A MEETING WITH NICOLAS DUVAUCHELLE - CRASH Magazine
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A MEETING WITH NICOLAS DUVAUCHELLE

By Armelle Leturcq

It was in a Thai Boxing club that Nicolas Duvauchelle was discovered in 1998, before earning a lead role in Erick Zonca’s Le Petit Voleur. Initially tapped to play boxers or hypersensitive teens, the actor eventually managed to shed this image and start playing more complex characters. Known for his instinctual and raw acting style, Duvauchelle easily carved out a space for himself in the French film world, working with major directors like Claire Denis, notably on Let the Sunshine In released in 2017. This summer we caught him in Roschdy Zem’s Persona Non Grata alongside Hafsia Herzi and Raphaël Personnaz. 

Can you talk about your background before acting?

I studied a traditional curriculum until the second-last year of school, when I dropped out. After a tough year of one odd job after another, I started Thai Boxing with André Zeitoun. As luck would have it, I ran into Antoine Carrare, a casting director who helped me get the ball rolling.

Which films or directors had the biggest impact on your life?

There are a lot, including directors like Giannoli, Corneaud, Claire Denis, Thierry Klifa or Emmanuel Finkiel. Their creative worlds, perceptions and sensibilities moved me enormously… I owe a lot to them.

What do you think Erick Zonca saw in you when he discovered you for your role in Le Petit Voleur?

I think Erick saw an inner rage in me that fit the role, a natural who never took classes…

Did that first experience give you a taste for film?  

I felt comfortable on set right away. I like the ambience and the way everyone works together to try to make the best possible film. I really like moving around from one day to the next. I could never be locked up inside an office… I’m lucky…

You were active in the Paris hardcore scene with your band Cry Havoc when you were younger. Even though you don’t make music anymore, do you still carry the hardcore spirit inside?

Yes, I still like hardcore. Not many people understand it. I think that’s what I like about it, the underground aspect and the raw, unpolished side… Most of the musicians are actually very talented on many levels. I like politically engaged lyrics and messages about the absurdity of life in the West, or about all types of injustice… Yes, I’m still a rebel, thank God – even though I’m an atheist. I’m all for individual freedom – no gods, no masters – I like the way Leo Ferré thought. I still go to concerts, especially at Le Gibus… I love it!

You recently appeared in the music video for “Naive” by Hangman’s Chair. How did that project come together? Did you know the band before filming?

Hangman’s Chair are long-time friends and when they asked me to appear in their music video, I didn’t hesitate for a second. They’re such a negative band, and I love it… We had a lot of fun!

You have appeared in several films directed by Claire Denis, including Beau Travail. Do you have any special connection with her?

Claire Denis is someone who means a lot to me, even though I don’t see her every day. I love her sensibility and her creative world. I would follow her to the end of the world – which I’ve already done several times. And I love working with women directors.

What do you expect from a director? 

I expect a director to have a vision and a plan. Anything but bullshit, I can’t stand pretentious directors. But I can’t say I have met too many like that. I like to be surprised by a director’s conviction… I’m not looking for a filmmaker, but a real director. That’s what I like, even if it’s more demanding.

What is your fondest memory on set?

I have so many fond memories on set that it’s hard to pick just one. But sometimes I feel so possessed by a role that I get stuck in it, which notably happened on A Decent Man. I was completely changed by that role. Eddy’s character stayed with me for a long time.

Have any of your roles had an impact on your life? Or did they teach you anything about yourself?

I don’t know if my roles taught me anything, but some have unsettled and obsessed me… I like the research and immersion that go into acting… It’s dangerous for your personal life sometimes, but you always come back to reality in the end…

Aside from film, do you have any other passions?

I like sports a lot, both for its physical and mental aspects… I started Brazilian jiu-jitsu two years ago… A friend introduced me to this sport and I love it. It pairs well with boxing. I like getting hurt, it makes me feel alive… It has become a real passion that allows me to get out all my frustration and negative tension. After training I feel calm and energized! Though sometimes I feel dead…

You will star in Roschdy Zem’s Persona Non Grata this summer. Can you tell me about it? How did you approach the character?

It’s my second time acting with Roschdy Zem and I love it! He offered me a wonderful part and I’m still so grateful. It’s a more mature role. The film is about two friends who commit an unforgivable act, and then gradually descend into paranoia and suspicion. I like film noir and I think we made a truly thrilling one! As childhood friends, Raphaël Personnaz and I talked a lot about it, trained hard, ate and drank together. What better way to build ties? Don’t you agree, Mr. Personnaz?

What are you working on now?

I played in Pascal Bonitzer’s next film with Sara Giraudeau, which should come out this fall. Next, I’m doing a film with Alban Lenoir, Ramzy, Stéfi Celma and Rod Paradot.

Dior Homme – Silk and wool sweatshirt, cotton and polyamide cargo pants, technical jacket in polyester, calf leather ankle boots and technical fabric
Tag Heuer – Monaco 39 mm Caliber 11 Chronograph watch

Valentino – Izumi Miyazaki print cotton sweatshirt, cotton and silk pants

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello – Laced tunic, high waist trousers, leather shoes
Tag Heuer – Leather Oxford Monaco 39 mm Caliber 11 Chronograph watch

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello – Destroy cotton T-shirt

Photographer : Bertrand Jeannot
Stylist : Armelle Leturcq
Make up : Anna Sadamori using M.A.C Cosmetics
Hair : Shuhei Nishimura using Kevin Murphy @Open Talent Paris
Stylist assistant : Pauline Grosjean

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