Yes, the shooting was not even finished and we were asked the question, without knowing the success that the series would know. We were asked to embark, with the same actresses, on this new adventure, without having the texts, nor knowing who our characters would be. But it’s quite rare to find such strong guarantees of quality: the director, Alexandre Laurent; the producer, Iris Bucher… We all said yes. And Sofia Essaïdi was added to the project.
What convinced you?
The idea of keeping the same ingredients, in a new adventure. And then, I was also excited by this period, that of the First World War, very rich historically and not seen enough from the female point of view, like those women who work in the factories when their husbands go to the front and who do not will never stop again…
How do you put yourself in the shoes of a historical figure?
What’s great about period series is that the costume, hairstyle and makeup allow you to distance yourself from who you are, from your daily life. It helps me a lot when I no longer recognize myself in the mirror. The way of dressing during this period is restrictive, there were corsets for everything: pregnancy corsets or comfort corsets, to be quiet at home, in the evening (laughs). The women of that time were so used to it that they managed better than us. But the male characters also had their constraints: gaiters, heavy pants, very rough woolen coats…
What I love about her is her determination. Marguerite is a character who is not afraid
Can you describe Marguerite, your character?
It is a prostitute who leaves Paris, deserted, for the Eastern front, where the garrisons, and therefore, the customers are. What I love about her is her determination. Marguerite is a character who is not afraid. I greatly admire that. Or rather if, she is afraid, but the determination prevails. Anyway, for the authors, when you are a redhead, you are either a whore or a witch!
Is this a true story?
No, we are far from the documentary! Even if the historical roots are obvious, if many women took over the reins of family factories, if prostitutes arrived on the front lines, our characters are completely fictitious. We are more into the romantic and the narration. Moreover, and as always for my roles, I am inspired by many things other than the historical context, in this case the magic of costumes and sets. And then, if there are a lot of testimonies on the Second World War, there are very few films on the First War, and even fewer with women.
Is there any particular pressure for this season 2? Because if it’s not the same story as the “Bazar”, it’s a bit of a sequel…
Yes, I admit that compared to “HPI”, doing a choral series is much more comfortable. And then, we are in charge of the “Bazaar” experience. I’m not going to tell you at all that it was a rehearsal, far from it, but there, I’m relatively confident. Too much perhaps! (laughs)
When we watch this kind of series, we always wonder how we would have reacted in the place of these women and their commitments…
Yes, even if it’s very abstract, you can fantasize about being a heroine… But I don’t have a quarter of Marguerite’s courage, that’s for sure.
“Les Combattantes”, from Monday, September 19, at 9:10 p.m., on TF1.