Tonight, TF1 lifts the veil on a well-kept mystery of French television: the death of Paul Gallo in “I promise you”. Hugo Becker, his interpreter, returns for us to this pivotal moment in the series.
Since January 31, TF1 has been broadcasting the new season 2 of the event series I promise you every Monday evening.
Adapted from the American series This is us, I promise you follows the daily life of the Gallo family in the past and present. Like its illustrious big sister, this new burst of episodes has sequences rich in emotion in store for us. Starting with the death of Paul (Hugo Becker) which changed the lives of Florence (Camille Lou), Michaël (Guillaume Labbé), Mathis (Narcisse Mame) and Maud (Marilou Berry) forever.
Since the first episode of the series, this drama has kept viewers in suspense. After a long wait, the veil is finally lifted this evening on TF1. An episode necessarily intense and particularly rich in emotion.
Hugo Becker, the interpreter of Paul Gallo, returns for us to this pivotal moment of I promise you and tells us more about his character.
Allociné: You carry the series but also this wonderful Gallo family. What attracted you to the role of Paul and how do you view this father?
Hugo Becker : Thank you very much, but I really have the feeling that there are five of us carrying it, the series as well as the family, and I find them all wonderful. I’m really very lucky to have these partners, especially Camille, and the children, the little wolves like the teenagers, who are really talented generous actors and actresses.
What seduced me about Paul was his unfailing combativeness, his ability to take charge of himself and protect those around him, his desire that they move forward together no matter what. For an actor, a strong and complex character like that, who we follow in different periods of his life as well, it’s a gift and you have to live up to it.
We obviously cannot talk about I promise you without mentioning This is us from which it is adapted. Had you watched the original series before starting filming and were you inspired by the character of Jack Pearson to play Paul Gallo?
This is Us is a brilliant series in many ways and I had seen some of it a while ago. But obviously I didn’t look before the shoot. Just as it was a question for the authors of adapting, for the actors, it was above all necessary to feed on what is written and on oneself. Flying here and there in what we have experienced, in the people we have met… but for this character, I often reflected in the first season anyway, who I would like to be and how I would like act or react in such and such a situation.
I promise you addresses universal themes such as family, love or mourning while probing the psychology of its heroes. Finally, the Gallo family symbolizes a bit the everyone family with its good times and its bad times. Do you think it is this possibility of identification that makes the success of the series?
Yes, I believe that the authors Brigitte Bémol and Julien Simonet have worked hard on this. I mean to adapt, because it is an adaptation that is both social with the professions of the characters, cultural with their musical, political, advertising references, etc… All these things that created the desire in me first to read , then to want to see this series, and to play it. Because ultimately, it is a prism of society via a family, and one could suddenly imagine adaptations in many countries. And if they are all worked out in detail, they would all be of real interest.
In this second season, Paul moves away from the image of the perfect father and reveals a darker and more mysterious facet. Is it a challenge for you to play these different aspects of your character?
Above all, it is a necessity. It allows the series to move forward and that’s what I like. There is no repetition, on the contrary, we gradually discover the different pieces of the puzzle. And there is a real coherence, all the elements that are presented at one time or another, echo later.
From the very first episode of I promise you, we feel a real chemistry between you and your playing partners. How was your meeting with Camille Lou and how did you work on the Paul-Florence relationship?
I’m very lucky but I think it’s necessary for the success of this type of series. There has to be a complicity, an alchemy and a generosity in the work, otherwise nothing interesting can come out of it. While there, we are surprised in the scenes and they sometimes suddenly take on a whole different scale or intensity. The director, Renaud Bertrand, is very sensitive and he allows that too, we really work together and it’s very pleasant.
Paul and Florence embody the perfect couple in everyone’s eyes. But behind appearances, their flaws are numerous. How do you view their relationship?
I love them.
Season 2 of I Promise lifts the lid on Paul’s death. A drama that will not fail to make viewers react. How did you feel playing this crucial scene for the series and how did you prepare for it?
I confess that I prepare myself for all the projects and scenes that I do. For Chefs, I had taken cooking training. For a BBC series, I lost 7 kilos. For Paradise Beach, I got iron teeth and tattoos. For Diane de Poitiers, I learned horse riding and fencing. For The Last Journey, they even dyed my hair… but ultimately what we play outside of the actions strictly speaking, is the people we meet, what we have experienced and felt that helps us. It’s a work and an internal kitchen upstream before the shooting on what we want to convey as emotion. Once on set, for intense scenes, I often listen to the four seasons of Vivaldi recomposed by Max Richter.
The scene of the explosion of the boat is striking. Have you been overtaken by a stuntman?
No, for the fire scenes, I wanted to shoot the scenes, it seemed important to me.
Shortly before he takes his last breath, it feels like Paul knew his time had come and let Florence out to spare her that moment. Viewers won’t see anything either. What motivated this choice?
What I can tell you is that I’m glad you asked me this question. We are constantly trying to breathe subtext, life and meaning outside of the words. As in life, 80% of language is non-verbal. But there, it was a question of being able to understand it, without making it feel… an actor can never, in my opinion, be certain that he succeeds in passing on the torch of the emotions that run through him. He can only live them, feel them and hope.
This scene then leads to the amazed reaction of Florence who discovers that her husband has passed away even though she was talking to him a few seconds earlier. How was the filming of this scene?
It’s hard to describe that to you. There are suspended moments on a set, this was one.
Do you have other projects to come from now until season 3 of I promise you?
I am very lucky. In cinema, there is the film Pilote by Paul Doucet which will be released in May, then Tempête by Christian Duguay with Pio Marmaï and Mélanie Laurent. And in series, there is Diane de Poitiers, with Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen, Olivier Gourmet, Guillaume Gallienne, Michel Fau.
And there, I shot in Romain Quirot’s second film, Apache, with whom I had made The Last Voyage. I also participate in the very beautiful film by Rachid Hami, Pour la France, with Karim Leklou in particular.
There are several film projects for this year, but I’ll tell you about it another time when it’s shot.