While Leïla’s death upset “Tomorrow belongs to us”, Kenza Saïb-Couton, the interpreter of Soraya, reacts to the departure of Samira Lachhab and tells us more about what awaits the Beddiar family during the next episodes.
AlloCiné: The Beddiar family is currently going through a terrible drama in Tomorrow belongs to us with the death of Leïla. What was your reaction when Samira Lachhab told you that she was leaving the show? Did she tell you the news very early?
Kenza Saïb-Couton : No, I did not find out beforehand because at that point it had been a while since Samira Lachhab was no longer in Sète, her character having left for Belgium for some time. It was a time when I was working a lot and in fact I learned it through production. It was a little shock. In addition, I believe that there was a consultation so that it is precisely Samira who announces it to us herself. To us first, his fictional family, before generalizing the news. And finally I learned it from the production, a bit by accident, instead of learning it from Samira.
The authors could have chosen to let Leïla live in Brussels, far from Sète, but they preferred to kill the character. Was that too a shock to you? Or do you understand this decision of the production and the writers?
Yes, it was a shock because I said to myself “Yet another drama for the Beddiars”. And on the other hand I understand this decision because it was done by mutual agreement between the production and Samira. And I think it’s a great outing for his character, who was extremely popular with the audience. It’s a nice way to pay homage to him, rather than just saying goodbye on a station platform or in front of a car. There, the character was all the more highlighted, with all that Samira gave on this series for three years and with all that Leïla brought to the series. It was a nice way to showcase the character around an exit arch.
In the episode of Tomorrow belongs to us broadcast this Tuesday evening on TF1, we will discover Leïla’s funeral, during which Soraya makes a very beautiful speech, very strong and very moving. This kind of scene, even if it’s fiction, is it complicated to play?
I wouldn’t say it was complicated to play because the scenes were really well written. Our whole plot was extremely well written. I think these are scenes that resonate with everyone. We have all experienced something similar. So, on the contrary, we have nothing to look for. It was so well written that the emotion was lively and completely natural. And I remember very well that with Sahelle De Figueiredo, who plays Noor, Soraya’s little sister, when we received the texts and we both read all the sequences that we had around Leïla’s funeral, we cried a lot. Even in reading.
What can you say about what awaits Soraya in the next episodes? How will she cope with the death of her mother?
It’s complicated for Soraya because she doesn’t completely let go of her emotions. I think she thinks to herself that she must act as a surrogate mother figure in this family. She’s trying to hold on, to stay strong and strong for everyone. And especially for his father and for his sister. Because obviously the adventures of the Beddiar do not end there. But by dint of taking too much on her, she risks letting herself be a little overwhelmed by everything she buries at the bottom of her. It’s not going to be easy for Soraya.
Rémy was very present during the days preceding Leïla’s funeral. We feel he is sincere, but we can not help thinking that he will take advantage of all this to try to get closer to Soraya …
Oh no, I don’t think so. I will let you discover in the weeks to come exactly where the Soraya-Rémy relationship is. But to just talk about Remy’s character, I don’t think he’s a manipulator. At least not at that time. I don’t think he’s trying to get Soraya’s good graces by taking advantage of her sadness. On the contrary, I think Rémy is also extremely affected by Leïla’s death. For him it is a way of helping the Beddiar family who welcomed him. He wants to be very present, he tries to accompany Soraya in this sadness. Because Soraya lets herself go to her grief when she is with Rémy. And that’s something she doesn’t show to Bilel or Noor. So I think Rémy is a very important real support for Soraya at that time.
The separation of Soraya and Rémy was one of the highlights of Tomorrow belongs to us this summer. Were you surprised when you learned that the authors were going to separate this rather well established couple?
I knew Soraya was going to have an affair, but I didn’t know if the breakup was going to be final or not with Remy. But I knew there was a desire to upset Soraya a little, to make her a little less “perfect lady”, “moral lady”. The authors wanted to “dirty” it a bit. And so he had to make him experience this kind of adventure. And to be honest, I was delighted because it allowed me to play another facet of my character. All the more so since there was an interesting ambivalence in relation to the fact that she had been able to rebel in the past about the extramarital affair that her mother was having with Samuel. So the fact that she was going through the same thing brought a certain maturity to the character.
I was very happy to be able to live new adventures through my character and I was also delighted to work with my partner Cyril Garnier because it was a great plot to defend. I think it was important to bring a little pep’s to the intrigues of Soraya and Rémy. Their relationship at that time was a bit plan-plan, we had the feeling of having been around a bit. We mostly lived adventures through what happened to others. And there, for once, we were really concerned by the problem. I think this love triangle has done good for the characters.
This separation, as well as the emerging relationship between Soraya and Thomas, has unleashed passions this summer on social networks. Some reactions were quite violent, especially concerning Rémy, who went very far. Do you understand that this intrigue caused so much talk?
I understand, yes, because we’ve been part of people’s daily lives for three years now. So it’s normal and it’s good that they react. And to think that there is still a lot of ink to flow after three years is rather good news for us (laughs). After that, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand that we don’t distinguish between fiction and reality. And that we do not understand that it is the writers who decide and that we are not at all the decision makers of the evolution of our characters. When it’s pure and simple meanness, no, I don’t understand. But when it’s just a debate around fiction, about who is Team Rémy and who is Team Thomas, of course, no worries. It’s even rather funny to follow. Even when it’s against our own characters because I also had a lot of fun (laughs). I received sometimes quite funny messages about my infidelity, but it rather makes me smile in the end.
Are you happy with how Soraya has evolved since the start of the series, both personally and in her work at the law firm with Lou?
Obviously, I am delighted. I can only be happy. I went from a waitress at the Spoon to a legal assistant in a law firm (laughs). It’s great, a lot of things happen to Soraya. Whether it’s on a personal level, with my great play partners, my great family. And then professionally too because I love working with Rani Bheemuck, who plays Lou. I find it exciting to play. And then, casually, we need a law firm in the series given the number of crimes and police investigations that there are in Sète (laughs). It’s very cool to defend all these legal intrigues and I find that it contributes to the maturity of Soraya’s character. This professional aspect makes her mature and makes her become even more of a woman. I saw her grow in three years and I find it very interesting to build this evolution little by little.
And as an actress, what assessment do you draw from these three years spent in Demain belongs to us? Can we say that the series has changed your life?
Yes, completely, I was still a student in theater school when I did the casting of Tomorrow belongs to us. So it drastically changed my life. Unlike a lot of comedians, I didn’t have time to “struggle” out of school, so I’m extremely grateful for that. Especially at the present time, where intermittents are in a total galley because of conditions related to the health situation. And then I’ve never learned so much as by working on Tomorrow is ours. It’s a hectic pace of work, with very long days, but I’m learning every day so it’s great. And three years later I am still so excited when I receive the new texts and when I find out what will happen to Soraya and the Beddiars. I am truly grateful for life to be here.
We hear a lot that Tomorrow belongs to us is a big family, so we also imagine that you have forged very strong bonds with your playing partners …
Yes of course. And it’s not just to look pretty that people say it’s a big family. I have found some lifelong friends. And a surrogate family. Because for the most part we are Parisians. And the shooting takes place in Sète. So we spend half of our lives here in the South. So luckily we have people we can sincerely count on.
Do you have any other projects outside of Tomorrow belongs to us that you can talk about?
For now, I’m very focused on Tomorrow belongs to us because we are preparing some great things for you for the coming months. And then I have another project, but I cannot talk about it for the moment given the health context. It is very difficult to decide on whether or not to maintain projects. So for now I’m touching wood and I’m making the most of being able to experience this Sète adventure.
Interview on October 19, 2020 by phone.