"Si j'étais toi" (If I Were You), the new film directed by Vincent Perez
The French actor has directed his second film, a psychological drama with David Duchovny and Lili Taylor.
How did you come to direct this film?
Through Luc Besson who fell in love with the Japanese film. He bought the rights from them, adapted it and established the drama in the US in Massachusetts. He then entrusted me with directing it because he had already produced my first film.
Did the screenplay attract you?
Yes, by reading it I discovered a very original story which made it possible to explore the world of adolescence by another angle: the relationship between a girl and her parents in a very middle-class world with all its taboos. The role of this girl was essential, and it would be rare to find a young actress able to play this part (she actually has to play both mother and daughter roles). I carried out tests in NY and LA and saw many people. Of all of them, I knew there was only one who could do it - Olivia Thirlby. Moreover, when I returned with the screen tests, I was so excited by meeting her that I had made the secret decision not to make the film if Luc did not share my opinion. He immediately saw the potential of Olivia, so we were on the same wavelength.
Can you tell us something about David Duchovny and Lili Taylor who play the parents in the film?
David Duchovny was very enthusiastic
by the script. He saw the possibility of playing a character, different from
the one he played in the "X Files". I liked that because I have also
suffered from labels in my career. People see you only in one type of role,
whereas a good actor is able to play many different characters. Following my
meeting with him, I was happy. For me, he incarnated the father and the
ideal husband of an American middle-class family. And Lili Taylor... I have
been a big admirer of hers for a long time. She is a popular actress in the
American independent cinema.
Was it obvious that the drama should take place in the United States? Couldn't it have been in France?
I think there are less taboos in France. In the United States, there are precise borders, which one can cross or not cross. The major idea of the film is "if I were you, what I would discover"? The drama had a stronger resonance being located over there.
You made a success of a portrait of American youth very well...
It was one of the things which excited me in this story. To explore this world, the social pressure that the teenagers live under, this period when it is thought that everything must occur now, that you make good and bad decisions for the rest of your life, and that one must achieve something quickly. It is a film with extreme emotionalism.
Was a particular scene more difficult to film than others?
Yes, the scene in the hospital with the transfer of the mother's personality into the daughter's. It was very complicated to film. A true challenge becuase so much happens in a small amount of time. That was really a difficult scene for everyone - the actors, the director and the team.