Guillaume Canet Interview
Guillaume Canet Interview
French actor, writer and director Guillaume Canet has been a part of the French and international film industry for over 15 years. With a role in Danny Boyle’s The Beach in 2000, he has gone on to star alongside the likes of Gerard Depardieu, Sophie Marceau, Marion Cotillard, Keira Knightley and Diane Kruger, whom he was married to for five years. Renowned for his cinematic multi-tasking, he both wrote and directed Tell No One 2006 adapted from Harlan Coben’s novel which went onto win several awards.

With Little White Lies about to hit the cinema, which he also wrote and directed, Guillaume Canet was in London to talk to View’s Matthew Turner about taking his inspiration from real life and how it can be tricky working with old friends.

Where did the idea come from?

Guillaume Canet

I always wanted to do a friendship movie, since a really long time. And I realised after spending a week with some friends on vacation – actually where we shot the film – that you can spend time with some friends without really going in deep in conversation, you know? Like, you're having fun, you're joking around but you don't really ask the other one if he's feeling fine. And by this time, I was not feeling that well and I realised that nobody would care. And so that was the start of the subject for me.

And also because I always wanted to do a movie about those little lies. Those little lies that you don't want to recognise, the things that you don't want to say to the other one because you don't want to hurt them. You don't want to hurt yourself too, by recognising some bad sides of you and pretending that everything is fine. It's like the dust that you put under the carpet and you just pretend that everything is fine and you just let go.

So those two subjects, about the lies and about the friendship came together and I realised it would be a good idea. And also things that happened in my life, like the loss of a friend and everything that brought me to talk about this subject of enjoying life and enjoying the people that you have around you while there's still the time. And telling them that you love them and your friends and your family while there's still time. So all those ideas came together and made me write the script in five months, which was totally crazy because I was feeling that the whole film was already written in my head.
Sometimes it was difficult because I wanted to be part of it, I wanted to have fun with them but I had to have the bad role...
And had you always planned to write something that you would direct yourself?

Guillaume Canet

No, I mean, yeah. It would be impossible – not impossible, but it's really difficult for me. For me, it was sure that I would direct it. But right now I'm writing a script that I'm going to play [act] in the film. It's really weird, because when I'm writing, I'm writing, and for example, [with] Little White Lies, I was writing and at the same time I had another page on which I was doing all the cut of the film, every shot. I was listening to the music and I said, 'Okay, well, this music with this shot' and everything. So it's really complicated right now for me, because I'm writing that script and I cannot -
You're not going to get to do that?

Guillaume Canet

Yeah. So, it's difficult.
You're not tempted to also direct the film you're going to act in?

Guillaume Canet

Er, yes. They proposed me but it would be too much time – too much work. I'm too tired now.
You said it started off with a personal experience that you had on holiday when you sat there and had that realisation. It's also personal because it's quite close to life, the whole group of actors that you had are all close friends of yours.

Guillaume Canet

Yes.
You even spent, I think a week or three days in the house, prior to filming to spend time together and get that vibe and everything. So it must have been quite difficult, being separate from the group. Where you ever tempted to actually just get in there and be part of the experience as well?

Guillaume Canet

That was really difficult, because I've been friends with them for many, many years. And I wanted to have this complicity between them, I wanted to have these lives between them. So on the one hand it's really good for this but on the other hand it's really complicated because you bring together all these people who've known each other for a really long time and they have a lot of fun, being in a bathing suit, on the beach or on the boat. And [as the director] you have the bad role, because you had to remind them sometimes that you're making a film.

And they know you very well, so they know exactly what you're talking about in the film, which is good, because it's a big advantage, but sometimes it was difficult for me to ask them to bring some life into the scene and when I would say “Cut!” they had to stop, they are not machines.

So I would come to direct them but they wouldn't listen to me, so I was like, 'Gilles, shut up!' And you wouldn't say something like this to an actor but because you've known him twenty years and you're just like, 'Shut up!' and [he'd] say, 'What? How are you talking to me? I'm your actor! Get the fuck out of here with your film, you're bothering us!' And so we had some friction sometimes, because we all know each other very well.

So sometimes it was quite difficult for me because I wanted to be a part of it, I wanted to have fun with them and say, 'Oh yeah, that scene was so great,' but it was not good for me, it was not good enough, so I had to have the bad role.
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Content updated: 15/12/2017 04:18

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