The Vincent

Interview with Jean-Luc Brunet
( October 9, 2002                         

mcinema.jpg (14779 bytes)Ten years after completing his first short film, L'echange, and after three years of work with his wife Karine Sylla, scriptwriter and actress,Vincent Perez presents his first full-length film. Peau d'ange was born from two characters - Gregoire and Angele, played by Guillaume Depardieu and Morgane More. In spite of a day which began at eight o'clock in the morning finishing up late into the night while filming Fanfan la tulipe, Vincent Perez lent himself for an interview with a smile and with elegance. The actor/director says he has more confidence today and has one objective - "to make a success of my life, to succeed in films which make my little daughter dream."

Peau d'ange does not resemble the majority of films you see today. It is very personal.

It is true that Peau d'ange doesn't resemble today's films. I did not try to make a film which pleases, but rather a film close to my feelings. I simply wanted to be honest with my view of life, on relationships between people. It is also a film which was influenced a little by Asian cinema. While working on the script, I nourished myself with films from China, Taiwan and Japan like those of Mizoguchi, Hou Hsiao-Hsien and characters like those in La Terre Jaune, Zhang Yimou's first film, where one follows the journey of a young girl like Angele. I also thought of Angel at my Table directed by Jane Campion. At one point during writing, it was also necessary for me to re-examine Alain Cavalier's film, Therese... I wanted to tell several stories of love. All the characters have a common point. They are vulnerable in love. They all want to be in love, love that is not only romantic but paternal or mystical. I found it interesting to make a film which is a kind of kaleidoscope of love stories.

How did you choose your actors, in particular the two principal ones?

I saw Morgane More in the film, Saint-Cyr, and I am glad to say that Guillaume is splendid on film. He has an astonishing magnetism, a depth. I hadn't put a face on this character, but then someone started to speak about Guillaume. He sat down beside me on this coffee terrace, and it became obvious. Suddenly I wanted to film him, to trust him for this role. Guillaume is very generous, astonishingly human, and then at the same time, he has scars. Therefore he was perfect for the character. I could never have done what he did. As for Morgane More, I saw her in Saint-Cyr and immediately it was obvious that she should play Angele. I called her and she came to Paris. She was two years older and thus had changed. Luc Besson asked me to give her a screen test, and it confirmed that she was the right person.

I noticed that you gave secondary roles to your friends - Dominique Blanc, Olivier Gourmet, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi. Was this a way to reassure yourself?

No, I don't need to be reassured as a director with respect to actors. I know very well how an actor is shaped. I love actors. I admire them. But I needed strong actors, who would interact perfectly with Morgane, who was doing her second film. I wanted actors who could create their characters in only two scenes. Therefore, I took actors who I believed to be mature actors. Laurent Terzieff, for example, offered me an incredible gift by playing the role of Mr. Grenier. I needed a figure of authority. He is somebody who has charisma, and at the same time, has enormous humanity. I needed to have this mixture between a man who had power and one who was noble-hearted.

Among all the directors that you've worked for as an actor, is there one that gave you the desire to become a director?

Yes. Regis Wargnier (Indochine) and obviously Patrice Chereau, who I admire. He belongs to my artistic family and has been important in my career. The role of Vivianne in Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train was risky. It was a little insane, but in the last analysis, I was very glad I had done it. Then there was Michelangelo Antonioni. I was very impressed with his directing. These directors gave me courage to launch out in this adventure. In addition to that, the fact of having directed short films and having studied photography helped me very much. I think that it is very difficult to make your first film without having made short films. In any case, I take into account a certain cinematographic culture.

Peau d'ange is produced by Luc Besson. Were you concerned that he would intervene and impose his opinion?

It was always very clear to me when he said, "this is your film" that he had confidence in me. He didn't come on location when we were filming. He said, "I want to see your film when you think you have finished." I thus showed him the finished film. He made proposals in editing, but just a refinement which was very effective. He is very gifted in editing. He always respected my work. He likes cinema, all kinds of cinema. Moreover, it is astonishing to see what his company, Europa Corp, produces going from a film by Blier to an Italian film by Mimmo Calopresti to The Transporter, Taxi and Fanfan la tulipe. He is very open to all kinds of cinema. However, it is true that in order to produce Peau d'ange, there needed to be Taxi. You find a balance, which is what all producers around the world do. What I find formidable is they take risks nevertheless to produce intimate films of actors. Finally, if one can speak about risk.....

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