PARIS — The future of Gallic producer Thomas Langmann’s two-part pic about France’s public enemy No. 1, Jacques Mesrine, is in doubt after the loss of its lead actor and an altercation in which Langmann headbutted tenpercenter Francois Samuelson.
The agent suffered a broken nose after the streetside showdown, close to Samuelson’s office near Paris’ Avenue Montaigne. Incident is the latest setback for the $60 million “Mesrine,” which has already swallowed up $2 million in development coin.
Helmed by Barbet Schroeder, the ambitious project was announced by distributor UGC at Cannes this year. But after burning its fingers with Langmann’s costly flop “Blueberry,” UGC got cold feet and told him to trim the project down to a single movie.
French star Vincent Cassel, who had been attached to play Mesrine, also said he wouldn’t have time to make two movies.
Langmann and Schroeder stuck with plan A, and when hot French thesp Benoit Magimel, Samuelson’s client, took an interest in the lead, the project seemed to be on again.
But in a Nov. 25 communique that was also faxed to Langmann, Samuelson told journalists that Magimel thought he was too young for the role. Furious about the communique, Langmann and Schroeder confronted Samuelson, who also reps Juliette Binoche.
“I regret what I did, of course,” Langmann was quoted as saying Monday, “but (Samuelson) should have called the director, as Benoit Magimel had asked him to, and not sent out a press release. He wanted to humiliate us.”
Langmann, son of vet Claude Berri, added, “The project is in difficulty, but I’m not giving up on it.”