first reaction was: "Shit, it worked !" It's been
several months I didn't have heard from the Matrix people,
and then, they told me I had the role. And it was May, I was
rehearsing Berenice (a play) which I was directed and playing
a part of ! It was catastrophic.
That meant I had to find
a replacement, leave my actors, and this baby I was carrying for
so long! Fortunately, Robin Renucci accepted to replace me, and
the other actors, Didier Sandre and Christine Scott Thomas, and
producers were fantastic. Even if they kind a took it like a betrayal.
Personnally, it was torture. I believe it was the worse month and
a half of my professionnal life. Especially because I didn;t know
how important the role was. Was it worth it? Kristin even told me:
"Ok, go but if I go see the Matrix and you only play a cameo,
I'll kill you !"
"I was contacted, in
December, for some essay in France, then in January Warner Bros
called to tell me that the Wachowski brothers wanted to see me.
So I went to Los Angeles. They warned me: "it won't last more
than 20 min" et it didn't last a minute more. Afterward, like
always I didn't heard from them. I finally forgot about it and invest
myself in the Berenice project. But the Matrix hit me. I was going
to play Merovingian.
For this character, the Wachowski brothers wanted someone with a
French accent. They went to Canada, then to France. And that's how
I was contacted - I who is proud to perfectly fluent in English
had to try and play mostly in English with a terrible accent. What
an humiliation (laugh)
"The character of Merovingian
is mostly on the bad guys side - the good guys in the Matrix, we
know who they are ! But he is also kind of in the middle. Like his
wife, Persephone/Monica Belluci they are programs in the Matrix.
Merovingian can program in all language, with a preference for French
and the French accent because, like most americans he finds it very
sensual. All that I learned it only later on. Not like Monica, who
is an international star, I didn't get to read the scenario before
I got in Australia. Which didn't help?
Was it a good idea to leave Berenice for the Matrix? I only got
one thing to do now - call my friends from my room in Sydney: "So,
so? how is it over there?"
"Fortunately, Monica was wonderful. I barely knew her but she
called me from Italy to tell me she was glad to work with me:
- Your part is great, isn't it?
- I don't know. I haven't read anything.
- Really? you'll see, your role is very interesting
Well, that reassure me a bit. And I learned later on that our characters
were in the video game inspired by the movie, that was a sign! In
Sydney, Monica already got to try the costume when I finally received
the scenario with my name on each page. Be careful, secret !!
I'll always remember my first day on the set. At one point in the
movie, I have this long monologue. It's a scene where the three
heroes arrive in our castle. My character can't stop talking. The
day before, we rehearse that scene technically, only the setting.
The following days, I did some rehearsals, some essays for the costumes.
Basically, I knew no one, except Monica. After the technical rehearsal,
the Wachowskis didn't say anything, no comment. The next day, we
were filming. The first assistant comes to see me: "How about
jumping into it, to do the scene at once, entirely..." I worked
on it so much, that was the scene I had to learn for the essays,
so I told myself "ok, let's go for it!"
And then in front of the three leading characters I barely met,
the directors I barely talked to, and three hundred extras, I played
my part. I don't have to tell you, I got stage fright... But they
all got me: the crew applaude, that was recomforting...
"Astonishing, those two brothers on the set! It would be too
easy to reduce Larry, the oldest to the visual and Andy to the intellectual
aspect of the movie. It is true Andy talks more and Larry is more
phlegmatic. But suddenly, the roles change. They are like a two-headed
being. However I believe that Andy plays a greater part in the writing
regarding how his imagination is exuberant and stunning. We can
feel he likes to touch controversial grounds -just look at that
sort of sado-masochistic fascination in their univers... Larry seems
to have that incredible calm nerve system, he is like a colder psychic
machine, more rational, more technical.