How did your reunion with Quentin Dupieux go?
Alain Chabat – We hadn’t lost sight of each other, because Quentin and I regularly give each other news and we bump into each other from time to time. But we haven’t been on a set since Realityin 2014, because in At office ! I was content to let out a cry. I am always happy to join him on his projects, because everything speaks to me in his cinema. His screenplays make me laugh a lot, they are remarkably well written and he has a very masterful sense of framing and editing. He is a director who takes risks, tackles interesting subjects and produces unique works. Although we always recognize his style and his vision, he always manages to tell his stories in a new way. It’s impressive to see that each of his films is different, but that all look like him.
What was your reaction to reading the script ofIncredible but true ?
Alain Chabat – Quentin always sends me his scripts without telling me, to keep the element of surprise intact. I liked what this one told about time, the couple, youth, old age and the way everyone manages with the passing years. But, in the first place, I laughed a lot and this scenario confirmed to me how much this filmmaker is a goldsmith of dialogues. I tend to be annoying on this part and I often modify my lines, but there, there was nothing to complain about: I was just eager to play the text to the word and the comma close so it was perfect! Besides, on his set, we don’t improvise, because, on paper, everything sounds right.
How joyful was it to find Léa Drucker?
Alain Chabat – It’s always nice to work with such a talented partner again. Léa is an incredible actress. I was amazed by the way she had built her role and by the skill with which she had managed the fluctuations in character of her character, despite shooting scenes out of order. The same goes for Anaïs Demoustier, who signs a hilarious performance here, and Benoît Magimel, a magnetic actor who is so sincere that he is as powerful in drama as in comedy. He landed on this shoot just after In his lifetime, by Emmanuelle Bercot, who had asked him for a significant physical investment since he had lost a lot of weight, and he came back with a completely different figure and an improbable look. But, in general, you should know that working with Quentin is very pleasant. Loving that things go well, he spreads a joyful and relaxed atmosphere on his set. The work is demanding, but it does not add pressure where it is not needed and does not create a toxic relationship. It’s always precise, he knows what he wants. If it is sometimes said that his films are very offbeat, this one is really likely to appeal to the greatest number.
It evokes the relationship to age. And you, how do you live the passing of time?
Alain Chabat – Quite calmly. Based on the principle that it is a privilege to grow old, I try to learn from my failures in order to improve myself. With age, certain priorities become clearer, we realize that we have less time to waste. But we also realize that our mistakes have taught us certain things or that they were linked to a bygone age and period. In short, like everyone else, I make sure to learn from my experiences.
Do you become more reasonable over time?
Alain Chabat – No, I do not think so. I am for some things, and for others, less. I continue to smoke, for example, I know it’s bad but I can’t stop. However, my outlook changes as I get older. Certain aspects of my life which could appear to me, younger, as a due now seem to me to be privileges, or at least things which are cultivated and maintained. I am thinking of friendships or family relationships which, when people disappear, make you regret not having been more present. Today, I am more attentive to this.
I tend to be annoying on the dialogues and I often modify my lines
How did it feel to become a grandfather?
Alain Chabat – Very fun! Well, of course, the first ten minutes, saying out loud that I was a “grandfather” made me look a little old, but happiness very quickly took over, because it’s extraordinary to see his children grow and the family grows.
After Incredible but trueyou found Dupieux for Smoking makes you coughpresented in a midnight session at the Cannes Film Festival…
Alain Chabat – Quentin is indeed quite prolific and, in his next film, he asked me to play the leader of the Tabac Force, these vigilantes played by Anaïs Demoustier, Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Lacoste and Jean-Pascal Zadi. I was very happy to shoot with him again and to present the film at Cannes, especially since this passage on the Croisette also allowed me to go and kiss my friend Pierre Lescure, who was living his last edition this year in as President of the Festival.
In Cannes, you presented an animated film in which you lend your voice to René Goscinny. What does it represent for you?
Alain Chabat – Laurent Lafitte lends his voice to Jean-Jacques Sempé and I to René Goscinny, who had a major influence in many areas. I am always amazed by his writing, which is both very accessible and very sharp. There are so many levels of reading in his works that they are able to reach the greatest number, from the youngest children to the most erudite adults and even people who are not a priori sensitive either to the subject or to comics. . And by immersing myself in the albums, I still very often discover valves that had escaped me.
Also to discover: Alain Chabat in “#JeSuisLà”: “For me, the human comes first”
Is that why you went back to an adaptation project?
Alain Chabat – All of his works are indeed an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me. After bringing to the screen Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra in 2002, I’m currently working with Netflix on a 3D animation miniseries adapted from the album byAsterix the Battle of the Leaders. It’s exciting, because it allows me to really immerse myself in the world of animation and to collaborate again, in particular with Benoît Oullion, with whom I wrote the sketches for Burger Quizand Piano (Pierre-Alain Bloch), with whom I created the miniseries Have you ever seen… ? An adventure which keeps me actively occupied and which combines both my taste for comics and cinema.
Incredible but true: out June 15. Le Petit Nicolas…: release on October 12. Smoking makes you cough: coming out soon.