“Ethics do not rule in the choice of my roles because the cinema is not going to change the world”

After the departure of Great Britain from the European Union, the empire proves to have feet of clay when it comes to cyber security. This vulnerable flank serves as a starting point for the thriller spy globetrotter AppleTV+, Liaison. English, Arabic and French alternate in scenarios of Syria, Turkey, Paris, Brussels and London in an intrigue where corruption and personal interests shake politics for the good common. But none of the elements cited refer to the title of the series of six chapterswhich foregrounds a romantic subplot starring Eva Green and Vincent Cassel. In the plot, the actor gives life to a Gallic agent at a crossroads between heart and duty without neglecting the magnetism and arrogance of the house.

What did your character look like on paper and how did you make it your own?
I wanted to Frenchify it more. I mean, I wanted Gabriel not to take things too seriously, but not in the British way, not like James Bond, with indolence, but revealing a deep responsibility behind a casual attitude. He has seen the backstage of world geopolitics and since reality is so dark and pessimistic, he has to pretend to be an optimist. I see him as a very lonely character.
I understand that you had the opportunity to speak with real mercenaries, what did they give you to build Gabriel?
I spent a few hours with them where I was able to ask them everything that came to my mind. What happens is that I have no idea if they told me the truth. I’m not even sure they were called what they told me. So the important thing is how the story stimulated my imagination. The minute you start dreaming and traveling with the character, you start building it.
Your character is a mercenary who nevertheless moves by an ethical code. To what extent do you identify with him professionally?
Honestly, I am not trying to participate in political or social projects. Not at all. If I have been involved in proposals like this, it has been because they were interesting scripts, but it is not a decision that has to do with ethics. In fact, when actors start making those kinds of choices, it all gets a bit boring, because movies aren’t going to change the world. To think so would be very naive. There is not a single example of a movie that has changed anything. People talk about a certain topic at a certain time because it becomes fashionable. I am thinking, for example, of my participation in Hatred (mathieu kassovitz, nineteen ninety five). That role had more to do with how he challenged me and how he challenged the audience. My choices respond to what I think of the character, if I like him or if he makes me deepen myself. A few years ago I shot a movie called My love (Maiwenn, 2015). The movie was told from a woman’s point of view, people went crazy calling me a perverse narcissistic manipulator. But I realized that my character had left them shocked. So in this profession, everything happens to be unforgettable. If a character gives the audience nightmares because he hates them so much, that’s a compliment to me.

Eva Green and Vincent Cassel in a still from Liaison, the new Apple TV+ series.

What was the best thing about shooting a series between five countries and in three languages?
The good thing about platforms streaming is that there are more and more people watching projects from other countries in their homes. We have been fed audiovisual content from the United States for far too long. Now, you enter one of these entertainment services and watch a movie from France, Italy or Mexico. It’s something new. And mixing languages ​​opens up the market.
What does being a polyglot bring to your career?
These are advantages that go beyond work. Settling in other corners of the world and learning other languages ​​have given me a better global perspective and, of course, my own country. I had to leave France behind to understand it better. The more you travel, the more your point of view on everything changes, the more languages ​​you learn, the easier it is to become more flexible to understand. I guess it’s what we call culture (laughs).
You have worked hand in hand with Eva Green both in this series and in The Three Musketeers, which hits theaters on April 14. Did you already know each other before?
No, we had never met, although I was super interested in working with her since I saw her in the movie bernardo bertoluccidreamers (2003). In the past, I’ve tried to collaborate with her on a project, but couldn’t, so let’s be honest: one of the reasons I agreed to do this show was because I knew she was involved too. When I heard my next project was The Three Musketeers next to her was the best of news. 2023 is my Eva Green year and I am so proud and delighted of it.
What makes your job so special?
Eva is an incredible professional, who allows herself to be totally naive on set. One of the best qualities of an actor is to behave like a child between action and cut, because that means that you don’t judge yourself or the situation, you just have fun with your role. One day the actor Michael Simonhe passed an actor who was discussing his character and exclaimed, “Oh, another smart actor.” It wasn’t a compliment, but his way of pointing out that to be an actor you don’t have to be smart, but rather be able to let yourself go.

Eva Green and Vincent Cassel are the stars of the new Apple TV+ series, Liaison.

Your father, Jean-Pierre Cassel, was a great French actor. What causes you that your daughters may want to follow in your footsteps?
I imagine it’s normal. My father, he was a happy actor. He danced and sang on stage. He could tell that he was having fun. On set, I saw him be a king, then become a peasant, and then a doctor. When you see your parents happy with what they do and enjoying a good life, you just want to follow in their footsteps. Interpreting also consists, literally, in expressing yourself. Even if you are not an actor, being on stage is very captivating. I advise my friends to take acting courses so that they feel the sensation of exposing themselves to the attention of others. I live it as if my fluids moved differently. My daughters Deva Cassel and Léonie did not want to do this, however, it is where they are slowly but surely heading. I’m not going to stop them, but I’m not going to push them in that direction either, because it’s a very uncertain profession.

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