I had the joy of speaking with Remy Girard about his role as 'Remy' in both films. Unfortunately for Girard, there's no possibility he'll be returning to the character in another dozen or so years - "The Barbarian Invasions" centers around his character's impending death. Despite that depressing aspect of the movie, "The Barbarian Invasions" is actually a celebration of life.
REMY GIRARD ('Remy'):
Why do you think writer/director Denys Arcand came back to these characters after 17 years?
I worked for Denys for 20 years. I made a lot of movies with him. I knew he was working on the script about this, about what happened when you have an announced death, when you are living the last days of your life. Three years ago he had the flash to make the character in The Decline die. The one who loved life the most.
Had you wanted to come back and visit this character again? Was he a character you remained interested in?
When he approached me with the idea, I didnt even know that he wanted to make a sequel to the movie. He said, I think I have a gift for you. I think he was right because you know, its the first time in my life, and its very rare in the career of an actor that you can return to an older character that you loved, that was important for you. This character was very important for me, in terms of my career. It was a huge step in my career. To come back and to take the character and play it again, it was like if you meet an old friend you havent seen for 10 or 15 years. When you talk to him, its like you saw him yesterday, you know? Thats the kind of feeling I have [for this character].
The challenge that I have was important because you must play the character you played 17 years ago. It must be the same guy. He didnt change so much in his feelings. Hes older right now, hes sick, hes alone, a little bit sad and a little bit alone in his life. All of this was a challenge for me. I had great fun. Dont forget hes lying all the way through the movie. Its very difficult to [act from] bed (laughing).
When you think back to your character and the first film, is this how you imagined he would end up? Not being sick, but still retaining that zest for life?
I did not imagine that he would end up so sad. I was surprised when I read the second script that his life was not as good as I thought it should be for him. During the 17 years, the director would sometimes ask me what happened to [that character]. Is he a good lover? Is he a good-living man? He has a sense of humor and hes intelligent so I thought he would make it.
Its curious because the first question he asked me when talking about the second project was, Do you think they separate? He said, Im not sure. I said, Deny, youre crazy! Remember the last scene of the last movie? Im sure she kicked him out of the house with his clothing in garbage bags or something like that. They separated for sure since the credits of the last film. He said, I think youre right. Okay.
I was surprised that he was alone, that he missed his wife, missed his kids thats very important, he never saw his kids and has a job thats not really happy for him. His affairs to him were so cheap. He finds his love affairs cheap. I was very sad to see him in that condition. Its like one of my old friends, this character. It was important for me and it was important for the public in Canada. I remember in the papers when the film was released last spring. Some journalist titled [his article] Weve lost a friend. That really touched me. I think thats the best review Ive ever had in my life. (Laughing) I said, Dont talk about me, guys! Im here. It was really touching for me.