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'Third Person' cast includes James Franco, Mila Kunis and newcomer Loan Chabanol

Written and directed by Paul Haggis (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash”), “Third Person” tells three love stories about passion, trust and betrayal. “In any relationship,” Haggis said, “there is always a third person present in some form.”

James Franco and Loan Chabanol.
James Franco and Loan Chabanol.
Photo by Maria Marin, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The three couples are played by Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde; Moran Atias and Adrien Brody; and James Franco and Loan Chabanol. Franco’s character’s ex is played by Mila Kunis. Mario Bello plays her lawyer, and Kim Bassinger plays Neeson’s character’s wife.

Examiner Dorri Olds interviewed Loan Chabanol:

Dorri Olds: How did you get involved with the film?

Loan Chabanol: I really thought that I was not going to be a part of it. I came for the reading but I thought I had no chance. When everything went through and I went for the audition and Paul said I was going to be a part of it I don’t think I realized that I was there. I mean I did my job. That’s what I like to do and to do it well but I don’t think I realized what was happening. I don’t think I still do. It’s such a wonderful experience and I feel blessed that people trusted me. It was only my second film. I was a model for a long time. I always wanted to do other things. I always liked a challenge. Modeling never defined my identity. I always felt that I was just me, Loan, and maybe tomorrow I’d sell fish somewhere, or I don’t know. Acting just happened as a continuing after I did commercials and really liked it. It was fun. Then I went to acting school and I tried out. That’s how it happened.

Did James Franco give you any tips?

I learned a lot from him. He was great. Because James is also a director he’s really good at directing you even when you’re acting with him. I think because he is a director who is also an actor he has compassion and knows how you feel so he doesn’t say, “Do this.” He says, “Would you like to look at this?” It’s really nice.

Loan Chabanol: It was so nice to learn from him. He’s done so many things and for such a long time. I think he’s really inspiring because he does so much in the arts — teaching, painting. I’m a painter myself. I’ve been doing that since I was five.

Your character Sam seems an observer in the film, from the eye of the hurricane. How do you see her?

I think she is a wallflower. I think she is on the wall and everything is happening around her and she just watches it. She is love. She is not judging and that is a big strength, to not have any bad thought about anyone, you just see what’s going on and feel a lot. She tries to help everyone. She is with this man and she could just go away but she doesn’t because she’s curious, too. She cares and has a good instinct. James’s character triggers something. I think she is looking for the truth. When I read the script she represented love at the purest level you can imagine. She is true love with no condition.

Do you think she is responsible for James Franco making that phone call to his son’s mother?

She is a great help, yeah. She could be mad but she’s not. She could just explode but she doesn’t. She really takes it in. On the first take I made her more judgmental but Paul said, “No. Cut, cut, cut. Hold on. She’s not judging.” In that moment I really understood her strength. I thought wow; she is strength, love and hope. She’s almost a symbolic figure like a little Buddha.

What’s next for you?

I will be doing an action film, the next “Transporter,” number four. I can’t talk about the script. I signed a paper. It is being produced by Luc Besson and I’m really excited. I’m going back to L.A. where we’ll start shooting in a week and I’ll be in France all summer until September.

“Third Person” is playing now in New York City at Sunshine Cinema and City Cinemas 1, 2 & 3. Drama. Rated R. 137 min.

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