NEXT GENERATION: AN INTERVIEW WITH CORENTIN FILA
By Crash redaction
Photo : Checked jumper FENDI, cargo pants G-STAR RAW, sleeves RAF SIMONS
Having made his acting debut in André Téchiné’s film Quand on a 17 ans, which came out in 2016, Corentin Fila is relatively new on the scene. Nevertheless, he has proven his talent, embodying characters with an extreme sensibility and ease, from his first role to his latest stint in the film Jalouse by the Foenkinos brothers. As part of a new wave of promising French actors, Fila is intriguing and will, without a doubt, be the next big thing. Crash wanted to discover a bit more about the actor. Read our exclusive interview below.
You started your acting career quite late, what sprung this desire to act ?
I never went to the theater until I happened to stumble upon a Peter Brook play at Les Bouffes du Nord, The Suit. That was in 2013. I was struck at the time by the almost mystical energy of these South African actors, a real revelation for me. I played in that same theater three years later, it was a very strong moment.
You shot your first film with André Téchiné for Quand on a 17 ans, how did that first experience go? Did you build a strong bond with the rest of the team?
It was a crazy feeling, I had no experience in front of the camera and ended up shooting for months with one of the masters of French cinema. I had great chemistry with him, it was very instinctive. I was quite close to Sandrine Kiberlain too who is a radiant person with a very kind heart. Kacey became my best friend, we often go on vacation together. Even our girlfriends became quite close !
In the film, you play the role of a breeder’s son, a character closely linked to nature. As a city boy in Paris, how did you prepare for this role?
It’s true that I wasn’t accustomed to cows before the shoot, it’s a pretty impressive animal. Just before shooting, André sent me to do a one-week internship in an isolated farm in the Pyrenees mountains with a family of incredible old-fashioned breeders. The life they lead is incredibly hard. Small breeders today work so hard to earn almost nothing, it’s very hard.
Your character is seventeen years old in the film, was it difficult for you to play such a young man? Did Tom have any similarities to you at his age?
I was almost ten years older than the character at the time, it does sound crazy. I hate to look so young in real life but I’ve always had a childlike face so with a small backpack on my shoulders and a well-shaved chin, it does the trick. I am the opposite of this character at first glance, he is completely introverted, solitary, can’t express what he feels and is violent. In reality, I like being around a lot of people, partying and I think I have a certain ease in expressing my feelings with people. Nevertheless, when I was a child, alone in my room, I had the same melancholy as he did, I was sometimes very sad…
You’ve said you wanted to work with Jim Jarmusch. What fascinates you in his films? More generally, what do you prefer in cinema?
He is so talented. His world speaks to me, if he made a 48-hour movie, I wouldn’t be bored watching it for a second, I’m not exaggerating at all. His first movie Permanent Vacation or Stranger than Paradise are so poetic. Melancholy, rock’n’roll and beauty is inborn to him. Everything I love about cinema is in Jarmush’s movies. Ah, and he’s very funny too.
You’ve modeled a bit before you got into acting. What do you remember about this experience? Did it allow you to develop the way you occupy space?
Yes, but modeling is very different from acting, it’s more about attitude than embodiment. It’s true, it might give the body a certain ease in space, or maybe it was already there, I’m not sure. I think I’ve been successful as a model more because of my presence than because of my looks, which were not exceptional compared to the majority of the guys I met back then. It’s certainly not because I was a model that I became an actor. I find myself much more legitimate as an actor than as a model.
Your father was a director and documentary filmmaker, what memories do you keep of his work? Did he convey his taste for images to you?
I have a strange relationship with my father, I haven’t seen him in years and I haven’t seen the majority of his films. Nevertheless, I have a lot of admiration for him and I think I look very much like him because of my character, we have the same kind of energy. When I was a child, evenings at home were often shared with a lot of great African artists in my living room who questioned the world in heated debates. They didn’t pay much attention to me but I was there all the time, I liked to watch them before going to bed. And then, when I was very young, I attended editing sessions and one of his film shootings, but I have almost no memories of that. I still imagine that it had an impact on me, one way or the other.
You attended the Cours Florent, it was your introduction to acting. Do you think acting is profession that you learn, that you hone in school?
The free class of the Cours Florent is an excellent formation, it is a very selective class of about twenty students selected on competition among two thousand candidates. I think you learn to work mostly. Presence, and acting is innate, what you learn is the language of a scene, you learn to trust yourself as an actor to be responsive to the feedback that your director can give you. It’s a fairly introspective job, sometimes it’s violent when you bare your soul and give everything you are and they tell you that you’re not getting it. To be able to hear criticism and bounce back on constructive proposals, are things that are acquired with work but, of course, acting can’t be taught. You know how to act or you don’t, it comes from childhood, deep inside of you. There are lots of wonderful actors who have never been to a specific school.
You played in the film Mes provinciales which will be released next April, in which you’ll see a lot of other talented young actors. How did this experience unfold? Did the subject of the film particularly speak to you?
Mes provinciales is also selected at the Berlinale in February in the Panorama section, that’s really cool ! This film by Jean Paul Cyverac is very beautiful, very delicate and everyone is just, touching. It is a film about cinema, about art and especially about youth. My character in the film is probably closer to me than the ones I’ve been playing so far so it echoed yes. It was a beautiful experience, a bit special for me because I was simultaneously shooting the film Jalouse by the Foenkinos brothers, with a bunch of other young talented actors. It was quite crazy. Diane Rouxel, Sophie Verbeck, Jenna Thiam for example, are all very strong even if we already knew their faces. I think the two big revelations are Andranic Mannet who is the star of the film and Gonzague Van Bervesselès who has just started acting. We’re all going to Berlin for the festival, it’s going to be a lot of fun. The release is planned for April 18th in France.
What are your future projects and those you would like to accomplish?
I play in Hélène Fillière’s film Volontaire with Diane Rouxel (her again!), Lambert Wilson and Alex Descas. It will be released at the end of 2018. It’s set in the world of commandos and, with Diane, we had to do a short internship with the naval commandos at FORFUSCO in Lorient, it was crazy ! Unfortunately, I can’t speak about other projects that are not yet shot. Otherwise I plan to have a good time in Cuba with my girlfriend Daphné Patakia (who, by the way, should have been nominated at the Césars for her incredible role in Tony Gatlif’s DJAM) so I anticipate a little and I started to salsa, I don’t want to be humiliated in a salsa club there. All the men are very handsome over there, so if I can’t at least be a good dancer, I’m afraid to return to Paris without her. Otherwise, even if I don’t really think of it as a project, with Daphne we dream of shooting a movie together. A Jim Jarmush film would be amazing.
Talent: Corentin Fila @ ak communication
Photographer: Sylvie Castioni Creative direction / styling: Julien Mazzoli
Interview by Alice Butterlin.