The Vincent

May 2000                                                    

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Far from being embarassed by the poor quality of I Dreamed of Africa, actor Vincent Perez dared to be ironic about the weakness of Anelka and John.

My story begins with a letter announcing the premiere of I Dreamed of Africa in Spain on May 26. Starring Kim Basinger and Vincent Perez, the film is not really a masterpiece, so it seems inevitable that its producer, Colombia Pictures, will have to make a major effort in promoting it. As usual in these occasions, in which stars are the only reliable means to attracting the public to the theaters, one of the actors arrives for promoting it in Madrid - Vincent Perez, the dream of  many journalists of this country.

Some of us dream of Perez since we saw The Crow; others cannot forget him since Indochine. What a nice guy...  So kind... He has a Spanish name... and in all this fuss of unjustified adoration, nobody dared to ask him directly how much times he had to see Out of Africa. And actually, even though the film is said to be based on a real story, it is almost a remake of that teeth-aching sweet story between Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.  

By the way, the interview takes place one hour after the Real Madrid (Spanish soccer team) won the European Cup in soccer in Paris.

A journalist: What did you think of the match?

Very good. I am still impressed, especially by the technique of Real Madrid. They did incredible things. I think it is the highest level, the top of soccer. One cannot dream of something better than this. Valencia (another team) also played well, but when you saw Roberto Carlos running, you couldn’t believe it. It has been said that he ran 31 kilometres throughout the match. And the Scot, McManaman, and Raul...

Mr. Shankly: Madrid has spent the whole year with nightmares about Anelka, a player who has cost a lot of money and for a long time didn’t play well at all. Maybe the same thing happens in Hollywood with superstars?

Not, we do not have that same problem because you just earn money if you are successful. That is all. Anyway, Anelka was successful in the past, but the big difference between cinema and sports is that the result is much clearer. The player has to score. There are some top scorers in California, such as Tom Cruise or John Travolta, who now appears in a new film and it seems not to have scored too well. I do not know if his fees will be lowered immediately after this! But actually I don’t really worry about him…

Another journalist: You usually do not go to the Meca of movies. Why was this movie so special to attract you there?

I go there once in a while. Scripts are sent to me. They come or I go. This time I went and met the producer.  I read the book and we discussed it and what I liked more was the idea that Hugh Hudson, (Chariots of Fire) would direct the film. Furthermore, working with Kim seemed interesting. This was her first film after winning an Oscar for LA Confidential.

An actor can have different types of activities, and I'm in I Dreamed of Africa in order to be useful to Kim. And to the director, and to Kuki Gallman, the real person on which the main character is based.

Another journalist: Wa it more difficult to work with Kim Basinger than with Catherine Deneuve, with whom you co-starred in "Indochine"?

No, it wasn’t, because there is something in common among the two actresses. They both felt a strong passion for the project they worked on. It is true that the two films are a little alike, because one represents a vision of Africa and the other of Asia. It is true that I am specializing in the illustration of continents, as everybody can see!

Mr Perez told me...

With a name like Perez, it's quite clear he has Spanish roots. He was born on June 10, 1962 in Lausanne. His father was born in Puebla Larga, near Valencia, and at a very young age, he went to Barcelona to study. Soon he went to Germany, where he met Vincent’s mother. Finally they went to Switzerland where Vincentet ("cute little Vincent" in catalan language) was born.

The star of movies, such as Queen Margot and La Maison de Jade, feels so at home in his father’s land that he assures me he's ready to work with a Spanish director. "I love Spain", he claims. What happens is that he gets no offers because he speaks Spanish with a horrible northern European accent!

Penelope everywhere...

That’s it - nowadays Penelope Cruz has become a compulsory international reference when one refers to cinema.

Vincent Perez explained his new screen project. In his next movie, Bride of the Wind, he will play painter Oskar Kokoschka with Jonathan Pryce in the role of composer Gustav Mahler. The film is about their shared muse, Alma Malher, played by actress Sarah Wynter. "Indeed, one of several young actresses who have been on the cover of Vanity Fair with Penelope Cruz."

[Written by Mr. Shankly]

[With thanks to Cinzia Masina for her Spanish translation]


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