Thanks in part to his work with auteurs Benoit Jacquot, Claire Denis and Stéphane Brizé, Vincent Lindon had long become something of a festival-world habitué, a sturdy and reliable fixture on the international circuit. But even with well over two decades’ red carpet experience, nothing could quite prepare the French actor for what he cheekily calls this year’s “grand slam.”
“It’s crazy and strange and totally wild,” Lindon tells Variety, reflecting on an ongoing festival tour that kicked into high gear when he and his “Titane” director Julia Ducournau were called back for Cannes’ closing ceremony to receive the Palme d’Or, and which will continue with the actor launching Brizé’s “Another World” in Venice and Thierry de Peretti’s “Undercover” in San Sebastian.
If that wasn’t enough, he’ll then hit the New York Film Festival, among others, to show off the Palme d’Or, and – if industry whispers are to be believed – will start the cycle anew in early 2022 should his upcoming Denis project be selected in Berlin.
“This was absolutely not calculated,” he says with a laugh. “In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined it.”
Beyond the frequent flyer points the actor might accrue, this banner tour will have the additional effect of solidifying the 62-year-old’s status as one of French cinema’s leading stars and – given the relatively limited number of slots afforded to Gallic productions in A-list competitions – as one of his industry’s most prominent ambassadors.
While that is not necessarily a position the actor ever imagined himself filling, he does relish the opportunity to meet his public on more neutral ground. “I’m fed up with those who know me too well,” he explains. “I cannot think too hard about who I am or what I do or how I come off.”
“If I have one strength, it’s a lack of self-conscience,” Lindon continues. “I couldn’t explain the way that I work, because even if I tried to, just hearing myself speak would send me off balance. I’d lose my ease.”
And that unguarded naturalism – what the actor calls his “insouciance” – is precisely what inspired filmmakers like Brizé, de Peretti, and Ducournau to conceive of their projects with Lindon in mind.
“My characters are me,” says Lindon, “because who else can they be? They have my eyes, my mouth, my brow, my voice, so it feels odd to differentiate what is acting and what is not. When I eat in a film I do so as I would in real life; that is why the filmmakers hired me!”
For “Another World,” Lindon’s fifth outing with Brizé, the longtime collaborators looked to expand on what has become their pet approach, surrounding the leading man with a cast of non-professional actors in films that explore tensions between labor and capital in a globalized system.
“Here, Brizé wanted to paint a fuller picture,” Lindon says. “The film is half about a man’s work life, and half about his personal life. It shows that two are inextricable. When things go poorly on one side that carries over to the other; we see a man caught between his doubts, and how that shapes his relationship with his wife and son.”
As if to further test that permeable divide between reality and fiction, Brizé cast actress Sandrine Kiberlain to play off Lindon as the character’s soon-to-be ex-wife – a casting choice that takes on additional resonance knowing that both actors were indeed married to one another for many years. While the actor understandably prefers to keep his personal life off the table, his film’s thematic concerns can’t help but invite the comparison.
Because as Lindon’s international profile has grown, so too have those of this screen-partner Kiberlain, whose own directorial debut, “A Radiant Girl,” premiered in Cannes earlier this summer, and of the couple’s daughter, Suzanne Lindon, whose debut feature “Spring Blossom” received the 2020 Cannes label and was one the few French titles to play last year’s Toronto Film Festival.
And if the actor prefers to focus on his own career path, he can’t help but think of family when reflecting on his recent fortune. “My father would always tell me, even if you have no chance of winning the lottery, you still might as well buy a ticket,” says Lindon.
“If a million don’t win, there’s always someone out there who does. That’s exactly what happened.”