The Vincent

September 6, 1996                                                    

GO, VINCENT, GO!                                                              

Vincent Perez, the tall heartthrob of Indochine, Cyrano, Queen Margot and now The Crow: City of Angels flew into New York from Cornwall, England, to do the David Letterman show. Then he flew right back to the set of Amy Foster. (Hi-ho the glamorous life, indeed. Vincent was shell-shocked from travel!) We managed a few minutes with him at the Film Center Cafe, before he was offered up to the master of late-night silliness. Exhaustion aside, Perez was glowing about the success of  The Crow, which winged its way to the top of the box-office list this week.

"I loved making this film. I loved all the mystery of the character, all his pain in coming to accept the fact that he's actually dead - and all the symbolism and ritual in this role. I guess because I find so much that is mysterious and ritualistic in filmmaking itself. In a way, it's almost mythological, the process of acting on film. And I've always been a big Joseph Campbell fan myself."

Perez is Spanish and German, speaks excellent English with a charming French accent. (He was born in Lausanne, Switzerland.) With his long, unruly hair, a two-day stubble, and a dazzling smile, Perez looked very much as if he had stepped out of his heroic, swashbuckling role in Queen Margot. Except, of course, he was dressed. (His nude scenes in that epic were, well . . . epic!) The waitresses at Film Center Cafe all seemed suddenly to develop Heaving-Bodice Syndrome as Perez was served his coffee and Caesar salad with grilled chicken. I never did get my order.

Vincent says he had no qualms about stepping into the role of the Crow, following up on the original, which starred the late Brandon Lee. (Lee was killed in a freak accident on the set of the first movie, shortly before filming was completed.)

"Actually, my concept for the character was based on the comic books, not the first movie, so Brandon's performance and presence, and all the media `weirdness' around the film didn't affect me. I love the idea of The Crow, and I think the next Crow should be different. Maybe a woman . . . yes, definitely, the next Crow should be a woman!"

But what if he was offered a sequel?

"Well, I loved working with Tim Pope, and as I've said, the role is fascinating and fulfilling, but I really do think there should be a different Crow in each film. And I think the possibilities are endless. Both in casting and storyline." Perez paused, did a devastating head-down, eyes-up thing, and then said, "But of course, I haven't been asked yet to do it again. We shall see."

The young actor, who is a huge star in Europe, has a passionate sort of one-world/one-people view of filmmaking.

"I think movies can be the great unifying art of this time. That's why I love the medium so much. It can convey so much to so many different people, different cultures. How can you not want to be a part of that?"

Now that Perez seems poised on the brink of true international stardom - nothing like an American hit to cement one's career - I asked if he'd like to work with any particular American actresses (he's already romanced, onscreen, two of France's great icons, Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani).

"Actually, I'm working with a great American actress now - Kathy Bates - in Amy Foster. She is extraordinary, an amazing talent. And of course, Meryl Streep I'd love to work with, and Jodie Foster, and Barbra Streisand!" (Vincent's magnetic grin grew wider and more alluring as each famous name fell from his lips. Ladies, watch out!)

Finally, just before Vincent's PR handlers - two attractive young women - came over to hustle him away, he slipped down on the seat of the booth, looked up at me and said, "So, do you think all this will change my life?" I replied, "Do you want it to change your life?" He slumped a little farther down and peered through his hair, "I don't know. The thing is, I really like my life just as it is."

The world is your oyster, Vincent. You must decide just how much you want to open the shell. Whatever you do, we'll be there with the lemon juice.

[Written by Liz Smith]

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