“We have to know how to live in harmony with all that is around us, be it plants, animals ... I have the impression that we’re a bit the little thugs on this planet. We're the only ones messing around. Hopefully this disease will calm us down, make us realize that just being able to breathe, go out, live, are the most important things. We owe it to pay attention to the people we love, to what is around us, to enjoy the present moment to the fullest.”
Could you please introduce yourself?
Soufiane Guerrab, I am 33 years old and I am an actor ... a passionate one.
What are your roots?
I grew up in Rosny-sous-Bois, in the Paris banlieue. I spent my childhood there. I came to settle in Paris, then I went back to live there. There was a lot of back and forth, but I'm a Parisian at heart.
How did you start to act?
I stumbled into this profession by chance, just like we came upon this terrace today. I discovered the profession of acting as I discover Paris. I would never have imagined myself being in films. I'm lucky, it's only good, positive. But I'm a self-taught person, I've never taken a course. I didn't follow the classic path ... But little by little, from one project to another, I've been doing this for fifteen years.
I met an agent in Paris. It was raining, we were looking at the Seine together - we were actually watching a scene being shot. I was a spectator, I found myself a corner to watch. I said it looked simple, it seemed easy to do. And the actor, I thought he wasn't acting… he wasn't acting amazingly. The man next to me told me that it’s easier said than done. So I said I would like to try, to take a chance. He replied, “It's good that you say that, because right now, we're looking a bit for someone with your profile for a movie. Would you like to try the casting?” I was lucky enough to pass the casting. From the first casting I got the job, it was cool.
What movie was it for?
It was for the movie Mes Copines, with Léa Seydoux. It was her first film too I think, a film about dance. Sylvie Ayme was directing. It was a first experience, and I liked it. I'm an artist at heart. I made music ... in art, I tried doing everything.
What were you doing musically?
I was mostly composing, again self-taught – I never took music theory lessons. I like to discover new things, and I started with music because it was very accessible. Making music is pretty easy these days, it's not like twenty years ago. I could do it quietly, at home, without having any clue, only for myself. This is what got me into artistic waters, the creativity.
Around the age of 18, when I started in the cinema, I put music aside and focused on this profession. It was simply fun, a bonus. I did shoots from time to time. It’s only very recently that I can finally say that it’s my job, that I’m proud and happy… I’m still having a hard time saying it. Today it works, tomorrow it may work a little less. One shouldn't be seasick. But maybe also, by dint of participating in different projects, of being seen, I no longer necessarily need to say it; people associate me with this environment. Well, at the start it's a bit complicated. When one starts and is asked what one’s job is, it is difficult to say "actor" because it is a very hard job. You have to hang in there and be patient. This is what I'm trying to do and it's going pretty well. I am happy.
In recent years, you have appeared in Patients and School Life by Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir, but also in the series Call My Agent! Tell us about these experiences.
With Mehdi Idir and Fabien Marsaud (Grand Corps Malade), the interaction extends beyond the artistic. I met them five years ago on the casting for Patients, a wonderful movie. They have become my family, really. They are like big brothers. With them it's more than just the cinema.
My other projects too, they’re always a kif. I shared moments on the set of Call My Agent! with Gérard Lanvin. We are still in touch. He is a person that I admire tremendously, both in his work and personally. It’s beautiful to meet people like that through your profession. These are amazing experiences. There is also Antoine Garceau, the director of Call My Agent!, with whom I get along very, very well. We're working on a new series, by the way. These are meetings that last. Beyond art, I like human beings, I like these guys.
Did Fabien and Mehdi help you progress in your acting?
Yes, these are people who trusted me, them and Jean-Rachid Kallouche, the producer. They were the first to write a role for me in the film School Life. I owe them a lot, a lot, and I cannot thank them enough for the trust they have given me. I love them (smile).
Don't you play theatre?
I would love to do theatre. I’m to participate in a really nice play - we're doing it with Caroline Anglade. But it takes a lot of time. Theatre requires a lot of rehearsals and unfortunately at the moment I don't always have the time to focus on that. But yes, I would like it very much, it is another discipline, it has nothing to do with cinema and I like it.
Which actor do you admire?
I don't really have one reference or a model, there are a lot of them. But beyond art, I love real people.
Which director would you like to work with?
Fabien and Mehdi: they are my guys. I would like to make a film with them again. That said, directors with whom I would like to work, of course there are plenty. I can't give a name, because if I do, maybe there will be another one that says “no! he didn't give my name, well then?” (laughs) Actually, I want to work with everyone who sees something cool in me and wants to do great things. People who trust me and with whom we could do a great job, that's already important. Sincere people.
What role would you dream of playing?
An emperor – no, just kidding. A guy who flies? I don't know, there isn't really a specific role that I want to play. I take life as it comes. And life gives me beautiful surprises. I hope it’s saving more of these for me. Being able to play roles I never imagined I could perform, being able to play with people I can trust and who give me their trust. There you go, this is what I want to do.
I also like it when cinema carries a message. This is what is most important. We have an incredible job, which has a crazy impact on the world, on people. Making a film with nothing behind it is not my scene. I like it when the spectator is not the same person when they leave the room, that's what a great project is about. I like it when one raises real questions, when one tries to raise awareness, at least a little, without taking oneself seriously and giving lessons. School Life or Patients deal with heavy subjects, but they deal with them lightly. It is a job of entertainment, we mustn’t forget that, but we have a very big responsibility because we represent a window on the world.
Do you have a daily routine?
No, you've come across the wrong person. I hate routine. I hate knowing what I am supposed to do next week – I hate it. Every day is improvisation ... more or less, eh? Apart from when I have dates, when I have to be on time somewhere.
What do you do when you're not filming?
What I really love is meeting people, chatting with them, taking an interest in others. I like it, and when I have time, I try to discover new things, new people, new mind-sets. That's what pleases me, and it's what the job demands.
How did you experience the lockdown ?
It put everyone's schedule a bit off, that's obvious. It caught us a bit on the hop, we weren't ready. I was doing a lot of projects. Everything that was planned was turned upside down for several months. It wasn’t easy, but I hope this virus has raised awareness about a lot of things. I live across the street from a garden, where there are lots of birds that are there all day singing. Well during the lockdown they didn't stop singing! (laughs) It was just us human beings who were in a panic and stopped living. The disease should make us realize that we are not alone on this planet. We have to know how to live in harmony with all that is around us, be it plants, animals ... I have the impression that we’re a bit the little thugs on this planet. We're the only ones messing around. Hopefully these times will calm us down, make us realize that just being able to breathe, go out, live ... these are the most important things. We owe it to pay attention to the people we love, to what is around us, to enjoy the present moment to the fullest.
Do you have a motto?
Yes, my motto is that nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible: I believe in it more and more. When you see the course of my life... you should never despair. There is always scope to do great things. Not just “get by”, it's almost too easy to get by. No, there is always material at hand for doing very, very beautiful things, even when you are at the lowest ebb. You have to hang on to that. I am convinced that we are filled with the energy that is around us, and that we have to open up to good vibes. Life takes care of the rest.
Do you have any upcoming projects, whitch you can tell us about?
Yes, at the moment I'm on the set of a series for Netflix, Arsène Lupin, with Omar Sy and Ludivine Sagnier. It's a great shoot, I love it, it's wicked. I also have a series coming out abroad, a little offbeat because of the lockdown, and a series for France Television. This is the one we are filming right now with the director of Call My Agent!, Antoine Garceau.
There are feature film projects coming up, too. A project where I have the first role, De bas étage. This is Yassine Qnia's first film, produced by Why Not Productions. This is the first time that I’ve been given a leading role in a movie. It’s coming out very soon - I don’t have the dates yet because everything’s a bit messy, but it’s in the box. There are very beautiful things happening, thank God.
How important is the actor's costume, in your opinion?
The costume shifts us a bit from our own person, brings us closer to the character. You don’t leave home dressed in these clothes, you put them on in your workplace. It is essential to wear clothing that will form part of the identity of the role. Costume design is an extraordinary job. With a piece of clothing or an accessory, one can say a lot of things and make the character real, make them recognizable, unforgettable. The costume is also akin to psychology: we see if the character is a bit high-spirited or dejected, if he pays attention to himself. And it's very important to feel comfortable when playing a character.
In your private life, do you dress in a special way for a special event?
No, I am not at all complicated. A t-shirt, jeans… what matters to me is being comfortable. What I love is to feel like I am not wearing something special.
Do you have a taboo colour, a favourite colour?
No, I like all colours. But do they all love me? That's another question, I have to wear them to find out.
How did you meet hollington?
I came to the store to try on clothes for the Césars ceremony. It was last year, I was pre-nominated. I needed a nice hollington jacket to go to the Révélations dinner. It was cool, the jacket looked good on me, they liked it. (laughs)
What attracted you most: the cut, the materials?
I really like Mao collars. And I find that hollington shirts have a fit that suits me well. It’s sober, we’re in something simple but chic. Everything fits… it suits me. It's simple but neat. Look, I like this little shirt. I am well. I am Soufiane, in any case.
Soufiane Guerrab is at the initiative of the Tapis Bleu Film Festival. Every year its festival is organised in the town of Rosny-sous-bois and presents masterclasses, screenings and awards for young actors and directors.
You can follow the news of Soufiane Guerrab on his instagram account and see in :
2019 DE BAS ÉTAGE de Yassine QNIA
2018 LA VIE SCOLAIRE de Fabien MARSAUD et Mehdi IDIR
2016 D'UNE PIERRE DEUX COUPS de Fejria DELIBA
2016 LA PIÈCE de Lamine DIAKITE
2016 BURN OUT de Yann GOZLAN
2016 PATIENTS de Fabien MARSAUD, Medhi IDIR - Prix d'interprétation " PREMIERS RENDEZ VOUS " au Festival du Film de Cabourg 2017
2015 DHEEPAN de Jacques AUDIARD
2015 LA LOI DU MARCHÉ de Stéphane BRIZÉ
2015 NOUS TROIS OU RIEN de KHEIRON
2015 JAMAIS DE LA VIE ! de Pierre JOLIVET
2019 PAIX À LEURS ARMES de Frédéric JARDIN
2019-2020 ARSÈNE LUPIN - EP. 1 À 10 de Louis LETERRIER Netflix
2019 CESAR WAGNER - EP. PILOTE de Antoine GARCEAU
2019 MOLOCH de Arnaud MALHERBE
2018 ENGRENAGES - SAISON 7 - EP. 1, 3, 4 de Frédéric Jardin
2018 DIX POUR CENT - SAISON 3 - EP. 3 GÉRARD de Antoine GARCEAU
2015 LE SANG DE LA VIGNE - EP. 18 POUR QUI SONNE L'ANGÉLUS de René MANZOR
2015 BRAQUO - SAISON 4 de Xavier PALUD Canal+
We warmly thank Soufiane Guerrab for his welcome and the time he kindly gave us. Good luck for the future!
Photos Clément Vayssieres