Benoît Poelvoorde Romantics Anonymous Interview Cast: Isabelle Carré, Benoît Poelvoorde
Director: Jean-Pierre Améris
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Running Time: 80 minutes
Synopsis: Jean-René (Benoît Poelvoorde), the boss of a chocolate factory, and Angélique (Isabelle Carré), a talented chocolate maker, are two highly emotional people. Their shared passion for chocolate brings them together and they both fall in love with each other, without daring to let on.
Unfortunately, their pathological timidity tends to keep them apart. But they'll overcome their lack of self-confidence, at the risk of revealing their feelings. So whether they will manage to get together, join their solitudes and live happily ever after is a guessing matter. A classic French romantic comedy that's truly touching and genuinely funny, with just the right amount of romance versus life, love and chocolate.
Release Date: April 5, 2012
Interview with Benoît PoelvoordeQuestion: How did you get involved with the project?
Benoît Poelvoorde: Isabelle Carré, with whom I'd previously made Entre Ses Mains by Anne Fontaine and really enjoyed working with, called me to tell me about Jean-Pierre's project. He didn't dare contact me himself. I read the screenplay and I really liked it. I told Isabelle who in turn told him but a few weeks went by and surprisingly, I still hadn't heard anything from Jean-Pierre. I talked it over with my agent whom we share, and my agent said that his behaviour wasn't surprising given the autobiographical nature of the film. When you know to what extent the film is autobiographical, you can better understand the situation. He finally called me two weeks later and everything was fine!
Question: What drew you to the project?
Benoît Poelvoorde: I never imagined Romantics Annonymous could exist as a film. When I first read the screenplay, I thought it was an excellent idea. I think that everyone is more or less emotional but when it's to that extent, it's a real handicap. Then I met Jean-Pierre who told me about his experiences and about the discussion groups that are so useful to those who suffer from this condition, and the whole project took on a new dimension. It is an extremely well written story, which also offers something deeper that could really help a lot of people. The film is a comedy that draws upon a little-known reality, which only served to make the film more interesting. The idea of working with Isabelle Carré again was also very appealing to me. She's an exceptional woman and an excellent acting partner with whom it is very motivating to work.
Question: How did you approach your character, Jean-René?
Benoît Poelvoorde: I really liked the idea of playing this kind of character. Jean-René isn't shy, he's panicking. It's not stuttering, it's not hesitation - it's something else: He's paralysed by fear. He had to be portrayed as being always on the edge. It wasn't easy but it was fascinating. Having seen his other films, I also knew that Jean-Pierre was going to tackle this one in a very delicate way. To get into the character, I often used what I saw in Jean-Pierre. I didn't try to imitate him but he sometimes inspired me. Fortunately, Jean-Pierre laughs more than my character but during moments of doubt, when he has to take decisions, they do have some points in common. Like my character, he has this impulse towards other people, all the while maintaining a distance. This again gives rise to tiny fractures, to discrepancies. With him, you have to watch out more for what you feel than what you see.
Question: How did you approach the acting?
Benoît Poelvoorde: I play all my characters literally. I throw myself into the scene and into the moment. The director locates the scene in its context for me so as not to lose the coherence of the story and then - if the casting is spot-on, if the costumes are right and the sets are appropriate - all you have to do is slip into character.
Question: Were there any scenes you were particularly looking forward to playing?
Benoît Poelvoorde: I relished all the comedy scenes that take you further, those ones that make you laugh but which reveal something touching. For example, when Jean-René doesn't answer the telephone during his first meeting with Angélique. I really liked that scene. All the scenes of embarrassment - the dinner or in the alleyway when he takes her hand - all those situations were really appealing to me. And performing them with Isabelle was a further pleasure. We started by filming the scenes at the psychiatrist's and I was immediately right into the character.
Question: What do you have in common with Jean-René?
Benoît Poelvoorde: I'm not like him but we all have things in common with both the characters in the film. They trigger empathy but there's some way to go between that and actually being like them. Women don't scare me. I like this kind of role because it allows me to express my most vulnerable side but also make people laugh. I don't think I'm emotionally challenged. We often mistake modesty for shyness. I'm modest but I'm not shy.
Question: What memories will you retain of Romantics Anonymous?
Benoît Poelvoorde: There were a lot of high points but I think the scene when Jean-René arrives at Emotions Anonymous and speaks to Angélique left the biggest impression on me. He dares to make a confession. He dares to reveal an attachment and a vulnerability.