While the mini-series “Off season” continues this evening on France 3, Marina Hands and Sofiane Zermani, the interpreters of the cops Sterenn Peiry and Lyes Bouaouni, confide in this thriller unlike any other, their duo, and the conditions of filming.
AlloCiné: What attracted you to this thriller like no other?
Marina Hands : When I started to read the screenplay of Out of season I said to myself “I’ve never seen this, I can’t let this pass”. I felt real excitement. The plot is absolutely insane. I love the idea that it’s difficult and complicated to shoot, because we didn’t choose the easy way with this series. It’s great, the stakes are always extremely high.
I was also very honored to be offered such a role because I had never played a character like Sterenn. I thought it was nice to be trusted. And then I really wanted to work with Sofiane. I’ve met a lot of amazing people in my career, but as fantastic as some actors can be, I think there’s something even more fantastic about this job: passion.
And with Sofiane, I felt that filming was going to wake me up (laughs). I said to myself “That’s going to stop me from purring”. That’s what I’m looking for. I need this freshness and to work with people who burn, who make bets. Sofiane is like that. And the series as a whole was steeped in that spirit. It’s a real gamble: the creators are all young, the two producers are producing a series for the first time. There was a “first time” aspect. For Sofiane too who found himself immersed in such a role. I liked that. The energy that emerges is priceless.
Sofiane Zermani : It’s true that, even if it’s a shared role, it’s the first time that I’ve been put forward so much. There were a lot of first times. First time in Switzerland in particular. It was obviously part of my motivations. With also the desire to explore the daily life of a cop, to be immersed in this universe. I was full of curiosity about the police, so I liked putting myself in the shoes of a cop, in his normality.
How would you define the dynamic of the duo formed by your two characters in the series?
Sofiane Zermani: The relationship between Lyes and Sterenn is two diametrically opposed worlds that meet and go together really well.
Marina Hands: The strength of the series also lies in its characters. I loved that they weren’t stereotypes, clichés, people who don’t really exist. I wanted the viewer to be able to identify with a police captain. That a link is possible, regardless of labels and nationalities.
Sofiane Zermani: The series does not simply stay on the surface, it is interested in life, internal conflicts, and the doubts of the characters. Their professional and personal lives collide, one rubbing off on the other. It’s a real frontier series, in every sense of the word. And all this gives something honest.
We, as actors, have the impression of playing characters who don’t cheat and we appropriate them more easily. And we were helped because the series is very well written and we were very well directed by Pierre Monnard.
How did you work with this duo of Franco-Swiss investigators?
Marina Hands: We didn’t really create a duo. We created two individuals with Pierre, each on our side. He had us shoot all the car scenes the first week of shooting. We didn’t know each other, we felt something akin to director manipulation, and it worked immediately.
We met on the set, in the work, with what we had each worked on on our side. And it was obvious. We had great fun playing together. And this meeting with Sofiane really marks me today.
Sofiane Zermani: I was very flattered to share the set with Marina. I have great respect for his work and his career. And I let myself be guided a little by her. I sent what I thought was good, she helped me be better I think. It was very natural, very fluid from the beginning. This duet was so unlikely on paper, but we laughed a lot.
Marina Hands: Fortunately, because the series is so dark, we had to be able to relax on the set.
Did you meet real police officers to prepare you to embody your characters?
Sofiane Zermani: Of course. They taught us not to put our finger on the trigger when walking with a gun. The handling, two or three protocols to follow for arrests and be credible. But it was very fast. Then, we did a bit of everything by feeling.
And it must be said that the scenario delimits the actions. There are many differences between French laws and Swiss laws. And when Lyes arrives in this station, he is very French. He doesn’t have the codes, he behaves a bit like a cowboy. And finally the framework of the Swiss police frames all that. It was quite natural.
Off season is also a real atmosphere series. A damp, icy and sometimes sticky atmosphere emerges from this snowy resort where drama accumulates. Was filming tough?
Marina Hands: Oh yes. It was trying, I haven’t experienced many shoots like that. First of all because we turn very quickly. I know it, I already knew it. But I don’t get used to it (laughs). Every time I tell myself “Will one day we be able to shoot so many episodes, with so many difficulties, in more than three months?”. This was the main difficulty for me.
But there was also nature, the mountains, the weather. It rained a lot. And then we had to deal with the demands of Pierre Monnard (laughs). His demands as a director, as an actor’s director. He had a crazy demand for embodiment, for work. The scenes had to be re-done often. There was no question of staying on the surface and playing this series lightly.
Sofiane Zermani: The setting serves the story enormously, but you also have to accept it. We were in the mountains, there was an hour’s drive to get up there, it’s a whole organization. We had good weather and suddenly, three minutes later, it was raining. There was a kind of microclimate in this region of Valais where we were filming. It was complicated sometimes. We had to stay focused.
But Pierre led the dance. It is really fantastic. He holds the tray with a rather crazy calm. He never gets angry, he has a little word for everyone. It seems natural but it’s not always like that on set.
Off Season is a series with twists. There is obviously the twist at the beginning, concerning Sterenn and his son. But also the twist that again reshuffles the cards in episode 4. How did you react to reading these sequences?
Marina Hands: It’s complicated, we can’t say too much to avoid spoilers. But I found it incredible, of course. I was captivated. From the first episode I was conquered, in terms of audacity. The series really takes risks, we are not in a classic thriller. I hope the public will be surprised.
To protect his son, who accidentally killed his girlfriend, Sterenn takes all the risks and decides to make up the death of the young woman and pass her off as one of the victims of the serial killer she is trying to stop. . Was it easy for you, Marina, to identify with this character and the choice she makes?
Marina Hands: I didn’t ask myself the question in terms of identification. It’s more in terms of empathy. This inner dilemma touched me deeply. I thought “If I met a woman like that, I would love her right away. I would like to know where this unfinished mourning comes from, this loneliness. How do we get out of it”. I really empathized with this character.
Sofiane Zermani: We talk about loneliness and, precisely, I find that the setting in which the characters evolve does a lot and serves the mystery around Sterenn a lot.