Guillaume Canet Interview
Guillaume Canet Interview
The opening shot is very powerful and a great start to the film. Why did you decide to do it that way and was it difficult to do?

Guillaume Canet

It was quite difficult to do because we had many, many details that made the shot complicated. Because I wanted this particular light in the morning, and it doesn't last forever because the sun is going up very fast. So we had to do those shots outside very quickly and this particular long shot outside the club and going through the streets and everything.

The best shot for me is the one that is in the film and we had a little problem. You know this guy, when he's driving away with the scooter we see another scooter going across and stopping at the light and Jean stops next to him with the scooter. And that was not organised like this at all. It was five o'clock in the morning and the guy was so drunk that he went across the cops who were blocking the streets. He didn't even see the cops, he just went across the corner of the street and goes [makes motorbike noise, mimes bleary drunken driving], like this, and stopped at the light. When we stopped next to him I was in the car with the camera and he looked at me and I said [makes angry gestures] 'Don't look at the camera!' And he was like, 'Uh?' and suddenly he looked up and he saw the camera and the guy doing the sound and he was like [mimes confused face] 'What's wrong?', 'What's going on?' And he looked up and recognised Jean Dujardin and I said [gestures to get out of shot] and he was like, 'Okay, I will go straight,' and he drove off.

It was really funny. Because I knew the shot was good and we had so many difficulties and it was a nightmare, but finally we did it. And I wanted this shot to be as smooth as possible because this shot was exactly the representation of life. You know, you live your life without questioning yourself, going slow and hiding your eyes and going like [whistles, nonchalantly] and suddenly, [claps hands] BIM! Something knocks you, because you had really bad news in your life, you have something suddenly stop the time, you know? And that's how I wanted this shot – I wanted the shot to be as smooth as possible until the accident like goes [claps hands] and the shock.
You live your life without questioning yourself, hiding your eyes and suddenly, BIM! Something knocks you...
And also because it's Jean Dujardin and we're hoping he's going to be in the rest of the film. How did you get him on board?

Guillaume Canet

Firstly, I've known Jean since the first grade and after Tell No One he called me and said, 'I would love to work with you,' because he really liked Tell No One. When I finished the script I knew we would have to have someone very charismatic and sympathetic, that you want to love. Because those [other] characters are not nice. They're totally lost. I think that if you take one of them, if you take just one of them, they can be someone very interesting and very nice. But the group together made that decision to leave on vacation - I think that if they would have been alone, they would have stayed with him in the hospital, but because they are together in this group it gives a way [out] from this guilt. I wanted to have someone like Jean being very sympathetic in front of those people who are mostly selfish and hypocritical and lost, precisely. And that's the purpose of the film, to show them lost because they are just thinking about themselves, not really asking themselves how the other one goes.

I think that Jean when he read the script understood this and I also wanted someone famous to have this surprise. I explained that to Jean and I sent him the script and I told him, 'It's really small but it's a really great character and people are going to love you and to cry for you, so please do it!' [Laughs]

And he really liked the script and he told me, 'You know, I think I'm going to be very frustrated not to be with them, I want to be their friend.' So he accepted and it was terrible, because when he came to shoot the film, that particular scene, he was really frustrated. Because he spent the day with us and we had fun, we made a lot of improvisation, when he's singing, like a transvestite, when we were on the beach, when we were at Jean-Louis' house, eating oysters. And he saw the ambiance on the set and how things were going and when he left that night he said, 'Fuck. I don't want to leave. I want to stay with them.' And that was really difficult for them too, because on purpose on the schedule I put that scene the day before the cemetery. So the day after, when they're burying him, he had left the night before and they'd had so much fun with him. So that was really difficult for everyone to say, like, 'Poor Jean ...'
Very manipulative.

Guillaume Canet

Very manipulative. I don't know any directors who are not manipulative. [Laughs] That's a part of it.
What's your next project?

Guillaume Canet

Hopefully this film that I wrote with James Gray. Otherwise I have another project, maybe in England, with the playwright David Harrower, who wrote Blackbird.
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Content updated: 19/07/2019 04:28

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