The Vincent

October 2002                                                       

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In Cyrano de Bergerac, Fanfan la Tulipe (now completed under the direction of Gerard Krawczyk), Le Bossu and Le Libertin, we have the chance to see Vincent Perez, the French actor, wear his costumes well. Now he wears a different costume, that of a director. Peau d'ange is actually his first full-length film, but between 1992 and 2000, he directed three short films.


VP: I have always had a relationship with the image, starting out as a photographer. I studied for two years, and then went on to become an actor. Cinema appeared to be a formidable bond between these two passions. In fact, directing was always very present in my life.

So you didn't have to face any technical obstacles?

VPI had no problems with technical questions. I understand film and know the depth of the field, etc... Thanks to photography, I know the language of each objective. I attach much importance to the places that I choose. In all of the locations, I had a relationship with the photographer, knowing the possibilities that a place can offer and how it can be projected on the screen... I felt absolutely comfortable, not burdened by all the requirements inherent in directing.

As a director, one is obliged to work with all the cast and crew that come together to make a film. The true difficulty is managing to achieve your goal without being embarrassed by a battery of technical questions. I was fortunate that my producers, Luc Besson and Virginie Sylla, really respected my work as a director, and left me a maximum of freedom in my choices...

Did you work on "Peau d'ange" a long time?

VP: We worked on the script for about 18 months. Our desire was to tell the story of a timeless character... I preferred to let the character accept their destiny and rebound above, not asking too many questions, as if God had shown the way to be taken. On the opposite side, Gregoire forces his destiny, wants to subject it to his own desires. I found it interesting to confront two characters who have a completely different attitude toward life. Something like a pure angel meeting an angel with a broken wing who falls right in front of them.

Did you direct your actors in the way you like to be directed, or did you adapt to the personality of each one?

virgin3s.jpg (12118 bytes)VP: I respect each actor's personality, and I am different with each one of them. With Morgane More, there were several stages. I made her prepare and work with a coach. There was a whole process because her role at times could appear abstract... With Guillaume Depardieu, I completely let him develop his character. He devoured the role and then made it reappear in a manner that impressed me enormously. It was only necessary for me to make Guillaume know that I liked what he did. From that moment, he gave all that he had, and it was splendid. I don't like to overload the actors with information. I like to think that I make good choices, and if there was a mistake, it was an error in casting, which was not the case with this film.

Your film is produced by Europa Corp, an organization assembled by Luc Besson, who also tries to join together an international "pool" of scriptwriters.

VP: For Peau d'ange, there was confidence. What I appreciate at Europa is that they not only make very popular films, but that Luc tries not to confine himself to a genre. Peau d'ange uses this openness which Luc and Europa have on the world. It is also the case with Mimmo Calopresti, an Italian director for whom I have much admiration.

Precisely, there is a feeling of a good balance between cinema of popular choice and cinema from a top-of-the-range author.

VP: I am very eclectic...  Filming Fanfan la Tulipe gave me great happiness. I consider it an incredible chance to make a film like that with those people. One inevitably wants to work with them. I think talent can exist everywhere - Ruiz, Antonioni, Gerard Krawczyk. I am not at all sectarian. I am enriched with life. It would be idiotic to want to limit myself. I make choices for films, which can appears dangerous (exciting on paper, but, in the end do not work)...

[Edited from the interview by Paul Ortonne]


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