Nadja Tesich, the star of Eric Rohmer’s 1964 short film Nadja à Paris, originally wrote this essay in the 1990s, but never published it. In the last three months before she died in February 2014, I helped Nadja revise the piece, recording her thoughts and our discussions. —Lucy McKeon
I was madly in love with Paris and he had received a small sum from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make a film about foreign students in Paris. That’s it. Of course we liked talking with each other from the beginning, in spite of our differences—age, background, etc. He said we were very much alike, strange since he struck me as a bourgeois of sorts, while I considered myself doomed and displaced. In spite of his obvious intelligence, Eric didn’t have coherent political views. He never used words like exploitation or capitalism. I said yes to him because I was penniless and he offered me money—the same sum (either $200 or $400, I can’t remember) to all involved: cinematographer Néstor Almendros, the script girl and me. It meant I could pay for my dorm, eat for a few months, buy a pair of shoes. Greece will always be there, I decided.
(see part 2 from Nadia in Paris)
I don’t know if Néstor was poorer than me or not. Probably the same. After Nadja à Paris his luck changed and he would go on to shoot many of Rohmer’s films, and eventually got an Oscar for Days of Heaven. Still, at that time, he was just a refugee Cuban who didn’t look Cuban but Spanish—tall, reserved, with a shyness that bordered on fear. He longed for a seersucker jacket, washable and weightless, I remember. I sent him one from my first salary. I knew nothing about him except that he had shot a documentary film in Cuba, his country that he hated. Néstor was gay, but this was not a problem for anyone except him. We accepted it, then forgot it, just like you accept that some prefer mountains to the sea.
R.I.P Eric Rohmer (previous post with videos and links)
Nestor Almendros (A Man with a Camera – see previous post)