Entertainment“The shoot lasted 365 days, out of the 80...

“The shoot lasted 365 days, out of the 80 days the title suggested,” says David Tennant


By train, boat, camel or balloon, ntDavid Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) looks stunning in the costume of gentleman Phileas Fogg. Headliner and co-producer of Around the world in 80 days, adaptation of the novel by Jules Verne, whose last episodes of the first season are broadcast this Monday at 9:05 p.m. on France 2, the Scottish star is back for 20 Minutes in videoconference on a titanic shoot that lasted well over 80 days …

Had you read the novel before you were offered the role? Or other works by Jules Verne?

The story was familiar to me. I read 20,000 leagues under the sea, long ago. I had not read Around the world in eighty days. I guess because this is one of those stories that we have always known, especially thanks to the adaptations. There is always the essential, the same mechanics, around the world in 80 days, and this moment when it became possible in the 19th century, as in our version. Beyond that, this novel is kind of a playground for screenwriters who build their own little sandcastles on each stopover. We get a sort of narrative arc with obstacles to overcome at each stage, which is perfectly suited to the structure of a series by episode. Now I read the novel, you don’t know how useful it was to me! My Phileas Fogg is very different from Verne’s, but he’s still a staid Englishman who goes to this ridiculous club every day and leads a pretentious lifestyle.

What made you want to play this Phileas Fogg?

What particularly interested me as an actor is that this Phileas Fogg never left his ultra-protected comfort zone. He has never set foot abroad. He never left the UK… He never went further than Edinburgh. That’s very smart from Ashley Pharoah [le scénariste] for making Fogg a kind of man-child, full of fear, insecurity and doubts and who never dared to do anything. Fogg becomes the prisoner of his own limits. Dramatically, this makes touching this ill-equipped human wandering the world and trying to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. This is what we needed to re-tell this story and, hopefully, to capture a new audience.

Your Fogg has stars in his eyes when he discovers the world, he’s kind of a dreamer and romantic, right?

Yes quite. He’s a frustrated romantic dreamer, he never dared to take action. I really like the scenes in episode 2 when he meets the little Italian boy fascinated by space travel. He sees Fogg as a hero, which Fogg knows he isn’t, but he sees himself in this little boy. This character gives him the courage to continue the adventure, because Fogg sees the version of himself at 8 who looks at him in wonder. Any adventure story only really comes to life if the characters matter to us, that we care about their fate. And I think we see the child in this character.

A period series says things about the era in which it is produced. What does “Around the World in 80 Days” say about ours?

It is not for me to say it, but for the public! But I think it’s interesting to look back at a world, with this English colonialism, which at the time of the novel’s release, was taken for granted. Seen from the 21st century, we ask ourselves: “What could have happened? Why are countries like India getting slammed halfway around the world? This allows us to see things through the eyes of Fogg, who has never questioned this world order, who remained seated in London in his leather chair. It’s fascinating to tear this character out of his comfortable life and show him how the world works. This is not the way this story was told 100 years ago. This perhaps allows us to question ourselves on the way in which one part of the world behaves towards the other. Especially at a time when we never felt so little international. We didn’t anticipate what happened when we started filming, but the year that followed, traveling became so difficult…

What memories do you keep of this shooting in several countries, in the midst of a pandemic?

Between the first day of shooting and the last, 365 days have passed, not the 80 days that the title suggested! There were challenges that we didn’t see coming when we started shooting, obviously. I would remember this shoot in the middle of this extraordinary time. When we resumed, we were tested every day, we wore masks. We went to beautiful places like Cape Town in South Africa, we made double round trips to the Arabian desert, the village in India, to the desert island, I don’t know where… And then we discovered Bucharest and its magnificent architectures which easily bring back to London and Paris of the XIXth century. So it was an exciting, wonderful, memorable shoot, marked, of course, by the fact that it was shot through thick and thin in the middle of a pandemic.

The series mocks the cultural differences between French and English… How did the collaboration with Ibrahim Koma go? Are there any differences in the way you approach the game between the French and the British?

You know I’m Scottish and not English! I don’t know, it’s hard to say, is it? Ibrahim’s spark was contagious. He has such lightness in his game. I don’t know if it’s specifically French, or if it’s just him? He has this playfulness. I was impressed. He didn’t play in his native language, he told us about the challenge it represented for him, but we never realized when we saw him at work. I imagine he would come home and fight with the script. He is very witty and funny, it was a pleasure to meet him and interact with him. I couldn’t have wished for a better Passepartout! With Léonie Benesch, the three of us come from different countries, with different experiences, but we never felt like we were doing anything other than having a good time working together.

William Shatner was in space in the Blue Origin capsule. What adventure do you personally dream of?

What a great question! There is a big debate about whether this is what we should be doing. Do we need to fly into space when there are a lot of problems to be solved on Earth? I do not know. Then I’ll go anywhere with William Shatner! That would be fascinating in itself and of course going to space, what an amazing thing? Maybe I’ll wait until the trip can be powered by solar power. One of the great challenges that we will have to face in the coming years, decades, and centuries, is how we can continue to progress, to push the scientific limits, while taking care of what is left to us so as not to. exhaust our potential before time. It’s quite extraordinary that William did this, but he’s quite old, right?

He is 90 years old …

Wow, being 90 and going to space, I take my hat off to him!


Janice Thomas
Janice Thomas is a content editor at 24 News Recorder. She has 5 years of journalism experience and she he is a graduate of Wittenberg University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.


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