Jean-Pierre Léaud, this is your first time in Locarno...
Yes, now I understand Jean-Luc Godard who retired in such a place: it's so cool! And the lake is very relaxing...
Have you seen his last movie?
Yes, and it's incredibly young. I can see Jean-Luc in a place like this, at the edge of the world, still creating at 85, trying new tools like 3D, making beautiful images. The only fact of being here in Locarnostaring at the lakeallows me to deeply understand my friend Jean-Luc.
How is looking at yourself when you were fourteen?
I wave looking at me, especially as a child. It's hard for me, you see, I'm 70, but people still sees the young boy of Les Quatre Cents Coups.
But it's true that you have the same clear eyes.
These are the famous eyes of Les Quatre Cents Coups. The glaze is stonework for an actor. When you understand this stuff, it's done. You can build and improve your voice, but most of all it's the glaze. You can work on your voice, glaze is a gift. Just like writing unforgettable dialogues.
Watching Les Quatre Cents Coups and Masculin féminin drives to Nouvelle Vague...
Definitely, but I don't want this retrospective to become a necrospective. I'm deeply honored of this tribute and I'm aware of being an icon of the Nouvelle Vague, but I'm also looking ahead at movies and projects that are waiting for me.
But sometimes looking back is usefull to look ahead clearer.
(after a long silence) Les Quatre Cents Coups and then Masculin féminin, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard...many of these are recurring memories. I mean, I had an incredible boyhood, peculiar in many ways. I met Truffaut when I was 14, a man who wrote sharping articles. Suddenly I was in the “Cahiers du cinéma” where I met Godard, Chabrol... I spent the rest of my days at the Cinémathèque française d’Henri Langlois, I slept in the upper room of Francois Truffaut, I saw him leave every morning very early. I met Godard at the time of À Bout de souffle, I was his assistant for Alphaville and Pierrot Le Fou and then saome years later he wants me in front of the camera for Masculin féminin. It was an amazing education. And now I'm astonished of what happened to me. It's been a wonderful youth, just like never growing up, going directly from 14 to 70.
Here in Locarno we will screen also Le Pornographe. What brought yout working with Bertrand Bonello?
We have a mutual expressive desire. I didn't know well Bonello at that time, but I knew he was preparring a movie. I was a little suspicious reading the script, especially for the sex scenes, I was not feeling comfortable. As always when I was uncertain, I asked for advice to Suzanne Schiffman, Francois' screenwriter, she was in his office for 40 years and, most of all, she became a very close friend of mine, probably because both suffered the same torture after Francois' death. Suzanne was a true cinephile. She read the script and told me: “Jean-Pierre, you should change your mind: dialogues are a little rough, but I know and you'll be great. And the script is not bad at all. And nobody will ask you to stay on the set during the scenes that disturb you.” I followed her advice and I made the movie that had a great success in Cannes helping Bonello to become the esteemed director that is now.
Talking about La Maman et la putain, did you know Jean Eustache when you shot the movie?
He was all the time at “Cahiers du cinéma”, but he never wrote anything; we met at the Cinémathèque and we found out to have the same preferences. All of a sudden he decided to pick me for his movie. When it was screened in Cannes it was whistled for 15 minutes. It's still vivid: all the crew stood still in front of the audience and the journalist covering us of whistles. It was terrible! And now is a cult movie. And I was not that bad, wasn't I?