Vincent Cassel: “You don’t have to be smart to be an actor” | Star in “Liaison” on Apple TV+

Vincent Cassel, the chameleon of French cinema, It is not the most appropriate to analyze their characters. In fact, he hates the very idea of ​​doing it. When they meet through a Meet session, he mentions Michel Simon, “the wonderful French actor of the ’30s and ’40s,” who starred in classics like Boudu saved from the waters and L’Atalante. “When he met another actor and talked about a character, he could say ‘Ah, another smart actor.’ And it wasn’t a compliment! Because You don’t have to be smart to be an actor. You have to be able to let go.”

At 56, the wiry, oddly handsome Cassel has been doing exactly that his entire career, ever since he wowed audiences as the Vinz fuel in Hatred, portrait of the Parisian riots premiered in 1995. Since then, never afraid to court controversy, notably in Irreversible, the shocking drama about a rape that he directed gaspar noah in 2002 and still produces print. One of several movies he made with his ex-wife (and mother of his two eldest daughters), Monica Bellucci.

In person, Cassel is open and charming; on the screens, he plays a deranged like no other. you can think of Sheitan (where he played an insane shepherd) or Our day will come where he appears as an anarchist psychiatrist who seeks revenge for all redheads. Or his role as the tyrannical director of Natalie Portman in Black Swan, the cryptic history of the dance world of Darren Aronofski, one of several occasions when Hollywood called him to work.

What it doesn’t do, he points out, is policy. “Honestly, I’m not interested in participating in projects that have to do with the political or social at all,” she says. “I’ve been involved with some issues because when I came across them they were interesting projects… but I’m not trying to be social or political. Actually, I think when actors start making choices like that it gets kind of boring, you know? Because making movies is not about changing the world. Come on! It would be very naive to think so! There is not a single example of a movie that has changed anything.”

It’s an argument others might disagree with. He does concede that some films, like Hatred, momentarily struck the spirit of the age. But there are more movies, he says, that hold up mirrors to enjoy their own reflection. “It’s more about how it challenges you as an audience member. What you think about a character, the way you judge a character or whether you like a character… that speaks more about you than the movie.”

Mentions My King, 2015 Cannes Film Festival-winning film that followed a tumultuous marriage. It was directed by the director Maiwennand was expressed from the perspective of the wife played by Emmanuelle Bercot. his character was hellish husband “I saw women freak out and call the character – and me by extension – a manipulator, a narcissist,” she laughs. “Yes, it is something very trending today: ‘perverse narcissistic manipulator!’ Every time a man does something wrong, he is a wicked narcissistic manipulator. I realized that those same people were actually liking the character. If someone has nightmares about a character because they hate them so much, that’s a compliment to me.”

His character in the new Apple TV+ miniseries Liaison She may not exactly bring on bad dreams, but she’s another somewhat opaque figure, the kind of character Cassel always shows off. excellence. Set between London and Paris, the show is a political thriller that marks Apple’s first co-production between the UK, France and Saudi Arabia. In principle it deals with a cyber attack in Great Britain. Gabriel, Cassel’s character, is essentially a mercenary and a spy who works for the French government and who does not evade deadly force.

Cassel and Eva Green in Liaison.

When he first read the script, he had an immediate and visceral reaction. “I wanted to do it more French, in the way he’s casual about things, the way he doesn’t take anything too seriously,” he says. “Not in the British way, like a James Bond indifferently or something. He is deeply responsible. She’s seen how things work behind the curtains, and she’s so dark and pessimistic you have to feign optimism. He is a very lonely character. It’s the way I see it, and it’s what I wanted to represent.”

Cassel co-stars with Eva Green, who plays his ex-lover Alison, who now works for the English government. The miniseries is directed by the British director Stephen Hopkinswho previously was in charge of some episodes of the first season of 24, action series starring Kiefer Sutherland. It is certainly an attempt to channel the same propelling energy. can also be the first Brexit thriller; we are told that the reason the UK is suddenly open to these cyber-attacks is its secession from the European Union and the subsequent failure to share information with its closest geographic neighbours.

Maybe Cassel doesn’t like to get political in his choices, but does he find that aspect of it interesting? Liaison? “I mean, of course it’s interesting for everyone who was part of Europe,” he says. “Maybe it’s not as interesting a subject in France as it is in the UK, because Great Britain is the one that broke away from the rest of the continent. England was part of the same kind of market, with great access to the rest of the world… and now that’s not the case.”

Liaison It is not Cassel’s first appearance on television, he was one of the main antagonists in the third season of the now canceled Westworld, of HBO Max. “The kind of money they put into producing series for streaming has nothing to do with television anymore,” he explains. “Definitely it’s like making movies, only on a smaller screen. Personally, I don’t see things in the cinema. They end up on my computer, on my iPad, my home theater or my big screen TV, whatever. So I really don’t see the difference.”

Cassel is not sentimental about the decline of the habit of going to movie theaters, which is something of a surprise given that he has filmmaking in his blood. The his mother, Sabine Litique, was a journalist; but his father Jean-Pierre Cassel, was a prominent actor who worked for people like Luis Bunuel (In The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie) and Sidney Lumet, in Murder on the Orient Express.

Inevitably, Cassel was influenced by it. “I saw my father as an actor and he I was happy, in the sense that he had fun with his work, he danced, he sang, he was on stage or making movies. He was a king and then he was a beggar, or a doctor. He really enjoyed what he did. So when you see your parents happy with what they’re doing, having a good life, it’s a wonderful way to be.” Cassel’s first training was in a circus school, also inspired by his father. “My father danced a lot. They called him ‘the French Fred Astaire’. I guess through him I got this taste for movement.”

Since then, he never stopped moving. Cassel recently completed adaptations of the perennial The Three Musketeers, again with Eva Green, where he plays Athos (his father appeared in the 1970 version directed by Richard Lester). Soon he will be flying to Toronto to start filming. The Shroud, the new horror master movie David Cronenberg. “I’m practicing my English for that,” she promises.

Cassel has already worked twice with Cronenberg: on his story about Freud and Jung a dangerous method (2011), where he played the patient anarchist Otto Gross, and in eastern promises (2007), as the volatile son of a Russian mob boss. And what happened to the supposed sequel that was going to be made of that last title? “Cronenberg had a wonderful script,” the actor sighs. “We were ready to do it and I don’t know why collapse. I think it will never happen again.”

His plans also include the new film by Argentine director Pablo Agüero, but Cassel is no stranger to South America. He spent years going back and forth between France and Rio de Janeiro with his second wife, model Tina Kunakey, whom he married in 2018 (they have a young daughter, Cassel’s third). He also made a number of films in Portuguese, as a true citizen of the world that he is.

“Being able to live in other places, learn other languages, gives you a better perspective of the world, of course, but also from your own country“, he says. “I had to leave France and see it from afar to understand what it is really about. I feel like I’ve understood France’s mechanism better since I’ve been away. The more you travel, the more your perspective of everything changes.” Live the difference arguably.

* Of The Independent From great britain. Special for Page 12.

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