The Vincent

August 25, 1996                                                                 

La Villette (a Parisian area), 8.45 p.m. The Duke of Nevers arrives smiling. After saying "Thank you for the large turnout" to the excited feminine public of the "Digital Garage" of Club Internet, he shakes everyone's hands and listens to the explanation of the development of the live dialogue that is due to start soon. Sipping an orange juice, he looks both excited and amused by this new experience. He admits to having already surfed the Net with one of his London friends and sits comfortably in his armchair in front of the screen loaded with questions.

How have you prepared for the part of Duke of Nevers?

This part just "happened" to me and, thanks to it, I discovered something new about myself. The Duke of Nevers is so cool, so nobly detached from things, that he seduced me. This part came at the right moment because I needed to explore a typical French character. After two years of absence by the French theaters, I re-discovered the pleasure of speaking our language. I understood the irony of the character by trying the costumes on. I got his sense for honor in learning how to use a sword and his goodness while being with Daniel Auteuil.

From The Crow to Le Bossu: in which of the two costumes do you feel better?

They are both romantic heroes in their own way. They both leave a child behind them. I loved my costume in The Crow a lot but I liked the panache of Le Bossu more.

What have you learned from your stay in Hollywood?

The rules are tough, but I don't think that talent is really needed to succeed in Hollywood. Money prevails in everything else as anywhere! But this experience helped me to understand what the movie world really is as art and as an industry. We go back to the old conflict developed by Herman Hesse, the one between body and soul. This is my little "Swiss side".

Does France bore you?

I have two loves: my own country and France. I love France as "hosting land" and I would like to be able to stay here more often. But I also like to discover other cultures, even though, secretly, I am really in love with Britain (Bretagne), south of France, Paris, and French wine, food and philosophy. Sometimes I compare it with Spain, "land of blood".

Were you afraid of dying while filming The Crow?

No, because I am not scared of death, but when I see people all around leaving us, I understand how people can be scared: that is where religions come from.

What did you play when you were a little boy?

Little Indian, little cowboy, little doctor, at marbles, at love. But then I realized that love is not a game, and that a game with no love is not always a game. And then I told myself that playing is not the only thing that counts in love, but that love can simply exist in itself. Then I was 30…

What did you learn from studying at UCLA?

Coppola and many more studied there. I have been there for two months with some other pupils during an exchange program organized by the Théâtre des Amandiers School. I spoke not a word of English, but it has been a great experience.

Antonioni (Beyond the Clouds - '95)?

Antonioni switched the light on for me. I remember once in a church he fell asleep and the whole team was waiting for him to wake up. In the church silence, he was looking in his dreams for the inspiration allowing him to find the right place where to put his camera. He woke up, comes to me, guides me and shows me with his finger the side of the church and the choirs singing. He then asked me to sit down, to close my eyes, to fall asleep and, when I open my eyes again, he is in front of me, standing with no help and though half paralyzed. I was very surprised when I saw tears in his eyes, as if he had just shared with me the whole question of believing in God.

What are your favorite films?

Modern Times, Citizen Kane, Jacob's Ladder (1942) …all new stuff as you can see!! But also The Full Monty, She's So Lovely and, of course, Le Bossu!

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[Many thanks to Cinzia Masina for the translation]