In 30 years of career and nearly 80 films made, Benoît Magimel once again bursts the screen in the pacification by Albert Serra, currently in the cinema. With an Interpretation Prize at Cannes and two Césars to his credit – the second won in 2022 – he has established himself as one of the best actors of his generation. Discover 5 unlikely anecdotes about the star of French cinema.
“Pacification” – Torment on the Islands by Albert Serra – Official Trailer
At 48, Benoît Magimel once again bursts the screen in pacification by Albert Serra. In this psychedelic thriller, he plays a representative of the French State stationed in Tahiti who discovers the possible resumption of nuclear testing. In 30 years of career and nearly 80 films shot, the Frenchman is involved and surprises once again without resting on his César for best actor won this year thanks to the In his lifetime by Emmanuelle Bercot. Unequal actor for some, best performer of his generation for others, discover five anecdotes about Benoît Magimel…
1. Benoit Magimel: two Césars, an interpretation prize at Cannes… and a golden bidet
Benoit Magimel’s first César nomination dates back to the year 1997. In The thieves, a thriller by André Téchiné, he portrays the thug Jimmy Fontana, a member of a gang of car thieves alongside Catherine Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil. The film reveals him to the world of the seventh art, and the young 23-year-old actor wins his first nomination for the César for Best Male Newcomer. He finally bows to a staggering Mathieu Amalric in How I quarreled…(my sex life) by Arnaud Desplechin. Four years later, Benoît Magimel got his revenge by winning the Best Actor award at Cannes thanks to The pianist by Michael Haneke, facing a Sulphurous Isabelle Huppert. It will be necessary to wait until 2016 for the actor to finally shine at the Césars. He won Best Supporting Actor in Heads up by Emmanuelle Bercot and transforms the essay in 2022, directed by the same director in the poignant In his lifetime, winning the César for best actor. The only downside was its nomination for the Bidet d’or in 2006, a parody ceremony similar to the American Razzie Awards which distinguished the worst French productions each year. His performance in the Sky Knight alongside Clovis Cornillac had obviously not convinced…
Benoît Magimel recovers his César in 2022 from the hands of his friend François Cluzet.
2. He appears in Hatred, the iconic film by Mathieu Kassovitz
Cult work by Matthieu Kassovitz and manifesto of a whole disillusioned generation Hatred  remains famous for its chilling black and white, timeless soundtrack, and stealthy cameos. While the director himself appears on the screen as a skinhead, the DJ Cut Killer sets the city ablaze by mixing from his window. Other notable cameos, those of Karin Viard, Vincent Lindon and Benoît Magimel, in an Adidas jacket smoking cigarettes on a roof next to Saïd Taghmaoui.
3. He voices the Ken doll in the French version of Toy Story 3
It is an unexpected duo that he formed in 2010 with actress Frédérique Bel in Toy Story 3, animated film from Pixar studios (since acquired by Disney). Benoît Magimel here lends his voice to Ken (Barbie fashion doll’s boyfriend), created in 1961 and marketed by the American company Mattel. Across the Atlantic, it is the star Michael Keaton who doubles the character. “I wanted to do something that affects children and dubbing is a very interesting job for an actor, explains Benoit Magimel in the making-of of the feature film. Before, animated films were very typical – the big monster with the deep voice and the girl with the high voice – now the characters express themselves like you and me. I couldn’t refuse, Toy Story is a real reference.”
“Toy Story 3” – the making of with Frédérique Bel and Benoit Magimel I Disney
4. It was directed by the writer Michel Houellebecq at the cinema
After four short films carried out from 1978 to 2001, the writer Michel Houellebecq tries his hand at in 2008 with The possibility of an island, adaptation of his eponymous novel published three years earlier. Although the novel failed at the Prix Goncourt, nearly 150,000 copies were sold in France… but the resulting film received an icy critical reception. Houellebecq purifies his story and his style, resulting in an abstract and disembodied work, and Benoît Magimel does not manage to save the furniture. “incomprehensible delirium”, “hidden camera”, a spectator summarizes the film in a murderous way: “Next, a 1:30 black screen would look like an Oscar-winning movie.”
“The Possibility of an Island” by Michel Houllebecq with Benoît Magimel – trailer.
5. He refused to play the gangster Jacques Mesrine
Twice Benoît Magimel succeeded Vincent Cassel. First in 2004 when he took over the role of the “turbulent young cop” in the Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse alongside Jean Reno. Then in 2005 when he was contacted by the Franco-Swiss director Barbet Schroeder who was considering a feature film produced by Thomas Langmann and centered on Jacques Mesrine, an emblematic French gangster shot dead in the street by the police in 1979. Vincent Cassel withdrew and the press gets carried away: “Magimel will embody Mesrine in the cinema”. But against all odds, the actor disengages and explains himself in the columns of the Parisian : “Despite the agreement in principle, I had concerns about credibility. While doing research, I realized that Mesrine was really very far from me. And playing a distinctly older guy just didn’t fit. Moreover, the preparation time was too short for a shoot scheduled for July. Mesrine was very strong and I had to put on weight. This movie came too early in my life.” Vincent Cassel will finally take on the role a few years later, in 2008, under the direction of Jean-François Richet, in The Death Instinct and Public enemy #1.
pacification by Albert Serra with Benoît Magimel, currently in the cinema.