On the occasion of the last episodes of “Plan B” on TF1, Axel Auriant (“Skam France”) returns for us on the complexity of his character, on his very strong bond with Julie de Bona, Kim Higelin, and Bruno Debrandt, and promises a final “upsetting”.
AlloCiné: What did you like about Plan B when you were offered the script?
Axel auriant : What I really liked, reading the script, is the notion of the fantastic. It is rare in France that we produce series where the fantastic is anchored in the reality of the story and where it feeds the intrigue without biasing it. And then I also found that it was extremely well written. All the secondary characters are important, they all evolve in contact with the main plot. For me, this is proof of a good script. And it was great to perform.
As an actor it was interesting to live the same scenes twice, to live Felix’s “two lives”, in the present and in this past that the character of Julie de Bona relives and that she tries to modify. And then the story itself is very strong. If I could go back in time, would I change anything? This is a real question.
And the screenplay also covered a lot of subjects that touch me, such as adolescence, the relationship with parents, the relationship to forgiveness, to experience, to first love, to heartaches. All this is not treated in a Manichean way. We come to understand both parents and children. Parents do their best, with the weapons they have been given, and it is not always easy. I find that Plan B takes a very fair look at these questions.
Precisely, if we gave you the opportunity to go back in time, would you change the past?
This is a question that I have been asked a lot lately, and, in truth, I think not. I don’t have that connection to the past tense. I tell myself that everything happens for a reason, that it’s written like that and that everything has a meaning. I am really not attached to the past and to regrets. So, no, I wouldn’t change a thing.
As a spectator, are you very fond of science fiction? Is this a genre that already spoke to you before playing in Plan B?
Yes, I love Black Mirror or Stranger Things for example. But I really like science fiction or fantasy when it’s grounded in the real, again. Claude Lelouch once said: “From the moment I believe in a story, people can tell me what they want”. And this is something that has helped me a lot. And that is very true on Plan B. From the moment when the fantastic is anchored in the reality of the fiction, we believe in it. The fantastic is not in the foreground, it simply feeds the fiction in small touches.
Felix is a very interesting character because he is presented at the beginning as the model son, like someone solar, but finally we discover little by little that he is hiding a wound, that he suffered from being a little “neglected. “by his parents for the benefit of his sister. Is that what you liked about the character?
Yes, completely. I think it reflects the reality of what families go through this kind of thing. Often when you have two children and one of them has problems or is in some sort of conflict with his parents, the other externalizes much less. He’s more withdrawn and he’s trying to calm things down somehow eventually. That’s what I found very interesting about this character.
You could make up your whole past, after all. And then to see him evolve according to the returns in the past, to see his relations with his mother and his sister evolve, it makes it possible to realize that he is just as lost as Lou. But he is less daring to exteriorize it. And it was really interesting to play.
Indeed, there is a “mask” side to all of this. Félix seems very sunny, very funny, but that hides a deeper wound. The two characters that are the father and the son express themselves less, are more silent, everything goes through the gaze. But when they take off their masks, we perceive their vulnerability, and it is all the stronger.
Is there one scene in particular that you remember, or that was more difficult to shoot than the others?
I was pretty scared of the interrogation scene in episode 1. And finally I did it in one take. It was a great moment to let go with Julie. The set was in tears afterwards, we had a nice moment of sharing with the team.
We feel a real palpable chemistry between Julie de Bona, Kim Higelin, Bruno Debrandt, and you on screen. It immediately stuck between you four on the set?
Yes, even before. On reading, we understood that it was going to be a shoot during which we were going to forge strong bonds. And having fictional parents like Julie and Bruno is great, because they are extremely generous, they gave us lots of advice. They are constantly working in kindness. I think we were very lucky with Kim to tour with them. I had a lot of fun on this shoot.
Besides, you already knew Kim Higelin, whom you had met on Skam France, is that right?
Indeed, we had crossed paths briefly on Skam. And we had already hit it off and messed around together. So I was delighted to meet her again and to play her brother in Plan B. And then we lived three and a half months in Marseille, far from home, so we necessarily forged a very strong relationship throughout the shooting.
The filming in the midst of the Covid pandemic must obviously have been a bit of a special experience. Did this ultimately result in the whole team being even more welded?
Definitely. But we were lucky because the second confinement happened when we were in the last setting, the house. We had about a month and a half of filming left in the house. So we had a bit of the impression of being at home with our family, it was quite beautiful.
We almost only had sequences where the four of us were. Julie, Bruno, Kim, and me. Whether it was Lou’s suicide, the interrogation, or the meal sequences. We were really in immersion, in that family spirit. And it was quite enjoyable. The more you play with people, the more confident you are and the more interesting you are in the game.
My only regret about that period, on this shoot, was that we didn’t have this decompression bubble where we could all go for drinks together in the evening after a long day of shooting. Not being able to remake the world in the evening with the actors and with the teams, not being able to talk about everything and nothing, it was really the big frustration of filming under Covid.
But apart from that, we felt privileged, to shoot in such a setting, with great people, and to be able to continue working in this complicated period.
The last two episodes of the series are pretty crazy. There are completely crazy twists and turns. What was your reaction to reading the script?
I did not expect such an end. I hadn’t anticipated it at all and cried a lot. We saw the six episodes, in a projection room, at Gaumont’s, and we cried for six hours. I have a picture of the four of us at the end, our eyes red with tears. I was on my ass, really. We were completely upset during the viewing and the ending managed to surprise us when we knew what was going to happen since we had shot it (laughs). I hope the public will be as surprised as we are.
Does the fact that you took part in a series like Skam France, which was very well written and for which your performance was praised, make you more demanding today in your choice of projects and roles?
Yes, of course. I was lucky, at my age, to always participate in projects where I was touched by history. And projects that have allowed me to travel, learn, grow with my characters. And because I received a lot of proposals after Skam, it’s true that I was lucky to be able to choose my roles. And the most important thing for me was the search for meaning. It is important for me that the characters with whom I decide to live bring me something. This is why there is a requirement in my choices.
And I experienced such a thing with Skam that it makes me want to vibrate with characters, to let go with them. I wish myself to relive such strong things in the future. But beyond the characters, the choice of the project is also very important. The director, what the project tells, how it’s written, how the director sees it. I am really having fun in this job and I hope that I will continue to have so much fun for a long time.
Have you followed the new seasons of Skam France a bit?
Of course. I even recently sent a message to Khalil Ben Gharbia, who plays Bilal, the central character of season 8, to congratulate him. I find it exceptional. I was really impressed with his performance.
What are your upcoming projects after Plan B?
I finished the recording for France 2 of the play at the end of April Times Square with Guillaume de Tonquédec at the Théâtre de la Michodière. I loved playing with him, and it will normally air in November. At the moment, I’m shooting the film Les mains vides, with Guillaume Gallienne and a troupe of young actors, including Robin Migné and Paul Scarfoglio from Skam France. And I’m also on Slalom, which hit theaters on May 19th.
On the theater side, I go on with the rehearsals for a play called Saint-Exupéry, the mystery of the aviator, by Arthur Jugnot, that I will play this summer in Avignon at the Théâtre des Béliers. And then, at the start of the school year, I will normally start two more shoots, for films, but I prefer not to talk about it until it is certain.
The Plan B trailer, which ends tomorrow night on TF1: