Interview with Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and Arnaud Valois

Interview: 120 BPM

We spoke to Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and Arnaud Valois, the stars of 120 BPM about their experience working on Robin Campillo’s critically acclaimed new film. In cinemas now.

The film was one of the most talked about at the Cannes Film Festival last year. What do you remember of that experience?

Nahuel Pérez Biscayart – It was like a snowball, we had seen the film 10 days before Cannes. We were all shocked; it was so emotional to see it all come together. We were not prepared to get so much attention during the festival!

Arnaud Valois – That’s the joy of fiction, you channel something that is not your life and then you see it appropriated by people in a very personal and intimate way.

The film has played to great response at so many festivals across the world since, what does it feel like being part of the family behind this project?

AV– It’s an honour. We are very lucky to be able to travel around the world to talk about this movie and about the message of this movie.

NPB– It’s just so beautiful to see how something that you did can reach a broad audience. It’s very touching.

Was there an audition process for this film?

AV– There was one, a very long one, because Robin wanted to find a group, not a specific actor. It was about having synergy between all of the characters, there were about 15 in the association my character is in, so it was a long process to find the perfect match.

NPB – In my case, it was very traditional, I got the script then I met Robin and Arnaud. The casting process was interesting because it felt like we were starting to work on the characters and the film before I got the part. That felt good, it felt like I wasn’t being judged and felt like I was creating something for the film. It meant I was emotionally attached before we get started on the shoot.

How did you feel when you first read the script?

AV – We cried!

NBP – Yes, we did, we cried. I laughed. I felt like was a whole physical experience. The script was so beautifully written, I was impressed. It’s so rare to read something like this.

How did you work on your characters with Robin? What’s his approach with actors?

NPB – He really trusted us which is very empowering. He was very generous; he gave us lots of information and anecdotes and emotions from that time.

AV – It wasn’t about telling us that we had to do certain things, he was observing us and was open minded about trying new things.

NPB – He really worked on the cast, so once the casting was done, he trusted that the connection between us would be stronger than any individual work he could do with the actors one on one.

What was the most challenging scene to shoot?

NPB – Everything was hard! It was very challenging but I like that, I like having to work scenes out because there is a complexity. The debate scenes were particularly hard because the dialogue is so fast and all in French and I’m not French – that was a technical challenge and I had to work on it a lot.

AV – We were very lucky that we shot the film in chronological order, because we got to follow the emotional progression of our characters as we shot. That was a great choice by Robin.

The film is set in the 1990s, were you fans of your costumes?

NF – I really like costumes in general! I’m so happy when we’re in costume on set and we start playing because your body starts to move in a different way. People often ask what it was like to play a character in the 90s and I say put on some jeans with a high waistband and you’ll see! It was like a type of cement, we were all tied together by our costumes.

120 BPM is in cinemas now. Find your cinema and book tickets

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