The Vincent

August 1996                                                                       

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French heartthrob Vincent Perez heats up the screen in his American debut. 

He's a master of that uniquely French brand of philosophical machismo; a little existential ennui, a lot of smoldering physical intensity. In a series of arthouse-oriented epic romances, the thirty-two-year-old Swiss-born actor has seduced the reigning female icons of cinema francais - Catherine Deneuve (Indochine), Isabelle Adjani (Queen Margot), and Emmanuelle Beart (Capitaine Fracasse) - and, not surprisingly, his real-life liaisons include Jacqueline Bisset and supermodel Carla Bruni.

This month, Perez makes his American debut in a very different type of vehicle, The Crow, City of Angels, the sequel that revises the role created by the late Brandon Lee (who was killed in an accident while filming the original). Considering that Miramax/Dimension has invested more than $22 million (their biggest release), much is riding on Perez's ability to prove similarly seductive to mainstream U.S. audiences. As he so aptly puts it: "This movie could change everything for me in a weekend."

Watching Perez pace around his SoHo apartment enthusiastically schmoozing into a cell-phone (he's clearly fluent in the language of Hollywood), it seems as if everything has already changed. He's even given up his beloved Paris apartment (home for the past thirteen years), a move that signifies the seriousness of his bid for stardom in America.

elle2.jpg (7501 bytes)Despite a noticeable accent and vaguely pretentious air (both French influences), he reveals that he's actually "German from the neck up and Spanish from the waist down." Physical attributes aside, it's the heated passion and near-poetic despair he conveyed in Miramax's Queen Margot that landed him the role of a supernaturally empowered vigilante in The Crow. That French critics refused to acknowledge his acting ability, Perez says, impelled him to take the part. "In Paris I've been very criticized as just a pretty face," he explains. Does he ever wish - solely for the good of his art, of course - he had been born without the burden of beauty? "No, no, no!" he practically shouts. "Are you kidding me?"

[Written by James Patrick Herman]


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