Wanted: Young female, vulnerable, stunning, awkward, exotic, innocent, passionate, and indifferent. Must be willing to relocate.
Almost three years ago, director Jean-Jacques Annaud set out to find the girl of his dreams — to star in The Lover. He placed ads in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles; perused teen magazines; hung out at drama schools; and watched a lot of TV. Three months and tens of thousands of faces later, Annaud’s wife, Laurence, showed him 16-year-old Jane March’s picture in a British teen fashion magazine. ”With most girls that age,” says Annaud, ”there is no ambiguity. They have good teeth and a nice smile. She had a past in her eyes.”
But when March’s agent called her at her parents’ house near London, she wasn’t interested. ”It was on my birthday,” she says simply. Finally, she agreed to audition.
A novice in more ways than one, she spent the next five months in Vietnam, in front of a camera, often naked, simulating lovemaking. ”I was crazy during those scenes. I was a nervous wreck. The nakedness gets easier, but the other part is very personal,” March says. ”First off, you don’t even know if you’re doing it right.” Once again, art imitates life.