The Vincent

HAL CINEMA (Italian Cinema Web Site)
May 2000                                                                    


Even though, from a cinema point of view, his health is not very strong – he dies in almost everyone of his films- Vincent Perez is a guy rightly known as a "sex symbol".

Born in Lausanne, he is one of the few European actors working in big American productions. He won the fame thanks to his role as the unfortunate Christian in Cyrano with Depardieu; he replaced Brandon Lee in The Crow, has worked with wonderful actors such as Ian McKellen, (Swept from the Sea) and Massimo Troisi (Captain Fracassa). On top of that, he’s been working side by side with many splendid women such as Emmanuelle Beart, Marie Gillain, Rachel Weisz and especially the last one, Kim Basinger in I Dreamed of Africa.

A kind man and a refined actor, definitely preferring pure and noble characters, he laughs openly if he’s called a "sex symbol" and admits to loving only two women: his wife and his daughter. A charismatic actor with a great sense of humor, able to say no to the millions of dollar that have been offered to him for appearing covered in white rags as The Mummy, he doesn’t hide his big dream: "Playing the bad guy, because it’s the funniest thing to do for an actor."

Mr. Perez, but why do you die in almost every one of your films?

My mom hates my movies because I actually die in most of them; she thinks my career is a big mess and for her, it is impossible to love a film in which I die. But come on, I don’t really die in every one! Only in those for which it is really absolutely necessary; otherwise the movie would be a complete failure.

How did you get inspiration for your character of Paolo in "I Dreamed of Africa"?

I was influenced by the book and by the images of the place itself. I am usually like a sponge, absorbing as much information as possible. I tried to live a bit like him in order to understand his special relationship with nature. I myself have been surprised by the circle of life and death, very clear and based on a very fragile balance.

Is he a character far from you?

No. While filming I somehow felt the sense of life in wild Africa in the seventies. And, in the middle of this wild nature, came the surprise of having Kim Basinger at my side.

People call you a "sex symbol". Do you feel like one?

I don’t, do you?

Surely not! But still you are co-starring with Kim Basinger!

Yes, this is the good side of it, but it is just a nice game I have to play.

A game allowing you to work with many splendid women…

True, but the most splendid are still my wife and my daughter.

Could you say that what all your characters have in common is a noble soul?

All of them are a bit idealist - they have big dreams. Maybe you are right. There is something noble in these dreams. However, this is not the reason why I choose a particular character, but I do so just because I feel the need to.

You are a generous actor, never trying to steal the best place under the limelight to your colleagues…

Acting is more giving than taking. It’s easier to understand your character if you give a bit of yourself to all the other characters. Characters exist only if they are able to listen. Best acting occurs if you are with someone.

You've worked with great actors, such as Ian McKellen and Gerard Depardieu.What was that like?

Great actors make everything more simple!

Do you like heroes?

I love them, but still I would love to be the bad guy for once! I've had so few proposals of this kind!

What are you looking for when acting?

To re-inventing myself. That’s why I started acting in the first place. It’s been a kind of virus. I felt I had to act or I would have died.

What don’t you like about your job?

Sex scenes…I feel embarrassed.

How important is money?

Very important, as for everyone, but this doesn’t lead me to accept characters I don’t believe in just for money lust.

What are your next projects?

I will be Kokoschka in The Bride of the Wind, one of his masterpieces that he painted in Vienna at the beginning of the century. His muse was Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler’s wife, and this couple will be played by Sarah Wynter and Jonathan Pryce, under the direction of Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy). Then I will direct a feature film in the spring of 2001.

[Written by Marco Spagnoli ]

[Many thanks to Cinzia Masina for the Italian translation]


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