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Interview with Sergi Lopez

Sergi Lopez dans Ricky de François Ozon

Were you familiar with François Ozon’s films before working with him?

No, I don’t see a lot of films and I don’t live in France. But I’d met him before, during a promotional tour. And I knew people who had worked with him. Not having seen his films didn’t worry me - my ignorance is part of who I am. I don’t choose projects based on a filmmaker’s previous work but rather on the script he’s proposing. I want to be in the moment and follow my instinct when I’m reading a script, that’s what matters. You don’t want to be biased, you want to get into the story.

What was your reaction when you read RICKY?

I was immediately won over by its almost magical simplicity. The story goes straight to the heart of things, like a tale. Paco and Katie’s relationship begins in a very direct way and moves forward quickly.

What about Ricky having wings?

Despite this surreal detail, RICKY is not science fiction. It’s actually a realistic film about something that’s not realistic. It’s unsettling to see how a flying baby fits into mundane daily life. In RICKY, the characters experience the supernatural in a very natural way.

What do you think about the fact that Ricky’s «otherness» is embodied by wings?

Everyone has fantasized about flying, it’s a dream people share across the globe. Ricky could be seen as an angel, but François doesn’t get into that symbolism. He shows us a much more disturbing reality. Ricky’s otherness is amusing at first, but reality soon takes over. Ricky is half monster, half angel. He’s a cute blond baby with blue eyes, but there’s something monstrous about his wings as they develop. His wings are like a miracle, but we don’t know if the miracle is positive or negative, it all depends on what the family will do.

In that sense, Paco is very pragmatic. Some may think he returns home to make money off Ricky.

That’s right. Paco sees in Ricky an opportunity to make money, which will in turn allow the family to come back together and be happy. Paco is neither good nor bad, it’s up to the audience to decide what they think of him. I like films that leave room for imagination. RICKY is not a sweet, pretty story, it’s not a «nice» film. I liked that ambiguity, that’s why I accepted the role. Nothing is black and white, you don’t know if this family will stay together. They’re not a bad family or a good family, they’re just a family. Not a very well-adjusted family, but I’m not convinced a well-adjusted family is a good thing. I’m getting tired of innocuous Pollyanna stories full of cheap hope. Pretty little stories with gratuitous happiness, containing no rites of passage or experience of unhappiness seem empty to me. I subscribe to a philosophy of joie de vivre, but a joie de vivre that can’t exist without pain.

RICKY is also the portrait of a mother.

Yes, and I understand why François would want to explore that theme. It’s so huge, being a mother, in both moral and physical terms. In comparison, being a father seems rather incidental! And yet, the film also explores a fundamental truth about being a father. The experience of fatherhood starts with this simple phrase: «You’re going to be a father». Then the abstract notion suddenly becomes real in the form of a strange little being who breathes, has needs, doesn’t look quite how you expected... In the film, this concept of the baby as a «little monster» who bursts into your life and makes you a father is reinforced by Ricky’s wings.

What’s it like shooting with very young children?

Not easy, but I’ve got kids myself and I really like children, I communicate well with them. We bond easily. Babies can’t work the way we can, we have to conform to their biological rhythm and that can be complicated. But they’re great because they don’t act, they just are. They’re real, which helps compensate for the weirdness of playing in the absence of special effects.

And working with Alexandra Lamy?

As with François, I didn’t know her previous work and had no preconceived notions. I got to know her on the shoot. We got along great. I found her pretty, friendly and most of all, very funny. We have a similar approach to acting, we’re both very instinctive. We didn’t discuss Katie and Paco’s relationship, we let ourselves be guided by the context of the shoot, the situations, the dialogue, the direction François gave us... I’m not one of those actors who feels the need to go to the end of the earth in search of his characters’ motivations.

How about working with François Ozon?

François is extremely methodical. He knows exactly what he wants. He sees the film in his mind and works very quickly. He likes to keep things moving, no wasting time. He’s very impatient. Impatient to get to the next scene, to the next day of shooting, to the editing, to the next film too, I imagine. He likes his actors. Choosing them is part of his work as a director. He sees something in you that corresponds to the character, and from there he lets you express yourself the way you see fit. He doesn’t intervene unless he doesn’t like the direction you’re going in. But he never drives you mad explaining the «essence» of a scene before you shoot. You sense he loves his work and has made a lot of films, he’s strong inside and doesn’t need to throw his weight around.

What do you think about the end of the film, in particular the fact that Katie is pregnant again?

In a conventional film, you’d say: «Wonderful, life goes on». But François plays around with traditional images. When we see Katie pregnant, we can’t help wondering if the baby inside her will have wings, fins, or paws!