“We don’t have fun with old people anymore!”
“We don’t have fun with old people anymore!”
In “Choeur de rockers”, the most cash of actresses electrifies a group of seniors. A swinging comedy.
Paris Match. “Choeur de rockers” is inspired by a true story. That of Salt and Pepper, a choir of senior Dunkirk who became famous by covering rock hits. Is that what you liked?
Mathilde Seigner. I liked the authenticity of this story which, behind its light varnish, addresses important social issues, such as the loneliness of seniors. The film is more political than it seems: it highlights “real life people”. On the other side, the director of the choir (played by Guillaume Marquet) is like those who govern us: he puts people in boxes, refusing that old people sing songs of young people. The film received a crazy reception during the previews in the regions.
The real Salt and Pepper also collaborated on the film?
Fifteen of them took part in the filming. Their journey is touching. They all had different jobs, didn’t necessarily earn a lot of money. Today, they have fun together and are successful: they are living a bit of a fairy tale.
Like the film, the shooting must have been joyful?
Very. While we were in the middle of a pandemic. The restaurants were closed and we had to stay cloistered in our hotel in Dunkirk, each in his room. After a few days, we still managed to negotiate dinner together. Suffice to say that my comrades – Bernard Le Coq, Myriam Boyer and the others – have one hell of a potato. I almost never shoot with young people, we have more fun with old people.
I think everything was better before. Nothing pleases me in our time.
Do you prefer the company of your elders?
Many of my friends are between 70 and 75 years old. I feel close to this generation. I have the same tastes, the same ideas. I am nostalgic.
I think everything was better before. Nothing pleases me in our time, anxiety-provoking and frightening as possible. We stuff people with various fears: the Covid, the mask, wars… And we are governed as if we were pawns. I find the French submissive when I thought they were rebellious. What will tomorrow look like? We will be masked again and we will have to light up with candles because there will be no more electricity? I feel the inflation when I am privileged. I think of those who are less fortunate: how do they keep warm?
My heart is social, that’s for sure. But the left does not have a monopoly of the heart.
Politically, you have long called yourself a right-wing anarchist…
I was brought up in a Gaullist family and, at the same time, I don’t really have right-wing ideas. But what does the right mean today? My father thought that I sometimes had communist ideas… Just because I liked Jean Ferrat.
Has your heart ever swung left?
My heart is social, that’s for sure. But the left does not have a monopoly of the heart. [Rires.] I like people, I am interested in them. When I arrive in a city for a shoot, I speak with everyone, and especially with the real people.
Even if it means vexing him, I said what I thought of Johnny. It changed him from his court of flatterers
In “Choeur de rockers”, you sing. A talent that you had hidden from us…
I had already done it in “Dry cleaning”, in 1997. I also often sang on television, in variety shows, and I did a duet with Catherine Lara on an album. A record company contacted me one day to record covers of my favorite songs. But I saw no point in it. Before being an actress, I wanted to be a singer. Life has decided otherwise…
I had taken singing lessons, approached record companies, but I was spotted as an actress. As I needed money, I chose the first thing that came… And I quickly forgot my aspirations as a singer.
At the start of the film, you play “Gabrielle” by Johnny Hallyday, your great friend. Five years after his death, do you still miss him?
I would have liked him to see my little version of his song… When charismatic people disappear, they leave a bigger void than the others. We had a special relationship Johnny and I. I told him what I thought, at the risk of offending him. But my frankness changed him from his court of flatterers.
My father died suddenly, we didn’t have time to prepare for it. At first, I was in total denial of reality.
Another disappearance, that of your father, in 2020, came as a shock to you.
He died suddenly, we didn’t have time to prepare for it. At first, I was in total denial of reality, which I had never felt. my great friend Yves Rénier, who was the same age as my father, died eight months later. Again, a shock. Especially since at my father’s funeral he told me: “I’ll be next.” Two years later, I miss them both, but, in a philosophical way, I try to tell myself that they are still there.
Are you a believer?
Not especially, but I prefer to imagine that there is something up there, otherwise it’s scary. Then, sometimes, I see like signs.
I calmed down. But I keep being sincere
You have the reputation of being a rock’n’roll actress…
I did not cultivate this image, yet I am, yes. I have always seen myself as a lost sheep in a large flock.
The great herd of show business?
Professionals have often criticized me for saying what I think. From now on, with social networks, you have to be even more careful, because the slightest controversial sentence causes a hemorrhage. So I calmed down. But I continue to be sincere.
I believe I have managed to be a little in the hearts of the French. This is the main. The rest, I have nothing more to do with it.
Have you ever felt snubbed?
I was nominated three times for the Césars, I never had it… And, since then, nothing. If the prices give pleasure at the time, they do not make a career. I believe I have managed to be a little in the hearts of the French. This is the main. The rest, I have nothing more to do with it.
As a child, were you already rebellious?
I didn’t like anything other people liked. There was a desire in me to be different, perhaps out of complexity or fragility.
I’m completely addicted to programs aimed at the housewife, such as “Affaire concluded” and “It starts today”
A year ago, you decided to stop filming. Did you need a break?
I have worked for thirty-four years without interruption. I missed out on everything: no dinners, no weekends with friends… I barely saw my son grow up. After the death of my father and that of Yves Rénier, I plunged back into work and drowned in it. I think taking a break is beneficial for an artist. It makes you want to want, as Johnny used to say.
It’s a kind of pre-retirement…
I’m a little young for that. [Rires.] If the word “retirement” appeals to me, it is in the spiritual sense… As for a nun who retires to a monastery. Even if it would piss me off to go to a monastery.
How do you occupy this newfound freedom?
I go to my house in the South, I take walks, I take care of my health, I go to the cinema two or three times a week, I see my family, and I watch a lot of TV. I’m completely addicted to programs aimed at housewives, such as “Deal concluded” and “It starts today”. I thought I was bored, but I must admit that I’m getting a taste for it. I even wonder how I will manage to play again…
I just hope to stay natural, without falling into major facelifts.
Which role proposal would make you come back?
I have already signed a series project for France Télévisions, on the agricultural world. A subject close to my heart. I’ll play it and do the art direction. But there’s not even a line written, so it’s not for now. I continue to read the scripts that are sent to me but, for the moment, nothing has seemed extraordinary to me.
Do you accept to see yourself growing old?
I almost prefer myself today than before. I played daughters, I play mothers, I will play grandmothers. I like the idea of aging with the public. I’ve never had glamorous roles, so the marks of time don’t bother me. On the contrary, having recourse to cosmetic surgery could close doors for me: impossible to play a peasant girl while being injected with Botox. But I maintain myself, I do a lot of gym, I pay attention to my figure. I just hope to stay natural, without falling into major facelifts.
Selfishly, I can’t stand the daily life of two, always having the other under my nose.
In December 2017, you were in a car accident while intoxicated. Were you then going through a difficult period?
An accident? I zap a little certain slices of my life. But I don’t think anything happens by chance. Like when we break a leg, the body warns us to stop.
You have been with the same man, Mathieu Petit, since 2006, but you have chosen to live separately. This is your vision of the couple?
I don’t give lessons to anyone but, in my opinion, this is the key to longevity. He is in the South, I in Paris. We have time to miss each other and when we meet again, it’s even better. Selfishly, I can’t stand the daily life of two, always having the other under my nose.
My son will be an artist, even if I would have preferred him to do medicine.
You had your son at 39. A choice?
I didn’t want children. I thought the status of mother incompatible with that of actress. But Louis arrived as a gift and I have no regrets. Even if, in the first years, we had to learn to reconcile everything, to find someone I trusted to watch over him when I went on set, to refuse certain films. A child remains a constraint. Louis is now 15 years old. He is very mature because he grew up surrounded by adults.
Does he want to be an actor?
He likes cinema and goes to see very advanced films for his age. He is especially crazy about music and plays the piano like a god. He will be an artist, even if I would have preferred him to do medicine.
My sister’s book is wonderful, I recommend it. No offense to some, she has the right to tell her truth
Have you read “A Burning Life”, the book by your sister Emmanuelle Seigner in which she returns to the story of her husband, Roman Polanski?
It’s great, I recommend it. No offense to some, she has the right to tell her truth. She is very brave, I am proud of her. What she went through is unfair. I supported her in difficult times. Since dad died, we see each other even more.
Could you ever truly retire?
The profession is changing, especially with the platforms. I don’t watch any, I only know how to turn on my TV on the first three channels. If he changed even more, yes I could stop completely.