The Vincent

          June 1991                                                                               

"My shyness? It has become an advantage, like all my flaws. I use them, as all actors do, I guess. Why should I live just one life when, as an actor, I have the possibility of living several ones?"

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This young man has grace. And he's lucky. And talented. After playing Christian in Cyrano, his third film as a star, one film after another, is 1991 Perez's year?

Life is not fair. That's not new, nor very original, but that's the way it is. Take Vincent Perez: while there are lots of actors from everywhere who believed, made us believe, and betrayed us, Vincent Perez promised nothing to nobody. He has just worked, done lots of small parts, taken a "César", risked some fiasco… Seven years after starting in the movie world, he is going to be the man of the year.

Of course, we suspected it for a long time. After Hôtel de France, to be exact, the movie by Chéreau, in which he co-starred with around ten other Nanterre actors. Between Laurent Grevill and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Vincent just appeared, smiled, moved and laughed and we understood that he was going to be someone. Someone high on a movie poster, at least. We'll call this grace; and let's add the luck to the mixture.

After Chéreau's movie, Vincent had one luck after the other: is his second film really boring? Nobody goes to see it, so nobody speaks about it, nor in a good way, nor in a bad one, and House of Jade is soon forgotten. He gets the "César" for best promising actor for his part of Christian in Cyrano…"I had always bet it would have been Dépardieu who'd get it", he says, only wanting to remember Gérard's friendship, Gérard's advice, Gérard's geniality.

Young Perez is not in a hurry. After the Geneva Conservatoire that he left at age 21, just two months before the final exam because he felt that he already had some "tics", he did not stop working in the shadow or in the limelight. An actor in Nanterre, a director in Nanterre (Woyzeck), an actor in Avignon (Hamlet) and then a star in three long movies.

La Neige et le Feu, by Claude Pinoteau, Indochine, by Régis Wargnier (they are filming it now in Vietnam with Deneuve) and Le Voyage du Capitaine Fracasse by Ettore Scola. Answering to the critics, a bit deceived by this little old-fashioned movie, and in which you see Vincent so little, Perez says "It's a kind of road-movie, indeed a bit slow, but you have to accept its rhythm. One cannot expect to see a cloak and dagger movie. If one gets "into" the movie, that's it. Sorry guy, we did not get "in".

An actor's loneliness? It is the voyager's loneliness, he says; he gets in a world apart for six months, and he dreams about what he has to play the day after, with the only goal of "helping the director tell his story". So, in exchange for six months lifetime, you'd want the glory?" "No, just a little respect, respect for my work".

During this time, the young public is starting to notice him. The fan club gets bigger every day. The girls are crazy about him. Are young romantic actors disappearing? Perez will be the next one. And 1991, Perez's year. How much do you bet?

[Written by Jean-Michel Gravier]

[With special thanks to Cinzia Masina for the translation]

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