Now the question is, Might there be some perfect Roxane out there feeling crushed because she came in second to a screen star whose celebrity is perhaps her greatest asset? Leveaux admits her fame “is part of the thing,” but more important, he says, is that Roxane be “inherently proactive, somebody who can go head-to-head with Kevin. She’s rather what Juliet is, although an older version”—a character who can either be iconic wallpaper or drive the action like a good (some would say anachronistic) proto-feminist.
“She’s absolutely modern,” Leveaux says of Garner, “but she’s not modern in a sense that she’s laconic. She doesn’t feel that she’s got to do that off-the-shoulder thing or hide behind some irony. She’s very direct; you can actually watch the mind working. Which is deeply French.”
Actually, irony is deeply French. Directness is deeply American, and so is the idea that conveying emotion is hard work. “She is very talented at love,” he continues. “Some people just fall in love, and some people are talented at it.”
Two weeks ago, Garner had more on her mind than just the challenges of Cyrano. Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone would open the next day. “This week, before it comes out, it’s just all anxiety, to be honest,” she said. She was also rooting for another beloved underdog, the Red Sox, who were facing postseason annihilation. “If the boys pull it together and play tonight, we’ll be unstoppable the rest of the time.”
As it turns out, the Sox are in the World Series, and Affleck is now an acclaimed director. Broadway success—perhaps the diciest proposition of them all—would complete the redemptive trifecta. But either way, Garner is putting her guns away. “Will you see me in red pleather anytime soon? No,” she says. “I proved to myself physically that I can do that kind of thing.” She plays an uptight wannabe mom in December’s Juno, a sweet indie movie starring Michael Cera. What she’d really like to do, though, is a musical. “I’m just putting it out there,” she says. “A movie musical, preferably.” That’s a tricky genre, isn’t it? “They are, but when they do work, they’re kind of magical. Every time one works, I cheer.”