As the broadcast of “La Maison d’en face” continues this evening on M6, Julie de Bona comes back for us on the hesitations she had when reading the script, on the construction of her character, and on her desires comedy and madness.
AlloCiné: Eve, whom you play in The house opposite, is a murkier character than the ones we’re used to seeing you play on screen. Is that what you liked about this project?
Julie de Bona : Yes really. It’s not the police investigation that told me attracted, it’s the intriguing side of this whole story and these twisting characters. It’s true that my character is different from what I usually play. There is a much less positive side.
Eve makes very bad choices (laughs). And it pleases me much more to play such a troubled woman. I keep telling everyone that (laughs). She has a very obsessive side. Without her baby, she no longer has a life. And then there’s the whole aspect of the swinging series, which I really liked too. You can feel it coming little by little but it’s not easy at first, I thought it was great.
Your character goes through the worst drama: the loss of a child. Did you have any apprehensions when reading the script?
I was very scared, I didn’t want to do it at first. I talked about it a lot with my agent. She’s the director Lionel Bailliu who suggested the series to me. I’ve done innocent with him. It was one of my first big series, I really liked working with him. It was my first dramatic role, there was a lot of strength in my character. And there, after reading the script for La Maison d’en face, I had a total rejection of the character in the first place. Because of the death of this little baby. I said to myself “It’s dead, I can’t, I can’t”.
But it’s not just that. After reading the script, I didn’t understand Eve’s character, I thought she made incomprehensible choices, I found her inhuman. I told Lionel about this rejection, and then finally I took the time to read the series well and my agent managed to convince me by telling me that this role would allow me to get out of my comfort zone and open the door to other types of characters. So I called my coach and we did a lot of dissociation work. And all the work was to build the character away from me.
And in the end, thanks to that, I succeeded in embodying this woman who thinks that life is a postcard and who wants a child because, for her, it is the image of the family that takes precedence. . It’s very far from me. But I began to understand this Eve, to know her and to adore her. I entered into the meanders of his obsession, of his raison d’être. And suddenly I understood everything.
Arriving on set, it was incredibly easy. I was able to play this drama without it affecting me at all. I was the first surprised, but I really played this character with a feeling of crazy fun. So what before, on a series like Plan B, I think I let myself get a little overwhelmed, the character, the story, it turned me upside down. But here, not at all.
Did it make you want to continue with even darker, meaner, more Machiavellian characters?
Completely. I think Eve works on survival instinct. Suddenly she spins and sinks into madness. But it’s sweet madness. She can possibly try to kill someone, but she won’t (laughs). And me, in my other roles, I would like to go further with my characters. I think now I want to play madness or manipulation. I really liked it.
I think La Maison d’en face was a first step. We gradually climb the sliders. But it’s great. It opens the door to something new. I think there I explored 5% of human darkness. There’s still so much to explore, and I really want that right now, at this point in my career.
The series has a very Desperate Housewives side. Was it assumed from the writing?
I think so. I’m very happy with that. I think we had to go deep into it anyway. I loved that the music was close to that of Desperate Housewives, that there are plenty of references, winks, like this street and these suburban houses where the characters live. I thought it was great to play on it. Thanks to that, the series is not too realistic. There is a too much side, almost tragicomic at times, and this is what makes the series not look like what we see every day on French television.
There is a beautiful chemistry between Marc Ruchman, Thierry Neuvic, Caterina Murino and you. Was it obvious between you four on the set?
I knew Thierry, with whom I toured almost 20 years ago The legend of the 3 keys. I had met Caterina during the Dinard Festival, we had both been part of the jury and we had become friends. And more recently we had played together in Plan B, it was she who gave me Plan B during a short appearance. But on the other hand I didn’t know Marc at all, we really met on the set.
And it’s true that when I saw the series again, I said to myself that I couldn’t imagine other actors in their place in the roles of Yanis, Livia, and Stéphane. Caterina, she exudes a permanent sensuality. For the role, it’s perfect. And the scene where they tell us that they’re swinging, it works really well, Caterina and Thierry are great, and we necessarily wonder what we would do if a couple of friends offered us such a scenario (laughs ). Their services have a lot to do with it.
Is there a scene that you remember in particular? Who was harder to shoot than the others?
The baby’s death, of course, even if it’s fleeting. I had told Lionel that I wanted to play the bare minimum, that I didn’t want this death to be shown. I had the feeling that it was not useful, and especially this kind of scene is super difficult to play. Anyway, with La Maison d’en face, we are still on two subjects that are not done on TV, which are not obvious: the death of a baby and partner-swapping. Scenario-wise, it can quickly be a mess.
I thought a lot and I said to Lionel “You really have to be very modest about it”. I dreaded this sequence, these are images that stay in my head, but in the end it’s a shot, we shot it very quickly, it lasted half an hour on the set. And it was done with modesty, I’m happy.
The House Opposite is the adaptation of a Dutch series which had four seasons. Would you be up for a season 2 if successful?
Yes, I’m in. But only if Eve gets really mad. Production has already been notified (laughs). For me, this first season is the beginning of something. And if we don’t push the cursor, if I do the same thing a bit, I’m not sure I’m interested. I like the fact that we are on drama that shifts, Eve is gradually becoming unbalanced. And I like this offbeat side. So if we push further I would be delighted. But it all depends on what they are going to do and what they are going to write. If I don’t like it, I know I’ll be the worst actress. So we’ll see.
Your back to school is loaded with The Fighters on Mondays on TF1 and La Maison d’en face on Tuesdays on M6. Do you think it’s a bit of a shame that everything happens at the same time on the air?
Yes, it’s a bit of a shame. It’s a bit like when you have two friends’ weddings on the same day. I would obviously have preferred that there were several months between the two series. But there is the Football World Cup which is coming in November, I think that has forced the channels to anticipate and offer a lot of series from September.
But I do not hide that I wanted to take care of each of the series, in terms of promotion. And then it’s a lot of emotion for me the release of a series. The return of the public, the exchange, we want to appreciate that, so there on two series at the same time I do not know how I will live it. It’s strong. Besides, they are two completely different roles, two very different series. But it’s like that.
Hopefully it helps the shows, rather than hurts them. And that the spectators don’t say to each other “We see her everywhere, she pisses us off, we zap”. But fortunately these are two choral series, I don’t have the title role like in Plan B, it’s not as if you see my head everywhere. Good, otherwise I think it would finish some of them (laughs).
You are currently filming season 2 of The school of lifein which you will play the new main teacher of the series, who succeeds the character of Guillaume Labbe. What can you tell us?
I am delighted with this new adventure. I think season 2 is going to be even better than season 1 which was already superb. The character they wrote is amazing. We are really getting closer to Dead Poets Society. And since it’s one of my favorite films, I’m delighted. There is a real subtlety of the character who is in benevolence. She has to save these kids, and at the same time there is something that affects her personally. And she has a personal drama playing out at the same time.
It’s extremely well written, the director, Slimane-Baptiste Berhoun, it is a wonder. A real nice meeting. And you will see that there is a lot of humor, a lot of comedy, my character is very solar. It’s different from the first season where the character of Guillaume Labbé suffered a huge drama from the start, it was a bit overwhelming. Here we are totally on something else. The drama comes later for my character. But I can’t say much more.
A word about your upcoming projects?
You will see me soon, on M6, in Dragon’s Breath. It was a pleasure to go back with Stephanie Pilloncawho had guided me in Learn to love yourself. It’s a real choral TV movie, a women’s TV movie. And we really loved each other on this shoot with Julie Gayet, Firmine Richard, Lola Dewaere, Annie Gregorioand Berengere Krief whom I did not know and which was a wonderful encounter. There was a real whirlwind of love between all of us. It’s quite rare. And despite the subject, since we’re talking about cancer, it’s a super sunny film. A film of fighters, really in the sorority. And it will be broadcast on October 11 on M6, for “Pink October”.
And then, from January, I will be at the theatre. It will do me good. I really missed it. It’s been a long time since I read a lot of plays without finding my happiness. And there I found my happiness with Elie Semoun. We are going to play a couple tearing each other apart in a play by Bernard Murat which will be called royal suite. It will be played at the Théâtre de la Madeleine from the end of January 2023, and I who wanted comedy and madness, I will be served. I feel that I’m going to enjoy myself and I’m delighted to meet the public.