Faye, as seen by Laurent Bouzereau

FAYE © Photo by Terry O'Neill/Iconic Images / Courtesy of Liam Dunaway O'Neill

Incandescent Bonnie alongside Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde, formidable Vicki Anderson in The Thomas Crown Affair, Faye Dunaway has been one of the greatest actresses of American cinema since the 60s. After making documentaries on Roman Polanski and William Friedkin, Laurent Bouzereau has chosen to devote a portrait to the Chinatown star, listed in the Cannes Classics selection, in the presence of Faye Dunaway and Laurent Bouzereau.


What was your motivation for wanting to create a documentary about Faye Dunaway?

I’m friends with her son Liam. She’s always been my favorite actress. I remember as a kid, I went to see The Towering Inferno. I immediately asked myself: « Who is this person? » Her poster was on my wall my entire childhood. Finally, after years of meeting with Faye and talking to Liam, we convinced her to do it. And that’s how it all started. 


How did you convince her?

It was definitely a journey because Faye is used to work from a script. But this was real life. No script. No rehearsal. And she was very stressed by the process. I thought it was very courageous of her to do this. She started trusting us. By the end, I think she was very happy. It was something cathartic for her because she got to talk about everything she’s never really mentioned before.


Getting into the career of Faye Dunaway is also lighting up an entire page of cinema history: which one, in your opinion?

The cinema history she represents probably started with Bonnie and Clyde, and then through movies like The Thomas Crown Affair, Chinatown and Network, of course. Those iconic films were part of the new Hollywood. It was a time when the film industry was changing dramatically. Faye found herself at the heart of a new American cinema, highly influenced by the French New Wave. 


The movie opens with this Terry O’Neill picture, and you get back to it several times in the film. Why choose this picture as a leitmotif of this documentary?

During my final research, I looked up the date when that famous picture, the morning after, was taken.  And I realized that our very first day of filming marked the 45th anniversary of this glorious image.  So, I thought it would be the perfect way of starting the film.


You chose to insert a moment at the end of the movie, which takes place at the 2011 Festival de Cannes. She was decorated as an officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. The poster for that 64th edition also featured her image. Then, her son talks about her love of the festival… Is it particularly exciting this year for you too?

You know, Cannes is very symbolic for her because she loves France and the French cinema. I think it’s an incredible opportunity for her, not only because she is honored, but also because it is the place that possibly means the most to her. Personally, I was born in France, then I moved to America. I’ve never really worked in France. So this is an incredible honor for me because Cannes is where I discovered movies in the first place.

A Nedland Media, Amblin and HBO production. The first feature-length documentary on Faye Dunaway, which talks about her career and her roles in Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown and Network. She is joined by her son Liam, colleagues and friends such as Sharon Stone, Mickey Rourke, James Gray and others.