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Emmanuelle Riva: 'I feel like I'm in a fairy tale'

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When Amour's Emmanuelle Riva woke up in New York this morning, the world was waiting to talk to her.

"I feel like I'm in sort of a fairy tale," said the French actress, who spoke through a translator by phone. At 85, "I did not expect such a success. I was living my life by the moment."

Riva holds the record as the world's oldest Academy Award best-actress nominee, and happens to share the category with its youngest-ever best-actress nominee: Beasts of the Southern Wild's Quvenzhané Wallis, 9. "I like it," she says. "I like the situation of being the oldest nominee and sharing it with someone who is extremely young."


The Film Society of Lincoln Center's Facebook page posted this adorable snapshot of Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) and Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) — being the cutest at this week's Film Comment lunch at the Lambs Club.

In Amour, Riva plays Anne, a onetime accomplished pianist in her 80s whose husband, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), must care for her as her body fails and slips into paralysis. It's a moving and at times wrenching story, one the actress says owes its success to director (and nominee) Michael Haneke's delicate touch. The film is "neither too much nor not enough," she says. "It's impeccable." Riva believes Amour connected with Oscar voters "on the level of the human heart."

Plus, the role reached her at the perfect moment. "When I read the screenplay, I had the very intimate feeling that I was going to be able to do it, and I say that without any kind of vanity," she says, adding that because she was the same age as Anne when she played her, "the timing was perfect."

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She and Quvenzhané are so cute together!

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