The Vincent


VINCENT PEREZ                                                                       

"I have this feeling that now I'm reaching 34, everything is starting. It's starting to get interesting and exciting because my parts are getting more and more complex."

Gallic heartthrob Vincent Perez was born in Lausanne, Switzerland in June 1964. His German mother and Spanish father had gone to Switzerland looking for work. However, Perez couldn't wait to leave this "little island in the middle of Europe" to look for more excitement in his life. At 18, he went to Paris to study acting.

"I wanted to see other things. I decided I wanted to have more than one life. I always thought that in the acting profession this was the case. I quite innocently went into this business. Then I started to realize that it was not about having more than one life, it was about surviving in this business. I managed to survive."

For three years Perez studied acting under the acclaimed French director Patrice Chereau, who later went on to direct him in the epic Queen Margot (1994). Perez first came to the public's attention in 1990 opposite the legendary Gerard Depardieu in the lavish production of the classic tale of Cyrano De Bergerac.

Perez has since gone on to appear opposite many of the legends of French cinema, including Catherine Deneuve in the Oscar-winning Indochine, and Daniel Auteuil and Isabelle Adjani in Queen Margot. However, Perez probably gained his widest international audience in 1996 with his first Hollywood film The Crow: City Of Angels. This sequel to the controversial The Crow carried a lot of heavy emotional baggage, due to the tragic on-set death of its star Brandon Lee. Perez admits that he thought long and hard before agreeing to take on the role as the supernatural avenger who returns from the dead.

"It was really important for me to make the right decision. I thought about it for a long time before accepting. But then I met Tim Pope (the director) and I realized that this was a different concept. It was a lot of new things, and I thought that it was a good occasion to do a re-read on the original Crow. The whole project was an interesting journey and I enjoyed it very much."

Perez now spends pretty much half the year in Hollywood and half the year in Europe making movies. He is slightly critical of the power of the "money men" in Hollywood, and jokes that, in France, the director is totally the boss, and even the producer almost has to beg him to change anything in the film.

In America, Perez's recent work has included Beeban Kidron's romantic drama Swept From The Sea: The Amy Foster Story, in which he appears opposite Ian McKellen, Kathy Bates and Rachel Weisz. He has also completed a role opposite Linus Roache in Shot Through The Heart, for HBO. Next up is a movie with Christopher Walken and Natassja Kinski, which is due to commence shooting in May on locations in Los Angeles and Mexico.

"I look for the difference between the one I did and the one I'm going to do. I like the change. I like to discover new things. I like to work on myself and my acting. I like to challenge myself. I like the fact that I'm challenged by this part, and by working with this director. One of the other reasons why I choose to do a movie is the chance to work with great actors."

The opportunity to work with French star Daniel Auteuil (The Eighth Day, Lucie Aubrac, etc) was one of the main attractions that drew Perez to Le Bossu, a swash buckling epic from director Philippe De Broca. Perez had shared a short scene with Auteuil in Queen Margot, but both actors admitted to a frustration that they didn't have much time to work together. In the movie Perez plays a legendary swordsman who is betrayed and murdered by his treacherous brother (Fabrice Luchini), who inherits his fortune. Auteuil raises Perez's daughter and then 16 years later becomes involved in a complex plot to seek vengeance on Luchini.

In a short time, Perez has gained an enviable reputation as one of the sexiest film stars around, which certainly hasn't hurt his career. But the downside of all the adulation is that people tend to take more notice of his gorgeous looks and perfect body rather than his performances. However, Perez has almost resigned himself to dealing with his status, and he almost seems comfortable with it.

"First of all, I don't really care about all of that. On the one hand, it doesn't really make a career, it doesn't help you become a better actors. On the other hand, it's a part of the business. People have something to say about you when it's time to talk about me. It's quite useful for that purpose. I personally don't care about it one way or the other, so it's easier for me to deal with it. I'm building on something and the foundations appear to be very strong. I'm doing what I like to do, so maybe the best is yet to come. We're never happy with what we did, and we're always expecting a lot from the future. Let's just say that I'm in limbo at the moment. It's a great feeling! It's always exciting to know that you're going to be doing exciting things."

Le Bossu screened in Melbourne as part of the French Film Festival, presented by Alliance Francaise. Swept From The Sea opens nationally in May.

[Melbourne, Australia]

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