In “Marianne”, broadcast tonight on France 2, Marilou Berry has completely transformed herself to play the role of an eccentric and passionate investigating judge. She tells us in more detail how she created the character from scratch.
AlloCiné: Thanks to Marianne, you are playing the leading role in a series for the first time. What is your feeling about this?
Marilou Berry: I’ve never seen things from this angle because I feel like I’m always playing leading roles. I realize that may sound strange, but I always approach my character as if it were the main character. All the characters are leading roles, they are just as important as each other.
The difference is that there’s more work on Marianne in the sense that it’s 60 days of shooting, which I’ve never done before. Otherwise, in the creative process, it does not change much.
How were you presented with this project and why did you accept it?
As with all projects, it was my agent who called me telling me that she had a new proposal to send me. At that time, I was filming the second season of I promise you that I was directing. At first, I hesitated because I knew the series was going to be shot in Toulon and I didn’t necessarily want to go far from home.
Then, when I read the project, I said to myself that I could not miss this opportunity. I was already familiar with the documentary Ni judge, ni submitted which inspired Marianne and I loved this character. And I find the adaptation of directors and screenwriters Franck Magnier and Alexandre Charlot brilliant in the writing, the investigations, the characters that are surreal and yet so real. Because that’s also life, surreal situations there are everywhere, every day. And to transcribe that into a series, without it being a pastiche or a parody, I think it’s an incredible approach.
What touched you in Marianne’s story?
Already, the fact that it is a woman who exercises a profession in which there are many men. But also, whether it is a strong woman, extremely autonomous, independent, childless, single and who nevertheless does not suffer at all from her daily life since these are her life choices. I find it very strong to be able to embody a character like Marianne. And his way of interacting with reality is the dream space for an actor.
Your character’s personality is really reflected in their clothing style. How did you participate in developing Marianne’s look?
God is in the details! In the sense that the best is always the enemy of the good. And I think what makes you love an image is the details. I find that the real tragedy of the modern era is that we are losing them. Whether in design or in life, we tend towards something extremely simplified. While, in my opinion, the details are the pleasure of the human eye.
For example, I’m watching Manifest on Netflix right now and I think the show is very addictive. And yet, the big criticism I can make is that we are in a fairly smooth American series in which there are no details. However, it remains addictive since the subject manages to hold us. But otherwise, the sets and clothes are new, the actors are all well made up and have their hair done, everyone is smooth and we still manage to have fun.
But what I like more is what you can find in series like Stranger Things, it’s the enormous work of the artistic direction. I love that aspect of film or television, because I think the truth comes from the details.
Finally, if I have my glasses, my desk, my papers in front of me, I hardly need to play. It only remains for me to let myself be carried away by the situation and it is from that moment that you take pleasure as an actor since, paradoxically, you try to act as little as possible. Which is to say, I’d rather run before a scene and be really out of breath, than pretend to be. Of course, I can interpret it, but that means thinking about it in addition to the situation and my colleagues.
Afterwards, there are as many methods as there are actors, but for my part, I try to find ways to play as little as possible to really let myself be carried away.
So it goes through Marianne’s eyeglass chains, her jewelry, the match between her make-up and her clothes, there are lots of little things that tell the character because it’s her character traits that bring life. In the overall picture, we do not point out the details, but they are part of it.
In Marianne we don’t know much about the character of this judge that you play. The accessories allow us to know it in a certain way…
Indeed, it is to avoid justifying. The enemy of creativity is justification. Unfortunately, on television, as there are a lot of shortcuts, a lot of facts and a lot of characters per episode, we don’t have time to explain or recall certain things.
And the work of the artists, whether directors or actors, is to simplify everything so that the justifications are present by themselves, without going through the words since they are always weaker than the facts or the feelings.
What were your inspirations in the process of creating Marianne?
I was greatly inspired by the notary in my family, Maître Le Boudec, whom I have known since childhood. If her profession has nothing to do with the theme of the series, she also evolves in an office but does not go into the field. For me, she was the gateway to this character so characterized.
For example, this notary has always worn a small brooch, the same hairstyle, the same glasses for more than 20 years. And this immutable side is in my opinion extremely characterized with precisely a pleasure without even a word, it was for me the way to create Marianne.
Afterwards, concerning the image of the character, I immediately had the vision of this woman who has messy curly hair and this look which certainly does not follow fashion or which does not correspond to what we qualify today of “pretty”, and which is moreover different from beauty. I really didn’t want to go into the prettiness that is inherent to an era or to what is considered to be the current fashion. In my opinion, it was precisely the way to achieve a certain beauty.
Anyway, I had this idea from the start, and then most of the work was to sell it to the directors. And finally they understood what I wanted to tell them, but they also let me try things and bounced back on this proposal. Then, together, we created something even better and different from what I had in mind. I think it was interesting to create Marianne as a team. Finally, this is how you develop a character, with everyone’s ideas.
Do you think series like Munch or HPI have paved the way for strong female characters in the police and legal fields?
Sure. I think that today there is a desire to bring out female characters in fiction but also to have more mixed teams on set. In my opinion, women have more and more space and power. So that translates to having more strong, independent, single, childless female characters on TV as well.
I also appreciated being able to show that all this does not mean having a zero life as some may think and it is at this point that there is real progress. Some time ago, some people would have said: “The poor, she is not married, she has no children, she is alone and sad”. But Marianne is not at all someone who experiences this loneliness, on the contrary, she chose it and is happy about it.
Would you be up for a second season of Marianne?
I’m signing right away ! Even for 12 seasons because it’s such a pleasure to play! Marianne is such a solar character. Really I like it very much.
Find Marianne from Wednesday September 7 at 9:10 p.m. on France 2. The series is already available in full on Salto.