Marion Cotillard won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Bafta and a César for her role in the Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie En Rose, but the actress admits to having come close to depression some years ago.

In the much-anticipated film, Two Days, One Night (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) which opens at the IFI on August 22, Cotillard plays factory worker Sandra who is threatened with the sack.

Understandably Sandra is depressed by the prospect of losing her job in the film which is directed by the acclaimed Belgian brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, co-producers of Rust and Bone, which featured another extraordinary performance by Cotillard.

A number of years ago, Marion Cotillard experienced similar feelings of depression and sadness in real life.

“I came close to depression, but when I started to feel I could really lose myself, I somehow escaped it,” she tells the Telegraph today.

“But for a while, I knew what it was to have no taste for anything any more. I felt empty and useless.” She took those experiences and emphasised them in her portrayal of Sandra, who works at a solar panel plant, and has returned after a breakdown when we first meet her.

Cotillard researched depression to better play the role, wanting to avoid a clichéd interpretation at all costs.

“When people don’t know exactly what depression is, they can be judgemental - ‘what, you can’t get out of bed in the morning?’

“If you don’t understand the illness, you just think it can’t be that hard to move yourself. And actually, it is.”

Sandra’s anguish so occupied the actress that twice during the shoot for Two Days, One Night , she sent her three-year-old son, Marcel, to stay with his father, the actor and director Guillaume Canet.

“I’m affected by the characters I play, and sometimes they’re hard to live with,” she says.