Series Mania 2022 – Niels Arestrup: “Some lives are organized trips, others adventures”

The Black Butterflies Niels Arestrup
Nicolas Roucou/Arte

The triple Caesarean actor plays a serial killer who tells the story of his life to a novelist in Les Papillons noirs.

In the portrait dedicated to him a few months ago ReleaseRachida Brakni described it as follows: With his metallic eyes, Niels has the presence of a Marlon Brando. In an environment where people are talkative, he does not pour out, because for him, speech has meaning.. It is exactly this man that we discover, firmly anchored in his chair. With a soft voice and a clear verb, Niels Arestrup, 73, comes to defend The Black Butterflies by Olivier Abbou at Series Mania. The story of Adrien (Nicolas Duvauchelle), tormented author of a first successful novel, who is struggling to give birth to the second. An old man, Albert Desiderio (Arestrup, imperial), calls her one day to tell her his greatest love story, Solange, the story of a life… Albert’s story turns out to be in reality the confessions of a couple serial killer united in life, in death. Meet.

You have often played troubled, even violent characters. But the serial killer is a first.

I was getting into something that I didn’t know, that I had never interpreted, even if I sometimes played quite violent characters as you say. Except that there, this violence had a source. Nothing can justify violence, but many things can explain it. These characters are seriously wounded who recognize each other and manage to be together, to love each other. Because it is above all a love story. That we give voice to this kind of character is quite rare, and only a series could restore something of this order. There is a real opening that is being made in France around the series, and which gives a terrible old look to the cinema.

In which way ?

Cinema is marked by a kind of conformism. There is what can be said and what cannot be said; what can be shown and what cannot be shown. And there, we show everything, we say everything. We must be grateful for this courage and this audacity, which will become a little more usual now with the series. That said, I’m coming to a time in my career where roles are becoming scarce. I understand that it is not always possible to have an interesting old man in a scenario. You have to hook the public with young people, not with old people and their stories that no one is interested in. It is also part of what is said in the series about what age and the different stages of existence are.

Is it still as important to play for you?

I’m not telling myself that it’s important… It was inevitable. You think you’re building your life, but it’s something else that takes care of it. These are your traumas, your experiences, your childhood encounters… All of this takes you to an area that you had not foreseen. I still took my foot. To be an actor is to live forty, fifty or sixty lives, but in small bits. And never having to ask too many questions about yours.

Does it displace the need for introspection?

Yes. We believe we are playing. So okay, let’s play. A little. But in fact we embody. And so it moves inside of you. Because you have to find springs, roots. It’s a fairly privileged life that allows you to never be in the same state, in the same feeling. Always be on the move. It is a considerable chance. My father and my mother were workers in a factory, they hoped that retirement would be something else. But when it arrives, around the age of 65, you no longer have the strength, the energy to say to yourself ” we move, we break up, we leave “. The body no longer responds in the same way, the head is tired, and we remain what we have already experienced. We don’t change much. And then we leave. As Nietzsche said, we are all in perpetual cycles: creation, maturation, cessation.

So for you retirement is unthinkable?

It doesn’t exist in this business. The guy who says: Excuse me, I’m tired, I’ve seen everything”, he’s not an actor. I don’t know my next character, I don’t suspect the next story. We are still in this possibility of adventure. Some lives are package tours, others are adventures.

The first two episodes of Les Papillons noirs were screened at Series Mania. The series will be broadcast at the start of the school year, on Arte.

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