The Vincent

January 19, 1995                                                    


It's not often that you hear an actor praise a filmmaker for cutting some of his biggest scenes, but that's exactly what Vincent Perez, the 30-year-old French star, is doing. In Queen Margot - the fabulously big, bloody historical epic adapted from the Alexandre Dumas novel about tumult and betrayal among 16th-century French royals - - Perez plays a Protestant noble who sacrifices himself for Isabelle Adjani. Or, more accurately, he sacrifices himself for Adjani's character, Marguerite of Valois, also known as Margot, daughter of the Catholic and conspiratorial Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi), and sister to the wacked-out Charles IX (Killing Zoe's Jean-Hugues Anglade).

"I have to say I really prefer the American version, the shorter version," reports Perez, on the phone from Valencia, Spain, where he's vacationing and writing a screenplay. When Queen Margot premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May (where Lisi won the best supporting actress award), the lavish Patrice Chereau-directed picture clocked in at three hours.

By the time it opened at the Ritz at the Bourse on Friday, Queen Margot had been honed to a mere 143 minutes. Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein, whose reputation for hands-on post-production often has irked filmmakers, proposed ''beautiful ideas for the short version," says Perez.

"There were 190 cuts in the final version. And also he added a scene between Isabella and I. The last scene, when they're sharing the red blanket, outside - the love scene."

Perez was, however, distressed over one particular excision:

"I did three months of fencing before the shooting to prepare for a big fight scene, and then the fight was cut! Three months, two hours every day and the fight is cut! I do a little swordplay in the movie, but the one you see in the movie took only a week to prepare. . . . But in the end I really don't care because the fencing helped me to prepare myself for the part."

Perez, whose father is Spanish and mother German, was raised in Switzerland, but fled to Paris as soon as he finished school "because I was so bored." In France, he is considered the "jeune premier, the romantic pretty face, and I'm tired of doing the same kind of part." To that end, the actor recently completed his English-language debut, Talk of Angels, a romantic drama directed by Nick Hamm, shot in Spain and co-starring Polly Walker, Frances McDormand and Belle Epoque's Penelope Cruz.

The actor also recently worked on Beyond the Clouds, a five-story omnibus helmed by Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni and German new-waver Wim Wenders. Perez's role has him working opposite Red's Irene Jacob.

''Michelangelo is just amazing. He is 82. He had a stroke eight years ago. He's half-paralyzed and he's just able to say 20 words, but his head is completely there. Wenders was like his student, listening attentively and working in the shadow of Antonioni, and happily so. It was so beautiful to see."

[Written by Steven Rea]

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