AlloCiné: Season 3 of the Red Bracelets was a great success on TF1 again. You were a director for the first two seasons. This time you were sort of a “showrunner”. A year ago, you told us that it was a logical continuation for you. Has it been a long, peaceful river? The delivery deadlines were in any case respected!
Nicolas Cuche, screenwriter: We have made a lot of progress in recent years in French drama to reduce the time between two seasons, so that the meeting is regular. We could no longer afford to take three years to return. So on Les Bracelets there has always been chain pressure at this level, and rightly so, and we have always managed to deliver one season per year. After it is true that the deadlines were particularly short on this season 3. Then, it is never a long calm river writing a series. And those who tell you that lie! (laughs) But the adventure was beautiful until the end anyway. We had a very clear idea very quickly of what we actually wanted to do.
What was the biggest challenge in this season 3 in terms of writing?
It was obvious to us not to stay 100% in the hospital, we would no longer have been credible. However, we have an obligation of credibility. It was necessary to find a good balance between inside and outside, not to lose the DNA of the series which is still the hospital world. To follow some of our heroes outside, it seemed extremely important to me, it’s a journey that we really wanted to show. We avoid repetitions in this way. We are not going around in circles on the same issues. From the writing of episodes 7 and 8 of season 2, I felt that I had to get them out. So I was glad I could do it. It was essential to renew the series.
Does that mean that you designed this season 3 with the idea that it would be the last and that it should complete the destinies of each character?
Personally, given my attachment to the series, it was without a doubt the end of the journey for these heroes. I have a lot of affection for these children, whom I cast when they were very young and I wanted to lead them to the end of this path, that the circle is complete, that there is perfect consistency over the first 3 seasons. I also knew that you couldn’t make their adventures last forever. Season 3 really ends their stories.
A season 4 is it possible and envisaged in spite of everything? In the form of a “reboot” perhaps?
I will not work on season 4 but I know that it is in writing. In the form of a “reboot” yes, as you say, so with new characters, perhaps a little younger, new very strong pathologies and different plots. There may be one or two returns too. I like the idea that the Bracelets have left a mark on this hospital, a legacy. Telling you when it will happen is impossible.
Côme finally woke up, it was one of the revolutions of season 3. How did it go with Marius Blivet, his interpreter, knowing that until now he had mainly played a sleeping character in a coma? Did you have any apprehension?
I didn’t know by casting it at the time of the first season that Côme would wake up in season 3, but I already knew that I needed a very good actor because it was the voice-over. And it’s not obvious at all. Of course his voice had to be pleasant and then he still had a little scene to play, a sequence at the pool where he returned in dreams with Thomas. And it is this scene that I used to pass the tests. He was very good. So I had no doubts about his abilities. Afterwards, to be very frank, Marius was very young at the time of season 1 and it’s an age where we grow up very quickly. Sometimes young actors who have been good get bad at adolescence because they no longer want to or ask themselves too many questions. But we didn’t have that problem with him. And I’m happy that viewers can see it!
The new plot of Como, which links him to a new patient, Iris, is quite confusing, surprising, because very close to the fantastic. Have you hesitated to embark on such a story, at the risk of being misunderstood?
Personally, I had no doubts because I have a sensitivity to that and this trajectory came to me very clearly. I defended it passionately but there was much less resistance than I had imagined. We flirt with the fantastic but in season 1 too, with the pool and these scenes that crossed the border of the supernatural. We are not used to that in France, it is not really in our culture unlike other countries which do it a lot. I was happy to be able to impose it. There is a little Sixth Sense side. I think about that because I saw him yesterday.
However, the end of Iris’ story is quite brutal, despite a welcome revelation. It is a little frustrating that she leaves the hospital so quickly. Perhaps you lacked space to deepen it?
It’s exactly that. The basic idea was to show how Como, despite his awakening, is still between two states and how to ensure that he frees himself completely from his dreams and that he is cured in a symbolic way too. It was not so much the story of Iris that we wanted to tell, but his own. After, I grant you, things may be going a little too quickly.
It’s a season that started very darkly, especially for Thomas. Can you tell us a little bit about the reasoning behind this story, which goes as far as a suicide attempt, anyway? How did you approach it?
For me, Thomas’ trajectory is very correct. I wanted to show that a physical cure is not a mental cure and that to leave the hospital when one stayed there a long time, that one still has some after-effects, and that one did not grow up with the other children , It’s very difficult. Her illness was normal in the hospital, she is an anomaly outside. It was important to say it and show it. Thomas was the strongest character at the start, and I wanted to take him to this point of weakness by pushing the cursor far enough. Playing with death, when we were confronted with it, that was the idea. And Audran Cattin is excellent. It was great to give him that to play.
You have introduced this new character of Nour, very beautiful, very delicate. What was his reason for being at this point in the series?
In season 3, the characters move from childish or adolescent issues to more adult issues. Seduction, femininity and sexuality are among these subjects and it was interesting to have a character like Nour whose pathology, breast cancer, confronts her with her femininity. Fortunately, it’s rare in young women, but it does happen.
He is also a character who brings more diversity to the series, with a family as we still see too little on television …
It was a choice that was made naturally, instinctively. The chain did not ask us to add diversity, and it is not something that we were looking for at all costs. We also wanted a universe of women with strong personalities around her, and a contrast between the warmth and the presence of this family with the loneliness of her neighbor, Jessica.
Jessica was a character in the background in season 2. It is the performance of Capucine Valmary that made you want to give it more importance in the 3rd?
Yes, she appeared in improv classes with Jarry. I wanted there to be real patients in those courses, and there were some, some of whom were seriously affected. I must say it was very strong to shoot, I was behind the camera at the time. There is a scene that I shot but that I could not insert, where they all spoke face to camera, in a very intimate way. And the exercise was to ask them what they would say to this pen if it was their illness. Some cried, others were angry. It was strong but there was no place to put it in the final cut. All that to say that in these scenes, Jessica had great potential, Capucine was just out of the Conservatory. I wanted to develop it from season 2. We found this idea of a female friendship mirroring that of Thomas and Clément.
Regarding Mehdi, killing his grandfather, was it inevitable to make the character grow?
It was hard. But it was a way to make it grow it’s true and also to create a strong event around a character who was not a child, this time. In a purely dramatic way, Mehdi did not have a huge problem in season 3 since he was cured, we were not going to make him fall ill again, and it would have been a shame to keep it only for lightness and humor, even if Aziz does that very very well. It was a way of putting a big spotlight on him.
The end of the season is very positive for everyone, it’s a big happy ending. After all that the characters have gone through, did you feel obligated to finish like this?
It has been a lot of discussion, hesitation, mainly over the last 5 minutes. In the first version that we wrote, Clément left the hospital but Nour discovered that she was relapsing and she hid it so as not to spoil this moment. They were full of promises and by the time he was partying with his friends, we understood that Nour had lied to him. We have discussed it a lot. At one point, Jessica was dying.
Was it TF1 who wanted such a happy ending?
I can’t say it so clearly. I think it was us too, actually. As it was the end, we had a hard time killing a character. It was a collective sentimental choice.
The idea of the Pyla Dune to end in apotheosis, you had in mind for a long time because it sounds almost like an obviousness?
Yes, because it was the strongest image that we could have symbolically, to make them climb a mountain as they have done from the start, together, as a promise. But it almost failed to be done honestly because it was very complicated to obtain authorizations as it is a protected site. The combativeness of the producer must be emphasized! It gives a very nice ending scene.
Interviewed by phone on Thursday April 2, 2020
The best memories of Audran Cattin and Louna Espinoza: