You know, the more you grow the more you master your thing especially if it’s really personal - acting is very personal for me and I started 20 years ago so you know I grow as I get older, I’m like a French wine hopefully.
This is a 70s story but do you see a contemporary resonance to it? At the time there was a right-winged government, we have one now. At the time, Mesrine was campaigning against high security prisons, we still have problems in prisons today. Do you think there is an anti-establishment resonance that is relevant for today?
I’m sure you can find similarities, echoes from the past with what is happening today but at the same time it’s not on purpose, honestly. It’s not like the movie is trying to criticize the system today in France, this is not the purpose of the movie at all.
If we go back to the film you spent nine months shooting the two films, travelling all around the world with a huge cast, with people coming in and out for short periods of time, what was it like for you to be Mesrine for nine months and what was the day-to-day routine?
Well, I have always looked at this whole adventure as good luck really, I never thought to complain about anything. Many times I came back home to my hotel room and I would get on my computer and Jean-Francois Richet the director and myself would debrief online.
I remember on many occasions we were talking about the scenes we’d shot that day and what we were supposed to do the next day but so many times at the end we’d have to remind ourselves the luck we had making this movie.
Because it is true, when you are an actor and you make movies with a strong subject matter and you have the money to shoot it the way you want to with an incredible cast in different countries you know its luck, I think. I consider myself as being really lucky with this project and I’m trying not to forget about it.
Gerard Depardieu is in Mesrine: Killer Instinct, he is a generational actor and you are one too. Is there a feeling of passing the baton between the two actors. What was it like to work with him?
Well first of all I’m not sure that Gerard Depardieu wants to give his baton to anybody and I think he is totally right because he still has a lot of things to do. I hope I will work with him again. He is an actor that I really admire.
Years ago they asked me if I would like to interview somebody, for me it was Gerard Depardieu, straight away, no contest because Gerard Depardieu is an actor of his generation, and I think that’s what I am too, particularly in his earlier roles, maybe more so than the present. I feel that I have been trying to do the same in my era, on certain levels I can identify myself with him.
As an actor, it took 7 years to make the films and you had to be focused on this. How difficult is it as an actor to choose a role? Sometimes it doesn’t work out, the film is not as good as you expected it to be, what makes you decide to take on board a certain role?
It’s not logical at all. I think you have to trust yourself, to hear your inner voice. By the second page in the script you should really know whether you should make a movie or not – I really believe that.
If it’s your career then you better think because you have to calculate everything, you have to follow your guts. You should remember what you thought at first because usually this is the best advice.
Mesrine: Killer Instinct is released 7th August.
Tagged in Vincent Cassel