“I have had a connection with spirituality through Judaism since my childhood”
Did Gad Elmaleh convert to Catholicism? Invited by Culture magazine on i24NEWS to discuss his latest film “Reste un peu”, the actor and comedian cleverly maintained the ambiguity. “The answer is in my movie, so answering that question would be spoiling it,” he says with a mischievous grin.
“It’s a film that speaks more generally of a crisis that came with fifty, which is expressed by a quest for meaning and spirituality”, underlines the actor.
When Valérie Abécassis points out to him that he could just as well have quenched his thirst for spirituality in Judaism – his religion of origin – Gad Elmaleh replies that he does it daily through his study of the gemara, the mishna or of Jewish philosophy.
“I have had a connection with spirituality through Judaism since my childhood,” he says, noting that this background has “only enriched his spiritual journey and his encounter with his Christian brothers and sisters, enlightened people”.
In “Reste un peu”, built like an autofiction, each character plays his own role. The film recounts the spiritual questioning of Gad Elmaleh, attracted by Catholicism, and the reactions of those around him, starting with his parents and his sister.
Gad discusses, questions, debates, both at the family table and in front of Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, the Talmudist Pierre-Henry Salfati or a Christian sister and father. The actor-director admits that his film shows “real things and invented things”, but without specifying which ones.
What does Gad think of the commotion caused on the Web by his film and his supposed conversion to Catholicism? “I’m not crazy, I hear that it’s tense and that people in the Jewish community say to themselves ‘But what did he do, what’s going on?’. I I expected these reactions, especially since they are also those of my parents“, he points out.
While he explains that he left a lot of room for improvisation in the dialogues so that his relatives use “their own words”, his mother, Régine Elmaleh, did not chew them.
“My mother sometimes had very harsh lines, one of which, during a Shabbat meal, where she said to me: ‘If you change your God, change your family and get adopted.’ I found that very violent. , especially since she told me after the fact that she really meant what she said,” says Gad Elmaleh.
The title “Stay a bit” therefore refers a lot to the disarray of Gad’s parents who have the impression of losing their child, and who perceive his interest in Christianity as a disaster. “In the film, my parents implore me not to turn away from my family and my community,” says the actor.
While saying he hopes that the whole of the Jewish community is not concerned by “these comments, insults and hatred expressed on social networks”, Gad Elmaleh affirms “not to be accountable to anyone “. “We are free”, he says, before playing ambiguity again: “”When my childhood friends say to me ‘Mazal tov for your conversion’, I find this sentence crazy. And it’s not not true”, he says, while encouraging people to go see his film, without prejudice.
“You shouldn’t turn around and go see the film. People have to understand that it’s a comedy with lightness, madness, freshness and love”.