SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
January 14, 1998
STUDIO CITY, Calif. - Vincent Perez is a man without a country - or as
he puts it "a citizen of the world."
The actor, who's starring in the upcoming costume drama, Swept from the
Sea, may drive a four-by-four and dote on veggie-burgers swimming in
ketchup, but he still speaks English with a French-German-British accent
and sports an anachronistic pony-tail.
Perez, who co-starred in Queen Margot, Indochine and Cyrano de Bergerac,
grew up in Switzerland, the son of a German mother and a Spanish father.
He always felt like an outsider.
"I was like a plant in the wrong ground. It wasn't the right earth for
me, but I think it was great because I was in touch with the nature and
grew up in nature with forest and trees, fields, mountains, rivers, and
it was good."
No one in his family had ever considered acting for a living. His father
was in the import-export business, his mother a housewife. But Vincent
"Acting was an escape for me, a way to go away from my country, from
Switzerland, and I wanted to see the world, you know. I was always the
clown, but very shy at the same time; a very strange mixture."
He says he's not shy anymore. "Only on certain things. Now it's normal
shyness, before it was a little too much," he says.
That shyness didn't prevent him from traversing the globe, not only to
make movies, but for the sheer joy of it. His passion took him to exotic
shores like Vietnam and Senegal where he remembers dancing with the
women in a small African village and playing the drums. "I love playing
the drums," he says.
So Perez isn't your typical gotta-make-it-in-Hollywood type of guy. But
while he's here, he says, he's meeting people, trying to pitch a script
he co-wrote and learning more about America, which he finds much larger
"Everything was bigger - the roads, the cars, the people," he laughs.
In Swept from the Sea he plays a Ukrainian who's washed ashore in
Cornwall, England. A stranger, who's not accepted by the provincial
farmers of the area, he links up with another outcast, played by Rachel
"He's a very passionate man, playing a kind of passionate role," says
Weisz of her co-star. "He wasn't frightened to unleash all of it. He's
so beautiful, but he didn't stand there being still in his close-ups. He
really let go of all his feelings, which I thought was bold and
refreshing. I had the best working relationship I've ever had with
anyone. He's extraordinary," she says.
Perez didn't always think like an actor. In fact, he started as a
photographer working in that field for 2 1/2 years.
"In the meantime I was starting doing amateur theater, learning how to
develop films, was a traveling photographer, the guy who was running all
the time. At the same time I wanted to be an actor. I was in love with
Chaplin, in love with the great actors. When I saw Taxi Driver and
things like that, it was like they were talking to me, like I was part
of this thing. And I slowly left photography. . ."
In 1987 he ventured for the first time to the United States in a
student- exchange program at UCLA where he studied drama. At the time he
didn't speak a word of English. But after two months, Perez was making
"It was great. I worked a lot and loved it. Americans are very nice
people; sometimes they stay too long in the nice-people-thing."
Perez is not married, but acknowledges, "You can be in love maybe two or
three times - or maybe once."
He's in a relationship, he says. "I have somebody. It's a slow process
but for the moment it has to be private."
Still, at 33, he's considering a family. "I'm thinking I should have a
kid now. It's time. So, of course, everything becomes important and the
person you're going to live with, it's quite a commitment, so I think
it's time for me to accept this commitment. Marriage is a beautiful
thing." Pausing a moment, he says, "the wedding should be five years
after the child is born, so the child can remember it."
[Interviewed by Luaine Lee]