In Human Things directed by his father Yvan, he brilliantly embodies a son of a good family accused of rape. And embraces an acting career after having dreamed of being a chef for a long time.
When is the first time you hear about Human things ?
Ben Attal : As I passed by to collect some things, I saw my father working on it. I think he offered it to several young actors who had declined, worried about the role. Something all in all very logical because this film asks very current questions therefore necessarily disturbing.
How did your father suggest it to you?
You should know that my father never makes very frank proposals (laughs). He just tells you to read the script, asks your opinion. But he also doubtless suspected that I would have had to be crazy not to take this opportunity
What was your first impression upon reading the script?
I understood why actors refused! (laughs) More seriously, it’s impossible not to be carried away by the crazy emotional power of this story. Afterwards, I admit, I had trouble with my character. Difficult to identify myself. Because let’s be clear: he’s a real bastard! If we had crossed paths in the evening, it wouldn’t have taken 10 minutes before we wanted to stick one on him. Even if this arrogance and its detestable self-confidence for those who get too close to it inevitably make those who lack confidence envy. In short, it was difficult for me to put something of myself in it. It’s pure composition and that’s why it’s a great experience. Clint Easwtood often says that the most interesting roles are the bad guys. And I totally share his desire
Have you read Karin Tuil’s book from which the film is adapted?
No, and since Yvan gave us the choice, I decided not to read it. Because for this character whose world collapses when the cops ring at his door and who has the impression of having done nothing, I had the feeling that I had to take a maximum of things in the mouth and not too cerebralize things from the avenues of reflection that the novel would have offered me
What condition were you in on the first day of filming?
Monstrously stressed. But the benevolence of the team made it possible to erase all that little by little. Afterwards, when people talk to me about intense days, it always makes me smile a little. I left school when I was 16 to study cooking. So in terms of time and intensity, I’m used to rushes and shots!
Becoming an actor has never been a goal for you then?
People often think it’s always easier to make movies when your family does. For me, it was the other way around. Despite all the love I can have for my parents, I wanted to detach myself from them and not take up a job where people would not stop talking to me about them when they saw me. Which is also completely natural! I just wanted to break free, to stay away from the inevitable comparisons that embracing this profession would involve. To tell you that I didn’t have this desire in me would be to lie but I pushed it deep inside myself. And then after making a debut in My stupid dog, my father gave me these tests to Human things. And I picked them up. At the same time, I was about to become for the first time a deputy head of a brigade. To combine the two was obviously impossible. The leader – of whom I was supposed to be the second – made it clear to me. So I made this choice of cinema, a little constrained by COVID which led to the long closure of restaurants. I obviously miss cooking. But I don’t regret anything. I, who have always dreamed of living a thousand lives – a chef, but also a doctor, an astronaut… – being an actor allows me to make it happen. I gave up a very beautiful job to do the most beautiful job in the world!