WARNING : I’m not a professional translator and I’m not fluent in English – I probably made a lot of mistakes!
Here is a translation of Francois Arnaud’s interview on Tout le monde en parle, you can find it on youtube.
“Tout le monde en parle” (literally: Everyone talks about it) is one of the most popular shows in Quebec. The host invites artists, athletes, politicians, etc. and they discuss all together about various subjects. The host has the reputation of being straightforward, provocative and even unfriendly with his guests. But I don’t believe he wasn’t fair with Francois, because Francois well knew what to expect when he accepted to go there. It’s a part of the game on this show, you know. That’s why people like it!
The host is assisted by another host who is called “The Jester” in the show. I’ll give him the letter J.
The other young guy is Alex Harvey, a cross-country skiier who has won the world championship, and the girls are two authors.
Before The Borgias, Francois played a role in the movie J’ai tue ma mere, from the filmmaker Xavier Dolan (who also had the leading role in his movie). Francois also played in another movie, Les Grandes chaleurs, in which he is a young delinquent falling in love with an older woman. He also played in a TV series here in Quebec, named Yamaska.
Host : Back to Tout le monde en parle, (last guest) and (another guest) left us, thanks to both of you for being here tonight. (Applause). My next guest plays the role of one of the worst tyrant of History in the new American series The Borgias. Here is the actor Francois Arnaud.
FA comes in.
Host. François, the women sitting next to you have “sad flesh” [this is an idiom I can’t translate, it’s literal. You say that to someone who has a mediocre sex life. The host is a bit mean here, he refers to the fact that these women, sooner in the show, described the love life of their generation as very confusing, and they said that, nowadays, sex and love and the mix of the two are not always easy to deal with]. I wanted to warn you. (Everyone lol) You acted in the TV show Yamaska and in the movie J’ai Tue ma Mere (I Killed my Mother is the title of the English version). This answers the question that people might be asking themselves: “Where have I seen him before?”. Welcome to Tout le monde en parle.
FA (smiling): Hello.
Host: You have landed one of the leading roles in the historic TV series The Borgias, the role of Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander IV. [This series] will premiere on April 3on Showtime in the USA. It stars Jeremy Irons. The Borgias is the story of the first criminal family of the History. Let’s watch you in action. Manon. [the host always tells his technician when he’s ready to see the next video, and Manon is her name].
[Short sequence from The Borgias]
J : Poor man!! (lol)
FA: Watch your glass of wine!! (lol)
J: Oh you put some of that in mine too! (lol)
Host: Cesare Borgia was considered to be a tyrant, a serial killer and a poisoner… But my first question is: How can you play the role of a pope’s son? Isn’t a pope supposed to be chaste?
FA: Well… Back then I think [religious people] were a bit more libertine/free… Actually it was generally accepted that popes had mistresses and… children… (host laughs). But what’s exceptional with Alexander IV is that his children bear his name, he doesn’t hide them, his son – me in fact- is a priest, he even appoints me as cardinal.
Host – Says a pun in French that I can’t translate – not that funny anyway
J: And the English language, where did you learn it?? It sounds perfect, with the British accent…
Girl: Ya it’s good, it’s really good!
FA: I…. I don’t know, I don’t know exactly… At school, on TV, huh… I’ve always watched movies in English… I listen to English music as well…
J: Well I did all that too and I don’t speak English that well!
Host: Cesare Borgia, in addition to many political crimes, would have killed his own brother and had an incestuous relationship with his sister; also, he would have inspired Al Pacino’s character in The Godfather. Your character has had twelve children, eleven of which were illegitimate. We will probably see you make a few of these children on screen… Are you mentally getting ready to become a sex-symbol?
Girl: It’s already done! (she means here in Quebec).
Host: Yes, but in that series, in the USA…
FA (looking at the girl): I’m dressed tonight… (They laugh) But…
J: That means you will fall into drugs very quickly… They [the stars] are all like that in the states… (He is sarcastically exaggerating; he refers to the Hollywood kind of lifestyle we always hear about.)
FA: No, no, I’m OK now; I’m out of it (smiling). But I… Sex-symbol, I don’t know, listen, I think that sex is a part of that story; I think there must be sex in that series for… You know, sex and money…
Host: They lead the world.
FA: Yes. That being said, I think one must make the difference between life and fiction. In real life, I don’t want to be that guy [he means, the type of guy who sleeps with everyone] so I don’t do it and that’s it… I don’t know… (smiling)
Host: We heard that you owe your role in The Borgias to Xavier Dolan’s phobia of flying… How comes?
FA: (giggles) When we did J’ai tue ma mere, the movie was presented in festivals everywhere around the world, and he [Xavier] was afraid to fly, so I went to present the movie…
Girl: Instead of him.
FA: Ya everywhere. So I went twice to the USA, at Palm Springs and Santa Barbara festivals and… Well it was there that I met my agent, and the American distributors of the movie… So that’s what started my huh… my American “career” (quotation marks with his hands –really hesitant, doesn’t want to seem pretentious)
Host: And to land this role you first auditioned on a video and you were then called in London to meet the filmmaker Neil Jordan and audition with Jeremy Irons. Both have won Academy Awards. Were you intimidated or just unconscious?
FA: Yes, I was terrified. But not more then tonight (laugh – everyone laugh because they know guests are always nervous to go on this show since they know the host can be quite provocative)
Host: What, you’re terrified tonight?
FA: No, no, but not more than… Actually there is a limited amount of stress that your body can deal with… So, I mean, I was not more stressed than for my audition at the Conservatory or… you know… They’re like…
Host: It was [a part of your] work.
FA: … stressful events that you must learn to deal with… Neil Jordan is one of the greatest filmmaker in this world, so of course I went through his filmography before the shooting… You know I still can’t believe that someone like him was interested in me…
Host: The Borgias is the series that will replace The Tudors on Showtime. There is a big publicity campaign for this series; there is even a giant poster of it, with you standing beside Jeremy Irons, on Times Square. There is like something surreal to go from Yamaska – which is a big series here, but still – to The Borgias…
FA: Yes, absolutely. I was in LA recently and indeed, the promotional campaign is…
Host: is really big…
FA: …is big, and the poster is everywhere on buses, and it felt strange. But at the same time, it was not that different from seeing me on the Les Grandes Chaleurs poster, at the bus stop on the corner of my street. It’s a bit… It’s a bit surreal in itself, all this dimension. (he means, being a star and having pictures of you everywhere)
J: A bus is a bus (everyone lol)
FA: (laughing) Yes, so….
Host: Now you have a promotional team working for your career in the USA… Do you like it?
FA: (laughing) Well it’s… It’s great but… In fact, my publicist in the States… Actually, I had nowhere to go the last time I went there, so she hosted me, at her place… But when I flushed the toilet I made a water mess… So the floor needs to be redone… So anyway, I like them, but I don’t know if they like me!!
Host: Do you think she’ll invite you again?
FA: Well, she did invite me again; I don’t know what she wants!!
(Everyone has a very BIG laugh here, and applause).
Host: I think WE know what she wants!
Host: To play in The Borgias you had to give up your role of Theo in Yamaska. At the beginning you thought you could do both of them, but the authors of Yamaska preferred to replace you… Were you disappointed?
FA: Actually, this is not exactly what happened… (Yamaska’s scenes are presented while he’s talking). When you sign for a series like The Borgias, they want your complete exclusivity… They’re like “If we can release you sometimes, we will, but we can’t guarantee it”. And I think the authors of Yamaska didn’t want to take that risk – which is something I understand. So we were on good terms when I left. And after that, indeed, I didn’t get 2 seconds anyway, so I couldn’t have gone back to shoot episodes of Yamaska.
Host: Francois you were born in 1985, you’re from Quebec…
FA: Montreal, I’m from Montreal.
Host: You’re from Montreal?
Host (seems to start again). Francois, you were born in 1985, you’re from Montreal, I don’t know what the hell you were doing in Quebec. (Everyone lol – the host seems to be like “Why did my team write this on my memory card??). You graduated at the Conservatory. On screen you played Marie-Therese Fortin [actress in Quebec]’s young lover in Sophie Lorain’s movie “Les Grandes Chaleurs”. Marie-Therese and you had many intimate scenes to shoot in that movie, with one memorable scene in the shower… Manon.
FA: (smiling) Oh fuck. (by the way, “oh fuck” is one of the most common English expressions we use in French-Canadian conversations, it’s not surprising he said it).
[Sequence from Les grandes chaleurs] Applause.
Host : Maybe I’m wrong, but the “flesh is not sad” anymore huh! (that refers to the beginning of the interview – sorry, I don’t know how to properly translate this, some idioms are really hard to translate)
Girl : No, not at all, it’s actually a bit wet!
FA (to the girl). It’s because of the shower, it’s because of the shower…
J: (to the girl) You’re pretty good with language aren’t you! (Referring to the fact that she’s a writer and she just made this pun).
FA: But thanks for cutting the close-up on my bottom, my mother will be happy (laugh).
Host: But yet she’s the first one who saw it…
Girl: (softened) Ohhh…
FA (smiling): But it [his bottom] was smaller.
Host: Here is something you once said – and ladies you will like this one: “Intimacy, contrary to what we may think, is not only in sex scenes. Sometimes it’s in the dialogues, when skins are slightly touching, or in the way we look at each other… That’s when complicity rises. That’s what is the most difficult to develop, because in the sex scenes, there is nothing else to do than the movements.” So for you, talking is more intimate than screwing?
FA: It’s at least as intimate. And I think that it’s… The idea is that… I think that sometimes nudity and sex can be (hesitant)… hot… (smiling) (Everyone giggles). But, but… (giggling)… But I think that emotional nudity or, you know… emotional bareness… I think that this is what we are always looking for… So, it’s wrong to think that they [sex scenes] are harder to shoot, or that it’s more intimate to take your clothes off than [to do what we do in other scenes].
Girl: But this scene with Marie-Therese Fortin, did you shoot it many times?
FA: (nodding) It took eight hours.
Girl: Really? For this one scene?
J: Eight hours!?
Girl: A long shower huh… (everyone lol)
Host: Yes, you probably had wrinkled skin… (everyone lol) On screen you didn’t only play the role of Marie-Therese’s lover, you were also Xavier Dolan’s lover in J’ai tue ma mere… So, from a cinematographic point of view, you’re bisexual. Manon.
[Scene from J’ai tue ma mere]
FA : I said that [the sex scenes] are not harder to shoot, but they’re harder to watch! (Everyone lol)
FA: Well I… I don’t know… I think that I’ve never watched those scenes… I was always hiding like that (gesture) when the movie was presented… You know, it’s hard to see yourself…
Host: You were traveling through the world, to present the movie, and you were doing this (gesture)?
FA: (nodding) Yes.
Host: That’s special. But it’s a good movie; you traveled through the world because of that movie…
FA: Yes, absolutely, it’s a great movie. I’m very happy about it. Honestly, after doing that movie, I told myself – and I don’t think it’s good because I play in it, I have a small role in that movie – but it was the relationship between Anne Dorval and Xavier Dolan [that was great]. So I told myself, after playing in this movie, if I don’t play in any other great movie, it’s gonna be OK, because I will have played in one great movie, at least.
J: Playing [the role of] a gay, it didn’t bother you? (by the way, the jester is gay).
FA. No, it’s the same, it’s the same thing… Well, not exactly but I mean it’s… No, no… We don’t wanna play the same kind of character every time…
Host: But still you did this (hiding gesture) earlier… [here the host is confused – he thinks that Francois was embarrassed to watch himself having sex with a man, when in fact, Francois meant that it was hard to watch himself having sex on screen in general, whether it’s with a boy or a girl]
FA: No, no, but when I watch the scene with Marie-Therese I do this as well.
Host: It embarrasses you as well?
FA : Yes, yes (smiling).
Host: Are you afraid that your career in Hollywood might hurt your projects here in Quebec?
FA: I don’t know, but you never invited me on Tout le monde en parle before I had a role in Hollywood so I guess it won’t [hurt it]!
(Everyone LOL and they say “boooo” for the hosts. That was sort of a friendly revenge for Francois, you know: the hosts look stupid because they never invited him before and now he plays in a big american series)
J (trying to defend himself): Well we were waiting for you to get bigger, you know!
Host (smiling): Are you staying with us?
FA (smiling) Of course.
J : I have a card for you (he always gives a funny card at the end of each interview and the guest has to read it out loud).
FA, reading: We wish you a big and long career in the states. And don’t worry, when you’ll be old and wrinkled, with a flabby bottom, Rejean Tremblay will certainly have a role for you in He shoots, He scores season 25 (this is a series that has been running for ages in Quebec and a lot of people are sick of it). (Everyone lol)
Host. Thank you Francois.