At the time when hellby Claude Chabrol, took the stage, François Cluzet was already known (in particular thanks to Round Midnight, by Bertrand Tavernier), but he obviously did not have the same notoriety as today. In this detective drama where he portrayed the jealous husband of a young woman (played by Emmanuelle Béart), his convincing performance somehow stuck with him for a while.
“We thought that I could also be a psychopath in life and they hesitated to hire me because of that, he recalls during a videoconference interview. They thought I looked dangerous, which is still a compliment to my game! »
A treacherous character
Almost 30 years later, the one we saw recently in Squad (Louis-Julien Petit) jumped at the opportunity given to him by filmmaker Philippe Le Guay, with whom he had already filmed nude normandyto play a perfidious, monstrous character, who puts his personal qualities at the service of perfectly reprehensible ideas.
But who would refuse to play Richard III ? asks François Cluzet.
This role did not scare me at all, on the contrary. I felt more like a child in front of a cake, because this role is magnificent. If the actors don’t agree to represent the monsters, nobody will and we will never know how they think.
Inspired by a true story that happened to a couple of very close friends of the filmmaker, The Man in the Cellar is a thriller whose starting point is the sale of a cellar that a couple from a Jewish family, formed by Bérénice Bejo and Jérémie Renier, negotiates with a stranger (François Cluzet). This stranger says he wants to deposit his archives in this space initially intended to store things there. But the man, who spreads negationist and conspiratorial ideas, settles down to live there and refuses to leave the place.
From 6e basement floor…
Known for much brighter films, Philippe Le Guay this time embarked on a very dark story, which could not be further from the Women of 6e stage or of Molière on a bicycle.
“I wanted to change the register, explained the filmmaker to The Press. I really saw a cinematic situation in this story that had serious repercussions in the lives of my friends. It happened 20 years ago, at a time when the word plotter didn’t yet exist – we were talking more about lying and of Holocaust denial – but this story resonates even more strongly today. These people continually invite us to distrust official truth, historians, scientists, the media, in short, they are ready to destroy all instruments of knowledge. The character that François plays is also a champion of the internet. »
In this regard, the actor believes that the subject of The Man in the Cellar Couldn’t be more relevant, especially at a time when conspiratorial ideas are even being taken up by politicians.
In France, we are witnessing a resurgence of anti-Semitism and racism, now corroborated by certain candidates who no longer even hesitate to express racist ideas.
“I found this role proposal very interesting at the moment, because it is useful to show how monsters work, especially those who are not obnoxious at all times. There are times in this movie where you wonder what this guy’s true nature is because he can still be charming and smart. What I liked about this work is trying to make this character human, to avoid caricature. »
hard to hear
Echoing a reality hard to see and hear, The Man in the Cellar did not achieve the expected success with the French public, which, by the way, hardly surprised its craftsmen.
“The virtue of cinema is to entertain, in the noblest sense of the term,” says François Cluzet. Now we are more distracted. If everything was going well, there would only be dramas in the cinema, but there, as everything is going badly, people especially want to see comedies to distract themselves. That’s also why I jumped on this role. Opportunities to act in dramatic films are rarer these days. »
The Man in the Cellar hits theaters December 16. It is also offered on the Crave platform.