The Vincent

July 1994                                                                      





In Fanfan he refused carnal passion in order to preserve his desire and love, but in Queen Margot, he succumbs for good and us too.

When you ask Alexandre Jardin why he gave the lead role in Fanfan to Vincent Perez, he answers: "I like feminine men. Vincent really knows how to open up and give in to it. I had a real rapport with him, like I have only had with women." You understand better, since Indochine, why the leading man of French Cinema makes the young girls blush, their mothers' hearts palpitate, and why he throws his fellow men into fits of jealousy.

Tall, thin and versatile, he steps lightly, almost prudently. You see the intensity in his big bright eyes and he flashes you a radiant smile. A character full of nuances, Vincent Perez is a harmonious meeting of North and South. "I was born in Switzerland, Spanish from my father, German from my mother." He forgets to mention that he is multilingual and can easily pass for Italian, English, or Spanish. All these attributes make him one of the best-placed actors for an international career. Spielberg's regular scenarist, Menno Meyjes, isn't off the mark, recently recommending him to play Manolete, one of the mythical figures of bullfighting. Imperturbable, Vincent Perez calmly welcomes all the propositions that pour into his agent.

There are two or three things that he will boldly tell about himself, recalled in no particular order: that he admires Jodie Foster, believes in love with a capital "L", and in fidelity. That he knows how to cook, that he devours books by Romain Gary. That he adores fencing and is an unconditional fan of Chaplin.

An actor, he became one quite simply to put a little fantasy into his life. "I don't agree with the idea of not having a life. I have the impression that acting would allow you to have more pleasures and make more encounters than you would in the course of a normal life." In the space of several well-chosen roles, (Le Capitaine Fracasse by Ettore Scola, Cyrano de Bergerac by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Indochine by Regis Wargnier) he has made an excellent reputation for himself, and figures at the top of the most prestigious casting lists. Patrice Chereau gave him the role of the Marquis de la Mole in Queen Margot, a French super-
production, which was the most highly attended movie this summer, along with Isabelle Adjani in the lead role.

In Fanfan, a new Vincent appeared: funny, silly, light, sometimes futile. A character which is the complete opposite of the costume roles of his previous incarnations. "I had been waiting to do a film like this one, a comedy with people my own age. One of the most beautiful things about acting is that one is always looking for new facets to explore." In Queen Margot, he did return, however, to a costume role, and played the part of a young Huguenot from Provencal who shares a wild encounter in an obscure vault with Queen Margot on her wedding night. A man with a pure heart, ready to sacrifice his life for the sake of love!

"After being in love, how can one enter into a life that kills love and desire? How is it that the majority of couples fail because of this weakness and by renouncing the art of seduction?" The couple? There has to be passion after the theater and the cinema. To save his, he says he is ready for anything. Would he give up his work for the woman of his dreams? "That would be a huge mistake," he responds clearly, "because one shouldn't have to give up one's passions. When a person falls in love with you, it's also tied to who you are. At the moment where you give up part of yourself, the love itself is also amputated."

Overwhelmed with work, and a perfectionist, Vincent Perez refuses to do things the easy way, and he asks himself each day if he will be able to take on all the new challenges that are imposed upon him. "One must be unconditionally and perpetually dissatisfied. One must always raise the bar higher." Directing fascinates him. For him, directing a film would be the result of an undertaking that took place twelve years ago, when he studied photography for two years. "I don't agree with the routine, and I don't like to be told that I will always surrender to the pitfalls of other people's writing. Right now, I have more admiration for directing than I do for acting." While waiting to get behind the camera, he applies himself to choosing "always the best scenarios, best adventures, ...not necessarily the best characters," he acknowledges, when reproached for only taking on roles for characters in costume. "It's a risk. I think that it is linked to my physique as a leading man. I make up part of the group of actors who can easily travel through time. In France, there aren't an enormous number of us."

A good thing for all those whose hearts do flip-flops with each one of his appearances.

[Written by Isabelle Aithnard]

[With special thanks to Janette Sylvian for her translation]

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