Not easily! [laughs] I was never attracted by publicity, probably because I didn’t think it was real acting. When they contacted me I had already grown as an actor and made some movies, that’s why I felt some legitimacy. When we discussed ideas and directors, everyone involved looked really fearless. I started to see that as doing a short film and got excited. Turned out to be a challenge and supplement my film work in a very interesting way.
What about natural elegance?
I wouldn’t associate elegance to aesthetics. As luxury, it has to be natural, effortless. It has more to do with how some people exude energy, because they are comfortable with themselves. Elegance also has to do with ‘listen’, instead of wanting everything to be about us.
What kind of woman could wear Dior Homme?
A free spirit. A woman with her own attitude, that doesn’t want to just have a “beautiful” aroma or do they expect from her. Clearly, a woman who isn’t confused about her femininity.
Nan Goldin took your pictures for this campaign. Were you familiar with her work and exhibitions?
Really well, I had seen a few of her exhibitions, but I had never met her. It was another thing that intrigued me about this job, that she was an unconventional choice. I was really excited about that.
Why did you choose Romain Gavras to direct Dior‘s film?
I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time. To be honest, I tried to get in contact with him for about a year. He used to be like: “I’m not going to talk to you”. Until I told him that I wanted him to direct Dior‘s commercial. That’s when he finally met me! (laughs)I was obsessed with his work in ‘Our Day Will Come‘. He has a visual language completely different from everything I’ve seen before. When I noticed that it was Romain’s first movie, I thought “Who is this guy?”. I started watching his Justice videos that caused so much buzz…
Not to mention the controversy…
You could see that he felt joy, as if he was laughing at that. I like that kind of energy in a director. I remember saying that his video had a “violence without meaning or end”. Well, it’s how the world is at this moment. I thought his work and vision so universal that I wanted to make a film with him. When I finally met him, I found out that he’s actually a really sweet person, that just genuinely think things are fun. Romain is genuinely subversive, loves to cause controversy. It’s the kind of director that loves to “throw a bomb” and see what happens.
The chemistry between you and the model-actress Camille Rowe in this short film is really important. Have you met before?
We hadn’t met yet. Camille had a small part in ‘Our Day Will Come‘ and Romain knew she would be perfect to fit the “mood” of the film and he was right. There were moments when her presence there softened what I was doing just because she’s so fun, has a free spirit. She was only going with the flow. To describe her, I would use the sentence: “do what you want”.
The ad is really sexy
That was mostly Camille. She brought something really special to the film. Most of the time with perfume commercials they seem to be really distant of the people watching, I don’t know why. But with Romain it’s always something visceral. Like [missing word in the scan] bloody, dirty, sweaty. He said: “We should film something outright sexual and have fun with that”.
Let’s have a discussion then…
It’s weird, but talking about it with someone smart, intelligent, about something is one of the most satisfying things you can do. The coolest part of writing scripts is that it’s almost always a collaborative work. You know that, when you get to the set, people will get small layers from you. Small parts, but it’s in big scale. Like a fiction movie. I hope it works.
We know you really like music, you’ve written a few songs and played live. Who suggested Led Zeppelin’s iconic song to this ad?
Let’s say it took a while to get to it. Months before we started shooting, Romain sent me a song he had in mind, and I thought: ‘Oh, really?’. It was simply the opposite of what I thought for what Dior ad could be… We ended up not using it. That’s why we explored so many other songs. As soon as someone sent us this Led Zeppelin’s copy I was like: ‘Oh yeah!’. It’s weird, but this solid song ended up working. The rhythm is perfect.