Diplomacy will be broadcast tonight on Arte. When it came out, Première had met its main actors: André Dussollier and Niels Arestrup.
The night of August 24 to 25, 1944. The fate of Paris is in the hands of General Von Choltitz (Niels Arestrup), Governor of Greater Paris, who is preparing, on Hitler’s orders, to blow up the capital. Coming from a long line of Prussian soldiers, the general never hesitated when it came to obeying orders. It is all this that preoccupies the Swedish consul Nordling (André Dussollier) when he climbs the secret staircase that leads him to the General’s suite at the Hôtel Meurice. The bridges over the Seine and the main monuments of Paris The Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower… – are mined and ready to explode. Using all the weapons of diplomacy, the consul will try to convince the general not to carry out the order of destruction.
Diplomacy, adaptation of the eponymous play by Cyril Gély, will be offered at 9 p.m. on Arte. In 2014, First had asked a few questions to its two main interpreters. Flashback.
How does the movie Diplomacy is it different from the room?
Andre Dussollier: Volker Schlöndorff had not seen the play. He drew a real script from it (written in collaboration with the author, Cyril Gely) by adding scenes that make the film coherent. For us, nothing has changed. It is the truth of the characters that concerns us.
Would you say that the austere and honest Von Choltitz and the caressing and good-natured Nordling resemble you?
Andre Dussollier: We could have reversed the roles.
Niels Arestrup: We brought up this possibility as a joke because we knew we wouldn’t have time… When you say “austere” and “integrated” about me, that corresponds to an image forged by characters who have been proposed. I could have approached the roles that André played, and vice versa. We are never happier than when we get out of the boxes in which we tend to lock ourselves up. “The elsewhere” is the place where we are at the limit, and it is stimulating.
Andre Dussollier: When Michel Serrault played in a drama, it was suddenly surprising and interesting for the spectator.
Niels Arestrup: At the same time, it should be the norm. The vocabulary has changed, but we are still unconsciously in this system of “jobs” which lasted in France until the 1950s.
Andre Dussollier: I have a funny anecdote that backs up what Niels says. My first film role was that of a guy who had glasses and yellow gloves. Well, afterwards, when I went to production offices, I assure you that people expected to see me with this look! The danger is being in the reproduction of an image. Look at the great American actors of our generation who, from one role to another, were transformed. They have gone far. It’s fun to make these trips.
Did you envy them?
Andre Dussollier: It really is another world. The pool is larger, there are more directors, they spend more time on the projects… We work in less comfortable conditions and often with limited budgets. You have to be efficient right away. Niels, what do you think, you who worked in the United States?
Niels Arestrup: The differences are indeed numerous, but the main one is that on each production, the studios organize castings with known actors to see “if it is not possible that”. I’ve seen Robert De Niro do tryouts for lots of movies that he didn’t end up doing because he didn’t fit the roles. They have this humility that we may lack. I have a lot of respect for them.
Interview by Christophe Narbonne (@chris_narbonne)