How did you get Gerard Depardieu in “Robuste”? You have already worked with him on two of your short films.
Constance Mayer: It is very difficult to narrate the movie because it is so simple. It’s all about the confrontation between a disgruntled famous actor and his bodyguard. I let Gerard discover the final text. His reaction was something like, “They are two lonely characters swimming in a water basin filled with amniotic fluid.” It’s his very own way of thinking about texts.
Do you like the actor’s strange character?
Of course he said, “Oh, this guy looks a little bit like me.” But he never associates the character with himself, which I find very interesting. Of course I play with his public persona. But it’s not a biography about Depardieu. I didn’t want him to indulge in some kind of autobiographical drama. He sees George as a character who isn’t him, even though he looks like him.
Did you think about it from the start?
It was more than that! In a way, the two actors were the starting point for inspiration. The original was my desire to write something for Deborah Lokomoena and Gerard Depardieu. I don’t know why, it’s not an idea. I wanted to work with her and I wanted to work with him again. Then came the idea that she could be his bodyguard.
The film is also a behind-the-scenes look at the world of movies from an actor’s perspective. What drew you to this meta-approach?
Well, I’ve always been very amused about what’s behind it. Making a movie is a very crazy and intense process. The film has a comedic dimension and very natural poetry.
So the director in the movie isn’t like you?
The funny thing is that my husband plays this character. He is a theater actor in the Comédie-Française. When I told him I wanted him to be chosen for this character, we mocked the portrayal of every stage director and film director we know. I also belong to this category. Sometimes we get so inspired by what we say that we seem a little strange.
The film strikes a great balance between the different similarities and backgrounds of the two characters. What interests you?
At first, the two people face each other like strangers. But because they spend a certain amount of time together, some kind of intimacy grows between them without them wanting it. They are able to listen to each other and change their view of themselves and the world. Without it being an intellectual decision on my part, I just wanted the two actors to learn how to play together.
The characters are somewhat ambiguous.
I really love the mysterious characters! We’re all totally mysterious, even to ourselves, knowing the backstory doesn’t necessarily make the character more real. Honesty is something that happens the most the moment something happens.
In Austria, for the first time, there is a wide debate about MeToo in the world of films, which began years ago in France. How is the situation there and has it improved a little?
There is still work to be done, but people are starting to voice their opinions and are becoming more confident in naming bad behavior. In France we have a group called Cinquantes Cinquante, ie 50/50, which is committed to greater diversity and output. It’s great that all of this is changing.
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