Denis Lavant (Boris sans Béatrice) – Interview

An interview with Denis Lavant on his role in Denis Côté’s Boris sans Béatrice, that premiered at the Main Competition of the 66th Berlin Film Festival.


An interview with Denis Lavant on his role in Denis Côté’s Boris sans Béatrice (Boris without Béatrice), that premiered at the Main Competition of the 66th Berlin Film Festival.

You are always bringing a theatrical essence to your film roles. And your role in Boris sans Béatrice is no exception. Is it something that you decide to add to your roles?

Denis Lavant: The character was like this right in the script, and at first I thought he was that Mister X who would be a quiet and well-dressed person. Then with Denis Côté we decided that he will be dressed as he is in the film, this kind of theatrical outfit and performance combined.

Can we also assume that he also some kind of subconscious that works inside of Boris mind?

Yes! Well, I’m not sure of the interpretation of the character and still I don’t know what he represents. To me he is some kind of entity that appears in Boris’ life, so he can be someone who comes in his head or someone who comes out of this world. At the same time the great intelligence of Denis Côté could bring this character back to this “normal” life because you can see him having tea with Boris’ family so you can understand that he is not an out-of-space presence at all and that he belongs to his life. He is maybe some kind of superconscious but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t belong to real life. He is that kind of superconscious you can have on a daily basis with your friends.

You are always enjoying playing an alter ego character either to the director or the main character. Is it a way to escape or to inspire your work in cinema?

I would say yes and no because it’s always the case. Even in theater you always become an alter ego, a kind of spokesperson of the author so this would be true. If you play a Moliere play or a Shakespearian role in a way you carry the poet within yourself and as Michel Bouquet – who is a famous French actor – said you eat in the head of the author and I think that is also the way when you are making a movie. You should come as near as you can to the thoughts of the director.

Your theatrical background has always been a key element to your roles. It is always memorable your dancing sequence of David Bowie’s Modern Love in Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang. Were you affected by Bowie’s sudden death?

Obviously, I was very affected by his death, because I feel there was an odd connection with him. I don’t speak English very well so I’m having difficulties in understanding lyrics in English so it was actually Leos Carax who has introduced me to music of Bowie and he explained everything to me. When I did this improvisation I really felt this strong connection with him and now I realize with his death of how important he was because he had a very specific way of linking his thoughts with his life and I feel it’s very sad.

Going back to your characters and your roles, you always seem to prefer roles that either go to the extremes or they dominate the picture even when they are smaller like in Boris sans Béatrice. Do you feel comfortable with that or would you like to have more conventional and less extravagant roles?

I always go towards rather extreme parts because I think this is where things really work for me but I don’t think that I would play a part that isn’t interesting for me. Although, I think that the world is going through an extreme situation and one can really wonder if it’s still worth it to perform a character when any day and everywhere in the world there are dramatic cinematic or theatrical extreme situations. So, this is my question, does it make sense either to perform on screen or on stage those dramatic characters when the world has gone so dramatic?

So, do you feel that by performing other personalities could also fulfill the necessity for spirituality or meditation?

Until now yes! At least I’m speaking of my personal experience of these years.


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