The Vincent

  COOPERATION (Swiss Magazine)
  May 7, 2003                                    

"Fanfan la Tulipe is a Childhood Dream"

The cinematographic event of spring is the remake of "Fanfan la Tulipe", in which Vincent Perez takes on the role of Gerard Philipe. On Wednesday, May 14, this film will open the Cannes Film Festival.

From the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, Vincent Perez has made his way into the world of cinema. However, success has not gone to the head of this strong, likeable actor.

Co-operation: To take over Gerard Philipe's role of Fanfan the Tulipe is quite a challenge. Why did you agree to do it?

Vincent Perez: Because it is a childhood dream. When Luc Besson (note: producer of film with Michel Feller) proposed the principal role to me three years ago, he told me that either I accepted, or the full-length film would not be done. That really touched me. I then waited until he acquired the remake rights and wrote the screenplay. During all this time, I wondered what I would do with the imposing shadow of Gerard Philipe. And then, gradually, I started to think as an actor who prepares for a role while researching the origins of this story.

You have played in many cloak and daggers films, such as "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Le Bossu". Do you have a particular attraction to these types of films?

No, I am very attracted by eclecticism. In my filmography, you can find a certain number of historical films, but in each of them, the characters that I have interpreted do not have much in common with each other.

Even though you are a popular actor, you have not yet reached the notoriety of a Gerard Depardieu or Daniel Auteuil. Do you think that you'll attain this with "Fanfan la Tulipe"?

It's true that for me "Fanfan la Tulipe" is an opportunity to show another aspect of my personality, and I am very anxious to see how the public will react to this film.

After several years, French cinema has again returned to this form. How do you explain this?

It is thanks to a new generation of directors, which we really needed, and who have found their place by offering very interesting and diversified films. The same applies to actors. In parallel, I am always very happy to see a proven directors, such as Roman Polanski, make a film like "The Pianist", (Golden Palm at Cannes Film Festival, Cesar for best film and Oscar for best director), which is absolutely staggering and touches so much of the public.

What directors, actresses or actors do you dream of working with?

These are some of them. I would adore doing a film with Karin Viard. I also very much appreciate Jose Garcia, Benoit Poelvoorde, Vincent Cassel, Mathieu Kassovitz. For directors, Gilles Mimouni, for example, particularly interests me.

You starred in several English language films, one of which was "I Dreamed of Africa" with Kim Basinger in 2000. Why haven't you continued?

I lived an American adventure, which was a little unsatisfactory. It didn't enable me to open out, so I decided to return to France to concentrate on a type of cinema which is close to me and in which I can find my place.

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Photography is his great passion, but his spare time is spent with his four children.

You were born in Lausanne and spent a good part of your youth in French-speaking Switzerland. Do you still stay contacts there?

Yes, my mom, my brother and my sister, whom I call regularly. I very much want to make a film in Switzerland, which will allow me to be close to the people that I like and who I don't see enough of. Moreover, I would like to be able to take along my children to show them things of my childhood. Our relationship with Switzerland remains very dear.

"I like to travel, because there are moments when you become adventurous."

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In less than 40 years (he was born on June 10, 1964 in Lausanne), Vincent Perez has made a remarkable career as an actor, beginning in 1986 in Gardien de la nuit, directed by Jean-Pierre Limosin. Gradually, he found himself in the foreground of many productions -  Cyrano de Bergerac, Indochine, Queen Margot, etc.. Also a director, the Swiss-born Perez is married to actress Karine Silla, and he is a father of four children.

[Written by Didier Walzer and loosely translated]


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