Yvan Attal • Director
by Paolo Menzione
- Fact and fiction meet and blend in the French actor's directorial feature debut, a comedy where he co-stars opposite his wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Yvan Attal decided to stay on "familiar" ground for his directorial feature debut. After starring in around twenty films, Attal directed himself and his real life wife, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg in My Wife is an Actress [+see also:
film profile], a hilarious comedy where fact and fiction blend.
It is no coincidence that the two protagonists of this film are called... Yvan and Charlotte. She is an actress and he a sports commentator. The premise of the film is something of a running gag whereby Yvan, the sports commentator (who we, the audience, know is also Yvan Attal the actor) decides that he cannot stand the thought of his wife, Charlotte, the actress appearing naked before millions of men. He also has a hard time thinking that his wife has to snog a different actor every day. He goes overboard when Charlotte tells him she is about to film love scenes with an one of the biggest sex symbols on the planet. And he decides to fight back, with unexpected and utterly hilarious results.
Those who are given to thinking the worst of people will be sorely tempted to say that this film is Attal’s attempt to exorcise his real life fears. "In the course of my career I have spent many-a-day naked in bed with an equally unclothed actress. I confess that it is strange to go home to my wife and pretend nothing out of the ordinary had taken place." The film was a big hit at home when it came out in November 2001 and we met with the director at today’s press conference in Rome prior to the Italian release."
Why did you decide to film such an intimate story?
"My wife and I are both actors. So it was only right that we explore a particular aspect of our profession, especially one that has such comic potential. This film is not a diary of our marriage. It is not real life, on the other hand, it’s not exactly a work of fiction either. I liked the idea of muddying the waters. "
The pace, atmosphere and dialogue are reminiscent of Woody Allen’s comedies. Who are your professional role models?
"I love the way Allen does comedy. I also adore Billy Wilder, Robert Altman and lots of other people too. They don’t make sacrifices in favour of gags. The tendency to lighten things to emphasise the lines ensures that the resulting film is very flat. The set, lights and Brad Mehldau’s music helped me give the film a certain elegance. "
Does professional rivalry ever enter your personal equation?
"In theory it could but this does not apply to Charlotte and I. At home we hardly talk about our wor, One of my wife’s greatest talents is the fact that she is never an actress 24-hours a day, even though she finds it difficult to switch off when her mind is concentrated on the character she is playing. But that is to be expected, it’s normal. Right now she is making a film with Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro (21 Grams by Alejandro González Iñárritu – editor’s note). Like the character I play in this film, I admit to feeling a vague anxiety. I only hope that the storm is soon over!"
What will you do next?
"I just finished the screenplay of a film that I hope to begin shooting after the summer. Bon Voyage [+see also:
film profile] by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, where I worked opposite Gérard Depardieu, Isabelle Adjani and Rupert Everett is scheduled for release in France in April."