Before its rebroadcast on TF1, let’s reread an interview with the director.
First film adaptation of the famous comic book, Asterix and Obelix against Caesar when it was released in 1999, it attracted nearly 9 million spectators. On the occasion of its rebroadcast this evening at 9 p.m. on TF1, we republish an interview with its director, Claude Zidi, published at the time in First.
Alexandre Astier: “The soul of Asterix is something fragile”
Your film is the first adaptation of the famous comic to the big screen. How did the negotiations go? Claude Berri, the producer, took care of the rights with Uderzo and the daughter of René Goscinny, who died in 1977. I then met Albert Uderzo to submit my screenplay to him, which he immediately accepted. He adored Gérard Lauzier. He therefore wanted him to write the dialogue for the film.
Is it true that originally, Daniel Auteuil was to play Asterix instead of Christian Clavier? Indeed. I even did 5-minute tests with him in costumes, in a Gallic hut, which were wonderful. Auteuil was impeccable and Depardieu priceless. For this scene, we had cooked a leg of three kilos and Gérard devoured it during the takes! Daniel Auteuil then canceled because he had signed for another film in Quebec. Christian Clavier replaced him …
How did you manage the biggest production of your career, hundreds of extras and 42 million budget? I realized this gigantism during a sequence of fights on the Quiberon peninsula, where I was leading 500 extras. The team totaled more than 150 people… Believe me, it took a military organization to make everything work.
This filming also welcomed many animals: crocodiles, elephants, dogs … And tarantulas, snakes … Crocodiles, who do what they want, are impossible to manage. But the most dangerous animals were ticks! We were running around in the grass all day and in the evening we were devoured by these critters.
Alain Chabat wrote another Asterix movie
How do we manage at the same time Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Galabru, Sim, Daniel Prévost and Claude Piéplu? They kept messing around! The secret is knowing how to laugh with them, because they were constantly swinging valves. The most formidable of the bunch is Daniel Prévost: scathing, deadpan, terribly funny and brittle. You never know if he’s joking or not …
On May 18, 1998, while filming, Depardieu was the victim of a serious motorcycle accident … I received a phone call informing of Gérard’s accident, two kilometers away, in the Rambouillet forest. I immediately rushed in with Jean-Pierre Castaldi. And there, I realized how miraculous he was. He had made a very nice glide to land on a piece of grass, 50 centimeters from the asphalt… I found one of his shoes twenty meters from the motorcycle. Miraculously, no vital organ was affected. At the hospital, the doctors’ verdict fell: 40 days off! I took the opportunity to film all the takes without him.
Interview Jean-Baptiste Drouet
Gilles Lellouche took 20 kilos to play Obélix and was “scared” to succeed Gérard Depardieu