Exclusive CS Video: Vincent Cassel is Mesrine


It’s been a long journey for Vincent Cassel’s award-winning performance as notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine to arrive in American theatres, but the wait will certainly be worth it for those who enjoy crime epics like the ones made by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann.

Most Americans won’t be familiar with one of France’s most notorious criminals, a former soldier whose involvement in petty crime on returning from war escalated to him staging some of the most brazen and elaborate bank and casino robberies in the country’s history. Claiming no jail could ever hold him, Mesrine proceeded to back that claim by escaping from a number of high-security facilities, leaving the French anti-crime unit with very few alternatives.

Mesrine’s story is so vast that director Jean-Francois Richet (Assault on Precinct 13) had to separate his story into two movies, Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, both which will open in select cities over the next few weeks.

The resulting films are quite engrossing, very much like a cross between Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can and a French “Godfather,” as Cassel brings out his A-game to play the charming ladykiller criminal who goes through nearly a dozen different looks over the course of the two movies. He’s also surrounded by an impressive supporting cast of France’s finest including Gérard Depardieu, Mathieu Amalric, Ludivine Sagnier, Cécile de France, Gilles Lellouche and more, all of whom wanted to be a part of this epic project.

ComingSoon.net first heard about the movies when we spoke to Cassel about his 2005 thriller Derailed, which you can read here. Three years later, the movies debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, where we spoke with Cassel and his director Jean-Francois Richet about the completed films. (You can read that interview here.)

It seemed only appropriate now that the two films were finally coming out in the United States, we sit down with Cassel one last time to give us both some closure on the project.

In the following video interview, we discuss:

* How they approached him for the role and what his reaction was?
(The above includes how he first heard of Mesrine and some of the reasons he wanted to make the movie)
* Playing a real person and how much research was involved
* Talking about the personal connections Cassel had to Mesrine
* The reaction to the film in Cassel’s native France
* Playing the same character over the course of the two film’s 9-month shoot
* Cassel’s panic attack while midway through making the movie
* Was it hard to go on to other movies after playing such a meaty role?
* We talk about working with Darren Aronofksy on Black Swan as well as Gaspar Noé’s latest Enter the Void and how both filmmakers make such distinctive inimitable films

And More!

Mesrine: Killer Instinct opens in New York and L.A. on August 27; the second part Public Enemy #1 opens on September 3.