Bejo’s caring skills lead to zombie role

Actress turned up the pressure on director during Covid

by Richard Mowe

Bérénice Bejo and partner Michel Hazanavicius meet the press for Cannes opening film Final Cut
Bérénice Bejo and partner Michel Hazanavicius meet the press for Cannes opening film Final Cut Photo: Richard Mowe
Just in case you believe that nepotism rules in French cinema, it wasn’t a given that Bérénice Bejo, the partner of director Michel Hazanavicius, would appear in his splatter zombie remake Final Cut (or Coupez! in French).

She plays the make-up woman who has her work cut out. She is also a master of the martial art of Krav Mega which comes in useful when coping with axe-wielding zombies.

Bejo had gone to view the original, One Cut Of The Dead, with Hazanavicius out of curiosity. “It was a little complicated for me and I did not see exactly how it would work. And Michel said that I was too pretty to be in it which annoyed me. After he became ill with Covid I spent a long time looking after him because he was pretty ill. At that point I had still not even read the script.

Romain Duris based his character 'on all the mad directors I’ve ever worked with'
Romain Duris based his character 'on all the mad directors I’ve ever worked with' Photo: Richard Mowe
“When I started to read it I laughed a lot and went to see him to plead that I should be in it. And eventually I wore him down and he agreed.”

It’s a bit of a family affair with Hazanavicius’s two daughters Raika and Simone getting in on the act with the latter playing the daughter of the film’s fictional director incarnated by Romain Duris, who said he had based his performance on "all the mad directors he had ever encountered".

The director of The Artist (his affectionate nod to silent movies) and the spy spoof series OSS 117 had no qualms about being in the harsh glare of the Cannes Film Festival’s opening spotlight.

“We are coming out of the epidemic and the 75th edition feels like a good number. I liked the idea of opening with a fun film, and it was a big honour, of course,” said Hazanavicius on his fourth outing in the Festival’s official selection.

The film which is based on the original 2017 Japanese film from Shin’ichiro Ueda - itself adapted from the play Ghost in the Box - has opened on release in French cinemas today.

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