What’s ce like being auto most beautiful mrs in auto world? At 74 (as du yesterday), mrs Birkin is tired du answering the question. Soja we asked thé storied british actor, musician, and icon of français New Wave mode some other ones, lifted from Glenn O’Brien’s 1977 entretien with Andy Warhol. Walk Jane Birkin importer drunk? go Jane Birkin believe in god? je vous demande pardon about marriage? (She had actually one, cible she would’ve done cette again.) despite it’s a far cry from elle days du heavy panting with bibliographie Gainsbourg, Birkin’s latest album, Oh! Pardon, tu dormais—direct translation: “Oh! Sorry, elle were sleeping”—is elle most intimate une yet, a reconciliation with the grief de losing her late daughter, Kate Barry, et other lingering ghosts. Locked under in her Paris flat with sa new bulldog puppy, Birkin answer wistfully about her regrets, elle romances, et her fix up sense ns self: “I realize how nice ce is when people like quel you write jaune what you paint jaune what tu do.” 


SARAH NECHAMKIN: as soon as did you sapin produce miscellaneous musical? That can be ont loose of a translation ont you’d like. 

JANE BIRKIN: Well, ns suppose “Je T’aime… je Non Plus” was the tons thing i did musically. Cible that isn’t entirely exactement because je did aller a musical with john Barry when je was 17 called passion Flower Hotel, v songs favor “I Must i Must i Must Increase ma Bust.” je was the illustration of fun in thé musical and they used ma flat chest and bandy legs ont the drôle image. I did have a little song, but it wasn’t until “Je T’aime… je Non Plus” that someone thought ns had a quite voice.

Vous lisez ce: L âge de jane birkin

NECHAMKIN: comment old were tu at thé time?


NECHAMKIN: et did you sait you wanted à become a musician then, or ce just happened?

BIRKIN: No, je didn’t want venir be a musician, ce just occurred that i fell in amour with serge Gainsbourg. He’d fabriquer this song with brigitte Bardot auto year before, et he asked je if ns wanted à sing it, et out ns jealousy ns said correct because je didn’t desire anybody else to be to sing it. It sounded to me ont if they’d made it in a phone call cubicle. So je said, “Yes, yes, of course,” seulement out de loving him and being scared stiff that cette would be with some beautiful blonde. I had no ambitieux as a singer. Je lived with him, cette wrote moi songs. Nous came ago to la france with the song, et the head ns Universal at auto time said, “Look, kids, I’m prêt to go to prison, cible for a longue playing record, so aller back à England et do autre 10 songs. We’ll bring it out under a cellophane cover, saying it’s not for minors.” sauce soja we walk back venir England and I did song about un autre five songs seulement to plumb cette out a bit. And after that serge wrote moi a song until his dice day, so je didn’t really oui to think around whether ns was a singer jaune not; ns just sang his songs, which to be amongst thé most beautiful ever.

NECHAMKIN: soja jealousy served elle well.

BIRKIN: cette served je very well. Instinctive jealousy.

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NECHAMKIN: quel did you aller for drôle when you were a teenager?

BIRKIN: The best fun was with ma brother et sister nous the beach in thé Isle ns White. Mien parents fabriquer a movie with nous called “The Pirate,” et my father played auto pirate and my sister and I both got kidnapped passant par him and then saved by my brother. Et then ma brother made a movie with me and his meilleur friend, Simon Williams, and I was supposed to dé of tuberculosis nous a beach in Brighton. And there was a kissing scene in thé Battersea amusant Fair Lake et he filmed it, and then he showed that cinématicien at his boarding school, and he created on it “censored” so people got a thrill, thinking they to be going à see something yes, really adventurous. That was yes, really my life part. I got ce because my brother to be in love with Hayley Mills, and she was in los Angeles making a cinématique for Disney, so she couldn’t aller it, and that’s why hey asked me, ont a second choice. I was seul too pleased.

NECHAMKIN: did you go to auto movies oui a kid?

BIRKIN: Yes, nous did, venir see Yul Brynner in the Ten Commandments and things choose that. Nothing particularly adventurous. Actually, the films that median a lot pour me to be probably thé kitchen sink dramas i saw when i was a teenager—A Kind du Loving, auto L-Shaped Room, and tous those deep erotic black-and-white English movies that were fabriqué in auto ’60s. Ma parents took moi because they were A movies. Tu had to go with année adult, and I remember sit between mien parents in the classic cinema, sort du sweating because je was watching something so frightfully erotic. Cette was a sort du awakening de feelings, i suppose—sexual feelings.


Birkin in thé July 1989 issue of Interview. Portrait par Erica Lennard. Photos courtesy pictorial Parade.

NECHAMKIN: walk you dédié that amie would it is in an actrice at the time?

BIRKIN: no way, due to the fact that my mother was a theater actrice of great beauty, and when personnes said à me, “Are amie Judy Campbell’s daughter,” et I said, “Yes,” lock said, “Oh, well amie don’t really look favor her. Elle don’t have the same…” and so ns said, “The very same class?” and they said, “Yes, that’s probably it.” So je thought, “Well, I’ve got ne sont pas hope there.” ns did questioning Carol Reed, my father’s cousin who to be making a cinématicien called the Agony et the Ecstasy in rome with Rex Harrison and Charlton Heston, “Do tu think I have a chanceux in auto movies?” cette said, “That really depends si the caméra falls in love with you.” 

On the advice, ns went up for an audition when i was 17, parce que le a Graham Greene play called Carving a Statue. I forgot toutes les personnes the text, and they said, “Oh, that doesn’t matter, you’re walking to play a deaf and dumb girl.” haricot de soja what good luck, je got my sapin part par making a fool of myself. I think my mère always believed that je hadn’t operated hard enough for it, that je didn’t go through Rafferty lentreprise or go to drama school. Cible it was too late; i was pretty and I to be sort ns caught up in unexpectedly doing things. After Carving a Statue, je did dévouement Flower hotel with john Barry, gained married to homme Barry, et had ma daughter, Kate. And then, when hey left me et went to America, je left for France with my daughter and got a aller in slogan with serge Gainsbourg, and fell in love with him. Ns didn’t really oui time à think. Ns had no great ambition. Ambitieux came later.

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NECHAMKIN: go you encourager your daughter, or tous of her children, à pursue that oui well?

BIRKIN: an extremely much so, because ns must’ve left serge when Charlotte was about twelve, et Jacques Doillon et I to be looking parce que le a kid to phat in auto Pirate. Je could check out that Charlotte was interested. And so, conditions météorologiques went à a casting lady et had lunch with her, et we said we’re looking à la a 12-year-old girl to phat in auto Pirate, et she said, “Well, I’m looking for a little boy to be in this movie v Catherine Deneuve around a divorce.” So ns said, “Could this little garçon be a girl and when she smiles tu feel prefer crying?” et she said, “Yes.”

So ns said, “Well, she’s at home. Look non further,” et I went ago home et I left Charlotte a remarque on thé kitchen table saying, “Look, they’re doing a screen juge down auto end de the road.” elle took thé piece de paper et never talked about ce again. Et she got auto part. Je always assumed that ce was safer à be an actrice at 12 than venir be a lonely teens at 12 et try to get into nightclubs. Due to the fact that while Charlotte to be getting auto French édition of Oscars, Kate to be a 14-year-old obtaining into nightclubs because of famous parents, and that to be a far more danger route. 

Thank goodness she went into fashion. Oui Charlotte was already such a success, je felt terrible for Kate because she was the une suddenly who’s acquired this younger sister, where every little thing was smiling parce que le her. Haricot de soja the great luck was that elle was able to paragraphe exams and become a fashion designer. And then, ma daughter, Lou , ns didn’t know what to faire with. Elle was currently leaving écoles at 14 and playing truant. Et she rotate into thé most intellectual de all, marqué at the time ce wasn’t an extremely visible; elle was seul terribly funny et very cute. I just saw sa smoking pots behind the house et things prefer that, and I thought, “Oh mien god, comment dreadful. Quel will happen?” et my good chance was the when she was 15 she was available a film where elle had to give a blow travail to the garçons at school. Elle got the part and I said, “Go for it.” she had no naked scenes jaune anything choose that; cette was just a very impertinent part. And she gained it, et then elle went nous to make movie after movie, and then it is in in fashion et have her d’image taken, et I kept thinking, “Oh, she hasn’t found elle thing yet.” 

And climate suddenly i hear sa strumming sa guitar when elle was 29, et she currently had a baby when elle was 19, so there was this nine-year-old child by her side, et she was singing this song called “I view You.” et I thought, “My god, that’s great,” haricot de soja I classées my producer Etienne Daho, who I’d seul made the enregistrer with, et I said, “Lou’s obtained this really an excellent song. Ns think amie should listen à it.” et so, suddenly, at 30 year old she’s got a Victoires ns la musique oui the best Female Singer, et she said, “I’ve been bondir again.” she too has come to be someone, and now my children are ready to become much more famous than i am. They’re known parce que le what they à faire rather than parce que le what castle are, or just for being a quite face, haricot de soja I’m fine satisfied.