Q&A: Kylie Minogue Takes the Wheel in 'Holy Motors'

Kylie Minogue isn't just a singer, she's industry royalty. She's won too many awards and had too many hits to try and list them here. So why, we ask, did she (temporarily) hang up her pop princess crown so that she could… sleep on the street by a sewer? Because her hairdresser told her to. Duh.

Okay, there's a little more to it than that. Namely, she got the chance to work with Leos Carax ("The Lovers on the Bridge") on "Holy Motors," which is the auteur's first full-length film in 13 years. The psychological drama follows a shadowy character from dawn to dusk as he journeys from one life to the next. So, yeah, it's a little artsier than Kylie's usual beat. We sat down with the stunning triple threat to discuss this step out of her comfort zone, how she feels about her 25th anniversary in the biz and whether what she really wants to do is direct.

How did you get involved in this film?

Through the hairdressers! [Laughs] It's the epicenter of the world. I was at my hairdresser in Paris and he's a great friend of mine, and there was a French director there, Claire Denis, who was also a friend of his. We got to talking — well, my hairdresser basically forced us together — and the whole time I was kind of batting him away like, "Stop it! She's not going to be interested in me!" But we had a nice chat, and then she mentioned my name to Leos Carax. He and I ended up meeting for lunch in Paris, and now here we are!

This story's pretty wild. What did you think when you first read the script?

I thought it was an intriguing concept. I was completely excited.

Was there any moment during the process when you were just plain scared of doing this film?

All the time! I was terrified. I really worked myself into a complete spin because I just wanted to do — I wanted to be good for Leos, and for myself of course, but really for him. I didn't want to let him down. I wanted to get to that place and be the character.

Do you feel you're at a disadvantage because you are "Kylie Minogue, pop superstar"?

Absolutely. I do feel there's a disadvantage because I'm seen so much as "Kylie," but Leos held my hand and we got there. I had to scrape away that image to then put on new layers for this character, and that's part of the reason why I was so nervous.

It took a while, but we got there, and the experience was, in equal measures, terrifying and exhilarating. In a way, I felt like I was going home because I was on set and the first job I had was acting, but then it was kind of like the house had been redecorated while I was gone because it was just so different.

What was the atmosphere like on set?

Very gentle! Leos is very gentle with his actors. There was no yelling, no angry diva behavior. There was none of that. It was very — almost serene, I want to say — but obviously it isn't because everyone's doing what they have to do. I was in a holding pattern just trying to keep that emotion of being on the edge, so I wasn't exactly blissed out, but I think the feeling on set comes from the director, and Leos is very slow and considered and doesn't waste words. But it was a night shoot, so pretty much everyone was going through the 4 AM slump. [Laughs]

Were you in character the whole time on set?

I kind of was, and that was different for me as well.

Was it difficult?

It was exhausting! At the end of those days I was like an eggshell of a person — a cracked eggshell.

Holy MotorsWhen you finished shooting, did you do anything to celebrate this milestone like a shopping day or a dance party?

[Laughs] I wish. I was sick as a dog. I think just being on the edge that whole time doing night shoots, lying on the cold pavement with the sewer scent wafting by, you know, all that "glamorous stuff," took a toll after a while. I did the classic thing where you get to the end of the finish line and then pass out cold.

Well, now that you've made it through once, are you going to do it again?

Yeah. Yeah, I hope so. Nothing's set in stone, but there's definitely more acting going forward. The idea really does thrill me. What's been interesting is that it comes from a different place than music. I've been asked since I was a teenager which one I prefer, acting or singing. Now, after all this time the answer is still the same, but now I know why. I love them both. They're both under the umbrella of performance, but they come from a very different place. They are different challenges, and therefore they give different rewards.

Would you ever want to direct?

I just directed a video for the first time for a song from "Abbey Road Sessions," and I loved it, so, yeah, there's a bit of me that for a long time — somewhere in my brain or somewhere in my body — I've felt that might happen down the line. I'm not at that point yet, but I'm shooting for some more collective experience. I think it's somewhere in the future.

Is there any other kind of role you'd want to play that you haven't yet? Could we ever see you in a romantic comedy?

Yeah! I'd love to! I'm a sucker for experience. I'm too inquisitive and curious for my own good half the time. I would love to do a comedy. I've touched on comedy on English TV in guest spots and stuff like that, but hell yeah, I would love it!

Is there anybody you would love to work with?

I haven't really thought about that to be honest, but someone like Pedro Almodóvar would be wonderful, or Clint Eastwood. I would literally probably just die on the couch because I love him so much!

What's coming up for you next?

I have an album coming out next month called "Abbey Road Sessions." This year is actually my 25th year in the music business. Eek. Anyway, "Abbey Road Sessions" is obviously recorded at Abbey Road, which is amazing, and they're all orchestral and acoustic interpretations of my hits.

Now that you've been in the business for 25 years, what's something you wish you could go back and tell yourself when you were just starting out?

I'd have to give her a tome, a whole book, like the "Encyclopedia Britannica." What I'd like to say to her is to trust her own instinct. We're all given instinct. It's a gift, and we've all got it for free, but too often we ignore that, and I have definitely been stung by not trusting myself — especially because I started young. I remember thinking that they were adults, and they knew better, and you know what? Sometimes they didn't. But, overall, it's worked out okay so I'd probably do it all again.


[Laughs] No, yeah, definitely.

Movie & TV Awards 2018