“It’s my sister I call when things aren’t going well”

Nicolas Duvauchelle with his older sister Catherine.

“I have a lot of tenderness for this childhood photo of me and my older sister, Catherine, with our impossible cuts and our good cheeks. I can’t say where exactly it was taken, maybe in Amiens, where we spent a few years before growing up in 11me Paris district. We spend a lot of time together, playing without much, a stick, dirt, like here, toys, some barbies… They are precious moments, a mixture of joy and an almost sweet boredom, very different from our time, where I spend my time fighting against the ubiquity of screens to keep my children sane.

My sister remains one of the central people in my life. When we were young, we used to go to a PTT summer camp together, because my parents worked there, in Brittany or skiing. Her friends called me Nico, trying to sympathize: they all wanted to have me in her pocket to go out with her… The two of us were impulsive, necessarily yelling at each other, but without getting too angry. Today I call her when things are not going well; she is my accomplice, with whom I have so many good memories, even recent ones. As recently as last Saturday, we were supposed to meet in a hurry, out of the blue, and ended up with our kids and our friends in no time, drinking and laughing.

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I grew up with film-loving parents: my father had a strong taste for American cinema, my mother for French cinema. But, being an actor, I didn’t premeditate it. I even tried for a few weeks to become a pharmacy assistant, that is! When I was 16, I had trouble sitting still and dropped out of the school system. I spent time hanging around my neighborhood, fighting, looking for trouble, not my best time. The day I joined Club Daumesnil to take Thai boxing classes with coach André Zeitoun, everything changed. I finally had a place to vent my rage. I learned to be precise, lively. I left crushed, but with my head at rest, with a feeling of fullness.

“My parents and my sister saw my first films and did not try to do without me. »

It was in this club that one day Antoine Carrard, casting director for the Pilferer, by Erick Zonca He introduced himself and said that he was looking for someone for a small role as a boxer. The boys volunteered enthusiastically. I was there, crestfallen, thinking of making myself forget. That was what attracted Antoine Carrard, he called me : “And you, basically, you don’t want to pass the casting? » I learned the text, and I only had one wish in mind : convince. I gave a lot, to the point that Erick ended up giving me the leading role in the movie.

My parents and sister were happy for me, but they were afraid I would get carried away. They saw my first movies and didn’t try to spare me: the night of the premiere of snowboarder, by Olias Barco, in 2003 at the Grand Rex, I remember crossing the street to kiss my father. He laughed, laughing softly at me. Well, at the same time, he knew very well that he had not participated in a masterpiece…

This closeness that we share, my sister and I, could help me in certain shots, like playing Sophie Quinton’s brother in Light, Jean-Pierre Améris’s film in which I again played a boxer. He needed an easy, immediate fraternal understanding, and I didn’t have to think long to embody it: this pure complicity, I already knew from the beginning. »

black butterflies, a series by Olivier Abbou and Bruno Merle, with Nicolas Duvauchelle and Niels Arestrup (6 × 50 minutes). In Arte on September 22 and 29, at 8:55 p.m., or in full replay on Arte.tv until October 12.

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