As is often the case, the opening night of the 36th Rencontres Henri Langlois ends with some few drinks. In a corner of the bar, Vincent Lacoste - relaxed and open - delights those around him. 'It's always good to meet your audience - it lets you test the waters, see if they liked the film or not,' he explains. A shock of unkempt curly hair, a beige jacket over his shoulders, he grins, 'And this evening, I felt it, people really laughed.'
it all started in the canteen
He says he got into cinema by chance. He was eating in the canteen when he saw a flyer for a casting call. 'The vice-principal at my school worked as an extra and he was a huge film fan. People came into school and handed out flyers to everyone.' He admits that he wasn't interested straight away - he even lost the sign-up form. But when one of his friends was called back for a second audition, 'I said to myself that if he'd been called back, it could happen to me too. I asked for their number again, off I went and they took me on! I didn't even know what role it was for,' he says, a smile on his lips.
Vincent Lacoste was fifteen when he found himself on the poster for Beaux Gosses, Riad Sattouf's first film. 'In my very first big role, there was a scene on the bus where I was joking around. I was spaced out, not at all nervous, I just didn't like the look they'd given me. That was when I realised I was actually going to be in a film,' he says, ruffling his hair. In this film, he played Hervé, a pimply-faced teen and skilled masturbator uncomfortable in his changing skin. 'It's still tricky making yourself ugly for a film that people you know are going to see. At fifteen, no-one's really very attractive, it's not a good age. It wasn't easy at first but for me the most important thing was to make the film. Of course, I'd've preferred to play a young ambitious schoolkid,' he says, laughing.
Following the film's success, everything he's touched has turned to gold. Nominated for a César award [Most Promising Actor in 2010 - Ed.] and introduced to an agent who offered him lots of other roles, Vincent Lacoste admits that he "didn't have to work too hard to get into film. At sixteen no-one knows what they want to do. I was lucky I didn't have to choose. I just had to let myself be carried along. It's a great job! ". Since 2009, he has already acted in ten films as well as in Édouard Baer's last play, À la française. Among the directors and actors he has worked with, there are some women who are really important to him: Julie Delpy (Le Skylab) and Noémie Lvovsky (Camille Redouble).
Riad sattouf is watching you
Vincent is full of praise for the man who launched his career, Riad Sattouf, who he thinks of as his mentor. 'We're friends, we live near each other, we see each other all the time. He watches over me.' You only have to look at them to understand. The director and the actor are very close friends and they are always having a laugh. It brings to mind the relationship that artists share with their muse. But it's not all plain sailing. Vincent explains, 'Riad asks a lot of you. He always tells you when it's rubbish. You need to concentrate. It's not all mucking about on stage. But he knows where he's going, what he wants.' He was the director's first choice for Jacky au royaume des filles, but Vincent was only allowed on set if he passed his exams. When it comes to his best mate, Vincent has no doubts whatsoever. 'I've never asked myself if the script was any good or not. I trust him completely.'
Jacky is young, single, and lives with his mother. Living in the imaginary country of Bubunne, where men, submissive and veiled, live under women's control, he only has one dream: to marry the (female, naturally) dictator's daughter, the colonel [Charlotte Gainsbourg - Ed.]. Naive and simple-minded, Jacky tries to meet the woman of his dreams at all costs, and ends up in over his head. Vincent put a lot of work into his character, with help from Sattouf and a coach. 'I had to play a submissive, obedient character. I'm not very manly, but I've got a deep voice. So I had to work on that without resorting to stereotypes,' he says, in character.
THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH AND GTA V
He talks only vaguely about his private life. He lives a normal life, he says, 'hanging around in the flat [he left home at the start of the year], going out, getting the métro, having a few drinks, and playing GTA V.' He's not looking to become famous. Anyway, that doesn't tend to happen very often, and that's how he likes it. When you ask him about his plans, he jokingly says that he's going to, 'make the most of the Rencontres Henri Langlois - go and eat and party with everyone who's here!' before adding - more seriously - that, 'being a director is the best job on earth and a film festival showing student films is really something. Acting is great, but being a director lets you tell your own stories.' For now, he's happy to carry on acting and to not worry too much about the future. He's just finished working on Thomas Lilti 's film Hippocrate, to be released at the start of 2014, where he plays a doctor. 'It's my first non-comic role,' he explains, clearly thrilled. 'But I still managed to squeeze in a couple of jokes.' A leopard can't change its spots.
Trailer for Jacky au royaume des filles (in cinemas in France 29 January 2014).
Interview by Flavien Hugault.