CLÉMENCE POÉSY didn’t exactly sit when she approached a chair for a recent interview; she sort of perched atop it. For the next 45 minutes, while discussing many things, including her Broadway debut as Roxane in “Cyrano de Bergerac,” now running at the American Airlines Theater, this French actress and model never quite settled in that seat.
An internal soundtrack seemed to keep her in constant, easy motion. Leaning in or gesturing fluidly to make her point, Ms. Poésy evoked a passionate, restless spirit.
It is hardly surprising that she never seems still. At 30, Ms. Poésy, in addition to acting in French-language films, has been seen as Fleur Delacour in several Harry Potter movies, appeared in “127 Hours,” on television as Eva in “Gossip Girl” and on the cover of magazines. She has sung backup on an album and in her spare time is working on several screenplays and a children’s book for which she is doing the drawings herself.
She grew up in and around Paris, where her mother is a teacher and her father an actor, director and playwright who provided her first acting job: one line in a production of “The Dragon” by Evgeny Shvarts when she was barely in her teens and had nagged him for years to put her onstage.
Before a recent performance of “Cyrano” Steven McElroy spoke with Ms. Poesy about performing in English, life in New York and her unconventional beauty. These are excerpts from the conversation.
Q. You must be used to the spotlight — cover girl, Triwizard Tournament winner Fleur Delacour and so on. Was it intimidating to make your Broadway debut?
A. It was a lot of things at the same time because I hadn’t done theater since drama school. So I never had done theater properly.
Q. Is there something special about this play that drew you to it?
A. I grew up with it. You know, in France, it’s a kind of a national treasure. Some of the lines in French are, I think, some of the most beautiful things that have been written ever for theater.
There was a film with Depardieu that was the literal play, and it’s a masterpiece. I really sort of grew up watching Anne Brochet in that film play Roxane and thinking, “Wow, I kind of want to do that when I grow up” — be an actress.
Q. You’re not doing it in your first language. Is that difficult?
A. Because the film is so much in my head, and what they’re saying in French is so much in my head, I actually think it’s easier for me to do it in English and to make it my own in English.
Q. You’ve lived in Paris, London and New York. How do we measure up here?
A. It’s the best city on earth. I actually don’t trust anyone who tells me they don’t like New York.
Q. Before you were in your first Harry Potter movie, did you read those books?
A. My mum is a literature teacher and she — way before this thing was famous, she would tell me: “You should read it. It’s really good.” And I was kind of like, “Ugh. Wizards.” And then I read it and the first four and just loved it.
Q. You’re involved in the fashion world too — you’ve been the face of Chloé fragrance and on the cover of magazines — but you’ve said that you think you have “a bizarre face.”
A. I think my face looks very strange. It does. I don’t look like a model. They have this sort of perfect, everything very small and symmetrical, and I’m not like that. And my teeth are weird. So I think I arrived at a time when maybe they needed weird faces.
Q. You recently started a literary salon in Paris based on the London event 5×15. What is that exactly?
A. It’s five speakers who come and speak for 15 minutes each. There’s no theme. You travel from one thing to another, and you just listen to people’s passions or stories or experiences.
Q. What struck you about 5×15 the first time you went? A. It was just the magic of traveling into all those different universes for an evening. I’m always curious about anyone who has enough passion to go onstage and say, “This is what I’m really passionate about.” It’s always worth listening to.