The Vincent

"Le Pharmacien de garde" -
Official Movie Web Site Interview with Vincent Perez
Winter 2003                                                                     

Could you speak to us about your character, Yan Lazarrec?

Behind his reassuring side of being a pharmacist, Yan Lazarrec has another personality that's much more worrying. He is a frightening and completely unquestionable killer with a mission, which is to eliminate those people who pollute the planet. He kills them incorporating their own evil ways of destroying the environment. He is an ecologist to the extreme. He thinks he is saving the world. He wants to return truth and purity to nature.

The friendship that binds Yan to Francois, the cop, played by Guillaume Depardieu, is very strong. How was this created?

Yan meets Francois at the time of a conference on ecology and is impressed by him during a debate. He approaches him to express his admiration. They defend the same cause. Yan thinks of having found the ideal accomplice and friend to carry out his war until the end. He will stick very close to this man, unaware that he's actually a cop. As for Francois, he doesn't know his friend is the assassin he seeks until it is too late.

This is Jean Veber's first film.  How did he direct you? 

Jean Veber offered me a role that was extremely well written. During filming, he was very precise, very demanding. He does not release anything. He wants the text respected except for the comma. It is reassuring to work with him. He guides you, gives you the tempo, the breathing, the rate and rhythm. You are never lost. He has the exact idea in his head of what he wants from you, the final result.

This kind of film is rather rare in France.  

It's true that one seldom sees French productions investing in the "fantastic" kind. Le Pharmacien de garde belongs to a genre that is strange, distressing. But I don't see why a director wouldn't satisfy his desire to do such a project quite simply because he is French.

Do you have "killer"models in cinema?  

There is what is called "splendid" killers in the history of cinema. They are exciting characters to interpret. Robert Mitchum, for example, in The Night of the Hunter, is formidable!  But I inevitably don't seek to play assassin roles. My choices depend on the proposals I receive. Here I liked the script and I launched out. For the role of Yan Lazarrec, I researched serials killers in order to know some more. But then I let myself be guided by Jean.

When you began filming Le Pharmacien de garde, you had just directed your first feature-length film, Peau d'ange. Did that make you feel closer to Jean Veber since this was his first film too?

Indeed, that gave us mutual confidence and a certain complicity.  We shared the same experiment - the writing; holding the film together until the end, in spite of difficulties that one can encounter in this kind of intense adventure. It was also touching and interesting to observe Jean's work. At the same time, having just been a director myself, I felt destabilized when I found myself in front of the camera. I had the impression that I could not act any more. I was afraid. I didn't have a reference mark. I was still in the skin of the director. It was again necessary for me to let go of guiding and directing. Jean knew how to reassure me.

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