During the Parisian filming of “The Da Vinci Code” in 2004, Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer were invited by Jacques Chirac to the Élysée. The President of the Republic would have formulated surprising and “hilarious” requests during this meeting.
Da Vinci Code : Robert Langdon arrives at the cinema
After Splash and Apollo 13, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks meet on Da Vinci Code. Released in 2006, this adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestseller is the first cinematic adventure of symbolist Robert Langdon. While in Paris, the professor was called urgently one night after the assassination of his friend Jacques Saunière (Jean-Pierre Marielle) in the corridors of the Louvre. There, he discovers that the museum curator left many signs as clues before dying. With the help of cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), Saunière’s granddaughter, Langdon tries to decipher these messages.
During this quest which challenges the foundations of Christianity, they face many enemies eager to stop them. This is the case of the police officer Bézu Fache (Jean Reno), convinced that the teacher is guilty of the murder.
Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina and Jürgen Prochnow complete the cast of the first installment of the trilogy directed by Ron Howard. After the commercial success of this opus, which garners $ 760 million in worldwide revenue, Tom Hanks again played Robert Langdon in 2009 in Angels and Demons, then in 2016 in Inferno.
An adaptation deemed controversial
During production and upon release, Da Vinci Code creates controversy Many times. Opus Dei insists, for example, that its name does not appear in the film, but the Catholic institution portrayed in an unflattering manner does not succeed. In 2006, she calls for a ban on feature films to minors, in order to protect them from “manipulation of history”. Again, this request is not accepted.
If the Louvre grants the film crew night-shooting permits, Westminster Abbey refuses to open its doors to it, lambasting the theories from Dan Brown’s plot. In France, the parish of Saint-Sulpice is also opposed to taking pictures in the Parisian church.
During the promotion, Ron Howard reminds that this is only a fiction and that he does not necessarily adhere to the thesis of Dan Brown. If he therefore faces many detractors, the director also receives support, including that of Jacques Chirac, then President of the Republic.
“It was hilarious”
In its edition of January 2, 2006, the magazine Newsweek recounts the meeting between the former head of state who died in 2019 and Ron Howard, accompanied by producer Brian Grazer. During the Parisian filming of Da Vinci Code in December 2004, the Élysée invited them to come “say hello” to Jacques Chirac. Brian Grazer recalls, quoted by The world :
We thought it was a five minute visit, like walking into the Oval Office, a photo and a handshake.
Corn the visit lasts more than an hour. The president notably offers his help to his guests for filming authorizations at the Louvre. He would also have advised them to recruit a friend of his daughter Claude Chirac – responsible for its communication – for the role of Sophie Neveu, “an actress having some success in FranceAnother astonishing request that the Head of State would have formulated: an increase in the fee by Jean Reno. Ron Howard assures us on this subject:
He wondered aloud, half seriously, if Jean Reno, who plays French detective Bézu Fache, could be paid a little better. It was hilarious. Fortunately, the contract was already closed.
In response to the publication of excerpts from Newsweek, the Elysee denies some of these words with AFP. According to relatives of the president, the latter would not have suggested an actress to them “her daughter’s best friend“. Jacques Chirac’s entourage specifies:
They mentioned a certain number of acquaintances of each other, such as Audrey Tautou, Paul Newman, Michèle Laroque, Gregory Peck or Jean Reno, but without linking them to the film’s cast. The president regularly receives artists of great renown who are passing through Paris, and he is keen to praise the attractiveness of France.