With such a rich theatrical career, what drives you to return to the stage at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in this play «Les Pigeons» by Michel Leeb?
My return to the stage at Théâtre des Nouveautés, in this hilarious comedy by Michel Leeb, is a challenge, much like it was for «Le Dîner de Cons» in the cinema. Yes, Jean-Louis Barrault, my hero, had the motto «one must slap death.» Mine, in terms of comedy, is «One must slap the fools!» Which fools? Those that comedy has challenged since Molière! Laughter, on the contrary, is the nobility of theatrical, literary, and cinematic art, offering a dignified weapon to defy injustice, tyranny, hatred, and their sisters of violence and betrayal. Molière gave
birth to it. Throughout my career, I have alternated
between the great names, to slap the fools!
How do you choose the roles you perform on stage? Is there a particular character that you dream of embodying on stage?
I always reflected on what my other hero François Florent received from our master René Simon: «Could another person embody this role better than you?» Now it is understood. Who could bring to this role (legendary figures such as Le Cid, Hamlet, Don Juan, Figaro, Cyrano…) what we have never shown of it (Octave, Otto Franck…)? And a second remark, precisely after a success in a role, to surprise the audience by going where they did not expect me! La Peste then Avanti! Ruquier then Horowitz! So after Leeb, it will be completely the opposite. Drama or tragedy… moving from sunshine to moonlight.
Live theater has its own challenges. How do you mentally and physically prepare for a theatrical performance, especially for a long season like the one ahead?
I do not prepare because for almost 60 years in the profession, I have never stopped practicing it. I do not know vacations! So I am constantly working on the next role while playing another at the same time. Playing with such pleasure in these «Pigeons» of laughter, I have been working on my next role, which is as dramatic as possible, for several months. Like a soul pianist who practices scales.
What is the special connection you maintain with your audience, and what emotions do you hope to evoke in them during your performances at Théâtre des Nouveautés?
The audience is my soul food. Without them, I starve. I am here to make them savor both Shakespeare’s caviar and Guitry’s chocolate! (Smiles)
And cinema, let’s talk about it! You snub the big screen in favor of the boards. (Smiles) Will we have the chance to find you there soon?
Yes, I am returning to television in 2024 with a police series that I have been waiting for 20 years!! And in the cinema, two films, one of which will seal our reunion with my screen hero whom I have always admired: Claude Lelouch! A Lelouch-like thriller, blending comedy and suspense!
Can you tell us about your next project?
I will not reveal my next role yet (laughs). I will be performing at the Théâtre des Nouveautés until December 31st with the beautiful and talented Chloé Lambert (actress and successful author) and the hilarious Philippe Vieux, who enthuses the audience at the Hirsch. When our tour of «Pigeons» ends (from February to April 2024), the role itself will be eager for me to announce it. It is famous, and we will not be able to contain it, you will see!
What could you wish for the readers of LiFE Magazine?
I wish the readers of LiFE Magazine to cross the mirror! To regain hope in life through the world of Art. The one that keeps us standing with dignity.