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[INTERVIEW] The team in the FACE of THE DEVIL

We cannot say that the web series is still particularly well-developed in the French audiovisual landscape. Usually, one associates it rather with a kind of delirium among friends. It is indeed as started by The Visitor of the future, one of the web-series the most popular today. Not only that, it was seven years ago. And over the seasons we could notice a real evolution. The web series has grown so, and the group France Television, has specialized in through the box production Studio 4, which is constantly developing new projects. Later, in the Face of the Devil, a political drama dare that reveals the behind the scenes of party fictional the far right (to discover here). The exercise is delicate but Gilles Daniel, his creator, was able to avoid falling into a stereotype easy to deal with the racism. He manages to make the protagonists of ideas monstrous, without preventing that one can develop for them some affection. Accompanied by his interpreters, Henri Guybet (Philippe Legrand), Olivier Chantreau (Hugo Bernal) and Adele Simphal (Mercy Legrand), he is back with us on his work of writing, on how to deal with these characters so special, and on the issue of racism.

Our critique of the FACE of THE DEVIL

 

In the Face of the Devil is a short series, with ten episodes of seven minutes. How was the writing ?

Gilles Daniel : generally it is necessary to have a global vision to write. After that you should think about the pace of the episodes. There, I had the idea of the trajectory of the series and the characters. I then thoughts on how to adapt to the constraints of budget, and decorations that are limited to a few parts. In the Face of the Devil it often has characters talking on the sofas or around the offices. So this is really where I had to work. So I studied the series who sang these situations, such as Halt and Catch Fire , for example. I observed how it was happening, the number of plans, and I tried to take a little bit of the structure.

 

At the same time the series works as a film.

G. D : Yes exactly. And besides, we realize that those who watch the series, watch it in general, as a whole, deals with almost. Therefore, the issue of the cliffhanger, which was a front for the web-series who want the public to return to the next episode, is no longer really the place to be. Here, people especially want to know the end.

The series follows a far-right party, and the people who comprise it. Henry, how have you addressed this very particular role that is not without reminding us a certain personality in French politics ?

Henri Guybet : In fact, the profession of an actor it is a game and we get in it for the fun of it. The exciting thing is to try to give the illusion that we are this character. I remember Michel Bouquet, in a film, played a police officer a little rotten. I was in the cinema and suddenly someone behind me blurted out : “that’s that bastard ! “. I said to myself, “gee, the guy believes in it”. And that it is wonderful to be able to make believe. I work thus really with this mentality.

 

This leads you to ask you about the extreme right in France ?

H. G : I remember this sentence of Bertolt Brecht : “The belly is still fertile from which has arisen the filthy beast “. For me what kind of people live only on demagoguery. This species of science is to make people dream, to show them that, thanks to their ideas nebulae they are going to have a world of hope and hope is wonderful. This allows them to avoid looking a little too close to the truth and common sense. It is the policy of the ” blame it on the… “. Me I call it the orgasm of the wicked. Because they have pleasure to demolish the world and society, just because it is the fault ” to “.

G. D : After a lot of thinking to the French situation, but when you look at Donald Trump in the United States, or what is happening in Austria, we find leaders who have that kind of thoughts. They are everywhere. And even in the series. As Borgen ‘s happening in Denmark, and in particular makes the scene a leader of the extreme right. So first of all it makes you think of things you know. But it is not aimed at anyone, after that there will may be some who will identify with it.

 

And that is the character of Mercy, the little daughter of Philippe Legrand ?

Adele Simphal : Clemency in the story really doesn’t have a political conviction. She finds herself a little in spite of herself there. It is an heiress, she has always bathed in this universe, but I’m not sure that she shared really the ideas of the great father. What I found interesting is that she has ideas a little new that upset the family.

G. D : Yes, for example it is not against the abortion, she is not hostile to ecology or to pornography, or at least eroticism. It is really of its time.

A. S : I will even say that it will re-energize the speech.

 

It is what allows you to have a certain empathy for her.

G. D : of course, even if one takes all of his dialogues end-to-end, Clemency is not openly racist.

Olivier Chantreau : there is a part of scrabble where it is loose. (laughter)

A. S : Yes, but for Leniency, it mainly has a deep desire to cause the people of his entourage.

 

It is not in a deep antipathy toward Philipe.

H. G : And this is where the perfidy of the author, to make people horrible with a suit of good people. But because of the racism, in some people, this behavior is quite natural. For them, it is a no-brainer.

O. C : And chase the natural, it returns to the gallop ! (laughter)

 

This should not be obvious all the same to have characters that are offensive without losing the viewer.

G. D : There was a lot of asked the question to make them sympathetic or not. I think that it was necessary to approach the subject. And for a time, as if it was quite normal. If one wants to understand and fight against these ideas, we can’t continue to represent them as nazis, it won’t work. As a result, it creates feelings of ambiguity. But in the background it is normal that in a series of villains can be sympathetic. We invented nothing at this level.

O. C : most Importantly, I believe that there is a racism a little ” dad “. At least for the character played by Henri. So that if we take William, the young lieutenant of the party, there is something much more cynical. Because it is in something much more elaborate. It sells the same project, but wrapped in a more accessible language. It is this that makes the character more dangerous.

 

Compared to the characters of Hugo and of Mercy, we are a little surprised to see them get closer in spite of their opposing ideas.

O. C : In fact, for Hugo it all starts with the loss of the ideal in the left party. Hence we can understand that all of a sudden there is a kind of attraction for the enemy. It could also be a kind of curiosity to go to see the behind-the-scenes. But at the beginning it is pure coincidence. After there is a gear, there is a question of love and, very quickly, it will lose the foot.

A. S : What is interesting between Clémence and Hugo it is the confrontation of ideas precisely, to see how the characters influence each other and evolve. These are not characters so caricatured in this sense, they do not remain static.

 

Is there a difficulty to play such characters ?

A. S : Somewhere, as it is a fiction, for the actor it’s still an adventure. And it is interesting to go to something that is not. So it’s rather a excitement that fear.

H. G : I have to say that when I read a first excerpt of the script, I said that this was not for me. But after all, I believe that it is necessary to take this character horrible like a good grandpa. It is his thinking that is horrible because it protects you from the horrible things that he believes to be good. But him in the background, it is not worse than another.

 

And for Hugo ?

O. C : Hugo is a romantic of the left. It is the only one without cynicism in the series. The only one who has a desire to shake things up. He does not understand because he would want things completely mundane that anyone should marry. A world with more wealth, a more ecological world. And he realizes that the real to which it confronts to prevent it. Finally at this level, it is extreme left or extreme right, is that they are not all the same in a different form ?

Remarks collected by Pierre Siclier

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