The Vincent

September 4-7, 1999                                                 

Idol Talk: A quick chat with Euro matinee idol Vincent Perez, who plays a transsexual in Those Who Love Me...

train13a.jpg (8152 bytes)Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train reunites Paris-based hazel-eyed heartthrob Vincent Perez (The Crow: City of Angels) with filmmaker Patrice Chereau, who revealed the actor’s considerable talents—not to mention his unmentionables—in Queen Margot. In Train, Perez, 35, bares himself even more. He plays Viviane, a pre-op transsexual with a crude persona.

He’s not all shock, though. For his next outing, Perez takes the major-studio train, playing Kim Basinger’s husband in I Dreamed of Africa. And the Swiss-born Perez no longer dates models such as Carla Bruni. His beautiful wife, Karine, joins him at the end of our chat in a New York City bistro.

The Advocate: We sat together in a Paris cafe in '94. You wore cowboy boots.

Perez: [Laughing] And tight pants!

How did the part of Viviane emerge?

Abel Ferrara gave me the idea of playing a transsexual. I couldn’t understand why, so I organized a photo shoot. A character was born. I took the pictures to Chéreau, who was working on this script. He called me two weeks later and said, “Viviane is born.” I thought, Oh, shit. I was very scared. I’m still scared.

Any preparation?

The only way was to totally immerse myself. Every day I stayed Viviane on the set. It was forbidden to call me Vincent. The girls on the set talked girl talk to Viviane. Everybody loved her. The movie is dark and heavy, and Viviane brought some lightness.

Did you discover something of a feminine side?

Yes, but I never really had a problem with that.

What touched you about the character?

Transsexuals think God made a mistake, and they have to fix it. It’s very painful. At the end Viviane forgets about her own tragedy and helps everybody. But then you see her naked in the shower and realize her tragedy: She’s never going to be a woman or a man. It’s sad. Anyway, an important French journalist asked me, “Did you know you changed the image of transsexuals in France?”

[Written by Howard Feinstein]

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