It’s exhilarating, this role in “Spangled Shrimp”, isn’t it? Sing David Bowie in a swimsuit!
And Britney Spears! (Laughs) We had to learn to dance, to sing, but above all to fight against the cold. I had to go beyond my limits. We shot in Ukraine, between January and April, during the coldest periods and a lot of night by – 20 and – 25°. It was not easy! We were in jeans and sweaters and we saw the technicians bundled up in gloves and scarves… But apart from having heaters that stopped working after five minutes, there was nothing to do. So we let go and focus on our lines. And as a bonus, we all caught the covid!
Are we very far from the basins of the first film?
Yes, but the story timeline takes place over a few days, so no time for water polo. And between us, it’s also complicated to turn in the water: water polo is a kind of rugby in the pool, it’s also very physical!
Beyond the show, do you care about playing this kind of role?
It’s the first film, which shows the gay community in all its diversity, it’s important. The new character, Sélim (Bilal El Atreby), is a young man from the neighborhood who cannot assume his sexuality and has difficulty to live it. He will learn to be himself. As in the film “Ténor”, which will be released (and speaks of a young man from the suburbs who becomes an opera singer, editor’s note). We discuss social issues that affect many people. If the politicians don’t do it, the artistic community must do this job. This is France multiple and diverse.
Does Russia sound different today, as does filming in Ukraine?
Yes, it is heartbreaking. Many of the actors in the film, who speak Russian, were Ukrainians and took up arms. The one who plays the director of the center, Irina, is now hidden in the metro with her children. A 20-year-old assistant, on reserve, cooks for people who no longer have their apartment. We are in contact, we try to encourage them, to send them money… I dedicate this film to the Ukrainians and to all the oppressed.
Even if the film conveys messages, it is a “feel good” film. Is it important right now?
Yes, in these weeks of the presidential election, where we are a little disconcerted, we need that, to see a film for fun, but with substance and emotion. Homophobia, racism, transphobia: we take these themes, and we make them laugh.
You started out in the TV series, “Plus Belle La Vie”, “So be they”… Is it a good school?
Yes, and it touches me, what people send back to me. I am lucky to have played for nine years in a popular series, “Plus Belle La Vie”, of which I am very proud, which I will never denigrate. When I filmed in “Ainsiissent-ils”, by Arte, it reinforced my idea that it never stopped anyone from taking me on, even though I had come from a popular series. I proved that I was capable.
You said you suffered from racism, are you an activist?
No, not an activist but a citizen. When I hear the debate on veiled women who represent barely 1% of the population, I tell myself that there are other subjects, that this is not the debate, than ecology, feminicides, education, racism are much more important…
What are you going to do after the “Shrimps”?
I’m shooting a series for OCS, the story of a Muslim who meets a Jewess and how they are going to be separated. That too resonates today…
* “The Revenge of the Glitter Shrimps”, by Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo. In theaters.
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