The Vincent

TEMPO (Canada)
January 16, 2001                                                   

tempo.jpg (10147 bytes)VINCENT PEREZ:


All the rage in French Cinema, he is the “Brad Pitt of France." Just like his American counterpart, he can really drive the ladies wild. And also like him, he has talent to spare. It’s not surprising that Vincent Perez’s visit to Montreal did not go unnoticed. All the more because he was in town to discuss Libertinism!
“Drive the ladies wild?” he repeats, laughing. “That’s what you say. I’m not really informed about what I can arouse in women. To be honest, it’s not something I live with on a day-to-day basis. I am very timid by nature, and my trade is undoubtedly a way to escape from myself, and my own timidity. But the rest…” The rest? It’s his charm, and he knows it very well.
A Thousand Pleasures
A natural charm which is almost astounding. Especially when in a hotel room in downtown Montreal, he announces, excusing himself (but to whom?), that he has been fighting jet lag for several hours, that the fatigue is gaining on him, but none of it is apparent. Nothing at all. No slouching, lowering of his voice, or flagging of his spirit.
Is it that famous charm operating? If so, then it’s not done ravaging us yet. It’s Vincent Perez who will be on all the movie screens in a role that will be likely to mark the feminine imagination. In this new film, Le Libertin, by director Gabriel Aghion, Perez inhabits the role of the character Diderot, a notorious libertine attracted by many women , a thousand pleasures and the continuous research of ecstasy.
The inevitable Diderot, as played by Perez, must measure himself up against an adventuress (Fanny Ardant), experience gastronomic desires with a very greedy baroness (Josiane Balasko), fight against the censures of a cardinal (Michel Serrault), and control the assaults by a manipulating nymphomaniac (Arielle Dombasle). It’s films like this that make us want to become actresses…
Nude Scenes
In default of giving Vincent Perez his cue, Le Libertin does offer certain compensations… Like the scenes highlighting the actor’s obvious talent. And others showing that beautiful body in all its splendor. The rub, that one has to take, is that it is not Perez that one admires in a completely voyeuristic fashion, but rather Diderot and his insolence.
“These are the scenes that I would dread. Nobody wants to do nude scenes," he assures me, smiling." However, great actors have to do it. “In Le Libertin, it was necessary to go to all the way with the character, and here, the nudity isn’t sexual. It is from the insolence, the pure provocation. Diderot wants to shock the priest. Moreover, in cinema there are scenes which are even more difficult to film than nude scenes. These are the scenes which are badly written. These give the film a twisted flavor.”
Nude scenes or not, Vincent Perez isn’t out of his element in this new film. Having appeared in Queen Margot, Cyrano de Bergerac, Le Bossu and many others, he is already accustomed to doing epic films. “It is really how I started my career, I have done many of these kinds of films. Besides, if I had accepted all the films that have been offered to me, I would have made even more because I receive lots of scripts."
Should one be surprised that Vincent Perez is also solicited? Not really. 
Just about everything he touches in cinema turns to gold. With 25 films to his credit, the seductive actor has made a career for himself in the United States, as well as Europe. “From the moment there is a great story to tell, it is all the same to me whether it is filmed in France or in America. The only difference is that an American film goes worldwide immediately after it’s released. The most important thing is to make the films that I want to make.”
Childhood Dreams
To do what he loves, to live his passions and heartaches are the watchwords for Vincent Perez. When one knows their real origin, nothing surprises. It is as obvious as the nose on your face. He is believed to be French , but is only by adoption. Vincent Perez was born in 1964 in Lausanne, Switzerland, to a Spanish father and a German mother. “I was a lost expatriate, without a country, and France adopted me," he announces laughing. “I love France, but I also have a strong attraction to Spain, and whenever I hear Spanish music, I feel that my roots are not far.”
The acting trade has been a dream since early childhood. “When I was a child, I wanted to travel. It made me dream of all these films that I had seen, and it made me want to go outside of myself. My father watched Fred Astaire films on television and, as a result, I made him tap dance all day long. I played the clown. It was enough to just see a film to become the character," he confides.
The memories make Vincent Perez smile, especially those of his childhood. He recalls that his father would have preferred to see him in a business suit. “My parents were a bit lost when facing the possibilities that I offered myself. I was attracted to painting and photography. I was always better at expressing myself through images rather than words. I always had an artistic touch."
The back of the train on stage!

To invent characters is his passion. “When I was very young, I adored Michel Simon and Charlie Chaplin. It fascinated me to see how they composed their characters. I am a great lover of cinema and I have a great respect for directors.”
On stage one narrates as though one is at the back of the train. “I love to amuse myself on stage. To laugh, to break out of myself a little. It’s a method I use to remain nimble, a way that I can concentrate and stay close to what I do. But in real life,” he adds, “I am a timid person who doesn’t need to be the center of attention. I can be surrounded by a bunch of people around a table and nobody will even notice me. I am also impulsive, passionate and romantic. But I am more of an idealist. I do not support injustice, the misery in the world, or the terrible things being done to children.”
The role of his life, which he plays every day, is the one that involves his girls. Married to the actress Karine Sylla, who has a 9-year-old daughter, and who has given him a daughter, Iman, now 20 months old, Vincent Perez is a happy man. “To be a father is the most magnificent thing that could ever happen," he swears. “It is responsibility for an entire life, an opening into the world. I am a very tolerant father, and I admit that I was made complete. I have become a slave to my daughter," he says tenderly. Whenever he travels, he often brings his small family along. “When one has children, they become part of your life. One shouldn’t spend a lot of time away from them.”
His favorite moments of relaxation are devoted to photography. “It’s my favorite pastime. But I also like sports a little, tennis, kick-boxing and also yoga. When my schedule permits…”
Happiness in sight
At 36 years of age, Vincent Perez believes that his career is taking an interesting turn. “They have started to propose roles with more depth, more angles. I am also on a search for revival. I would like to make a thriller, but the scenarios they have proposed to me are still not convincing.”
Does he fear growing old in the cinema? “No! Because with the passing of each day, I feel better about myself and I am very happy. I accept myself such as I am, and I have the chance to be very happy in my life. I have a wife who I love, beautiful children, a job that I am passionate about, and I am also going to realize another dream, that of directing my first full length film before the age of 40.” His own wife has written the script.
While we wait to see his own film, we will also see Vincent Perez on the screen soon in Bride of the Wind directed by Bruce Beresford, and then in a film directed by Michael Rymer, Queen of the Damned.

[Written by Therese Parisien]

[Kindly translated by Janette Sylvian]


squig2a.gif (488 bytes)