Robert Zemeckis Receives France’s Order of Arts and Letters Honor

Elsa Keslassy
Variety

PARIS — On the eve of “Allied’s” Paris premiere, Robert Zemeckis received France’s Order of Arts and Letters medal from Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay during an intimate ceremony attended by “Allied” star Marion Cotillard on Saturday.

“It’s the first medal I’ve ever received and this is the first time I’ve been acknowledged by an entire nation,” said Zemeckis, who was accompanied by his spouse.

The Academy Award winning director also spoke about his love for French cinema.

“France is the birthplace of cinema. All of the great French filmmakers and the French cinema have had a profound influence on my work. I’ve quoted the great Francois Truffaut many times and I completely subscribe to his belief that a a really good film is a perfect blend of truth and spectacle,” said Zemeckis, who also said he was thrilled to share the same honor with his leading actress Marion Cotillard .

Cotillard received the Order of Arts and Letters medal in 2010.

“It’s a double thrill, because not only did I get to have the experience to work with such a magnificent actress, we also now share the same honor so that’s great.”

Azoulay, meanwhile, said during her speech that Zemeckis’s cinema was “an exceptional testimony of the American dream” and called Zemeckis “a pioneering and ambitious filmmaker, and above all a wonderful storyteller.”

“You are a friend of France, its culture and a lover of arts. You are one of the greatest masters of entertainment, giving it a noble and ambitious dimension, like your friends Steven Spielberg or Georges Lucas. With you, films become a fabulous dream-making machine,” Azoulay told Zemeckis during her tribute.

Following the ceremony, Zemeckis told Variety that he welcomed the idea of shooting a film in France one day.

“It’d be great to make a fantastic French costume drama, make a French movie that takes place in the 18th century in the Latin Quarter or near the Moulin Rouge,” said Zemeckis.

Zemeckis also confirmed Bob Gale’s previous remark that the character of Biff Tannen, the villain of the “Back to the Future” trilogy was inspired by President-Elect Donald Trump.

“It’s true. But we would never have been audacious enough to suggest that Biff would run for President because no one would believe that. It would be too unbelievable,” said Zemeckis.

The director nevertheless shot down any prospects for a “Back to the Future” reboot.

“Never. They’re finished, they’re done. Some things should be left alone. Just because it’s easy to get made with a very famous title doesn’t give it a reason to be made,” Zemeckis argued.

Zemeckis also confirmed his next movie will be “The Women of Marwen” with Steve Carell, based on the documentary “Marwencol.”

TV is also part of Zemeckis’s plans. “I’m working on some things. None have come to fruition yet but television is everything now. Things aren’t separate like they used to be so it’s all moving pictures.”

Paramount Pictures will release “Allied” in France on Nov. 23.

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