There was a press preview screening end of april. And the press was surprised in a good way by Johnny Hallyday, usually known as the french Elvis but also a poor actor. So the question is, what Johnnie To did to make him look (so) good?
In a great article entitled “Johnny Hallyday, the role of his life“, Le Monde says there was a kind of “verbal curfew imposed on Hallyday” even though the superstar tried to negotiate, Johnnie To always answered “Enough chitchat! I’m bored by dialogue. I prefer silent actors“.
Johnnie To didn’t really know Johnny Hallyday, and said the first time he met him he was totally amazed by Hallyday’s eyes, “it’s one of the strangest I’ve ever seen, you never know what’s behind these eyes, you can just guess there are a lot of wounds. I immediately knew these eyes will give me a film“.
Because they don’t speak the same languages, they didn’t talk much says the article. But quite frustrated, Hallyday once asked To why he chose him? The director said “I like you“.
Johnnie To’s favourite scene in Vengeance is when Hallyday is on a beach, without memories and surrounded by children, “Hallyday is totally natural there“. And according to the article, Hallyday fought hard to make this scene happen. The actor didn’t want Vengeance to be a “manly film” only.
Finally, Johnnie To says he would like to direct The Red Circle after Vengeance, and he even offered a part to Hallyday (he would be the drunken former cop played by Yves Montand in the Melville’s version). He’s still wondering what’s behind Hallyday’s eyes.
Wait & see, after a Palme d’or?