Théo Curin, ex-vice world disabled champion, plays Sam in the TF1 TV movie “Handigang”. A first role held alongside former presenter Alessandra Sublet. For Allociné, he confides in his new acting career.
Already appeared on the small screen in More beautiful life, Theo Curin took his first steps as an actor for the needs of the TV movie Handigang, filmed before its participation in the soap opera of France 3 but which only arrives this evening at 9:10 p.m. on TF1. At the microphone of Allociné, he opens up about his decision to stop sports competitions to turn to new areas such as comedy. What are his future projects? What was his experience on Handigang? Answer.
Allociné: We all know you as an athlete. What motivated you to embark on this new acting career?
Theo Curin : Quite simply because the opportunity presented itself. I started in Cloakrooms on France 2 but I embodied my own role. It wasn’t really great cinema because I had to be myself. During the first confinement, I was contacted by a cinema agent and I accepted because it was a chance.
Then there was Handigang and Plus belle la vie. I accepted because the cinema made me dream and seemed inaccessible to me. I come from the countryside, my parents couldn’t afford to give me acting lessons, and no one around me is an artist. So, when I found out that I had to go to castings, I was happy that it materialized and I discovered a real passion in this profession.
You don’t have to be disabled to convey messages about disability, the same for the LGBTQ+ cause
What made you want to accept this role?
Already, the opportunity is extraordinary: it’s prime-time on TF1, as a leading role, it’s incredible. Reading the screenplay, even if I don’t want to be the spokesperson for people with disabilities, the subject touched me.
I was touched by Sam’s story. I never had a teenage crisis because I left my parents’ house at 13 to study sports in Vichy, almost 500 kilometers from them. I never did anything stupid, and that’s what I liked about this scenario: the opportunity to do things that I had never done. What I like in cinema is to embody people that I am not.
Finally, this film is an extension of what you have been doing for years using another format…
That’s why I accepted the project. This film is about difference, we talk about disability but also about homosexuality, for example. We talk about all the differences and that’s the message I’ve been trying to get across for years. And then, you don’t need to be disabled to send messages about disability, the same for the LGBTQ+ cause… as long as you’re motivated!
The best is when we come together! This is really the message that I want to convey and this film is an example of it. Obviously, it’s based on the adolescence of a person with a disability, but it also talks about homosexuality, which is a very important subtlety. Vincent (played by Arthur Legrand) suffers more from his homosexuality than from cystic fibrosis, for example.
It was also the opportunity to kiss a man for the first time in my life. [rires]. For the record, this scene was shot on the second day of filming. I didn’t know Arthur yet, it was very funny, this sequence linked us.
I want to detach myself from my swimming image
You don’t swim in the TV movie, it may be surprising for your fans…
Precisely, what is nice in the TV movie is that it tells the story of Sam and not that of Theo. I want to detach myself from my swimming image. Afterwards, if for a sequel it is offered to me, I will do it. But, it was important to set the scene in another way.
How do you identify with Sam?
In simply wanting to make things happen and also in daring. Sam dares, like me, to break the codes, to say what he thinks, to respond to teachers or to be independent. The first thing I wanted when I left the hospital was to be independent. I couldn’t bear my relatives helping me because I knew I could do it alone, even if it required training. Sam can’t stand being helped by his mother less and less.
Was it complicated to expose yourself so much?
At no moment ! As long as the people around you are kind, that’s it. The filming may seem impressive but the people who participated in this project knew that it was not just a TV movie.
Did you understand the fight scene?
No. On first reading, I didn’t like this sequence very much because I was inactive. I was only pushing someone at one point. So I said to Stephanie Pillonca (the director of the TV movie) that I wanted to fight too and she said “Okay”. She brought in a stuntman and a crew who wrote choreography for me.
This is one of the scenes where Stephanie watched the combo the least because she was afraid that something would happen to us.
We worked on it for a whole morning, I will remember it all my life. It seems to me that this is one of the scenes where Stephanie watched the combo the least because she was afraid that something would happen to us.
Finally, it’s a very strong scene because it can happen in real life. Stéphanie’s strength is that she knows how to gauge things. For the fight, we went for something new that had never been seen.
Did you recognize yourself in this fusional mother-son relationship?
Yes, and that’s what I liked with Stephanie because she added scenes that I suggested to her. I found that a scene of contact between the two characters was missing because my parents helped me a lot when I was young with my prostheses for example. When we were shooting with Alessandra Sublet, I really saw a mother in front of me. During the scenes where she was helping me, it was simple and easy, natural. Although there were several cameras around us, it was very natural.
Have you ever faced the same problems as your character during your schooling or elsewhere?
Not really regarding accessibility issues, because I was able to walk again very quickly with my prostheses. On the other hand, I have friends in wheelchairs and I can clearly see the difficulties they have in Paris or in other cities in France. The problem I suffered from at the beginning, but not anymore, was the gaze of others. Why was everyone looking at me like that, like I was an alien overnight?
Then one day, I understood that the gaze of others was human. I also sometimes look at others. For example, today, if I meet a person in the street with blue hair, I will look at them not because I am judging them but because I am not used to seeing that. And when people look at me in the street it’s the same, there’s no particular judgment. When I understood that, I simply started living again.
How did you feel during your return to high school for this shoot?
Honestly, it was nice. In addition, there were real students who did the extras. It made me laugh to go back to high school, even though I hated it at the time. In fact, I think I’d rather go to high school for fictional purposes.
We are talking more and more about people with disabilities…
Do we talk enough about the inclusion of people with disabilities in France?
We talk about it more and more. I’m very positive about it.
Several months ago you crossed Lake Titicaca, today you are the leading role in a TV movie. What’s next?
There is my next sporting challenge, the “Santa Fe-Coronda” race which takes place in Argentina [57 km à faire à la nage]. I would also like to land other roles, and I am also passionate about television. I would like to have my own TV show one day and be able to do both: comedy and animation.
You have declared stopping sports competitions. Do you plan to focus completely on your acting career?
No, because I will continue to challenge myself from time to time. I decided to stop competing because I was facing classification problems, but it’s true that now it leaves me time for other requests, going to castings, shooting a film or a series, imagining television projects. It’s easier now.
If I put all that together, I didn’t have a minute to myself. I’m 22 years old, I don’t want to exhaust myself and have no taste for anything that happened at 30. It’s important to find a balance. Today, I am very fulfilled, I like the diversity of my life. For a month, I was in the middle of promoting my book, now I’m on Handigang and besides that I’m training. Currently, I am also writing a short film with a friend, it will be shot this summer and I will act in it.
My dream is to land a role that doesn’t require being disabled and my second dream would be a movie with even more stunts, even if I play a person with a disability.
Finally, what would be the perfect role for you, the one you dream of playing?
Frankly, I think there are a billion roles I would be interested in. Little anecdote, once, I had a discussion with a producer, I said that it was not normal that the handicapped characters of the film are played by able-bodied people. And this producer told me something very interesting and true in my opinion. He told me that was also the job of an actor, to embody things and people that we are not necessarily. To be an actor is to know how to play comedy, sadness, euphoria… but it is also to play a blind person, in a wheelchair, paraplegic… Then, I thought to myself… If we see things from this angle, so that means that you can also see me playing someone able-bodied or at least in a normal role.
One of my dreams is to go on a casting call for a rather tall man with curly hair and that’s it. Obviously, my handicap will show, but I don’t care, and the director has to be in the same state of mind. Afterwards, I have to ensure, that I have the qualities to play the role. And conversely, I also like to embody the role of a person with a disability as we did with Handigang because it allows us to add even more truth.
So my dream is to land a role that doesn’t require being disabled, and my second dream would be a movie with even more stunts, even if I’m playing a person with a disability. The day we shot the stunt for the movie was my favorite part of the shoot, I had never done that in my life and I loved it.