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“I very often think back to the way I played as a child”

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“I must be 10 years old in this photo, and I am surrounded by my two little sisters, Valérie, who is now a veterinarian in Le Havre, and Sophie-Noëlle, a dentist near Geneva – she had a bandage on her eye for correct his eyesight, which gives him the look of a corsair. We were just playing at representing a boat, in the garden of our parents, in Auffay, in Seine-Maritime, a town with a collegiate church, where they still live. The old billowing curtains acted as veils. The wooden planks, recovered from an adjoining hangar, a former tannery, were to make up the front of the ship.

Not very far, out of frame, was planted a hazelnut tree in which I often made cabins and it is likely that the cabin of the moment was considered then as the island that had to be reached and conquered. I’m wearing a US Army M43 jacket, salvaged from my maternal grandfather, and my father’s second lieutenant’s cap on my head, who served twenty-eight months in the Algerian war.

Also listen Frédéric Pierrot: “Anything that opens up the world is profitable, anything that closes it is painful”

I often think back to how we played back then. I deeply believe that this is the basis of my desire for theater and cinema. At the time, I was serving mass as an altar boy. And, with my friends, one of our games was to reproduce it. Once we had defined who would be the priest, what we were really interested in playing was not the sermons or the songs, but the communion, this sacred moment in which we came to believe. Thin moments, because often the magic broke: such and such no longer wanted, another wanted to change the game, and then everything collapsed…

A passion for analysis

When it happens in the game, even today, it’s terrible – the same pain. In August, for example, I had a huge hole on stage. I was playing a count, in a suit and hat, in a production, Man and gallant man, by Eduardo DeFilippo. Suddenly, my partner missed a line, I was disoriented, until the total void seized me: white!

“Child or adult, when you lose the thread and the belief in the game, everything falters. »

A thousand ideas went through my head, and especially the feeling of being totally out of the west, fragile, just a poor lost man. I tried to improvise, but I left the stage, unsteady. Child or adult, when you lose the thread and the belief in the game, everything falters.

I think my acting performances never really dazzled my parents, my sisters or my brother: it was above all me that he saw, not the character. But recently, with opening night, by Cyril Teste, to the theater and the series In therapy, I thought I felt that they had been carried away more. Analysis has fascinated me for a long time and I like to work on neuroses – a term that is nevertheless oh so pejorative in my family!

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I remember very well the day when I telephoned my parents, at the age of 19, to tell them that I was stopping my math studies to try my luck in the cinema. They had already noticed that I liked going to the cinema, on weekends in our village or in Dieppe, that I liked Bourvil, De Funès, Corniaud, by Gérard Oury, and that I set up film clubs in school buildings. I succeeded in reassuring them by insisting on the technical aspect of cinema. I told them about Henri Verneuil, a former arts and craftsman, like my grandfather.

It is by this manufacturer side that I attacked, I did not imagine besides becoming an actor. My mother framed my first contract as a props man, on a TV movie with Yves Rénier, The Maupas, an attempt by public television in 1980 to glorify nuclear power. I had managed to negotiate the union rate: 2,800 francs a week, it was huge! When I got that, everyone blew. And I was proud to be independent. »

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