‘The New Look’ Star Juliette Binoche Unpacks ‘Very Uncomfortable’ First Scene Showing Coco Chanel’s Nazi Ties | Video

“She would adapt herself as an acrobat,” the actress said of Chanel’s “survival mode”

Note: The following story contains spoilers from “The New Look” Episode 1.

Oscar winner Juliette Binoche experienced “very uncomfortable” moments while playing the role of Coco Chanel on Apple TV+’s “The New Look,” a historical drama based on true events.

“The New Look” conflates the rise of Christian Dior (played by Ben Mendelsohn) as the next haute couture icon with the struggle of then grande dame of fashion Coco Chanel. Dior’s up-and-coming designs began to compete with Chanel’s during and after World War II, during which Chanel fraternized with Nazi soldiers and spies while Paris was under German occupation for four years. In the first episode, titled “Just You Wait and See,” Binoche’s Chanel finds herself dining with Heinrich Himmler (Thure Lindhardt), who eventually became the second most powerful man under Hitler.

Binoche shot the scene on her first day of filming at the real-life Maxim’s in Paris, a restaurant Chanel frequented. 

Juliette Binoche as Coco Chanel in "The New Look" (Apple TV+)
Juliette Binoche as Coco Chanel in “The New Look” (Apple TV+)

“[The restaurant] was very fashionable at the time,” she told TheWrap. “I was having dinner with Himmler. I thought ‘Oh my god, how am I going to deal with that?’ Himmler was one of the closest to Hitler. Of course, in the scene, she didn’t know it was Himmler. She [found out] afterwards… But it felt very uncomfortable, I have to say.”

In the episode, Spatz (Claes Bang) arranges the dinner between Chanel and Himmler after the Nazis heard that she needs “help” with her Jewish business partners — The Wertheimer brothers. The Nazis offer to invoke the Aryan laws to dispossess her partners from any claim to the profits. Chanel doesn’t exactly realize that the conversation, and her nephew’s release from Nazi custody, would come with a price.

Himmler also asks her about her couture contemporaries like John Malkovich’s Lucien LeLong and more.

“I had to play with it because I was being Chanel. I think she could do anything with any situation. She would adapt herself and as an acrobat: ‘I can do this and I can do that. And this doesn’t matter. And this doesn’t matter, because it’s all about life anyway,’ and it’s, so I want you to understand the traumas of this character and what she’s been through,” Binoche added. 

The series sheds light on Chanel’s tortured past, which is hinted at by her closest family connection being her nephew, whose mother died.

“[Chanel’s] been through hell. You understand that this woman is somehow free from any moral expectations because survival is the vaccination that makes her go through things,” Binoche continued. “Each time I had to relate the situation with Nazis, or make decisions that are quite horrible, I had to just think of the survivor — the little girl who wanted to be saved — because mom was dead, dad had left, siblings were gone. [She] had to make a living. How [did she] survive? [She had]t to find a solution.”

The first three episodes of “The New Look” are now streaming on Apple TV+.


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