Cinema: on the poster for “Canailles”, François Cluzet “assumes his rogue side” and recounts his “social revenge”

Actor, François Cluzet is remarkable for his interpretations in many films like Long live the social! by Gerard Mordillat (1983), The murderous summer by Jean Becker (1983), The trainees by Pierre Salvadori (1995), The adversary by Nicole Garcia (2002), Originally by Xavier Giannoli (2009), or even Untouchables by Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (2011). He was Caesarized for his role in Do not tell anyone, by Guillaume Canet in 2007.

The cinema, of course, but also and above all the theatre. It is really the boards that are without doubt the most beautiful refuge he has had in his life. François Cluzet is starring in the film Scoundrels by Christophe Offenstein, with whom he had already worked for the film Alone in 2013.

franceinfo: Scoundrels is the adaptation of a book that you had read, that you passed to your neighbour. And that really immediately inspired him to make a film with you.

François Cluzet : Yes, it’s by reading this novel by Iain Levison, A scoundrel and a half that I said to myself: hey, that’s a film. I’m going to have Christophe Offenstein, the director, read it, and he too found that there were characters.

‘Canailles’ is an actor’s film! It’s a detective comedy, so there’s a lot of fantasy, whether it’s from José Garcia, Doria Tillier or myself. There were plenty of things to invent, plenty of things to have fun with.

François Cluzet

at franceinfo

The story is that of a robber who meets a history teacher with no history. One is completely anarchist, he is against the system, the other is completely in favor of standardizing the system. It’s funny because this character that you embody, he is free, he has a lot of you. You have always been free…

I was lucky. It takes luck to be free. Often, I talk about my childhood which was not really very funny. And when I do it, it’s out of immodesty, but it’s also to explain resilience, then address children or adults who had a difficult childhood and tell them: we can get out of it. Well, sometimes you have to get help from a psychoanalyst, that was my case, or from friends. This freedom is endearing in this job and that’s why I had the chance to move from drama to comedy, from theater to cinema. Which means that I never got tired because as much as I love to be ridiculous, to make people laugh because I’m ridiculous and as much as I like to find emotions that I have buried like everyone else and bring them out, the movies is also a bit of a therapy.

What did you dream of as a child then?

As a child, I had a social revenge to take, so I had a lot of ambition. I wanted at all costs to get out of my environment which was miserable emotionally but also socially, for a period.

François Cluzet

at franceinfo

I dreamed of being an actor, I dreamed of being famous. I had no self-confidence so I thought about girls and said to myself: I’ll never be able to make a girl smile, I’m too small, I’m too ugly. And then there was no mirror in our house. It was my father who raised us and I never heard him compliment us on our physique, which is understandable, but nevertheless, I said to myself: I have to climb a step, otherwise I will not have not the life I dream of.

Your journey is ultimately a projection of hope. That of a little boy who lacked love, who lacked affection, who didn’t trust himself, who didn’t love himself because that’s what it’s all about. Have you learned to love yourself over time?

Yes, it was long. One day, I was shooting a first scene with Gérard Depardieu. He was walking towards a wagon and I was on the station platform. Before entering the wagon 50 meters from me, he turns around: “François, you’re like me, you don’t like yourself!“And that shocked me and I said to myself, but does this guy have a translucency or what? And finally, what allowed me to appreciate myself was the gaze of those who loved. As soon as you are loved, you wonder if the person is crazy or if you have any interest in being loved. And finally, love gives you this strength, this confidence to say to yourself “If I get better, I become kind”.

Do you doubt at times?

Yes. Nonstop. Especially on my lack of culture. They talk to me about a film I haven’t seen, they talk to me about a book, I run to buy it. We all try to escape our ignorance. We ignore our potential, we don’t exploit it and we are never convinced of the lack of knowledge that we therefore have the slightest book, even a little anecdote of nothing at all can make you dream. It is the imagination that makes us live.

So in fact, you have a small rogue side assumed ?

Ah yes, but you know, I was, in social revenge. Yes, yes, I was a thug. At 15, 16, he was fed up, especially with this shop which was in the seventh arrondissement, and as you know, in Paris, the seventh, it’s very rich. So when you are small craftsmen-traders, at some point, the people you see passing by, they make you envious. And so it makes you want to get out of the legality by asking you how I can cheat my world to have pocket money?

Does that mean the Simon lessons that came when you were 17 saved you?

Yes. When I arrived at Cours Simon, pushing open the door, putting my hand on the door, I had a kind of revelation that my life was going to change. It’s completely crazy, but there’s something quite witty about it. And then afterwards, when I entered, I saw that there were 250 of us, including 200 girls, and for me, who had been brought up between my brother and my father, it was a revelation! In my time, at school, there were no girls in the classes. It was a revelation, because just to see the girls on stage play, how they were, we saw them better than in life since they were raised by the stage and, that too, it was a revelation of joy , to say “Here my life begins!”.

Cinema: on the poster for “Canailles”, François Cluzet “assumes his rogue side” and recounts his “social revenge”