The Vincent

July 2000                                                        

Although one of his last films, I Dreamed of Africa, took him to Africa to shoot a movie "made in Hollywood", Vincent Perez returns to Europe with Le Libertin.

"I do not believe that I am going to be the French Antonio Banderas."

His last name is Spanish, his mother is German, his accent is not completely French and doesn't seem very convincing of being Swiss (he was born in Switzerland). This mixture makes him very international and highly exportable. In addition to I Dreamed of Africa, Perez is starring in Le Libertin, which follows Patrice Chereau's Ceux Qui M'aiment Prendront le Train and Raoul Ruiz's film on Proust, Le Temps Retrouve.

Lately you've been working between Europe and the United States. What differences do you find between these two cinema forms?

In the United States it is very difficult to complete what you set out to do. The script goes through many hands and during filming there are many people telling you what you must do and not do. In Europe it is different: there is less pressure, more freedom.

Have you considered Hollywood?

Hollywood is not my goal. My life and my wife are in France. In addition, I haven't been forced to participate in the American game. It’s neither attractive to me nor does it want me, but this does not mean that if offers were made to me, I wouldn't accept them. I believe that in order for me to mature as an actor, it's necessary to push the walls of my
surroundings and to look for new spaces. I do not believe that I am going to be the French Antonio Banderas.

Since you've mentioned his name, you and Antonio appear to have a restlessness to direct. Banderas’ film was already released last year. When will your film be released?

Probably next year. In a matter of weeks I will have a script for a project that my wife wrote. If everything goes well, we will film next spring. After directing three short films, I feel prepared.

Will you star in the film?

At the moment I want to direct. To tell a story as a visual form is something I've wanted to do for a long time. When I was small, I created unreal and very personal universes with my drawings. Later, at 15 years old, I showed a preference for photography, and now after directing these short films, I realize the necessity to express myself visually. My priority for this film is directing, not acting. I would like the film to aesthetically have the ambiance of Lars von Trier's last film, Dancer in the Dark (awarded at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival). It will not have
much dialogue, since silent cinema is enchanting as a visual force for me, although words can also be enchanting. After all, I am an actor.

Would you like to work in our country?

The truth is yes, especially with Pedro Almodovar, an idea I would try to court just a little bit. And also to work again with Penelope Cruz.

What do you think of present Spanish cinema?

There are many young directors who need to express themselves and that is very good, filling the industry with energy. It seems that in Spain it is more difficult to make a film than in France, since we have a financing system that works very well and consists of applying a tax to American films. But there is also a negative side: the French directors do not have to fight as much, and the producers become a species of civil employees, who think more about the check at the end of the month than about the art of filmmaking.

Did it go well with Kim Basinger in I Dreamed about Africa?

Wonderfully. We knew each other in New York before we began filming and I detected that she had enough desire to work with me. She had seen almost all my films. This made it more real to me. Kim wanted to demonstrate once again, that she is a good actress, and she succeeded in doing this.

[Written by Toni Ulled Nadal]

[Loosely translated with some omissions]

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