IN THE FEATURE FILM BY EMANUELLE BERCOT, STANDING TALL (LA TÊTE HAUTE), HE IS MALONY, A TROUBLED AND VIOLENT YOUNG MAN THAT WE FOLLOW FROM A YOUNG AGE TO EARLY ADULTHOOD. IN REAL LIFE, ROD PARADOT, FRENCH CINEMA’S NEW HOPE, IS A THOUGHTFUL, SMART AND CLEAR-SIGHTED YOUNG MAN, FAR FROM HIS CHARACTER’S TUMULTUOUS ON-SCREEN PERSONALITY.
words by Isabelle Moisy Cobti photographed by Laurent Humbert fashion by Diane Boulenger
rod wears trousers by marc jacobs, t-shirt and necklace stylist’s own
Meeting us in a trendy Paris café on a rainy day in February, the young actor anticipates the 26th day of the month with curiosity: the day upon which the 41st César Awards will take place. Standing Tall, the film that put him center stage, the film that opened the Cannes Film festival in May 2015. The film that is now nominated in 8 different César categories. Paradot himself is a nominee for Most Promising Actor. He does his best to stay grounded, even if his story in the past few months has been one of fairytale. Festival-hopping, travelling around the world, hounded by the press, behaviour toward Paradot has changed significantly, but he has no intention of changing his life, and even less to waiver in his convictions. Still resident of Stains, a suburb of Paris and his hometown, where he lives with his mother. Despite the journalists, the ever-growing curiosity and the new-found friends, all seeking answers to the same questions: the film, Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel and his story, from childhood to present day. They seek to make him the new idol, to rewrite his life… his past… the story of a kid from suburbs with an unexpected destiny. A man who, in real life, is sensitive and of pure nature, is, in this story, impressive, rough and scarred. He cannot escape his youth, but manages to hold his own. The pictures shot this afternoon tell the same story: we are far from an unpredictable boy. He is photogenic… intriguing… almost modelesque. That said, he does nothing to hide the truth. He’s no saint either. We have superseded the introductions, put aside the questions repeated a hundred-fold at the Cannes Film Festival and wade through the pleasantries. Sooner or later, our discussion turns to the theme of maturity. When asked about what has changed since Cannes, he tells us that he had to grow up fast, fast beyond his understanding of the adjective. So fast that:
“ You’re shaking when you climb the steps, and you’re crying when you walk back down. Your whole body is vibrating, and you wonder if you’re going to faint. It’s really intense. You don’t control your body or emotions. When you’re in the room and see yourself crying on film, the people applauding for nine minutes straight… I did an interview immediately after, and I was completely lost… in shock. The adrenalin. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
Since that moment, everything sped forward at light speed for the young man: the Césars, the Lumières, the “Le Film Français” Trophies… The list of festivals where he’s invited does not cease to get longer and longer and the trips across Europe only multiply: Munich in Germany, Giffoni in Italy, Macedonia, England and Scotland in the UK. For Rod Paradot, it’s an incredible opportunity to meet people and to cast a different light on cinema. Audiences are receptive, responding positively to the movie’s message. His entire universe is clearly changing, and he’s aware of it, even if he doesn’t want to learn new habits. So, what remains of his past? Spotted as he was preparing for a vocational diploma in his hometown in the metropolitan area of Paris, he confides that he has put his studies on hold for the moment, but has several contingency plans should cinema not work out.
“ If one day things stop working for me in movies, I won’t be left with nothing.
I think that I’ll do something that has nothing to do with what I have done before.” Rod tells us that he likes the speaking to people and making them smile. Dancing and travel are also high up on his list. Should his budding career in cinema come to an unexpected halt, he has his BAFA, a youth working diploma to fall back on. Having decided to take theatre classes and work on his English to master fundamental skills as an actor, however, his agent doesn’t seem worried. The young talent tells us of the how things opportunities seem to sprout around every corner. There was a short film in September 2015, another with Alban Lenoir and perhaps another full-length feature with Xavier Beauvois, his sponsor at the Césars and an excellent director. When he isn’t starring in the next cinematic hits, Rod likes to read a lot, spend the day watching movies and preparing himself for coming projects. Even if theatre isn’t something he is accustomed to, film has been a constant in his life. Not always film that has left its mark on history, he says, but film that has touched him nonetheless. “I like love stories. I like Une semaine sur deux (et la moitié des vacances scolaires), and I love Neuilly sa Mère. As for movies with ‘more depth’, I love Belmondo, Le Professionnel. I also love Luc Besson’s latest movie, Lucy. What he did with this film is great. He perfectly conveyed the percentages at play in the brain and even baffles me now thinking of it.” If he leans towards realistic cinema, he’s really into the sensitive aspects of a story. Supernatural movies, American blockbusters, beefed up men with gorgeous women hanging on their arms aren’t his cup of tea. Even if Mad Max was gorgeous, he’d rather go with La Tête Haute or La Famille Bélier. Since then, he had overdosed on film for the moment.
I have watched so many movies that I can’t remember their names anymore. I watched every movie in the 2016 Césars. Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse, the Desplechin movie, but also Félix Moati’s À trois on y va or Diasthème’s Un Français… I still need to watch Les Cowboys, Thomas Bidegain’s film. ”
rod all in gucci
At barely 20 years old, Rod Paradot didn’t waste his time, and has found his guardian angel in Benoît Magimel. We can’t wait to see him back on screen.
translation by Alexandra Moisy