Season 12 of “Clem” begins tonight on TF1 with the return of Jérôme, the heroine’s ex-husband. François-David Cardonnel (“Koh Lanta”), who succeeds Benoît Michel, tells us everything about the “new” Jérôme and what awaits us in these episodes.
AlloCiné: You join Clem in season 12 in the role of Jérôme, previously held by the actor Benoît Michel. What did you like about TF1’s proposal? Did you hesitate at the idea of taking on a character that had already been played by another?
Francois-David Cardonnel : In fact, I was immediately told that it was a character that already existed, that had been interpreted by another actor before. And I enjoyed the challenge. I said to myself “Well, there is a small pebble in the shoe, we will have to be convincing, and in any case do as well as the other actor. And not disappoint the fans”.
And then it was quite comfortable to arrive in a series like Clem, which has been established for years, because it’s like a family. We are on track.
Exactly, was it easy to join this family that has known each other for years? Were you well received by your gaming partners?
Yes, it happened naturally. Lucie Lucas was adorable. She offered to talk to me about the character, her story. She immediately put me at ease. So that set the tone. Because if the main actress is really cool, in general it follows everything else. And it was confirmed. The shoot was super fun.
And with Elina Solomon, who plays Emma, Jerome’s daughter, was that obvious from the start? Did you easily create this father-daughter bond on set?
Elina is super talented. We see that she wants to learn and that she has evolved through this series. We especially tried to create a bond of “friends” to be close on the set. And it suited the character of Jérôme who, in this new season, behaves more like a friend with his daughter than like a dad.
Did you consult with the authors to decide on the “color” to give Jérôme in these new episodes? We feel that he is quite different from the Jérôme that we left in season 7, played by Benoît Michel. Was it to stick a little more to your energy and your personality?
No, there were no discussions. I think it was a will of the authors not to stick to the original character since there had to be a change of interpreter. Especially as the years have passed, one can imagine that Jérôme experienced a lot during this period.
But it is certain that I brought my personality to the character, yes. It was important. And I didn’t want to see old episodes with Benoît Michel so as not to be influenced in my way of acting. I preferred to try something new.
We know that Jérôme returns to be closer to his daughter. What can you say about what awaits us in this twelfth season of Clem?
Jérôme wants to recreate a link with Emma, that’s it. I imagine he had another life in South Africa, and now he wants to reconnect with the past and refocus on the essentials. He can’t back down, but he really wants to bond with his daughter. And so, obviously, he lands in Clem’s life. Which upsets a lot of things.
Despite the gray areas that Jérôme seems to hide in the first episodes of the season, is he therefore sincere in his approach to Emma?
His approach is always sincere in relation to his daughter. Anyway, that’s how I wanted to interpret it. I told myself that a father could not lie to his child. Afterwards, of course, he gets involved in somewhat shady affairs, he has stories, but that’s something else, it has nothing to do with his return to his daughter’s life.
Will his return lead to a confrontation with Clem?
The confrontation with Clem is inevitable because she did all the work of education with Emma during all these years. He arrives with his big clogs, with his daughter who is so happy that she sees him as Prince Charming, the savior, it’s a bit easy. So inevitably, for Clem, it will not go too well.
Especially since the character of Jérôme, we sometimes want to tart him (laughs). That’s how I played it too and I thought it was very funny. The guy is still super swollen (laughs).
Jérôme comes back into Clem’s life when she finally makes perfect love with Mathieu. Does he take malicious pleasure in potentially blowing it all up?
I imagine that when a dad sees his daughter with a stepfather, even if the story with Clem is old, there is always a little rivalry with the new companion.
Can viewers hope for a flashback between Jérôme and Clem?
Emma wants it anyway, but is that going to happen? I’ll leave it to the public to find out. But at the beginning it started badly in any case (laughs).
Before Clem, you chained roles in more dramatic projects, such as Le Bazar de la Charité, Insoupçonnable, Olivia, and La Traque. Did you specifically want to return to comedy, a genre that you had explored in particular with the Templeton series on OCS?
That’s what I like about this job: being able to explore different characters and contexts. It doesn’t matter if it’s comedy or drama, the secret is to be sincere in what you do. Even if comedy is a slightly different register, with an even stronger letting go. But I take as much pleasure in both registers, really.
Did you feel a change in your career after The Bazaar of Charity?
The Charity Bazaar was a very big machine, with a crazy cast. I found myself with Josiane Balasko, Gilbert Melki, Audrey Fleurot. And maybe that made people trust me more on formats like these. And since there was a big exhibition, I think that must have helped me a little.
Clem has not yet been renewed for season 13. Is the door open to a return for Jérôme next year? Do you want to continue the adventure?
We don’t know, maybe Jérôme will die (laughs). More seriously, yes, I imagine that things remain open. We’ll see in the event of season 13. But in any case, I had a lot of fun shooting this twelfth season, so why not, anything is possible.
A large part of the public discovered you in Koh Lanta in 2006. It remains a good memory for you?
Of course, it’s a great memory. I did this when I was 20. I’m 38 today. This is where you realize that this show is very old (laughs). It was a great thing for me to be on this show at this time in my life. At 20, we need to discover ourselves, challenges. I had this need at the time. Today I have much less.
That’s why I didn’t do the show again. But I don’t deny that past at all. It’s a completely crazy show, I enjoyed myself, and it taught me a lot of things. But I prefer to watch it as a viewer today.
Do you remain an assiduous spectator of Koh Lanta?
Of course, no choice (laughs). I’ve been addicted since 2007, I’m caught up in it.
We’ll see you soon on M6 in a new short format. What can you say about this new adventure?
It’s a series called La Cour des grands and which will soon be broadcast on M6, that’s it. It’s a short format that we’ve been shooting for several months, and it takes place in the schoolyard with parents and teachers. It’s a pretty cool project once again. It’s comedy. And all I can say is that I’m not playing a teacher.