The Vincent

February 10, 2001                                                 
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VINCENT PEREZ, whom one sees dressed like Adam in the film Le Libertin, is far from being an exhibitionist. On the contrary, the Swiss actor is a reserved man who attaches a lot of importance to his family and to educating his young daughter.

Vincent, what do you think about the reactions you have provoked by appearing nude in the film "Le Libertin"?

I think it's humorous that they attach so much importance to the fact that I appear completely naked in Le Libertin. Women are constantly undressing in movies… It seems that it shocks people much less than the surprise of a man who is stark naked. Certain people have said to me: "Do you stay completely naked throughout the entire film?" However, with a watch in hand, the total amount of time you can see me naked on screen is no more than two minutes. Moreover, my character's speech during this time is much more shocking than his nudity.

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In a scene with Fanny Ardant in Le Libertin

Does it make you nervous to film these scenes?

I say to myself that, if I am as relaxed as possible, everybody else will be too. I am pretty modest; between scenes I would put on my robe. I was in many nude scenes. I accepted doing it each time because it was necessary. I don't know if I could do it again…..

Your films have rapidly turned you into an international star. How do you live with celebrity?

I don't consider myself a star. To me, a star is someone who brings in a lot of money at the box office, like Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, Gérard Depardieu, Julia Roberts, etc. Me, I'm just an actor who has the chance to work and choose his scripts. I'm aware of the fact that I'm starting to be profitable, but I don't possess celebrity status.

Before becoming an actor, what did you want to do?

I had too much desire to see the world to isolate myself. I like to be surrounded, so I had to stop and think about those kinds of professions. But, photography is always one of my favorite pastimes. I love to watch for favorable occasions, to take pictures that say something, which express an idea, a sentiment… I photograph the people around me and the moments in which I live. I'm not capable of taking pictures of strangers, because I feel like a Peeping Tom, and that I'm stealing something from them, although I do admire those kinds of pictures. Having said that, photography also allows me to direct, which is another field I am passionate about. This year, moreover, I will direct my first full-length film. It was written by my wife, Karine, and myself. Until now, I had only done short films, but the time just came to do something else. I can't tell you about it yet.

In that case, tell me about Karine.

We were married two years ago. Karine has been my best friend for many years, it should be said in passing, that she always will be. We had been engaged for four years before officially legalizing our union in Paris. We are the happy parents of a 20-month old little girl, who is named Iman. Karine is half Breton and half Senegalese. During the holidays, we vacation in Senegal where many members of her family still live, and we took advantage of that to baptize our daughter. Karine is the mother of another girl, Roxane, from a previous relationship. Roxane lives with us in Paris.

How do you play the role of father?

Becoming a father makes us understand that we are no longer the center of the universe. It allows us to consciously feel pure love in a wonderful, but completely new way. To have a child is to live a daily and constant enchantment, but also to be tortured with fear.

What kind of fear?

That of losing your child, whom you love unconditionally. That of seeing them suffer, get sick… In spite of it all, what happiness one feels when one is a parent!

Are you an overindulgent father?

I am an encouraging father and I do everything for my daughter. (laughs)

So, you are not very strict…

I try to raise her by giving her as much latitude as possible, but also by imposing certain restrictions. I want to give her all the necessary tools to have confidence in herself because one can do anything when one has faith in oneself. It is of primary importance to impose limits on children and to say "no" to them when it is time. What is important is to keep it in the right measure.

What do you find is the hardest thing now that you are a father?

It's that I have to travel in my work; it has become more of a hindrance than a pleasure. In fact, when I have to be away for a long time, it becomes a torture not to see my family. When filming Le Libertin, I was abroad for over three months. Karine and the children came to visit me after six weeks. That separation was way too long for my taste. I felt like I was so empty inside that I was bored with myself.

[Written by Dominique Dufour]

[With special thanks to Janette Sylvian for her French translation]

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