This Saturday, April 2, the France.tv site is posting the first part of an exclusive documentary that takes us behind the scenes of the soap opera, the broadcast of which has been temporarily suspended on France 2 due to the electoral calendar.
Due to the broadcast of the presidential audiovisual campaign every evening on the France Télévisions group, the daily series Un Si Grand Soleil is no longer on the air from March 28 until April 11 on France 2.
To allow viewers to continue following the series during this period, the site france•tv offers new content around the series from March 28: three new episodes will be offered free of charge on the platform, as well as a new documentary behind the scenes of the soap opera, broadcast in two parts on Saturday April 2 and 9.
From the discovery of the script until the day of shooting, the recurring actors, the guests, members of the film crew and the production share their feelings and the reality of their daily life… With a few revelations to boot!
A new actress as an entry point
To introduce the first part of the documentary, Perrine Tourneux accompanies viewers to show them what to show what it’s like to be a guest on the series. A newcomer to Un Si Grand Soleil, the actress plays Pauline, one of the main characters in the soap opera’s next detective plot. Fellow prisoner of Gaëlle Lestrac (played by Hélène Degy), Pauline will try to rally the prisoner to her cause in order to help her prepare her escape.
“There, we are on the aperitif. Everything we have just seen on the release from prison is only the beginning of everything that will happen“, she promises.”[Pauline] is particularly interesting, because it is not a stereotype. She has something quite amazing, she is very strong. He’s a soldier. She finds herself in completely crazy situations, and each time she has quite an amazing sense of crisis management.“
A double used for the return of an actress
Among the information revealed on this plot which started in January in the daily studios located in Martigues, near Montpellier, we learn that Hélène Degy, the interpreter of Gaëlle back after a year of absence, was pregnant at the time of filming, and therefore benefited from a stunt double for the numerous action scenes required, between attempted escape, gunfire exchanged with the police and various acrobatics.
The opportunity for the actress to mark a beautiful reunion with her former playing partner, Benjamin Bourgois. This one embodies Alex, who fell madly in love with Gaëlle when he arrived at the police station as a new recruit. “It was great meeting up with Benjamin! He sometimes said that his arch with Gaëlle was one of his favorites“, she rejoices.
For Hélène Degy, the character Gaëlle, both devious and complex, had a difficult life before tipping over and committing a murder that cost her her freedom and her relationship with Alex. Their reunion during this intrigue, while Gaëlle asks her for her support in order to be able to benefit from a remission of sentence, are therefore tinged with apprehension on her side.
“Alex was his only heart story”she explains. “She shattered what she had started to build, as if she didn’t really allow herself to be happy in love. She clings to that because it’s the only good memory she has in prison. But she ends up falling in love with a memory.“
From guest to recurring: the art of creating a character
“We let ourselves be guided a lot by the power of the characters“, explains Toma de Matteis, producer of the series. “Unlike other series where the plot can play a preponderant part, what guides the writing of the scriptwriters of Un Si grand Soleil is obviously to offer plots to the viewers, but to do so with respect and the dynamic that the characters we have created allow us.“
Thus, the character of Yasmine Benjelloun, played by Soria Moufakkir, was initially only to be a secondary role in a dramatic plot where Driss, Anissa’s brother, was sent behind bars. “I was only supposed to play a guest role at first, over 4/5 days of filming, and then I was called back a few months later to offer me an entire ark. It was a real gift. I said to myself that I had been trusted, that I had inspired the writing“Moves the actress, recounting that a fan who recognized her in the street burst into tears in front of her, because she was going through an ordeal similar to that experienced by the character of Yasmine whose son is serving a prison sentence.
Nadia Fossier, who joined the cast of the series in 2021 in the role of Alix, a woman flouted by her divorce, during a plot where Ludo (Folco Marchi) became an escort, says she was inspired by the character played by Bob Odenkirk in the Better Call Saul series to build his character. A low-level hustler who turns out to be an excellent lawyer. “What I liked about him was that he was a survivor. He confuses, because he is in survival. This is also the case for Alix, from her first scenes. Survival has caused her to confuse people. I settled on that to speak like him, in the speed of speech and execution, it had to be like that character.
As for Hubert Benhamdine, who plays Christophe, Johanna’s avenging ex-husband, his character should have died of a heart attack during his first plot but, the production being very satisfied with his interpretation, decided to leave for a turn summer by bringing it back and giving it depth. “I never could have imagined that we were going to have this pattern on a roller coaster. For me it’s super interesting, I have fun from one atmosphere to another and from one psychological profile to another. It’s great to play for an actor” he declares.
Suffering from a serious heart problem, his character, both troubled and fragile, would be partly inspired by a character from the universe of American director M. Night Shyamalan. “Matthieu Bollet, the artistic director of the series, called me one day telling me that [la production] had lots of ideas for the character. He started telling me about a character called the Man of Glass (in reference to the film Unbreakable, editor’s note.) We’re almost in the Marvel universe, he’s a villain in a superhero movie!” he amused. “I found it interesting to take as a reference characters who are very typical, very characterized, and who bring a very particular atmosphere.“
A character in danger?
As we know, daily series are conducive to the most unexpected twists and turns, with sometimes dramatic consequences, as we saw with the sudden death of Léa (Marthe Fieschi), Virgil’s daughter, during a fire.
In the introduction to the documentary, showing an exchange of fire between two recurring police officers in the series, Akim (Aïssam Medhem) and Elise (Malya Roman). Hit by a bullet, the latter collapses, and his colleague runs to his bedside. “When you’re a cop, you have no room for error, and even less to give in to fear“, we hear Malya Roman declare in the introduction to the documentary. “Except that at this moment, I’m scared. Yes, I am dying.“Are the writers of the series reserving new drama for viewers by killing Elise?
“For me it may be the end“, continues the actress in voice-over. An event which risks further damaging the bond between Alex and Gaëlle, since this shooting seems to take place while the police are trying to arrest him at the time of his escape with Pauline.
On this subject, there is an unspoken rule used by the actors between them on the set according to Benjamin Bourgois, in order to know if their characters can reappear or not in the soap opera after a long absence. “Are you in jail? It’s a bit annoying. Aren’t you dead? If you’re not dead you can always come back!” he amused. “You never know what can happen.“Let’s hope to hear more about Elise’s fate when the second part of the behind-the-scenes documentary of Un Si Grand Soleil goes live on Saturday April 9 on france•tv.