As Elise finds herself in turmoil, Bilal questions her lack of rights over her friend and Sofia’s daughter. Malik Elakehal El Miliani returned to this societal intrigue, and spoke to us about the future of his character.
You have been present in Un Si Grand Soleil for almost two years. How was your casting for the role of Bilal?
Malik Elakehal El Miliani: I had a first try for Bilal with the casting director, Joanna Delon, which went very well. I was called back a few days later to tell me that I was very interested in the producers and they offered me this chance to start the adventure. For me it was a really nice surprise because I was really going there believing it and trying to do my best, but waiting and disappointments are part of our job. And there, it is done very quickly!
Did you not fear committing on a daily basis in relation to the requested investment?
To be honest, it wasn’t fear so much as curiosity. I was in a phase of my life where I needed to work, and I love what I do. I didn’t categorize the projects I was going to; I wanted to rub shoulders with the different things that were offered to me and try to give the best of myself every time. I was not afraid of being stuck in a register or a universe, far from it. I wanted to confront my job as much as possible, and that’s what Un Si Grand Soleil gave me. Apprehension yes because it requires a lot of work, you have to be present at the meeting, and I hope I have succeeded in doing so.
Bilal is at the heart of a societal and intimate intrigue at the moment, with the couple formed by Elise and Sofia and the arrival of their baby, of which he is the father. It was not easy for him to find his place vis-à-vis this child … How did you approach this intrigue?
It is undoubtedly a subject which gives rise to discussion for a lot of people. For my part, I hide that during the preparation and I focus on the feelings of my character, on what it will cause in him. What I found very enjoyable, reading through the scripts we were sent, is that the way it was written and delivered was done in a very intelligent way, with a lot of thought. They managed to step back through the eyes of each character; it’s reassuring and it feels good when you work on a situation like this, because somewhere you realize that everyone has the right to feel what they are feeling. Anyone can express it, but the fact that the visions can diverge creates a shock. And this shock, I think it was brilliantly staged. I tried to transcribe as sincerely as possible what was reflected in the text and the situation itself, hoping that people did not have just one position and that they would listen to the different arguments, let them see what everyone is feeling.
The fact of seeing these characters evolve on a daily basis allows all the more to create attachment and empathy for them, and to understand their reactions, such as the fact that Bilal finally wants to be involved in the baby’s life afterwards. the dangers that Elise has just gone through. Could he want to start his own family after this experience? What will be the repercussions on him?
Yes, without saying too much, Bilal is going to experience quite a upheaval. He carries within him this emotion which will accompany him for a very long time when he discovers that a human being can happen thanks to him. It will not leave him indifferent, and perhaps give rise to a personal reflection. From there to what he founded a family later I do not know, I can not project myself in such a distant future, but if only to succeed in finding his place in the life of the child who has just died. to arrive, it will be for him a major stage in his life. He’s a character who was completely unsettled by something he didn’t give too much thought to before, and the fact that his friend Elise asked him for help kindled something, and emotions too. He was overcome in spite of himself by a flood of emotions, and that will affect him in the long run.
This was already the case in the plot centered on Bilal’s coming-out in early 2019, treated with great finesse.
What’s great about preparing sequences that are going to affect and show the flaws of a character is opening up the possibility of showing that when something happens to you in your life that unsettles you, even if you think you know where. you are there and how you want to evolve, this event you will not control it. Somewhere, you have to accompany it, and accept it. If it happens then, there is a reason! These two phases of Bilal’s life made it possible to tackle themes that show to what extent we are not masters of our lives. It was really nice to work that way.
What aspects of this character do you particularly like, looking back on the past two years in Un Si Grand Soleil?
I don’t know if I really have a preference, as an actor we try to make a composition as fair and as realistic as possible, in line with how the character was presented to us by the creators. We have to bring a little of ourselves and at the same time compose to try to make a nice mix of all that! But what I find quite beautiful is to manage to be in the softness and finesse, but at the same time to succeed to show that inside there is a whirlwind of fire, and an intensity of life which in appearance does not jump to the eyes, in front of a character who can appear calm and calm. Basically, I think Bilal is a character who boils from the inside, and I love this switch between trying as much as possible to channel himself and this inability to control everything. This is one aspect that has been shown a bit in the upcoming plot, and that is that it doesn’t happen! Even though he’s someone who’s in restraint, he’ll get caught up in his feelings and his emotions, and that’s what I find great about this character. Sometimes we play a scene, and then we discover that we played something that is overwhelming, that confuses us, that’s what is quite magical in the end: knowing that our character can still surprise us.
Do you have any particular chemistry with some of your partners on the screen, game dynamics that have marked you?
It’s interesting that you talk about game dynamics, because indeed there are different dynamics across the different game locations, on the three sets of the series, and according to the character arenas: Bilal’s family, his place of work … It allowed me to meet actors who accompany me in these different universes, and each time there is something very nuanced between each sphere. When we are with the family there is this more intimate aspect, of proximity, community life in the shared apartment … For the actors, we all get along really well, we feel at home, and over time it becomes Something beautiful has taken root, a confidence that allows everyone to know that at a glance, a silence, we understand each other. And that makes filming a lot easier, where you have to do a lot of sequences quickly. I have a pretty fabulous core of people around me that I tour with regularly, and they carry me and still teach me every day. Malya Roman for example, who plays Elise and arrived along the way, it’s as if I knew her from before! It’s all the more pleasant as it lends itself to the intrigues of the characters.
Do you have other projects outside of Un si Grand Soleil that you can tell us about?
Right now I’m shooting a detective series for France 2 called Les Invisibles, of which Axelle Laffont is directing half of the episodes. But apart from that, given the situation it’s a bit tricky, the projects are sometimes on stand-by … We are all somewhat in the same boat, even if we are lucky to be able to continue to evolve in this program. I will perhaps go towards writing, but it is still embryonic, I could not even tell you concretely where it is. (laughs) I live from day to day what is coming, and it is already very good.