Chloe Francois is a Time Travelling Joan of Arc
Humor comes at a high price. Just ask Chloe Francois if you question this. The French model/actress appears as the historic Joan of Arc in a new Coca-Cola Light TV advertisement that juxtaposes the historic drama of this legendary figure against modern day scenarios for a major comedic payoff. The fruits of this came through Ms. Francois spending more than two weeks baking in a full suit of armor and vacillating between the desert and the heat of Madrid.
Citing her dedication to represent her iconic country woman at the highest level, Chloe insisted on wearing the armor throughout the entirety of the shooting days. This is only one indicator of how serious the actress took this role and it is this sincerity which contributes the authenticity which serves to heighten the comedic tone of the overall story. This commercial in particular has been a highlight of the entire campaign, seen on the internet and on television in Spain, Mexico, Argentina and the US where it appeared in NYC’s iconic Time’s Square.
By any measure, this is as cinematic as a commercial can be. It’s a surprising place to find Chloe in this epic role; as a young girl, she typically turned her back to the camera to avoid being captured in photos by her parents who obviously recognized the natural affinity the lens had for her. The story opens with Joan (Chloe) clad in full armor and seated atop a steed, delivering a stirring speech to legions of battle hungry warriors. As armies clash, the historic French female leader rallies her troops amidst the clashing of steel and clouds of smoke.
Whisked into modern day confrontations, Joan is seen attempting to placate irritated babies and endure the modern day woman’s challenges like laser hair removal or seeking equal pay for her gender. Coca-Cola cleverly leverages the social importance of Joan of Arc against the small triumphs of today like ordering a beverage the way you want it. The imagery and the message is certainly over-the-top in the most dazzling and humorous of ways.
The personal comfort cost of achieving such a look was for Ms. Francois to spend weeks in a custom made full suit of armor in the summer heat of Spain. Quite similar to Medieval knights, Chloe spent enormous amounts of time in the armor, including meals and rest periods.
Taking cues from Luc Besson’s film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc and numerous tomes about the heroine, Chloe divulges, “I have a willful temperament and even more so when I am passionate about my character. I lived an extraordinary Joan of Arc immersion and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to understand her way of speaking and her thoughts in order to reproduce them. Her body posture and energy were also an important thing to work on. How would she have reacted if we had been able to teleport her to today’s world? This was a question I had to consider when I was preparing this role.”
Chloe professes to the benefits she gained by working with Argentinian Director Marcelo Burgos (recipient of over 70 awards from Cannes, the Andys, and Clios) on this commercial production. She notes, “I had a lot of freedom to interpret my character. Playing in my mother tongue of French made sense because of Joan of Arc’s origins. The whole team was Hispanic and I had the privilege that Marcelo Burgos gave me carte blanche on the text! I felt blessed and even more involved in this ambitious project.”
Testifying to her commitment to this role, Chloe performed her own stunts during the battle scenes while riding her horse. Doing so in overbearing heat required an extra amount of intensity to deliver speeches and appear truly authentic on camera. While one might consider these battle heavy moments the most frightening but Ms. Francois stipulates, “Fighting on horseback with a sword while being surrounded by extras was thrilling and challenging at times but I was actually the most unnerved by the scenes with the three babies that took place in Joan’s ‘future.’
These children were clearly afraid of this imposing woman in front of them in shining armor and there was nothing I could do to calm them except get through the scene. It was pretend for me but a moment of very real fear for them. I broke out in a cold sweat and apologized profusely to their parents about the whole ordeal once we finished.”
Writer: Patty Sklar