Premiere night with Brigitte Fossey

Premiere night with Brigitte Fossey

Brigitte Fossey © French Cinematheque

Brigitte Fossey finds the boards this week at the National Theater of Nice in Love letters by AR Gurney with Julien Sorel, directed by Muriel Mayette-Holz. An impressive film career, dotted with regular theater appearances, under the direction of Roger Planchon, then Jean-Claude Fall, Robet Fortune and recently Anne Bourgeois.

Do you have stage fright on premiere nights?
Yes, I get stage fright on opening nights, there’s nothing I can do to get rid of it, so I have to deal with it. I will always remember the night of a premiere, I was playing The man in question by Félicien Marceau at the Théâtre de la porte St Martin, it was really a great premiere, there was all of Paris, and when I came on stage I felt a very violent jolt in my lower back, as if I had been beaten, and there I spoke to myself, and I said to myself “Ah no Brigitte, you are not going to do this to me! and off I went, and I started playing. I spoke to myself with a lot of authority [rires]

How do you spend your day before a premiere night?
I try to spend it alone, quiet, in my dressing room as much as possible. I try to arrive at 2 p.m., hang out, do my yoga … to be in my text, and on my own, to be in my character

Do you have any habits before going on stage? Superstitions?
Before going on stage, I often take a deep breath, I think of the author, and I ask him to help me get into his character. And then I also think of very close friends, who may have already gone to heaven, but I feel like I’ll find them again when I go on stage.

First time I said to myself “I want to do this job? »
It may have been a day when I had a conversation with my mother, I must have been 10/11/12 years old, and she said to me: “you know there is a little voice inside you that tells you what’s right and what’s wrong, and that little voice is always present in us, and it’s called conscience.” And then one day I had the feeling that that little voice was telling me that I had to let me do theatre. But be careful, it’s not like Joan of Arc, I haven’t “heard voices” [rires] but simply I reflected on this idea that deep inside us there is a truth that remains and that we must be attentive to it.

First flop?
I don’t remember a flop, but on the other hand I remember that I presented myself at the Conservatory, and that 11 votes were needed and that I only had 10 because Jean-Jacques Gautier had withdrew his, insofar as I was already a professional. I was turning in The great Meaulnes when I presented the conservatory, so I was a free listener. Thanks to this, I was able to continue working while attending Georges Chamarat’s classes, and in the end it was good to have both at the same time.

First ovation?
It was at the Venice Festival, I had presented with René Clément and with Georges Poujouly Forbidden Games and when I came out of the balcony, I was at the top of the stairs to go down to the festival hall, and when I came down the stairs, everyone started to applaud. I was holding my mother’s hand, I turned to her and I said to her: “But why are people clapping like that? I had seen that they had applauded the film, but I
didn’t understand why they were clapping when we got off. My mother, because she was brilliant, answered me: “They applaud because René Clément made a very beautiful film. As you were in the film, they applaud René Clément through you”.

First giggle?
On stage it’s terrible to laugh, we don’t have the right, it’s like funerals, we don’t have the right to have the giggles… or in the hospital… and it’s often in places where it’s It’s forbidden for the giggles to happen, and it’s terrible, there’s nothing we can do about it. I remember when I was playing at the Théâtre de Poche in Summer by Romain Weingarten there was a place where one of the two cats, in a tuxedo, came to tell me that the lady who lived above my house had had her ring stolen. He started to stutter and I had the giggles because it was a completely natural stutter that he had, it made me howl with laughter; which means that every night unfortunately, in the same place, when he said “He stole the ring”, I had to master this crazy laugh. I only succeeded half the time….

First tears as a spectator?
When I saw marius, by Pagnol. I was allowed to watch films on television when my parents were out, and when Fanny told Marius that he could go to sea because she loved him, I found that to be an extraordinary self-sacrifice, and it made me cry.

First exposure?
What is it really to bare?

First time on stage with an idol?
I have always had a cult following for Paul Newman, when I was 14 I put his picture in a silver frame on my bedside table, and when my mother asked me why I answered her “because one day I’m going to meet him and work with him” And then one day I met Robert Altman at the Cannes Film Festival, and then I found him
when I presented The Man Who Loved Women in Chicago and NY. In Chicago I called him he said “come home” I flew to LA and when he came to pick me up he said “tonight you’re having dinner with Paul Newman and you will be his wife in my next film ” I was flabbergasted, and I dined with someone very simple, who was coming back from a boat race, completely discreet, direct, funny, sparkling, charming … simple, very simple. When I toured with him, we had a very manly relationship; I knew he was very shy, so I told myself that I was going to say swear words to him, like that, it relaxed him, and it went very well afterwards…

First interview?
I think it was in Venice, I was playing tag with my mother, they called me and I said “I’m busy, I can’t”. I did it anyway, and then there was a 2° then a 3°… and at the end of the 3° I said “now I would like to go back to playing tag”

First crush?
It was for Gérard Philippe. It was extraordinarily lucky to have met him in London – where I was presenting Forbidden Gamespresented to him The beauties of the night by René Clair – and at breakfast he had seen me from the top of a staircase, he had come down and took me in his arms. I had asked for a “spelling” – because I didn’t know we said autograph – and he had written “For my little Brigitte Fossey whom I kiss on her little dimple” and I always kept this autograph, I always followed, he was my star… Afterwards I met Jean Vilar, in Raphael or the debauchee by Michel Deville – who has just left us – and I spoke at length with Jean Vilar, and I wanted to do what they were doing, which is to say a lot of theatre; I worked with Roger Planchon, it was
great, we went on tour, I started like that. As Planchon was doing a bit what Vilar was doing, I wanted to follow that trail…

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