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Interview with Remy Girard

Star of "The Barbarian Invasions"


Barbarian Invasions Remy Girard

Remy Girard and Marie-Josée Croze in "The Barbarian Invasions."

Miramax Films
We know what the title "The Barbarian Invasions" means to the director, but what does that title mean to you?
Denys Arcand was a historian before he was a writer or director. Everything that Denys writes is tinted by his history point of view. How history – how events – can change us. That’s important for him.

For me, all these ‘barbarians invasions’… Barbarians is taken in the sense of something abroad, something from outside that you must live with. It happens to you and you have no choice but to live with it. For example, 9/11. It happened so everyone in North America has to live with it now. Same thing with immigration in our country, for example.

The words 'barbarian invasions' for my character means his own death, his own sickness. But I think the most difficult [aspect] for my character, and maybe the most difficult for me, the most difficult ‘barbarian invasion’ is what his son has done with his life. This is important for my character to say that what his son has done with his life, I’m not in agreement with. It’s been 17 years to be angry with this. That’s amazing. He will have to die to reunite with his son. I don’t want this kind of thing to happen to me. It’s very, very, very difficult to live.

Do you have a group of friends you consider as close as the group of friends your character had?
Not a lot, just three to be honest. I have three very, very close friends and one of the three is my own brother. He’s my brother but he’s one of my three best friends. If you have some problems, something that’s wrong in my life, I think that’s what is definitely for me a ‘best friend.’

A strange thing happened to us during the shooting. All the people that were in the movie, we are all in our 50s. We are the age of the characters, so we were facing death for the first time. I remember when we shot the last scene of Remy when he died, when everybody wants to make their farewell to me. Pierre [Curzi] asked me after the shooting, “Do you think about death, Remy?” I said, “No, Jesus Christ. I’m a baby-boomer! I’m immortal. What are you talking about?” He said, “Maybe we are on your last lines.” I didn’t want to talk about it, but something rung in my mind. That’s why this I found very, very difficult to shoot that scene of the death. I remember going home to my wife and saying, “Jesus Christ, you don’t know what I’ve done today. I was dying. I was dying today and I will die tomorrow.” It’s quite difficult. It was really a marvelous experience.

This character walks a very fine line between being detestable and lovable. Was it tough for you to play that mix of good guy/bad guy – basically a human being with major flaws?
In the first movie, when Denys Archand made the script, I read the script and it was the beginning of the 80s, a big time of feminism. I said to Denys, “I will be killed. Say something like this about women? I will be killed, Denys. I will never be able to walk down the street again. Every woman who sees me will want to kick my head.” He said, “Not if you say that because you have a way of saying that. That’s why I choose you.” And he was right.

I have this ability as an actor to play this kind of character, but to give him some sympathy, you know? My next film that begins in Montreal in January is the same thing. I’m playing a real bad guy, a real bad, ugly and sad guy. They choose me because they said, “Yes, we want him bad, but we want him a little bit sympathetic with the public.” Maybe it’s my trademark. I don’t know. But you’re right, it’s a fine line to make these characters acceptable for the people.

I think my work was to work on the humanity of the character. I think that is the key. If you talk about humanity, I like a character not for his qualities but for his bad habits. That’s what I look for in a character. What are his bad habits? What is wrong with him? After that, I will attach myself to what is right with him. I think that what makes the character interesting, is what is wrong with him. I don’t like perfect people. They don’t exist anyway. When I talk about characters in movies and in television, I don’t like perfect people. That’s why I like my job, to play the worst and the best. This balance between the two things is very hard sometimes to play, but very fun to play. It’s very important.

”The Barbarian Invasions” Photo Gallery
”The Barbarian Invasions” Trailer, Credits and Websites

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