The Vincent

         September 23, 1996 issue                                             


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As he lounges in a cafe near the loft apartment he sublets in Manhattan's SoHo district, Vincent Perez knows how Marcel Marceau must feel. The 32-year-old Swiss actor's face is well-known in Europe from such films as 1992's Indochine and 1994's Queen Margot, in which he costarred with Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani respectively. But like the famed French mime, Perez would need cosmetics - specifically the Emmett Kelly-meets-A Clockwork Orange makeup he wears throughout the new action sequel The Crow: City of Angels - to draw a glance of recognition in SoHo.

"I can walk in the street in New York without having people around me," Perez says with a shrug. "It's like a vacation in a way." Perhaps, but there's something in the slightly petulant way he fires up a cigarette that suggests he's putting the best spin on the situation. "In America things go fast, really fast," he says, brightening. "Maybe in one week things will change for me."

Or even in one weekend. The Crow: COA - as executives at Miramax, the film's distributor, refer to the sequel to 1994's dark, comic book-inspired thriller - got lambasted by critics but won box office honors over Labor Day weekend, pulling in $9.8 million. The principals behind the movie feel Perez has the charisma to shine through the makeup and even through the memory of Brandon Lee, son of actor Bruce Lee and star of the original Crow, who was killed on the set in 1993 when a prop pistol malfunctioned.

"There is obviously a resemblance between the two," says Miramax president Bob Weinstein. "But Vincent is his own man and his own actor." Adds COA director Tim Pope: "Few people have Vincent's qualities. He has this kind of darkness, yet he has this light. He's kind of an angel."

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"He's not macho," director Tim Pope says of Perez (in his Soho loft). "He's slightly vain, but with his looks, who wouldn't be?"

On the COA set, "Vincent did damn hard stunts," says Pope, recalling one especially brutal shooting week. "On Monday we dragged him across the Universal back lot. On Tuesday we hanged him. On Wednesday we whipped him. On Thursday he was underwater for 45 minutes. Not once did he complain."

For all this devotion to craft, Perez frequently makes the pages of Paris Match and other European magazines for his offscreen activities. In 1988 he took up, at 24, with the actress Jacqueline Bisset, then 43, whom he met on the set of House of Jade. Between her film-acting tips and words of support, "she helped me a lot," Perez says. "She has real generosity."

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Despite their 19-year age difference, Perez says that he and Jacqueline Bisset (in '90) "had really beautiful experiences."

When the two drifted apart after four years, Perez dated model Carla Bruni, 27, who has been linked with consorts as varied as Mick Jagger and Donald Trump. "There is one thing I hate to see in myself: I have a huge attraction for beauty," Perez says, half apologetically, of that two-year dalliance. "I am attracted to the form, but it doesn't really make me happy."

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When Jerry Hall split up briefly with Mick Jagger in '92, she named Perez's then girlfriend model, Carla Bruni, (left) as the other woman.

Unattached these days, Perez has more time for painting, African drumming lessons and screenplay writing. Like many an actor, he hopes to direct feature films, and on this subject he already sounds like a seasoned Hollywood pro, albeit one with a Gallic accent. "I want to be a star because I want creative freedom," he says. "The bigger you are, the more free you are."

[Written by Gregory Cerio, Cynthia Wang and Karen Brailsford]

With many thanks to Sabrina Smith Moses for sharing these photos!

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