It has been over 20 years since Cédric Klapisch delighted audiences with his 2002 comedy “The Spanish Apartment” about a group of twentysomethings sharing a flat in Barcelona.
Featuring the likes of Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cécile de France and “Yellowstone” star Kelly Reilly, the film – also known as “Pot Luck” – has spawned two sequels: “Russian Dolls” and “Chinese Puzzle.”
Now, French director is putting the old team back together in the Amazon Prime Video series “Greek Salad,” which opens Series Mania on March 17. But there is a twist.
“People often asked me if I would make another film about these characters. They are my family, but I kept saying ‘no,’” he says.
“When Amazon approached me about a series, I thought it would be interesting if I would talk about their children instead. Suddenly, it wasn’t as if I was making ‘Indiana Jones 4’ or ‘Fast & Furious XII’. I was telling another story with the same ingredients.”
In the eight-episode Series Mania opener, which will debut on April 14, Tom and Mia (kids of Duris’ character Xavier and Reilly’s Wendy) end up in Athens. But the world around them has changed, and so has Greece, plagued with economic instability and refugee crisis.
“I thought it would be interesting to compare these two generations of Europeans, coming of age in the 2000s and now in 2023. When I look at ‘The Spanish Apartment,’ there was so much enthusiasm about Europe coming together. Now, we have already gone through Brexit. This ‘joyful’ Europe I described 20 years ago is very fragile, suddenly facing all these conflicts.”
New characters, played by Aliocha Schneider, Megan Northam, Amir Baylly or Fotinì Peluso, have to deal with misogyny, racism, inequality or even their own privilege in the show, navigating parts of Athens that tourists don’t get to see. But there is still a chance for a bright future, says Klapisch. Also for the young actors who play them.
“The first time we met Kelly Reilly, she hadn’t really done anything but we just loved her. We thought she was so British. With Audrey Tautou, I remember her saying to me: ‘I just made this other movie, I hope it will do alright. It was ‘Amélie’,” he laughs.
“I don’t know if it’s luck, but I became known for discovering new actors – the same thing happened with ‘Call My Agent!’ It’s impossible to explain, because if you compare Romain to Kelly, or to Camille Cottin, they are all so different. It’s the same with this show: No one is well-known, but I know they will be.”
Klapisch enlisted the help of younger writers to ensure the show’s relevance: Agnès Hurstel, Paul Madillo, Thomas Colineau, Eugène Riousse and Charlotte de Givry. Lola Doillon and Antoine Garceau co-direct.
“I couldn’t write it alone. I am 61 years old!,” he says.
“I really wanted to work with the people from that generation and I have discovered so many new things. At first, I thought it would be all about these new tools, social media or dating apps. But it goes deeper than that. We have a trans character now and 20 years ago, we wouldn’t have approached this topic in the same way.”
He wouldn’t mind continuing the story in another season. But not right away.
“Everything is possible, but just like with these movies, I will need time. Who knows what will happen to Europe in five, 10 years? That’s what I used to say when people asked me about another film. It depends on what will happen to the world.”
“Now, I would be curious to hear what 20-year-old people think about this series and what is the take of their parents. There is a scene [in ‘Greek Salad’] when parents look at their children and say: ‘That’s how old we were when we first met.’ When we shot that, it was so emotional for all of us: Kelly, Romain, Cécile, Kevin Bishop,” he says, recalling the “surprising” success of the first film.
“It’s the only movie where people come up to me, saying: ‘It changed my life.’ One day, this woman showed me her child and said: ‘This baby? We have it because of you.’ She was Swedish, her husband Italian. They saw the film, travelled and fell in love. It’s so crazy to hear a sentence like that.”