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Poésy Power

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celmence-p-head.jpgClémence Poésy is nervous. The 30-year-old actress, who hasn't done live theater in eight years, makes her Broadway debut this fall in Cyrano de Bergerac -- and the production isn't in her native tongue. "I'm terrified," she admits. In speaking to her further, however, one gets the feeling she'll manage. French by birth, Poésy speaks impeccable English (with a nonspecific British accent) and communicates a voluble enthusiasm for the play. She says she grew up with Edmond Rostand's 1897 story -- apparently in France, Cyrano is something of a point of national pride -- and so the pre-show jitters have more to do with doing the role justice. Poésy stars as Roxane, the objet d'amour of Cyrano (Douglas Hodge), and this version of the show, like the original, is in verse, with rhyming couplets. "It's a play that's about the power of words, and how beautiful words can be, and the power of poetry, and the power of wit," Poésy explains.

Though charming and self-effacing, Poésy is a seasoned performer. In the U.S., she's perhaps best known as Triwizard competitor Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter franchise, but also for her work opposite James Franco in 127 Hours and as Chuck Bass' girlfriend on Gossip Girl. She grew up in Paris as the daughter of French actor-writer-director Étienne Guichard (Poésy is her mother's maiden name), and began acting as a child. These days she calls both London and Paris home, where she makes regular appearances at their Fashion Weeks. She has dabbled in modeling -- for Chloé, G-Star and the Gap -- but doesn't see that as a career. ("I'm not a model," she says. "[I'm asked] when they need someone they feel like people can identify with...") She does prefer a few labels, though. As with her roles, the designers she favors create immersive experiences. "I love Rodarte," she says. "They invent these worlds through their clothes. It's like wearable art." ★


Clémence Poésy has a right to be nervous. Other actresses who've played Roxane on Broadway include:

Margaret Anglin, 1898

Frances Reid, 1946 

Arlene Dahl, 1953

Sinead Cusack, 1984

Jennifer Garner, 2007

Honorable mention: 

Daryl Hannah, 1987 in the film Roxanne.

Cyrano de Bergerac is now open at the American Airlines theater, 229 W. 42nd St., New York. 

Styling: Andrew Mukamal / Hair: Dennis Fei at Kate Ryan Inc for Redken / Makeup: Camille Thompson for camillethompson.com using MAC Cosmetics / Clémence wears a dress by Kenneth Cole Collection and boots by Gianvito Rossi for Altuzarra.

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