How did you approach the adaptation of Blueberry for cinema? I never wanted to literally transpose the comic strip, nor create a classic Western, even if I’ve watched about 70 or 80 to learn the rules of the genre and make an epic film which carries the audience away.

I’d read the Blueberry cartoon books and I said “Ok, we’re not going to distort that, we’re going to take it, play around with it and create something else”. I needed to forget the cartoon strip to be able to set the creative process in motion.

Actually during filming, I sometimes totally forgot it was Blueberry I was adapting. The secret experiment in the film is Mike Blueberry’s attempt to reconcile the two worlds, the Western world that he represents and the Indian world where he spent part of his childhood. To do this, he embarks on an initiatory quest, living an adventure within his very self that will change him forever. It is an episode that Möbius himself could have written.

But everything that happened, happened with Jean Giraud’s agreement of course; even if I had taken lots of liberties with the character I needed Jean to accept my contribution. I made him read the film’s script and I asked him to be sincere in sharing his comments. If there had been the slightest problem with it, all the character’s names would have been changed so Jean didn’t feel betrayed.

How do you perceive Mike Blueberry’s character?

Blueberry is a guy who works for the army, the law, the police – a sheriff, he’s a police officer really – but besides that he’s a bit odd, he has always been a little bit on the fringe of things.

I like his indiscipline, how he’s capable of refusing a mission, of disobeying orders.

He has real independent spirit and yet profound discontentment at the same time; you sense he has a heavy past which is all in the great tradition of a western hero.

He’s quite a free character when you think of the era and the context he’s in, deep down he has a strong soul.Several script writers worked with you on the script. How did this writing phase come about?

At the start, producer Thomas Langmann suggested teaming up with Gérard Brach, a faithful collaborator of Roman Polanski.

I thought this was an excellent idea. Me and Gérard got on really well, I was staggered by his way of working; he masters technique sufficiently well to be able to totally forget it and at the same time he leaves a huge amount of room for intuition in his way of writing, it seems to me that his thoughts weave intricate patterns…On meeting him – we worked together for a year – I abandoned a lot of received ideas on the script’s unimaginative side.

However, on tackling shamanism we hit a stumbling block, it was a subject that neither of us knew much about. I realised that despite everything I’d read about it, I didn’t have enough accurate knowledge of what a shaman is on a daily basis.

I had to do some research. From that point on I continued my research alone by going to meet shamans in Mexico and Peru… During each of these trips I discovered new realities which transformed my perception of things and helped feed the script.

Afterwards scriptwriters Matt Alexander, Gérard Brach and David Scinto got involved with the writing aspect…Why did you introduce this shamanic dimension into Blueberry’s universe?
Because in the world we live in, we tend to say that only one reality exists.

I wanted to challenge this received idea by showing another reality, the reality explored by Indians. Our culture masters the material dimension well but not so much the spiritual dimension.

For the Indians it’s almost the opposite; their culture broaches fundamental questions like nature, reality or consciousness in a sophisticated way, which makes us appear like primitives in comparison!

Did you show the shamans the images of the visions you had tried out for yourself?

First of all I gave them the drawings I had had done. They could identify their universe in them perfectly, sometimes they commented on certain details that needed to be exact and that to them weren’t accurate. Then I showed them the film, they authenticated it and we recorded shamanic songs specific to each scene.

Saying that, my ambition wasn’t to stick too closely to shamanic reality. As it’s a fiction film I allowed myself poetic licence and invented a lot of things.

The movie was filmed in English. Had there been talk of producing it in French?

For this type of film English seemed the obvious language; it wouldn’t be logical to film the western in French. I wrote it in French, we then had the script translated and adapted with me perfecting my English at the same time.

In fact, working in English didn’t cause me any problems because I had produced a lot of adverts in Anglo-Saxon countries in the past.

The casting reserves a surprise in that you have a small part in the film?

I had said that I should play the part of village idiot, I was told jokingly, no problem, Mexico is teeming with them… so I said, “Ok, I’ll do it, I’m a frustrated actor…” That’s how I found myself playing a small part in the film. People who weren’t involved in the film who came on set at that moment were really surprised, wondering who this guy was, this tramp who dared speak to the actors and nobody stopping him…

Today I’m an overjoyed actor as I’ve played opposite Vincent Cassel, Michael Madsen, Ernest Borgnine and Juliette Lewis but also two shaman: Maria Pastan Biri and Kestenbetsa to whom I have dedicated this film!