Sunday 29 October 2023

"A kind of complicity" - Part Two of Tom Ryan's 2005 conversation with Cedric Klapisch and Romain Duris rediscovered - The interview with Romain Duris


In the earlier part of this 2005 interview with director Cedric Klapisch and actor Romain Duris, Tom Ryan discussed the creation of the character Xavier who is the central character of the films L’Auberge Espagnole/The Spanish Apartment  and Russian Dolls. In this section of their conversation Tom talks to actor Duris about the role and working with Klapisch. Duris also appears in Greek Salad a  new series created by Klapisch which is streaming on Amazon Prime and was reviewed here by Peter Hourigan


 A very laidback Romain Duris (2005), a man with a very mischievous sense of humour.
Photograph by Tom Ryan.

Do you think that you and Xavier have anything in common?


During the shooting of the film, given that Xavier is a character who doubts constantly, I did get the feeling that that doubting could infect me as well as a person. But I got over that.


When did you find out that a sequel was in the works?


Very early on with L’Auberge Espagnole, we realised that it could lead to a sequel. And I expect that we’ll now do a third movie, after Xavier and Wendy have had children. But I don’t want to be Xavier every time I work with Cedric. I want to keep working with him, but I want to play other roles too. We work together really well. I look at Cedric and understand automatically what he wants next. I haven’t had that kind of complicity with anyone else.


How has he changed since you first worked with him in 1994?


He’s evolved a lot. He’s more mature in his work and, with the experience he’s gained over the past ten years, he’s become very professional in his approach while at the same time he’s always had the most wonderful carefree insouciance. He hasn’t lost the light-hearted approach that he had when he was younger. The freedom that he encourages means that you can take risks, that you’ll embrace the danger. But his vision of people, of human beings, hasn’t changed. He's somebody who likes people and it shows in his films…


Romain Duris and Cedric Klapisch during the shooting 
of Russian Dolls

How do his working methods compare, say, to Jacques Audiard or Benoit Jacquot?


Cedric’s style is always very close to comedy. He likes to be subtle about it, not to be overt and overstep the mark. Like Audiard, he likes to have inputs from others that will help the story and the characters to evolve. That’s what makes working with him such a joy. It’s real creativity.


Others, like Audiard and Tony Gatliff seem to be making films on the run. Does it feel like that to you when you’re working with Cedric? 


Audiard is the fastest. He likes things when they’re not prepared. Gatliff used to be like that, but as he’s gone on he’s become more in favour of organising things. Cedric is much more organised. He needs more time so as he can attain this undercurrent of comedy. It doesn’t happen immediately. You have to work on it. 

One of Cedric’s strengths is his desire to pursue the philosophical underpinnings of a scene, to make it light on the surface but serious underneath, which brings him very close to one of the people he admires, Fellini. Only the packaging is lightweight. The same as with a lot of the American films with Cary Grant, like the Howard Hawks ones. 


They’re comedies, but what they’re about, what they’re saying, is very powerful. They’re about the search for self. Xavier is constantly looking for something. And making mistakes all along the way. So you might take the films as philosophical tales of our times. Xavier is fortunate enough to be able to take time to ask questions of others and, most importantly, of himself. It’s a luxury. There are many for whom that would be an impossibility.

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