Amongst the general public, Sandrine Kiberlain is not a name that will necessarily be recognised outside of France – as an actress who has persistently opted to remain on home soil to make movies. But you’d be hard pressed to find any film fans living in France not aware of this extremely talented actress – who has consistently performed at the very highest level across the past two decades.

Having won Most Promising Actress at the César’s in 1996, it wasn’t until last year she was finally awarded the Best Actress accolade for her turn in 9 Month Stretch. At this year’s ceremony, which took place just a matter of days before the Academy Awards, she was nominated once again – for her performance in Jeanne Herry’s Elle L’Adore – and it was for this particular project we had the pleasure of discussing with the enigmatic performer.

Speaking to HeyUGuys in Paris, Kiberlain explained what it was about playing Muriel – a fanatical, fervent admirer of a pop star, that appealed to her so greatly.

“I wanted to play this character because she really intrigued me, I wondered about her obsessions,” she explained. “It was perhaps to fill a void. She has a passion for him. I really believed in her, it was an original, different story and I loved the fact she could make us laugh in the most dramatic moments. She’s strong and touching at the same time and I think it’s like wanting to fill a gap, but there are all types of fans, and she’s not the lunatic type.”

Muriel’s idol is that of Vincent Lacroix, played by Laurent Lafitte – who one day arrives at her apartment, in desperate need of help, and she dutifully obliges. Though the premise would suggest Muriel is somewhat obsessed and perhaps dangerously smitten, she was able to see the human being within the role – and admitted that Herry introduced her to people that helped her understand, and embody this role.

“The relationship is not unhealthy, of course with some fans you can imagine it’s about being crazy about someone, but Jeanne, the director and daughter of Julien Clerc, introduced me to one of his fans, and I met her and she’s very much like Muriel. She has a room in her apartment covered with pictures of Julien Clerc and her husband respects this. She has a privileged relationship and is given special access to the shows, so it does exist.”

“Jeanne wanted to talk about this – because these people can be pictured as being crazy, a lunatic and hysterical – but when I read the script I admired all the characters, they were all rich and well-written.”

When asked if Kiberlain has any admirers of a similar ilk to Muriel, she quickly told us she hasn’t – and admits then when she has performed as a musician, the connection with the fans is one of factors which intimidates her.

“No, no, no, no. Actors don’t have the same type of fans as singers, luckily. Because singers have a certain closeness with their audience and the fans come to see the singer, that person. Of course people can come to see me as an actress, but I’m protected by the screen, by the characters.

“I don’t consider myself to be a singer but I have written songs and been on stage about 50 times. This relationship with the audience was a bit oppressing and heavy for me, everything relies on your shoulders on stage and when people yell your name it can be scary, it’s not like me.”

As for who Kiberlain admires herself, without hesitation she said “my daughter”, and in regards to when she was younger, she explained, “As a teenager there were many actors and actress I admired but I didn’t have any pictures of them on my walls. I did have some film posters but I didn’t fantasise on any one person in particular. I was more interested in film directors.”

Talking of directors, Herry has shown off a distinct aptitude for creativity with this debut endeavour, as a nuanced film that is as comedic as it is dramatic, as upsetting as it can be suspenseful. For Kiberlain, it was the variety of genres implemented into this picture which was so appealing.

“I liked that it was difficult to make, because it was hard to put in a category,” she said. “It would be nice if people could just call it a good film without finding a category for it, because that’s its whole quality.”

“But It’s the same with actors, when people try to put them into categories. This actor is a dramatic actor, this actor is comedic… Here, in the case of this film, because of finding the financing and with so much depending on TV channels, you need films to fit into categories, detective films, comedies, etc. But not all films can be fit into boxes. When I was a drama student studying theatre, if you were funny in one scene, you were immediately labelled as a comic actress. But I want to continue to surprise, even myself, to not be in the same types of films and play all types of parts. To be completely different all the time.”

Well, it’s safe to say that for Kiberlain, that much is a given – as this is yet another eclectic role for her, and another addition to what has been a remarkable career in film. To watch Elle L’Adore – which is one of her finest performances to date, the film will be showing at London’s Cine Lumière as of March 13th.