The Vincent


crow1.gif (8058 bytes)


In Los Angeles summer never ends and it's good to look at the girls in bikinis on Malibu Beach. But once doesn't mean always in LA, or at least in Hollywood, in one of his most isolated parts: Universal studios. They seem to be from another time, completely covered by a dense fog. This is what one needs to create a morbid and extraordinary atmosphere for the filming of The Crow: City of Angels.

Three months ago filming began for sequel of the rock cult movie of the '90s - The Crow - which saw the death of a symbol: Brandon Lee. While the director, Tim Pope, shouts "cut!" and the cameraman works around the zombie face of Vincent Perez, we let ourselves be brought into another world, out of time, where rock music allies with poetry, and Life and Death are the same thing. An inquiry about angels suspends over our heads, just as the object of our research: Vincent Perez, the new French star who's due to explode in the USA, comes back from the world of the living dead in The Crow and is really going to become a big star at the international box office.

For Perez, everything started in Lausanne, where he was born, son of a Spanish father (thus, the surname) and a German mother. After studying dramatic art in Geneva, he began at the Conservatoire in Paris. Very soon he was going to find his place after starting with Gardien de la Nuit. Finally it is his part in "Cyrano" which is going to make him known at international level. After that it was one success after the other with Indochine and Queen Margot. Finally, Perez launched his first short film, L'échange and has a role in Talk of Angels for Miramax. During a break on the set, we meet an angel, unlike any other; the conversation starts.

Emmanuel Itier: (Vincent takes another breath after a very hard action scene, his "crowy" white make-up melts on his face…) Tell me one thing, do you believe you are going to survive this movie? It looks pretty harsh!

Well, I am trying! It's true it's more exhausting than I thought. And though I prepared a lot for it with a specialist of falls and combat, still, as you see, I am at the edge of my forces. I followed a very training program from 7 a.m. to midnight every day in order to compete with Van Damme and improve my English: it has been really hard!

Which one was the most difficult shot?

I'd say that the whole film is because if it is not a physical challenge as you have just seen (where I try to climb a skyscraper from a statue of an angel), it is a psychological one, as the scene yesterday where I face death itself.

The Crow II is along the same philosophical line as the first movie?

Absolutely! I believe that we go even further because we go much deeper into the internal conflict of the character. But thanks to the director Tim Pope, who is a famous music video-clips director (Cure, Bowie…), the movie will bubble with energy and pure rock n' roll.

What is your feeling about continuing in the steps of Brandon Lee?

Of course I had strange thoughts…but in a way I am not exactly the follower of his character. On the contrary, here I am playing "Ashe", an ironic name because I die at the beginning of the movie and I am going to get a new life from "the crow". After that, I have to learn to live again and my mission will be to save miserable souls in a chaotic Los Angeles. The title itself is full of irony - City of Angels - lost angels looking for each other in the empty city streets. I am their guide trying to show them the true value of life while giving new meaning to my own life. I was not really intimidated in continuing the work of Brandon Lee. Actually those who were  afraid for me were people around me. They were sending negative waves. Anyway, I succeeded in facing my own fears…

crowfrcom.jpg (15994 bytes)

How did you come to be chosen for this role?

Why not, after all! The people at Pressman Films (the producers of the first movie) first approached me just with its history: I then refused because it did not really seem very exciting to me, even though I was attracted by the general idea. But then, when I read the final script and when I met the director, Tim Pope, everything got clear in my mind and it really fascinated me. To me, it was the opportunity to play in something really different and to take my first steps in the USA…

Precisely why the USA and why right now?

I think I grew up a lot, I mean mentally… I am 31 and I said to myself that it is time to get out of my French cocoon. In France, movies are a bit of a family matter where you don't really go on and challenges are quite limited. Here in the USA you have no limits to your actions or to your dreams. In France, people always say that it is too risky, that it is not possible, that you'd have to change too much; here, on the contrary, people accept a complete challenge every second and they are not afraid of risking everything. That's what I want to do right now! I want to play the "Daredevil" and go to the end of the world, to the end of myself!

So America always made you dream!

At 100%! The USA really do... I just finished a script, a fantastic story that I hope I will be able to start just after The Crow. Anyway, I hope I will go back to France from time to time. It is great to be an artist. You can perform anywhere in the world, only the language changes and some methods of working. Actually, I try to travel around the world, to create a bridge between the continents: what unites us all are the stories we tell: for example, do you know that the first story of Cinderella is Chinese? More and more I think that we all live in one big continent, always moving…

Wasn't it too hard for you to get used to things here because of the language?

Not really. I took many lessons and during the filming I had a personal trainer in charge of correcting my accent. I think that, right now, it's not too bad. And my agent supported me a lot and helped me in all possible ways; moreover, Spielberg himself called me in order to meet me and to congratulate me. I must confess that this kind of thing is really something!

So you are going to flirt with American girls…

I must say I have something else to think about right now…but I have my whole life in front of me…

Your character in The Crow II - is it really Vincent Perez or did you get your inspiration from other contemporary heroes?

There is a bit of me, as far as the questions about life and death which I ask myself. I also spent a lot of time in the universe of Jim Morrison and The Doors. I listened a lot to their music, ultra morbid and almost religious sometimes, because The Crow is a kind of fairy tale, an almost mystic one! It is a succession of dead people, like a religious ritual, and my character is their redemptor or, better said, a black angel, a ghost blocked between the two worlds, the living and the dead…

Did this fact allow you to exercise your own fears about death?

Indeed…Every time I accept a movie; this is the most difficult thing in this job because this means, every time, that I accept of becoming someone else, completely. There are changes going on, emotion exchanges that make you grow up; at the end, eventually, you get to live better with yourself and your internal emotions. You see, thanks to this movie, and to the fact that I am 31, I feel more like a "man". I'll enter another phase of my life.

Are you going to play in "The Crow III"?

It is actually quite possible, and this would allow me to be freer in my character and in the story. But at the moment we are going to rest a bit, get some forces back before starting '96 and to work on the movie I wrote in order to be able to direct it myself…

I imagine that the movie is going to be full of alternative music as the first one?

Of course! You'll surely find the last hits by The Cure and Foo Fighters. Right now I am addicted to African music and I also play a sort of tam-tam. It's good music to dream to. It corresponds to the next step in my musical conscience because up until now, I was more interested in Indian and Japanese music.

So, are you going to settle down in the USA?

It is very possible! At the moment I am going to alternate American and French parts, but it is true that the USA is a great country where everything is possible…a true Nirvana to me!

[Interviewed by Emmanuel Itier]

[Many thanks to Cinzia Masina for the translation]

squig2a.gif (488 bytes)