Charlotte Le Bon, the Paris-based, Quebec-born star of The Hundred-Foot Journey was in Toronto recently to do a round of interviews to promote the movie. “How’s the day going for you so far?” asked your intrepid reporter.
“Amazing! I’m so happy answering the same questions over and over again. Be creative,” she says with a laugh.
So the standard, “How is it working with Helen Mirren?” is off the table. Ditto questions about producers Oprah and Steven Spielberg, although later she offers up that the idea of working with those powerhouses was enticing.
“When somebody calls you to say Steven Spielberg thinks you’re the one, you don’t go, ‘I’m going to think about it, read the script a couple of times and maybe I’ll call him back.’ It’s super overwhelming and exciting.”
In the film, she plays Marguerite, sous-chef to chef Madame Mallory (Mirren) in Mallory’s Michelin-starred French restaurant. When an Indian family, and their prodigiously talented chef (Manish Dayal) opens a restaurant just 100 feet across the street, rivalry and romance blossom between the two young kitchen stars.
Have you ever worked in a restaurant?, I enquire. “You’re the first journalist to ask that!” she says. “Yay! I worked in a sushi restaurant as a busgirl, just setting the tables. I realized how difficult working in a restaurant is. You have to be some kind of actor to be a good waiter because you’re always doing small talk and usually you don’t care about the people in front of you, but you have to act like you mean it.
“It’s a very difficult job and when you’re a chef it is over-the-top difficult. That’s why you have to be a control freak or a dictator to have a good restaurant and win Michelin stars.”
The 27-year-old vegetarian says she spent time in an upscale restaurant in Paris, “to learn how to act like a chef,” but don’t expect to see the impressive cooking talent she displays in the movie in her own kitchen.
“I’m really lazy when it comes to food,” she says. “I have experience in food in the way that I really enjoy eating people’s food,” she says. “I have no skills whatsoever.”
She prefers eating out because, “you don’t have to do the dishes, you can choose whatever you want and you don’t have to go grocery shopping.”