Principal interpreter and revelation of the film “The Heroics”, François Créton there embodies a man marked by addictions, struggling with his demons and a family history. On the occasion of the theatrical release of this film, Maxime Roy’s first feature film, we met the actor.
What is the starting point of the film The Heroics ?
Francois Creton : At the base of the film The Heroics, I meet Maxime Roy, because first of all he is the darling of my grown-up daughter. Very quickly a very strong relationship is created between us. I have tapes that my father left me at the end of his life. He is then very ill, he knows he is going to die, he asks me to bring him a camera and he films himself in self-interview, close-up, full frame. He tries to speak, makes seven tapes of one hour each. I watch one after his death, and it charges me well, I put the others in a drawer. And when I meet Max, it’s with him that I want to see them, so I talk to him about it. My idea, vague, is perhaps to make a documentary of it.
We look at them, together, and at the end Max says to me: “what interests me is not your father’s tapes, and documentaries are not my thing. What interests me is fiction, and your relationship with your fatherWe start to write Michel’s story, we invent it, it’s taken from my own story but it’s still an invention, to allow ourselves to go everywhere and further. The Heroics is therefore the story of Michel and his father, and of Michel’s son who accompanies him.
Who is Michel? What does this portrait tell about?
FC : Michel is a kid himself. He doesn’t want to grow up. Finally, he wants to grow up, but not to enter the system. But if he grows up, according to him, he will fit into the system, so there is a wholesale rejection of it all. Michel must accept his relationship with his father, to accept himself as a father and therefore ensure with his own children, accept and assume the man he is. The story is close, it is inspired by my life, but it remains a fiction. We wanted Michel to be a fictional character, with caricatures and very strong accents. It was the only way for me not to fall into counter psychology or shamelessness. He is a fictional character who allows us to go where we want.
Michel has to grow up, but growing up means going back to school, learning things he already knows how to do, so he refuses. But he has no choice. If you want to do what you want to do, you have to go through certain stages, enter certain boxes. Or you accept a marginality, and you remove yourself from a lot of things. Which leads to precariousness, to the margins, to loneliness, in parallel stories. So you take drugs because you consider yourself marginalized, and taking drugs marginalizes you even more. And it becomes an identity.
The Heroics opens with a masterful and very poignant monologue, in one and the same shot. How did you shoot it?
FC : I have been and I still go, very regularly, to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. When we were writing the film I took Max there, a lot. We worked on the points of view, the listening work, the different characters. We had to determine a different vision, against the one we often have: neon-lit rooms where people hang out. While no, people share, tell each other things, hug each other, that’s not the image we have of it at all. I have experienced this situation in my life where I find myself with a child and very much in love with the mother, which tore me apart. We rewrote a lot, but this sequence looks like a testimony I had once given, on my pain in accepting the situation.
It’s only one shot, one and the same take, of 3mn 15. Maxime fought like a rag-man, because the production was very afraid to open the film with such a long shot, and the audience didn’t not adhere. Max said: “if we don’t put on this scene, we won’t have empathy for Michel“. Because what we see afterwards is such a borderline… This scene creates an attachment to the character, and in a way he is forgiven a lot more for what happens next.
We do lots of takes. I can’t do it. Almost, but not. Maxime is in the frame and we have a very direct relationship. He cuts, we look at each other, we tell ourselves that it does not work. Maxime clears the tray, and takes me aside, “we need to talk“. And he said a very simple thing to me:”Stop acting François, do Michel. “We went back there, we took a take, and it was the right one. Once again, it’s the fiction that is decisive.