June 11-17, 2000
For both professional and private reasons, he has won the heart of very beautiful women, from Jacqueline Bisset (La Maison de Jade), to Catherine Deneuve (Indochine), from Anne Brochet (Cyrano de Bergerac) to Isabelle Adjani (Le Reine Margot), not to mention Carla Bruni, one of the queens of the catwalk, his girlfriend before marrying Karine Silla, a screenwriter and star of the film he is about to direct (an intimate story about feelings). Actually, he says he is so used to beautiful women that it does not seem very useful to ask him what kind of emotions he felt while filming not 9 and 1/2, but 14 and 1/2 weeks, cheek to cheek with Kim Basinger in Kuki Gallmann's autobiography, I Dreamed of Africa. Perez plays Paolo, Kukis husband, a man obsessed by Africa and hunting.
"A person looking for emotions and loving risk similar to me, but I dont like hunting."
The movie has also an ecological aim. Are you also active in supporting environmental issues?
"I am very careful with waste. I try not to throw away plastic. The ocean is full of it."
Your impressions on Africa?
"Filming took place in South Africa, but not in Kenya as it appears in the movie. We stayed in little villages, in contact with the local population. What struck me most was the deep respect those people have for themselves and for others. I was even ashamed of being white! I tried to understand their soul, to establish a deeper relationship, but it took me two months before succeeding. They always kept on staring on the ground until one day I asked to play soccer with a group of black guys. In the beginning they were shy, but then they accepted me and at the end of the game, we were covered with red sand from head to toe. One could see no difference in skin color anymore. We were friends!"
You seem to have a preference for epic (historical) movies like "Cyrano de Bergerac", "La Reine Margot" and recently "Le Libertin."
"I am becoming a specialist in this kind of movie. I like them because I feel like a kid playing Tarzan in the forest."
What will be your next film?
"It is called Bride of the Wind directed by Bruce Beresford . We have already started filming in Vienna and well continue into next month. I am Kokoschka, Sarah Wynter is Alma Mahler, and Jonathan Pryce is composer Gustav Mahler."
You were born in Switzerland to a Spanish father and a German mother, and then became French.
"I consider myself European."
Is it better to work in Europe or in America?
"I feel more freedom in Europe, but there are more problems. In the USA everything goes faster and smoother, but in reality it is a big industry where everything is planned. Bride of the Wind is my fifth American movie."
What do you like to do besides make films?
"I have a one-year-old daughter, Iman. It is exciting to be a father."