AFFECTION AMIDST ISOLATION
All imagery: Still, Departure (2016) dir. Andrew Staggall
Phénix Broassard plays one of the main characters in director Andrew Staggall’s first feature film Departure, set to open today. The coming-of-age narrative traces fifteen-year old Elliot (Alex Lawther), who is spending a week in the south of France with his mother (Juliet Stevenson) as she prepares to sell her house, amidst a failing marriage. Elliot spends his time trying to win over his crush Clement (Phénix Broassard), a macho, insular French boy, who has also won the affection of Elliot’s mother. Clement is desperate for affection due to his devastating circumstances: he was sent to live in the countryside while his mother suffered from terminal cancer in Paris.
Set against the backdrop of South France’s idyllic scenery and an evocative piano score, the film cultivates a poignant nostalgia that compliments Elliot’s insular world. It’s only upon meeting Clément that he discovers the affection he ultimately craves.
We caught up with 24-year-old Phénix on the eve of the premiere to get the scoop on his new film and his upcoming projects.
Evan Goodfellow: So Departure comes out on Friday, right?
Phénix Brossard: Yeah, I was supposed to go to the premiere in London but I have another shooting in Dublin at the same time, so I can’t go. It’s a shame.
EG: The movie was shot in the south of France, that must have been an amazing location to work in?
PB: It was filmed in the south of France in a region called Carcassonne, in a little village called Cenne Monesties. It’s very beautiful and full of nature. I think it was the holiday house of a friend of the directors.
EG: How was working with director Andrew Steggall?
PB: It was amazing, I learned so much working with him. He was really open minded, and efficient in his working process, it was such an enjoyable experience.
EG: How did you get cast for the movie?
PB: In 2009 I starred in my first movie, La Lisière. The French producer for Departure saw the movie three years ago, and proposed me to Andrew. Andrew called me directly to organise a rendezvous in Paris to talk about the movie and we talked about it and he explained the whole plot to me. But at that time, there was a parallel story about theatre and some other stuff within the script which he later cut. He told me about the film and I really loved the idea. Then after one year he called me for a reel casting and I passed two castings and was offered the part.
EG: That’s awesome. I’m curious how you first got into acting?
PB: I was just walking down the street and a director named Géraldine Bajard saw me and asked me if I wanted to be cast for a feature film. I was a bit afraid you know, because when you’ve never acted and someone asks you if you want to act, you are a bit nervous. But after I went to the casting Géraldine was very nice and involved, and the casting went really well and after the audition I got the part.
EG: That’s crazy. You were just walking down the street and someone saw you and that started your career?
PB: Yes, and after that I went to school for acting, two years after my first movie. The school lasted for one year. From there I learned on set and through a personal coach.
EG: From that first movie did you immediately know you wanted to act?
PB: Yes, for me it was a really amazing to be a part of the movie. I had really good meetings with the actors and it was a crazy mood. After I finished the film I knew I wanted to do another one straight away.
EG: What are you filming in Dublin?
PB: It’s a pilot for Hulu, it’s a series about neanderthals and homosapians and the meeting of the two, and war, and there are some love stories between the neanderthals and the homosapians as well. I play one of the main neanderthals. For now it’s just a pilot, I’m not sure if it will go on to be a show? But if it does it will be good.
EG: Fingers crossed. Have you been in Dublin already?
PB: I spent two weeks in Dublin for rehearsals and fittings and meeting the cast and crew. At seven o’clock tonight they will pick me up here in Paris and take me to the airport to fly to Dublin. I start filming on Monday.
EG: How long will the shooting take?
PB: The period for shooting is very tight. They will do all of the shooting in twenty days, and for myself I only have five or six days of shooting.
EG: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t acting?
PB: I was really bad in school, you know? Thankfully the director saw me in the street because I don’t know where or what I would be doing now if that hadn’t have happened.
EG: What do you like to do for fun in Paris?
PB: For fun I like to go to little gigs, like in small places that aren’t really famous, usually in the 20th arrondissement. There are some good places that very few people know about. I like to go to rock n roll bars, and some new wave gigs as well. I also like to go to house parties and chill in the park with my friends.
Departure is out now at selected cinemas