The Vincent



After directing three short films, Vincent Perez enters the arena of the full-length film with Peau d'ange, a story of love and sorrow, before he returns to the screen in Fanfan la tulipe. I met with the actor/director, who dreams of reinventing the 7th Art.

As a director, you have said that you have been inspired by other directors you have worked with. In directing Peau d'ange, were you influenced more by Patrice Chereau or Gabriel Aghion?

It is true that there are areas of sensitivity within Peau d'ange. I would place it between several cinemagraphic types which have always impressed me, those of Michelangelo Antonioni, Kar-Wai Wong for his audacity, Hou Hsiao Hsien for his simplicity and direction of the image, and, of course, those films of Akira Kurosawa. All that is rather eclectic, but I am nearer to that cinema than of formatted cinema, as in some American cinema, which annoys me as a director. In fact, the cinema that I dream of making does not exist. I should invent it.

You launched out as a director by passion. Do you think that actors who become directors are a kind of phenomenon like singers who become actors?

It is difficult for singers to become actors because they have a relationship with the camera that's very different from that of an actor. The changeover from actor to director has always existed, and I think that it will always exist. That began with great geniuses like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and others. I think, quite simply, that if we can be successful as both an actor and director, it is because we are part of this industry and we are in contact with all segments of filmmaking. There are also those actors who have no desire to become directors. It it a loop which I closed because I started with photography. I took the path to becoming an actor, but I was able to bind both worlds. I don't think I wasted any time in pursuing photography because today it is very useful to me.

Is the loop buckled to some extent?

To some extent, but I hope that it will give a new boost to my life and my career. Moreover, today I am more in control. I control my dreams a little more and I can go move in that direction, which was not the case in the beginning.

How do you do a film produced by Luc Besson?

That goes well. There's Luc Besson, but also Virginia Silla. She was to some extent the executive producer, and she was the one I worked with every day. It can be formidable because Luc understands directing well. For example, he called me during the fourth week of filming and we had a conversation about problems a director might encounter, but he always said to me - "It is your film." He was always respectful, always loved the project and is very proud. Today, he waits until I propose another film to him.

Another film proposal?

Yes, but I cannot speak about it yet. I have a wealth of ideas and desires. In fact, it would take me 80 hours per day to do all that I wish to do and do it well. I will follow through on them one at a time. Currently I am filled with a new force, a new energy. I am very excited.

And where does Fanfan la tulipe fit in?

It belongs precisely to this new energy. It's true that this role is a child's dream. The fact of being able to be Fanfan la tulipe is at the same time magical while representing much work because I do all the stunts myself. Audiences respected the tone and spirit of Christian Jacques' film with Gerard Philippe, but now it is modernized. Fifty years later, the film will be rediscovered by a whole new generation that doesn't know Fanfan la tulipe.

It's not difficult wearing the boots of Gerard Philippe?

People do not know Gerard Philippe, at least not the newest generation. In fact, Fanfan la tulipe is a film which will be directed toward anyone from 7 to 77 years old. Of course, there will be those who will remember the older version because it is a classic, but I don't think they will be disappointed. At the same time, I slipped into this role like a glove, as if it awaited me. There was such a naturalness to it, and I think that people will sense it when they see the film.

If Peau d'ange were to be remade, would you change anything?

I always have regrets with everything I do, obviously. I am continually dissatisfied. There are indeed things which I regret in Peau d'ange. For example, the scenes which were deleted. But, on the other hand, I am happy to see people leaving the film and the debates are always very deep. There is always somebody who rises in the room to defend the film to say, "This film touched me deeply. It is a beautiful film and I thank you because we need that." That touches me very much.

[Interview by Thibaut Demeyer]

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