This month, the French star plays a manipulative ballet-company director opposite Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller Black Swan. (American audiences may recognize Cassel's fluid moves from his turn as the capoeira-dancing villain in Ocean's 12.) For the role, the 44-year-old actor drew on his vast store of ballet training—in more ways than one: "I still had all of my tights in my closet from 20 years ago," he says. Cassel also stars in Our Day Will Come, a French satire about the persecution of redheads, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (and inspired M.I.A.'s controversial "Born Free" video). We asked him what he most enjoys when he's not working.
Most Recent Concert
"Seu Jorge in Rio. He's definitely the most played on my iPod. And he might be creating the music for a romantic comedy I'm doing that takes place in Brazil during Carnival."
Best Song to Work Out To
"Anything from Dr. Dre. The Chronic—both albums, the original and 2001."
"There's a French movie from the seventies called Les Galettes de Pont-Aven. It's pretty gross—all about sex—and it's a lot of fun. It's kind of a cult movie, but most people in France don't respect it. Like, say, Meatballs?"
Favorite Thing to Wear
"Definitely nothing! You know, it's not very fashionable in America, but I spend a lot of time in Brazil, and everyone there wears Speedos. I love them. In America, if you're wearing one, it's because you're in some sort of swimming competition—or because you're gay. But in Brazil it's totally normal."
Desert Island Discs
"One João Gilberto, one Chet Baker, and D'Angelo's Voodoo."
"Do you really need to eat? I would have a drink—a caipirinha."
Piece of French Culture Americans Should Adopt
"I drive a scooter in Paris. You're never late, it's really fun, and it's a beautiful way to see the city. I am amazed that more people don't use them in the States. It's the best way!"