Remember! On December 15, 1997, the French public discovered on TF1 Josephine, guardian angel. Twenty-five years later, the success is still there. Proof of this is with the broadcast on Mondays December 19 and 26 at 9:10 p.m. on TF1 of two new episodes: the first, entitled “To love each other urgently” with Linda Hardy as a guest and the second, entitled “A tout essai” with Ingrid Chauvin. A quarter of a century after her first (and now legendary) snap, the bubbly and affable Mimie Mathy evokes with intact (and contagious) enthusiasm this family series and feel good par excellence.
What is your assessment of these twenty-five years of “Josephine, guardian angel”?
We will say first that I have aged like everyone else (laughs) ! But my audience has aged too. It has also become younger, those who watched the series as children twenty-five years ago passed that on to their children… Grandparents watch with their grandchildren. I find it to be a very joyful ageing. It’s great to stay twenty-five years in people’s lives! We don’t do this job to look in the mirror, but to be seen. To say to yourself that twenty-five years after the series still exists, that we still have ideas, that actors want to come and share this adventure, I think it’s a super joyful record at a time that doesn’t is not hugely.
What do you think is the secret to the series’ longevity?
It’s quite surprising because children discover old episodes on cable channels. Yet at the time, there was no cell phone, Joséphine received her mission wrapped in paper, so the kids discover a time they don’t know. And it works terribly well. TF1 is anything but kamikaze and would not rebroadcast old episodes if it didn’t work again. And at the same time, the new episodes, we discover them every year with pleasure and the public is there. It is a great pride. I can’t explain it.
I think I’m especially lucky to have a production team and screenwriters who are trying to renew. The strength of Josephine, guardian angel is to deal with subjects of everyday life, which can affect everyone, the only difference with a series, I would say, normal, is that we try that it ends well. This is the case in the episode of December 19 even if it deals with leukemia. Lots of kids are doing well even if there are still too many who are not doing well. We try to deal with subjects of contemporary and daily life with a background of reality and above all a renewed optimism at the end.
Homosexuality, disability, prostitution, etc. The series covered many social topics. What new topic would you like to address?
There is a theme that is particularly close to my heart, and that is child abuse, whether it is physical abuse or that of incest. I’d like to alert all the kids watching Josephine, guardian angel and who take the messages we send: “If this happens to you, say so!” talk it over ! It is something that is absolutely not normal and it does not make one be ashamed of it”. You have to free speech. This is a very delicate subject, we are looking for a way to approach it. But it’s true that with a kid who was raped in his childhood, who was abused, it’s hard to say at the end of the episode: “Yippee! Tralala! You forget everything and everything is fine”. We haven’t found a way to approach this subject yet, but before stopping this series, in about twenty years (laughs), I hope we will manage to do it, just to raise awareness among kids on this danger and on the fact that they have nothing to do with it, that we must speak out and punish the assassins who dare to do inappropriate gestures with kids. It’s really close to my heart.
When you play a character for so long, it sometimes rubs off a bit on its interpreter…
Not really. Joséphine has inherited a lot of my stubborn character, that my husband will be able to confirm (laughs) ! She goes to the end of her missions, she tries to the end, and if we kick her out the door, she comes in through the window. I am quite a tenacious person and I like to go after things. Perhaps it was Mimie who rubbed off on Joséphine rather than Joséphine who rubbed off on Mimie? Joséphine has magical powers, but they are a bit gimmicky. Joséphine solves problems with her clients through speaking. I’m a talker too. I don’t like things left unsaid. Between Joséphine and Mimie, it’s a bit like communicating vessels… I have the impression of speaking like Alain Delon, in the 3rd person (laughs) In life, I like everything to be fine, if there is a problem, I talk about it like Josephine. It’s important to say things and not bury something that can rot if left inside.
These two unpublished with Linda Hardy and Ingrid Chauvin, it’s almost a crossover with tomorrow belongs to us…
Ah yes, but it’s coincidence!
How was the collaboration with Linda Hardy?
She had done a small role for a few days in an episode ten years ago. This is the first time that she is the main guest. It went very well. She has just been from another background, since she was Miss France and no one can forget her, but she has adapted well to the world of cinema. He is a radiant person!
And your reunion for the second episode with Ingrid Chauvin?
We never really left each other! I made a small foray into tomorrow belongs to us few years ago. I really like this series, full of actors who are friends, whether it’s Alexandre Brasseur or Ingrid Chauvin. With Ingrid, we talk to each other regularly. We’re not close friends, but when we find out that one has a problem from the press or others, we text each other. We follow our respective paths. She is an actress who has a lot of talent, beautiful as a heart and who deserves to do a lot of things. She gives, she is sincere, deep and professional, I admire her enormously.
When a guest arrives, you are a bit of the innkeeper…
Completely ! Even if I don’t want to compare myself to Johnny, but I’ve been a bit of a prisoner for twenty-five years (laughs).
What are your secrets for making guests feel comfortable, especially those who are not actors, like Thierry Marx or Fabien Galthié?
We rehearse a lot, especially during the HMC [habillage, maquillage et coiffure]. I try to tell them that everything is fine, to give them confidence. Josephine, guardian angel, I’m lucky that it’s been the same family for years: production, make-up, hair, dress and technicians. We are wide open for the newcomers who arrive, like the little young people like Alicia Popov, who plays in “To love each other urgently” with Linda Hardy and who is extraordinary. I try to be the sympathetic innkeeper, which I have no trouble doing because I’m a bit like that in life when you receive people. I like people to be happy. I always tell them: “Our job is called playing, not suffering. “It’s still wonderful to be paid to have fun playing!
In the two new episodes, we find two mothers facing difficulties with their child, teenager, and in these two episodes, the young heroes manage to solve their problems thanks to their passion, dance, in one, sport, in the second. Has doing comedy been a form of catharsis for you?
I think it’s a bit in me, even if nobody in my family is in this profession, even if we sing and play music since I was little. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, it’s already something where you’re on a platform, facing a bunch of kids who aren’t necessarily very benevolent. Maybe it was a way of telling me, as long as it’s done, if people look back on me, maybe it’s because I’ve been recognized? Maybe it was a way to forget who I am, I don’t know, a shrink would probably be more comfortable talking about that. It’s maybe a way of saying, see, I’m like that and I might as well not hide myself.
My mom dreamed of me in administrative offices out of sight. I chose the exact opposite. It may indeed be a way of saying: I am like that, do you have something to say? It’s funny, because over time, it turned around. A mum said something extraordinary to me one day: “My daughter adores Joséphine and said to me: ‘when I grow up, I want to be like Mimie Mathy’. It’s still something we wouldn’t have imagined at the start. In my own way, I tell myself that I’m doing good for the average housewife who has extra pounds, doesn’t like herself, and says to herself: “If she accepts it, well, we’ll surely get there. “I think I do more good than a model on the cover of She. Because you can, perhaps, identify more with me than with a perfectly gaulée girl who few people look like.
During this holiday season, if Mimie Mathy had the powers of Joséphine Delamarre, what would she do?
A bunch of stuff! I will bring back my parents, who left last year. That’s very personal. I would lose 20 kg, it’s very personal too! I will avoid all the illnesses, mistreatments and all the injustices that affect the world of childhood. I would kill Putin or else I would send him to the depths of a gulag where he would not find his way back. There are a lot of things to do!
What future for Josephine, guardian angel ? After Camping Paradiseother crossovers in sight?
There are already two or three episodes of Joséphine planned for 2023. There are no crossovers planned at the moment, but why not? We will see the new series that land. I know they take back Research section and Alice Nevers. Why not mix?
Other projects in preparation?
I’m going to participate and co-produce a short film with Véronique Mériadec, who suggested an idea that I really like, we’re going to do that in the spring. I also made a large participation in Leo Mattei which I shot a fortnight ago. This participation made me want to play the guests in other series. I like being the innkeeper, but I like being invited too. I want to go back on stage too, but you need a great project. Not a one-woman-show, but I would like a beautiful play with three or four beautiful characters. There are still ideas, desires and the Enfoirés in January that are close to my heart. I couldn’t participate last year and I’m going to find the stage of the Halle Tony Garnier stage in Lyon and all my friends with great pleasure!