Balthazar: “The investigation into Lise’s death will finally be resolved” promises Tomer Sisley

“Balthazar” returns this evening at 9:05 pm on TF1 for a new season 3 rich in twists and revelations. Tomer Sisley, who plays the atypical hero of the series, tells us more about this new batch and his upcoming projects.


AlloCiné: Season 2 ended dramatically for Balthazar, who believed he had discovered the identity of his wife’s killer, Lise, and ultimately had to deal with the death of Margueritte, his best friend. In what state of mind do we find him at the beginning of season 3?

Tomer sisley : We find him in a completely free state of mind, on a boat. He cast off the moorings of the past and tried to find himself, in the middle of nature. Which represents rather well Balthazar who is a guy who is resourceful by going on an adventure. So we find it resourced, that’s the word (laughs). He tries to run away from the past, but obviously the past will eventually catch up with him.

One of the strengths of the series has always been the Balthazar-Helena relationship. Who until now played a lot on innuendo but which in this season 3 crosses a real milestone …

Yes, in the third season Balthazar and Helene finally admit the feelings they have for each other. They are going to admit it to themselves, and to each other too, and it will have consequences on their personal and professional lives that we probably weren’t expecting.

Upon reading the script, were you happy to discover that their relationship would finally progress and that the writers had chosen not to stretch this amorous hesitation to infinity?

Obviously, I’m always happy when we offer interesting things (laughs). But it is true that the authors had a lot of courage on this. But you know, I think they also stick to the proposals that we make, when we shoot the scripts that they have already written. Because the season is not written in advance in its entirety. They write episodes 1 and 2, we shoot them, and while we shoot they write 3 and 4, and so on. Basically, because there are sessions where we sometimes shoot three episodes at once. Or sometimes just one. But in general it goes like this. And so the writers have time to adapt to what is happening on the set. A series like this is living matter. Once a script is written, it is not set in stone. Our interpretation on the set, or the way in which we are going to highlight certain small things, that necessarily influences the authors for the following episodes.

And as far as this relationship is concerned, I think we tried not to take viewers for idiots, quite simply. I have a little trouble with the series that ask a question in season 1 and still do not provide an answer in season 7. It even tends to annoy me (laughs). And there, on Balthazar, this is really not the case. We draw the thread of the relationship. We see how far it can go. There are twists and turns to make it last over 8 episodes too, obviously. But there is a real evolution, yes. And for example, during this third season, the investigation into Lise’s death will finally be resolved. Balthazar, like the viewers, will have the answers to all the questions he had about this assassination. We are really in that state of mind on many levels. We are going forward.


You are also credited in the credits of Balthazar as an artistic collaborator. Can you explain to us what it consists of? Do you work on the plot design with Clothilde Jamin and the writers?

No, I don’t work on plot design. Far from there. It’s really the job of the writers. I intervene in many small aspects in fact. It can be feedback on the different versions of the scenario up to the final version. Or on the set, when we shoot. Knowing this character quite well, I can afford to improvise a situation, to add a little humor. Once again, a series is living matter. So the idea is at each step to pull what we have to the top. And when I say every step, it’s up to the editing. I give feedback on the edit, I am shown the first versions, and it may happen that I ask for small changes. And as a rule, people listen to me. I think the fact that I did an episode last year, and it went particularly well, probably made that relationship easier.

Exactly, you did not want to go behind the camera again this year to direct an episode of season 3?

Directing, I love it, but you can’t imagine the workload it is when you do both, acting and directing. Under these conditions anyway. Because if it was a feature film, where you can adapt, it would be different. But shooting a 52-minute episode in 10 days is already sporting. When we try to do it with a minimum of quality. Just as a director it’s not easy. So if on top of that I spend half of my time in front of the camera, that’s as much time that I don’t spend behind. And vice versa. It makes my work as an actor more complicated and it makes my work as a director much more complicated.

So I did it in season 2, and I loved doing it. But it took so much energy from me… And above all it was an episode that we had to isolate from the other episodes so that I could do my job properly. Because in general we shoot 2 episodes, or even 3, at the same time, in crossboarding, to reduce costs. But when it’s an episode that I’m directing, I can’t do it crossboarding with another director. I need my preparation time for example. I need at least a week or two of preparation as a director. But these two weeks, if we crossboard, I don’t have them because during that time I will be doing my job as an actor on an episode by another director. Directing an episode is complicated on a series like Balthazar where I am almost all the sequences as an actor. But I loved doing it and will do it again for sure. Just maybe not right away (laughs).


The investigations that Balthazar and Helene face this year are all pretty crazy. Do you have a favorite episode in this season 3?

I really like Episode 5, a bit fantastic, which features an alternate reality. It’s a bit of a special episode. It was fun to have different scenes, which come out of Balthazar’s grammar. But generally I always find things that I like a lot in the episodes of Balthazar. Situations which are out of the ordinary and which are necessarily interesting to play. I am also thinking of episode 3, where Balthazar and Hélène are in front of the IGPN and where it turns into comedy because both are in bad faith and settle their accounts in front of other cops. Frankly, I have a little trouble choosing a favorite episode, but for sure the fantastic episode stands out.

A few weeks ago, you started filming A Perfect Mother for TF1. What did you like about this mini-series project?

What I liked was first of all the character, who is the opposite of Balthazar. As was already my character in Messiah for example. You will understand, what I like is not doing the same thing every day, that’s why I chose this job. So here I am playing a former cop who became a lawyer. Who is not the best lawyer, nor the worst either. He has a crazy family life, he got dumped by his wife. And one fine day, the woman he was with before founding his family, and who had disappeared overnight 20 years ago, knocks on his office door and asks him for help because her daughter is accused. of murder. This is the starting point for my character who is neither an adventurer, nor a joker, nor a guy who tells it to himself. It’s not Balthazar at all. So obviously that interested me. And the other reason I said yes is because it’s a project that was suggested to me by Iris Bucher, from Quad, with Julie Gayet. We have known each other for a long time with Julie but we had never had the opportunity to work together before so it was fun. It was all pretty sexy actually (laughs).


And you have a busy news story because you will also soon be shooting in the Netflix film Don’t Look Up by Adam McKay, with a very impressive cast. Was filming with Meryl Streep a childhood dream?

Totally. Meryl Streep I put her at the top of the pedestal. I am more than in awe of this woman. For me it’s the female equivalent of Robert Duvall. He is a sacred monster of talent. She is an artist who moves me completely. I find it fascinating. But unfortunately I won’t have any scenes with her. But with a little luck I will still see her work.

Can you say which actors you will be sharing scenes with?

Yes, with Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s not bad too (laughs).

And then, later, you’ll shoot Largo Winch 3, right?

Yes, it’s in the pipes. We were supposed to shoot it in February, but it won’t be in February. In any case, it was offered to me, we’ll see if it’s done. All I know is the producers are rewriting the script.

Interview on November 5, 2020 by phone.

The trailer for season 3 of Balthazar which starts tonight at 9:05 pm on TF1:

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