined a theater company ‘Théâtre du Voyageur’. That experience helped her land a few small roles in movies and TV series. She appeared on famous French cop shows like PJ and Femme de loi and even in low budget daytime TV movies. By 2010, her biggest ‘role’ was an unusual gig. She appeared in a Japanese ad for a telephone company in which she starred with Brad Pitt!
WatchCamille Cottin in the infamous Brad Pitt advertisement here:

Camille Cottin and Brad Pitt in a commercial back in 2011

If you are a movie lover, you’ve probably recognized who is behind the camera just by looking at the style of the quirky cinematography. It is indeed Wes Anderson - director of The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Rushmore and The Grand Budapest Hotel. And if you’re wondering what the music is, it is Serge Gainsbourg’s Poupée de cire, poupée de son, interpreted here by France Gall.

3- France knew her as the most annoying French person ever!

Early 2013, the French network Canal+ launched a new kind of hidden camera show. For this new project, the casting directors were on the hunt for a French woman that would go above and beyond to embody the Parisian women in all her annoyingness, snobbism and arrogance. They needed someone with a bit of experience in front of the camera, a lot of self deprecation and a sense of comedic timing and improv. The person cast also needed to be unknown to French people so that they wouldn’t suspect anything. The actress Camille Chamoux heard about the casting and instantly thought of her friend for this role… Camille Cottin. The casting went well and a pilot was filmed for Canal+, which quickly greenlighted the show. That was when the character Connasse (The Parisian bitch, as it was translated for English markets). For two years, she voluntarily became the most hated French person. Just watch her in this episode in the Paris subway being obnoxious, rude, awkward, with no self-awareness whatsoever. And yet, you just want to watch more of her!

Camille Cottin in "Connasse - Le Métro"

The videos quickly became viral in France and Camille Cottin kept pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable to do and say without being punched in the face. The show became so well-known, especially in Paris, that she couldn’t do it anymore in the French capital. Which led to her next project…

4- She “almost” married Prince Harry

After two years of playing the “Parisian bitch”, Camille Cottin wanted one last run in the shoes of the character that brought her to fame. That couldn’t be in France anymore. So Camille Cottin went back to her second home, England. There came the idea for the movie Connasse, Princesse des cœurs (The Parisian Bitch, Princess of Hearts). In this feature-length adaptation of her TV character, she desperately tries to marry Prince Harry. Once again, Camille Cottin didn’t hold back. She even made the headline in England after planning the perfect heist and climbing up Kensington Palace’s gates in a desperate attempt to ask Prince Harry to marry her. If you think this was all staged, you might want to know that Camille Cottin spent two days in an English prison because of this stunt! It seems like the authorities didn’t find it that funny…To avoid being legally forbidden to shoot the rest of her movie in England, she told the police officer it was just a truth or dare for her bachelorette party. Critics were mostly positive and the film sold over 1 million tickets in France. It was a big box-office success considering its relatively low budget.

The Parisian Bitch, Princess of Hearts (2015) - Trailer (English Subs)

5- She is well-known in the UK

Although she had been in the news for the Kensington Palace incident, she wasn’t famous in the UK until Call My Agent! (10 pour cent) became a word-of-mouth hit on Netflix. Launched in 2015, it’s only during the early days of the pandemic that Call My Agent! grew in popularity. Brits loved the show for how outspoken it was, and how ‘French’ it was thanks to its characters. In 2017, Camille Cottin went to Kilkenny in Ireland for a casting director festival. That’s when she suddenly realized people in the industry recognized her. This trip to the United Kingdom with her agent was not for nothing. There she met the casting director for the hit BBC show Killing Eve. She later on joined the third and fourth season of the show as one of the main characters.
6- She held the title role in the French adaptation of Fleabag

Fleabag is widely regarded as one of the best comedy series of the past decade. This show created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge follows a free-spirited woman in London trying to juggle between her career, her love life and her difficult relationships with her family. The show received many awards in the UK and in the US before getting a French adaptation. Camille Cottin landed the title role of the French series - Mouche - ordered by Canal+, the network of her debut for her sketch series. The six episodes broadcasted in 2019 were almost a copy/paste of the original UK series. Critics were mostly negative and the show was not renewed for a season 2.

7- Her first role in Hollywood was with Brad Pitt

Following the international success of Call My Agent! Camille Cottin signed in 2021 with the American agency UTA. And in no time, she started getting cast in American films, thanks to her near-perfect English. But her career in America didn’t start in 2021. Her first Hollywood film was Allied in 2016. This World War II movie from Robert Zemeckis - director of Back to the Future - was focused on a duo of spies trying to start a calm life together until the past came back knocking on their door. Camille Cottin only has a small part as the main characters are played by Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.

Allied (2016) - A Beautiful Diversion Scene (5/10) | Movieclips

While on set with Brad Pitt, she couldn’t resist asking him if he remembered her from their work in the Japanese advertisement! “He had totally forgotten. Even after I told him, he couldn’t really remember. I then told him ‘you know, the one where I was topless!’ he just laughed and I turned all red!”

8- Hollywood sees her as the new Juliette Binoche

Since Allied, Camille Cottin starred in two American films. First Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater, a drama with Matt Damon set in Marseille. She then went on to join the cast of the super production House of Gucci alongside Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto and Al Pacino. She plays the role of Paola Franchi, the new girlfriend of Maurizio Gucci. “I predict great things for Cami and not just because of our movie, which I think she’s sensational in but it’s just her time,” said Stillwater’s director Tom McCarthy in The New York Times. “You can feel it when someone’s earned a moment in their career, and put in the work, and they’re ready to take control of it.” The creator of Call My Agent!, an agent himself, Dominique Besnehard, also sees great things for her and thinks that Hollywood has finally found its new Juliette Binoche, who had a great Hollywood career. “I hope the American people would not monopolize her,” he said in The New York Times, hoping she will still take on roles in French movies.

Where to watch House of Gucci: Stream it on Amazon Prime Video and AppleTV or rent it on YouTube and Google Play.

9- Her most-acclaimed role was for a drama based on a true story of a cult

Although she has a knack for comedy, she was recently cast in a series of dramas in France. One in particular brought her much attention from critics: The Dazzled (Les éblouis). This movie based on a true story - the one of the director Sarah Suco - is a fascinating look into how a family is drawn into a cult which completely controls their lives. Camille Cottin plays the role of the mother, totally under the spell of the cult, who cannot even see she’s no longer being a mother to her young teenager. So if you want to see Camille Cottin like you've never seen her before, check out The Dazzled available on TV5MONDE, alongside most of Camille Cottin French movies like Premières Vacances, Le mystère Henri Pick, Deux moi.

10- She launched her own production company

In 2019, Camille Cottin, with her producer friend Shirley Kohn, launched Malmö, a production company openly feminist. The goal is to produce content on topics like women’s right, LGBTQI+ rights, or equality. Their first project was the documentary Mère si je veux, quand je veux about women freezing their eggs to not feel the pressure of the society and of their own body on when to have kids. In different interviews, Camille Cottin explained that she never takes on a role lightly. Although she said she doesn’t need every film to carry a specific message, she’s still aware of the power a movie can have on the ones who watch it: “When I read a script, I’m always careful around representation and I look closely at the way the female characters are written”, said Camille Cottin in Madame Figaro. “I was very moved by the reactions of the LGBT communications when my Andréa in Call My Agent! Became the first openly lesbian character in a Prime-time TV series. And a character not defined by her sexual orientation who present another type of family. That made me understand that the roles I choose do mean something and I’d like to continue to be a vehicle for the values I believe in.”