In 2006, AlloCiné had the privilege of meeting Johnny Hallyday on the occasion of the release of the comedy “Jean-Philippe”, which is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary today. Memories of a tête-à-tête with an icon …
We republish below our interview with Johnny Hallyday, met in 2006 on the occasion of the release of the comedy Jean-Philippe, which is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary today.
Johnny Hallyday. A star. A legend. An icon. But in the cozy living room of a Parisian hotel, it’s a Johnny far removed from the image of the showbiz star who comes before us. Simple, humble, warm, talkative and happy to joke, he enthusiastically evokes the astonishing comedy Jean Philippe, in which he plays who he would have been if he hadn’t been a rock star.
Between two jokes on Salma Hayek, on the Brad Pitt / Angelina Jolie couple and on the future “vacations” which he intends to agree after two months of promotion-marathon (“vacations” which are in truth the rehearsals for his next tour!), Johnny Hallyday, monster of charisma whose least paradox is his apparent shyness, indulges in AlloCiné. Action.
AlloCiné: “Jean-Philippe” mixes many genres, including comedy and science fiction. How would you sum up the film?
Johnny Hallyday : You have to be clear, Jean Philippe is first and foremost a comedy. A comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously. With moments of tenderness, others funny. With a bit of sci-fi as well, although it’s not a sci-fi movie to speak of.
“When a man fan of Johnny finds himself in a world where his idol does not exist, how will he react?” This is the question posed by Jean Philippe. Well, he concludes that if Johnny does not exist in this world, Jean-Philippe Smet must live well there. All of this is mainly treated in the tone of comedy.
How did you manage to put yourself in the shoes of a man who should have become … you?
To be honest, I had a hard time accepting the role. At the beginning, I thought to myself that it was pretentious to act in a film where I am a kind of icon, with thousands of fans. A film that asks questions of style: “Is Johnny essential?”, “What would life be without Johnny?” Frankly, I was very skeptical. It was a bold basic idea, but I found it a bit daunting.
On the other hand, it may seem formatted what I’m saying, but it’s true: after reading the script, I changed my mind. I found it interesting, very original. The idea is that I had to play a Jean-Philippe Smet who doesn’t know Johnny Hallyday, who doesn’t know his songs, because he hasn’t become one. He is a completely normal man, who sees a weirdo land in his life, claiming that he is a rock star in another dimension! (laughs)
I struggled a bit, it was unsettling to play, but I did. Mostly, again, I wish people didn’t take this movie seriously. It’s a comedy, to be taken in the second degree.
“Jean-Philippe” is also a beautiful reflection on fate …
Yeah, I think it’s a fate movie. We all had a very specific meeting that made our life change, that we are doing what we do today. If this meeting had been missed, we would have had another job, we would experience other things, we would have another circle of friends, another family, other children.
You yourself wouldn’t be here interviewing me if fate had been different. In Jean-Philippe, there is this reflection on fate, on what Jean-Philippe Smet could have become if he … Finally, all that is in the film! (laughs)
What was your reaction after seeing the film for the first time?
I immediately had this feeling that we had really had a lot of fun. That we had a lot of fun with a very creative scenario, full of ideas. Moreover, I think that when the spectators see the film, they will realize that Fabrice Luchini and I don’t have a big head at all. It’s a good thing to make fun of yourself.
At first glance, we tell ourselves that the film is going to be successful. How do you see its future?
You know, we have a very scary job. Whether we’re making music or making a movie, we don’t know if it’s going to work. We don’t have infused science, that would be too easy. So we operate on instinct. I found the film interesting, but I don’t know if it’s going to work. It’s original to play, for Fabrice as well. It changes him from what he played before.
It’s a mainstream film, and the two of us have mostly been in auteur films, not really doomed to be a big hit. So I can’t tell you if Jean Philippe will meet with success. The media like the film a lot, but the public is different, they have their tastes, their choices. We’ll see…
Was it difficult to play against Fabrice Luchini, who, in reality, is really a big fan?
Fabrice Luchini is a fan of me, it’s true, but especially of James Brown ! It’s weird besides, we are very far from his universe! (laughs) With Fabrice, we shared a lot of boozy dinners, before the idea for the film even came to us. As it is very intense, with the help of alcohol, he often launched into imitations of James brown, me or Eddy Mitchell. He makes imitations of those he loves, so obviously he likes me, I’m fine! (laughs)
When I remembered those crazy dinners, I thought he would be ideal for the role. But you know, in life he’s worse than the character in the movie. Be careful, it’s a phenomenon, he takes a bottle, he uses it as a microphone and let’s go! (laughs) But beyond this sweet madness, the most important thing for me is that Fabrice always has a lot of elegance in its side “I do too much”.
Finally, many say that by playing a character close to your own, you have found your best role. What do you have to say to them?
It’s nice of them, I don’t really know what to say, I don’t know if playing Jean-Philippe Smet makes me better … I think if I have a good role and the people buy into it, it’s more, again, a question of fate.
We all have the opportunity to make films. Some good, some bad. Which catch the audience or not. It’s hard to predict. I myself have been less good in some films, I am aware of that. What I can say, and I will repeat myself, is that we have a scary job. You never know what’s going to happen the next day. We live with his anxieties. And for the result to be good, for it to please, we just try to do our job with pleasure and passion.
Interview by Clément Cuyer on April 3, 2006 in Paris
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