After “Alice Nevers”, Jean-Michel Tinivelli returns to the small screen in the role of “Simon Coleman”, a new cop who could become a recurring hero of France 2. The actor tells us more about this police officer “feel good sympathetic “.
Exit Fred Marquand in Alice Neversand place at Simon Coleman for Jean-Michel Tiniveli. Just a few months after saying goodbye to the TF1 series, the actor returns tonight in the lead role of a France 2 unit which seems destined to become a series if successful.
In Simon Coleman, he plays a Parisian policeman accustomed to covering dangerous missions undercover who is entrusted with the custody of his nephews after the brutal death of his sister and his brother-in-law in a tragic accident. Forced to move to the south of France to take care of the children, will this hitherto unattached bachelor manage to settle into a tidy family life and find his bearings in a provincial police station?
On the occasion of the broadcast of this new fiction, Jean-Michel Tinivelli tells us more about his character, his differences with Marquand, and the family comedy aspect which weighed enormously in his decision to embark on this adventure. .
AlloCiné: After nearly 15 years in Alice Nevers, did you hesitate before agreeing to play a cop again in Simon Coleman?
Jean-Michel Tiniveli : Not at all. I was very happy with the proposal. Because I said to myself “Cop, ok, but potential series behind”. And it’s a format that I really like because it allows you to explore a character in depth.
This pilot lays the groundwork, and I felt we could do something different from a base that, on paper, might seem close since, like Marquand, Simon is a cop. But he’s a “feel good likeable” cop. Marking him, he was not necessarily friendly all the time. He was grumpy, grumpy, and he was there to be in opposition to Alice who was often benevolent.
So I said to myself “Take the base of Marquand and go elsewhere. Open towards the opposite. Go towards the positive”. And I feel like we succeeded. After the first minutes, we quickly realize that Simon Coleman has little to do with Marquand.
From the drama that Simon and his nephews go through, a real family comedy situation arises, since your character must find his marks as uncle, and guardian, of three children. Is that also what you liked when you read the script?
To be honest, if this pilot had only been a duo of cops, and a story of investigation, I would surely have hesitated. But it’s true that there’s also the family side that breaks the fact of being only a cop. And the family prevails over the rest and over the investigation. The situation in which my character is plunged is quite irresistible and is stronger than the rest. And obviously, we use this comic and family thread for the rest, with a view to making other episodes.
At this stage of your career, were you looking to go more into comedy when Simon Coleman showed up?
I realize that the characters that I was able to interpret before, and which in my opinion were already offbeat, were not necessarily perceived in the same way by the public (laughs). So yes I want to go even more towards that. What interests me are the ordinary characters who become extraordinary, who are a little off the ground, who have latitude, who go off in all directions. And with Simon Coleman, I think there is a good basis to go in this direction if we continue.
I don’t want to play a perfect guy. I want us to exploit his flaws, for him to have a particular way of investigating. A little like Colombo : he doesn’t have any superpowers but we let ourselves be taken in, we’re surprised. And we can also cite HPI on TF1 or Candice Renoir on France 2. They are colorful characters, and I find that extraordinary heroes are always more interesting. And I need this. And solar characters. I want to be a friendly human.
Was the role written for you?
Not at all. Even though I think Richard Berkowitz, the producer, had an idea in mind from the start. He met me several times at the La Rochelle Festival last year, and each time he told me he wanted to talk to me. But it didn’t go any further. And I forgot to ask him what it was about (laughs). In short, it got off to a bad start.
Finally, I made the decision to return a day earlier from La Rochelle, having completely forgotten these brief discussions, and by the happiest of chances I found Richard on the station platform. And once on the train he was finally able to talk to me about this detective fiction project with a real feel good spirit. And reading the sequence I did not hesitate.
My enthusiasm was there because I was also finishing Alice Nevers. I liked to end this 14-year-old saga and go straight back to another role. Because I really started filming only a few days after Alice. And then I liked the character. The myth of the macho has been shaken up a bit and I think that’s great.
How did you prepare to play this uncle cop character?
It was quite easy in the end because I’m close to Simon. I’m dropped with the kids. I am single, without children. So I wondered how I would have tackled this in Coleman’s shoes.
You excel in your job as a cop, you’re immersed, you have to go on vacation to see friends, and bim, it falls on the corner of your head. Your sister died and you have to take care of her children. It’s not nothing. In these cases it is better not to think. We go there out of love and we ensure.
It is often said that it is not easy to film with children. Was that the case on Simon Coleman?
I confirm: it’s super hard (laughs). This is Clint Eastwood who said that I believe, and it is true. I knew it was complicated because I had already faced some of them (laughs). But there it was three at once. Also at different ages. And then everything happened very quickly, we didn’t really have time to meet before we started filming. So we had to catch the situation quickly and use what they felt at the time to shoot.
Fortunately the production chose three super young actors. And since I’m a brat, I got on well with them. Probably because I don’t have children. I don’t have that kind of parental strength that children must feel (laughs). There they said to themselves “He has white hair but he is still kidding”. So apart from the fact that you have to shoot quickly, because children get tired quickly, everything went well.
I met several actresses, we did some tests, and with Raphaëlle it matched. Three days before, I was on Alice Nevers, I was finishing the last episodes, so obviously I had reflexes because of all these years spent alongside Madam Justice. Sometimes I said to myself “Oh no, it’s not Marine, it’s Raphaëlle” (laughs). You have to get used to all that.
But it went well, especially since in any case we don’t have much time to ask ourselves questions, we have to go. We didn’t have time to say “How are we going to consider this duo?”. The characters are camped, they are in a certain way on paper, and there it is she who is a bit in the role of Marquand, she bumps into me, she jostles me. And he, who specializes in immersion in Paris, enters a little immersion in this provincial police station, because he asks his superior not to reveal the real reasons for his arrival in Aix-en-Provence.
What I also loved with this duo is that Raphaëlle’s character drives. Often in the series it’s the guy who drives, I never understood why. So there I said to myself “Great, it’s magnificent”. It’s going in the right direction and it leads to very funny situations, because here again we find the somewhat macho guy, the misplaced virility, with suspicion as to the woman’s driving qualities.
Yes really. I’m participating in this TV movie, I didn’t spend weeks on set, we didn’t play the guitar around the fire together evenings and evenings. But Kendji is really a good guy, very friendly. And I think people are going to be surprised.
He really gave himself in all simplicity, he opened up. And from what I’ve seen, the result is really there. Since then, I went to see him in concert, he’s really a great guy. And we defend an important subject, illiteracy. So I hope people will like it.
Do you have other upcoming projects?
Right now I’m focused on getting Simon Coleman out. And then we’ll see. Maybe other episodes, depending on the audience. But I have no rush, cravings, or immediate plans.