There aren’t many young and talented actors who have captivated audiences with their remarkable performances. However, 22-year-old actor Jérémy Gillet has undeniably secured a spot on that list. As a soon-to-be Cours de Florent alumni, Jérémy has already established himself as a rising star, known for his ability to portray complex characters with depth and authenticity. In our exclusive interview, we had the privilege of talking to Jérémy about his latest film, “Arrête avec tes mensonges” (English: “Lie with Me”), directed by the acclaimed Olivier Peyon.
Based on the bestselling novel by Philippe Besson, “Arrête avec tes mensonges” follows Jérémy as he embodies the character of Stéphane, navigating life in the French countryside during the early 1980s. The film presents a compelling narrative and features beautifully captured scenes in the picturesque town of Cognac. It serves as a testament to the emotional intensity and captivating performances that have become synonymous with Jérémy Gillet’s work.
During our conversation, we delved into Jérémy’s experience working on the film, tracing his humble beginnings in the Belgian countryside and exploring the profound messages that this thought-provoking movie aims to convey.
Hi Jérémy, I am so excited to be talking to you. Congratulations on your movie. I read the book about 4 years ago, and I loved every second of it. But before we jump into the movie, let’s go back to the beginning. Where did your fascination with the arts start?
I think it first started in school. We did a play, and although it wasn’t anything fancy, every emotion I felt on stage made me want to do it over and over again. So I went home and told my parents that I want to do acting for the rest of my life. Obviously, they were very supportive, but they suggested discussing it again in 10 years. However, that feeling never went away. I would search online for auditions, workshops, anything that would help me advance in my acting career. During that time, I met a casting director who, unfortunately, is no longer with us. He was conducting workshops in Paris for young actors and actresses. He convinced me to come to Paris and work on a workshop together. During that time, he introduced me to his longtime friend, who is an agent. He took me under his wing and helped me at the beginning of my career. And that’s how everything started for me.
And you were 17 when you moved from Belgium to Paris?
Wow, that was a big step for someone your age.
Looking back, it didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time. I was just very focused on what I wanted, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
I assume it paid off. Do you remember your first big audition?
Yes, it was actually for “Une nuit à travers champs” (English: “A Night in the Fields”). It was my first leading role in a movie and my first feature film as well. I remember I was still living in Belgium, and self-tapes weren’t as common back then. So I actually took a 5-hour bus ride to Paris to attend this audition. At first, the casting director didn’t believe me when I told him that I was coming all the way from Belgium for the audition. But I guess it showed them how serious I was about this project.
So then you moved to Paris, landed some other roles like for instance in the TV show “Des gens bien ordinaires” (English: “A Very Ordinary World”) and now “Arrête avec tes mensonges” (English: “Lie with Me”) Tell me how did you first found out about the audition? Did you read the book first?
The book had become a huge bestseller in France, so when I heard they were holding auditions for the movie adaptation, I knew I had to read it to have a better understanding of the characters and the overall story. I wanted to do justice to the material.
How did the audition process go?
I sent in my tape, but initially, I was rejected. The role of present-time Stéphane was supposed to be played by an other actor, and they felt I didn’t resemble him enough. However, that actor had scheduling conflicts and had to drop out. So the casting director had to review all the tapes again, and that’s how I got a callback.
How was it working with your on screen lover Julien De Saint-Jean? Do you remember the first time you met him?
Yes, it was in the audition room. They paired us up, and we had an immediate chemistry. From the beginning, it felt very natural. Even when we were going through the scenes, I had this feeling that we were both listening to each other and reacting to what the other one was proposing. And I think that’s what stood out to the casting directors.
So what convinced you to be part of this movie?
Honestly, I was really drawn to Thomas’s character arc. The question of how to be true to yourself in a world where everyone has predetermined expectations fascinated me. And with my character Stéphane, I loved that he didn’t care about the world around him. Living in the French countryside in the early 80s, he managed to avoid feeling as suppressed as Thomas, despite the circumstances.
That’s very interesting. From an acting perspective, why do you think Stéphane is so indifferent to his surroundings? Did you get a chance to discuss it with the author of the novel, Philippe Besson?
I actually met Philippe after we finished shooting the movie. I’m glad it happened that way because I didn’t want my interpretation of Stéphane to be influenced by him. Interestingly, I discovered that Philippe and I are quite similar in many ways. We talk, gesture with our hands, and even react to things in very similar ways. It felt like a serendipitous connection, and perhaps it was meant to be.
You filmed in the beautiful small town of Cognac in the South of France, where Philippe Besson is from. Did the location influence your portrayal of Stéphane?
Oh, absolutely. It was a deeply moving experience because we were shooting in the very city where the author grew up. We filmed at locations that inspired the novel, drawing from Philippe’s own life. It was our responsibility to do justice to his story, and it added an extra layer of intensity to our performances. It was emotionally charged and incredibly beautiful, and yes, we certainly enjoyed our fair share of cognac as well.
What will you take away from filming this movie?
I have to say that working with Olivier Peyon was a tremendous honour. The way he gives directions, how he made us all feel safe and trusted our instincts, was truly remarkable. Particularly during the intimate scenes, which were rough in the film and often challenging, we could sense his shyness about directing them. But he genuinely wanted us to feel comfortable. He created an environment where only a select few were present on set during those intimate moments, allowing us to delve deeper into the emotional core of the scenes. He took exceptional care of us.
What do you hope people will learn from watching this movie?
I hope people will embrace and be true to themselves. Because, in the end, it’s not worth sacrificing your authenticity. After watching the movie, some people reached out to me, saying it inspired them to reconnect with someone from their past who had slipped away. It brings me immense joy that this movie has resonated with so many viewers. It’s a deeply moving experience for all of us involved.