We’re sitting in a typical hole-in-the-wall café in Little Italy, the cement floor amplifying the noise of the cappucino machine and old men gossiping at a back table, when a young man approaches and says he thinks he knows Rachelle Lefevre.
The Montreal-born, Hollywood-based actress handles it well, even when he sits down uninvited at our table; she’s gracious and kind, asking if they’ve met. They haven’t. The obvious is left unsaid: he probably recognizes her from Twilight, the wildly popular vampire film franchise in which Lefevre played evil Victoria in the first two of three movies. Welcome to the downside of celebrity in its most benign form, a small intrusion into everyday life.
Lefevre, 31, was in town this summer for Eyes Wide Open, the extravagant masked ball to benefit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. She agreed to play model for us and talk about fame, film and fashion.
But the frenzied teen fans and notoriety of Twilight are behind Lefevre now.
She has three film projects wrapped and soon to roll: political drama Casino Jack, with Kevin Spacey; psychological thriller The Caller, opposite Steven Moyer; and closest to home, Barney’s Version, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival Friday and played the Toronto internation Film Festival Sunday, based on the novel by Mordecai Richler and with an impressive cast including Paul Giamatti as Barney Panofsky.
Richler and his Montreal speaks to Lefevre. It is, after all, part of her own history. She is a true Montrealer, having lived all over the region: in Notre Dame de Grâce, Nuns’ Island, Rosemère, Snowdon, downtown, Côte St. Luc and Town of Mount Royal.
And to respect her father’s French heritage as well as make the Jewish grandparents happy, she was named Rachelle, which works in both cultures.
In Barney’s Version, Lefevre plays Clara, the troubled first Mrs. Panofsky. Everything about the role is a thrill for her: first, that she’s from Montreal, that it’s a Richler story rich in this city’s lore, that it’s produced by Robert Lantos, for whom she worked on Fugitive Pieces, and that the character she plays is so fragile and disturbed.
“She couldn’t be damaged to the point of being undesirable,” says Lefevre, adding the character “does everything to hide her fragility, so she’s outrageous and outgoing.”
“She becomes the biggest presence in the room, so you can’t help but be drawn to her.’’
Lefevre won’t pronounce on Clara’s mental instability: “I’m reluctant to diagnose her because Mordecai never did.’’ And the cast: Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Dustin Hoffman are also on the roster. “I just can’t believe my name is alongside these people.’’
The Barney character, she says, is a loveable misanthrope surrounded by artists pushing the envelope in Rome – the book is set in Paris – “And he wants so badly to be one of them, but he isn’t. He’s a sensible Montreal Jew who is a businessman.
“What I love about Montreal – the staircases – you just don’t see that anywhere else – and the whole French culture, St. Urbain and St. Denis.
“It was kind of magical to see the way he wrote about Montreal in that time was still the Montreal I was living in. “It had a real sense of history about it for me.”
Lefevre is a tried and true fashionista, rifling through racks for the fashion shoot with the eye of a pro and posing for the camera just so.
Yet she admits to that split California-style personality. At a fitting and interview in Little Italy, she wore a grey T-shirt and skinny jeans; at home, she says, her uniform is a white T and jeans.
“I wouldn’t love my blue jeans so much if I didn’t get to get out of them now and then,’’ she says.
And she wouldn’t like to get dolled up all the time either. That involves some very fine names in fashion, including Stella McCartney, for whom she saves up to buy a piece – “I’m obsessed with the ’80s and so is she.” Also, Bottega Veneta, which “always looks flawless”; whimsical, out-there Louis Vuitton; and another obsession, hard-edge Balmain for when she’s feeling edgy and bold.
“Sometimes, like every woman, I just like to feel pretty and soft,’’ she says.
Despite her styling eye and skill at posing – she strikes those classic fashion poses with the scrunched shoulders, eyes wide peering into the distance, face composed – with the ease of any professional model, Lefevre says she feels she isn’t good at having her picture taken.
“I love fashion, so the photo shoots, having your hair and makeup done, the whole fun dressup and glamorous side of it – it’s a really fun job perk. “But there’s something about standing still or being in a very contained environment, when it’s just you and the camera.
“ I t makes me so self – conscious.
“When I’m in front of a movie camera I’m thinking about a million other things, thinking about the other actor, the scene, I’m living a life.’’
STYLING: Céline Béland
MAKEUP: Eddie Malter for L’Oréal Paris
HAIR: Louis Hechter for L’Oréal Professional
LOCATIONS : Boutique Maskarad, Moishes, McGill University, Esplanade Ave. THANKS to Hôtel Le Germain.
ON THE COVER AND THIS PAGE : Rachelle wears Mackage leather tank top, $280, at www.ssence.com, American Apparel leggings, $48 at all American Apparel stores, By Malene Birger wool and lurex coat, $775 at JoshuaDavid, and black hammered metal cuffs from Boa, $40 at www.boa bijoux.com. High grey boots, Stuart Weitzman, $690 at all Browns stores.
IN THE KITCHEN AT MOISHES: Structured black jacket with leather details by Mackage, $430. available at U&I, Simons and www.ssense.com. Crystal necklace, $98, By Malene Birger at Boutique Flirt, Pointe Claire. Black lamé leggings, American Apparel, $48. Black leather boots, MICHAEL by Michael Kors $595. Call 1-866-733-KORS for points of sale.
AT BOUTIQUE MASKARAD (103 Mount Royal Ave. W.): Wool lace jacket with bow on shoulder. $650, and black jersey pencil skirt, $298, both by Nadya Toto, at www. nadyatoto.com. Worn with gold skinny belt, $24.50, at Gap. Lace-up pumps, $90 at all Aldo shops and www.aldoshoes. com. Oversize pink crystal ring, $49 at Aldo accessories.
ON THE STREET: Burgundy dress with tulle inset, $478, by Max Azria for BCBG. Burgundy platform shoes, Max Azria for BCBG. At BCBGMAZRIA stores. Burgundy opaque tights, $16, Mondor in all major departement stores, or www.mondor.com.