Cannes Film Festival – Tahar Rahim, the will-o’-the-wisp

Dsince February, he has been filming on the island of Malta in napoleon by Ridley Scott (Apple TV production of 220 million dollars), alongside, in the title role, Joaquin Phoenix, with whom he has already played Judas in Maria Madalena. At the time of abandoning the ceremonial attire of the general of the Empire Paul Barras – who presented the future Emperor Josephine, of whom he had been lover -, he returned to Paris to promote don Juan, by Serge Bozon, selected at the Cannes Film Festival and which revives the spoken/sung style dear to Jacques Demy and Alain Resnais.

Cap back, look full of malice and generous smile, Tahar Rahim is not forty years old. There’s a wisp side to it. Here he is enthusiastic and prolific when it comes to defending a role, in this case this inverted Don Juan, far from Molière, more victim of women than executioner. Or rather, the victim of a single woman, the irresistible Virginie Efira, who abandoned him and obsessed him. At the time of #MeToo, the figure of the cruel and manipulative libertine turns into a defeated seducer who doesn’t sleep anymore, but tries to seduce just by looking. ” For the first time, he points, he is a Don Juan who doesn’t live up to the character’s stereotypes, who, deep down, is cruel and cynical. It shows something you rarely see in movies: the pain of a man doing everything he can to win his wife back. The idea appealed to me, as did singing, which is another way to prolong the emotions of a scene other than through mere words. »

His character, Tahar Rahim defines him as “feminine but not feminist”, pretext to explore the pains of a false seducer, victim of his obsessions. “The reference to the feminist message is not frontal, he insists. First of all, it’s a love story gone wrong. » And an autopsy of the couple with their secrets, their unsaid, their false confessions, their regrets.

Obsession. Don Juan/Tahar Rahim in the reconquest of Elvire/Virginie Efira, who left him.

Surplus. Make way for a weakened, “deconstructed” Don Juan, suffering body and soul for an Elvira who decided not to spend her life with him, preferring separation to suffering. “I like to explore lands I don’t know”, declares to justify the choice of abandoning himself to an administrator who claims to have “a healthy contagious madness”. “There was an agreement between us, he continues: after two or three takes, we were shooting freestyle. I could dance, improvise. Some scenes have been saved. So we really had fun making things up like that, within the movie. »

The Tahar Rahim style is present in this naturalness, in this bodily ease, in this ease of slipping into a character, of fitting him in. “I learn a lot by playing sports, he explains. There is a real parallel between cinema and the boxing I practice. Shooting days are like rounds. There are rules, technique, self-transcendence, attack and evasion sense, with the difference that you are your own sparring partner. »

Precisely, how does one become an international actor when one is born in Belfort, the son of Algerians from Oran, the last born of nine children, a bankrupt film student who plays his own role in a friend’s documentary, finally noticed in a Canal+ casting call? Not just by luck. “I dreamed of being an actor back then, He remembers. A bit like I would have dreamed of being a football player. But along the way, it turned into a passion, then a vital necessity. My mother encouraged me, above all she gave me a lot of love and a sense of effort. In fact, she believed in me more than she believed in myself. »

Video. The trailer for “Don Juan”.

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In verses and songs

Seductive victim of love and rejected by the only woman he loves. All in prose and songs. Why not ? Don Juan/Tahar Rahim and Elvire/Virginie Efira accept the challenge of director Serge Bozon, who uses some scenes from Molière’s play to tell this love story that goes wrong, under the eyes of an enigmatic Commander played by singer Alain Chamfort. Surprising and touching.

“Don Juan,” in theaters, May 23.

International. Unveiled in 2009 at Cannes by A Prophet, of Jacques Audiard, which won him two Césars, the one for young hope and the one for best actor, the doors were opened for him to get the role of the delinquent Malik. The Cannes sounding board did the rest, but it went a long way before realizing its dream of America. “Many compromises, disappointments, comings and goings, he admits, and a whole process that I implemented from the bottom up, which is exciting. » He even auditioned for Star Wars. the force awakens. Unsuccessfully. The self-sacrifice, the nothing to let go of, paid off and allowed him to travel with Scotsman Kevin Macdonald, Japanese Kiyoshi Kurosawa, German-Turkish Fatih Akin, Iranian Asghar Farhadi and therefore Anglo-American Ridley Scott . “We met shortly after the success of the Prophet, but I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have enough self-confidence. After seeing The snake [série de Netflix sur le tueur Charles Sobhraj, NDLR] and, above all, a film that means a lot to me, Mauritania [de Kevin Macdonald sur Mohamedou Ould Slahi, suspecté de liens avec Al-Qaïda et injustement détenu plus de dix ans à Guantanamo, NDLR], he hired me for Napoleon. »

Another big league step that makes Tahar Rahim forget he was often offered to play the terrorists, roles he always turned down. “not to feed the hate”. Instead, he preferred to incarnate in the series. The Towering Tower [les rivalités du FBI et de la CIA après le 11 Septembre, NDLR]the fight against al-Qaeda by the Lebanese-American Ali Soufan, a 24-year-old Muslim young man, an intelligence ace.

Secret actor, Tahar Rahim does not act out his private life on social media. His promotion is targeted and assumed. “I come, I appear when I make my films, then I leave, he lets go. I’m not shy, but discreet. » Dreams? “I have a lot, of course. I find myself, for example, in an Asian film where I would play a samurai, which seems impossible a priori, but why not? A hypothesis that is challenging for him. What always worked for him§

ARP Selection – Jean Louis Fernandez

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