golden girl: meet lily taïeb

First making her mark in director Arnaud Desplechin's My Golden Days in 2015, the prodigal 17-year-old French actress talks about about her generation, teenage love and taking her time in an increasingly demanding age.

When we meet the 17-year-old actress Lily Taïeb on Canal Saint Martin in Paris, head high and glasses firmly ensconced on her head, she began emptying her shoulder bag in front of us: out came a pencil case, a couple of talismans and, most importantly, a sketchbook with dozens of sketches. “I love drawing my gang,” she reveals while handing us a drawing representing her and her crew. Since leaving school school to study from home, cinema was a new way to create friendships. Alongside her friend Lily Rose-Depp, the young star became assimilated with the frenzy and the flurry Cannes, and the subsequent craze of fashion shows that naturally come with. Despite this, Lily is very much apart of a new wave of well-grounded teenagers in the limelight. 

“I think about my generation a lot,” says Lily, drinking a cup of green tea, “because I am very much part of it.”

Against all odds, after the lightning success of My Golden Days – which received six awards, for its directing and music, in several prestigious festivals – and her cameo in Liza Azuelos’s Une Rencontre, Lily gets back to normal life with great serenity: “I think it’s important to experience quiet spells.” Wise. So wise that we hardly dare asking what her days and nights are like. Nightclubs? “An absurd concept.” Alcohol and cigarettes? “I hate them.” Drugs? “I’m not interested.” What about gigs? She frowns and reflects: “Oh yes, I was at The Weeknd show last week. It was great until the stampedes began.” Words are going so fast Lily needs to stop from time to time in order to realise and gauge the effects of it: “I can’t explain it but as I grow up, I have difficulties to feel at ease with people I don’t know.”

Lily prefers the simplicity of a good discussion with her friends than going to social events. And particularly her boyfriend, Tara Jay Bangalter, a young actor: “We met last summer while filming Journée Blanche, Felix de Givry’s first short film and we quickly fell in love,” confesses the young actress before adding, “he looks a bit like Jean-Pierre Léaud…” When she says it, her eyes light up and reminds us the eyes of the actors of Trois Souvenirs de Ma Jeunesse. The ones of Arnaud Desplechin’s first love he was describing in his fable of 2015: “It’s the first time I experienced this kind of relationship, always wanting to be with someone.”

Talking with Lily Taïeb means navigating one subject to the other without understanding the transition, with a disarming natural sincerity: “I’m a bit crazy” she confesses, as her gaze turns down to the bottom of her cup. While we refute, she says that she imported the Book of Kells from Ireland, a precious manuscript that contains the four Gospels: “I have a huge interest in the profound and mystical.” We barely had time to address this when Lily was already on to scents and how they trigger and induce memories certain memories which to her, feels like “another inexplicable phenomenon.”

Last week, she saw Wild Strawberries, a movie directed by Ingmar Bergman: “It’s the story of an old man who decides to go to Lund with his car. While driving, he remembers his childhood, his teenage years, his egotistical life. The people he meets during his trip are going to save him, they deliver him from his past. The movie precisely transposes oneiric feelings.” Strangely, the movie Lily is talking embodies a fantasy for every actor and actress – being able to overcome your past in order to transform yourself on set and in front of the camera: “Great actors are the ones who forget themselves in front of the camera. For the moment, I’m satisfied with allowing myself a break”, she says. To support this, Lily extends a music metaphor: “You see when you press pause during a song? Even if it’s not playing anymore, you remember listening to it, a few minutes earlier. It’s the same for me: on a set, I pause myself, but I don’t forget myself, I remember everything,” she explains, before concluding: “But I have all the time to really get out of myself and let myself go.” We agree, but not too long, please.

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