My 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.

" He has the ability to program in any language"

They are like two dorks, typically american (when the set is changed, which can take 2 hours, they watch basketball !) and in the same time, they are mysterious, and deep. It is a mistake to say that what's happening is a pure chance: everything is though for, mastered. Very impressive.

It was a little disturbing to see them on the set, the short one and the tall one, coming to you and telling you, one after the other, contradictory thing! In fact, it is up to you synthesize all of this! We laughed a lot at the end ot the shoot when we talked about how they were directing actors. I told them that sometimes it was even better when they didn't say a word. Really often they would just say "we'll do one more" without any indications.
It's a real pleasure for me to work oversea. I had a real feeling of freedom. It is why I wanted, for a long time, to be in a project like Matrix..My career path is peculiar, complex, slow. It took me a long time to get rid of all my fears, to assume completly who I am and understand entirely what acting is. Differently from the french, foreign directors don't have a preconcieved idea of who I am. It's really pleasant. It's like being unknown on the set. It means that you can deliver you part without wasting energy trying to overcome the idea that people have of you. It was really exciting to work with the Wachowski because the part is rich of subtlety, backgrounds... We'll see how much is going to be left in the movie at the end - I haven't seen anything yet - but to film, it was fascinating.
Of course, not all of the shooting was as interesting as the first day on the set. I had to do, for example, a fighting scene. Or to be more precise, I had to attend a fighting scene. I send my henchmen to the front and I watch them fighting. It's 3 and a half minutes long that took a month and a half to shoot. The shots that concerned me - my close-ups watching the fight - took only half an hour. But I had to be there everyday at the same place and under the same light spot...



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