Was your role in Immediate Departure difficult to play?
Well, you know, I love Bergman a lot. And I had seen a film by Bergman called The Silence. It's with Ingrid Thulin, whom I absolutely adore as an actress. And I'd seen this amazing long scene with her in a train. In this whole film, they actually don't speak. And I find that it's very rare to have young directors who work on mystery. Of course, when you're an actor, speech is important. It's one of your media. And to have that medium cut off is very interesting, because - obviously - you have to express everything through your eyes and your gestures, and be credible. I liked Immediate Departure, because I thought the part was very subtle and touching. I don't know what the film is really about. I think there are many interpretations. You can interpret it the way you want. It's a very open film.
Exactly. I think that's one of its finest qualities. I was wondering what your own interpretation is of the moment when - after Bruno Lochet gives you the tissue and you dry your eyes - you look at him for the first time and he feels very uncomfortable and leaves. What is your interpretation as to why he leaves at that moment?
The film tells about somebody who can feel what someone else is feeling, sees a light in this person and is drawn to this person. He makes a gesture towards this person and goes toward her. Sometimes in life, people whom you don't know or people whom you know help you and are very kind to you, and in a way, you hold it against them. All of a sudden, in her intimate moment with herself, the character I play realized that this guy had been observing her, not quite as a voyeur but still... This man had actually been staring at her at a very intimate moment, in a sad moment, and maybe she felt that he could read more than what was there. You always feel that, when you're facing someone and you're having a problem. I don't know if I'm making sense...
You're making perfect sense.
I think that sometimes in life when someone makes a gesture towards you, to help you, sometimes human nature is ambiguous, and I thought that was interesting.
I understand that you had to work very quickly when shooting the scene on the train. And Thomas Briat told me that you were extremely professional. That at the first take, you did exactly what he was hoping. Was it difficult to have to work so quickly? Or are you used to that?
I think we live in a time when time has really been reduced and it's a great pity because it's at the expense of quality. And obviously, as an actor, you need time. But it's interesting, because now as an actor, whenever you work on television or on films, people want things immediately. So technically, you have to live up to that. It's interesting, but it's also very frustrating because you always feel as an actor that you're never satisfied with your work and that you can go deeper. Sometimes, urgency can be very good, because it can be a great motivator. You know, working under pressure when there's only time for one take, sometimes it can give amazing results. But when it's systematic, I don't think it does your work as an actor a lot of good. That's why I like the teater a lot, also, because you can develop your character, you can go further. Every night, you can think about your character. Whereas, it's very frustrating when you work in the cinema... Although I love film, once it's in the can, it's in the can, and you rarely go back and do the scene again. And oddly enough, you want it to mature, the thing that you've done, and you think about it and you say to yourself: "Oh no, I should have done it this way, I could have done this and I could have done that." So its very frustrating to stop after only one or two takes.
Is there one thing in particular you especially like about Immediate Departure?
What I like is that there is a lot of mystery. He doesn't give you the answers. He lets you find your own answer. Today, a lot of directors give the answer and take the audience for dumb people and don't respect the depth of the audience, because today everything has got to be commercial and that's why I like people like Bergman a lot. When they did films, they never said to themselves: "How many people are going to go and see my films?" They thought: "Is this film, is this theme I am working with interesting? Is it going to be a good film?" That's what we as artists should be concerned with - making a good film, not how many people are going to see it, or think in commerical terms because you kill art when you do that. And I think especially in short films, you can experiment, because you haven't got the constraints of huge production costs. So I like the film because I think there's a lot of mystery and its evocative.
Paris, 17 October 1997