Two and a half years after the success of simply blackJean-Pascal Zadi draws a political series on Netflix where he tries to become the first black president of France.
After wanting to organize the first black protest march in France in his fake documentary simply black (2020), Jean-Pascal Zadi imagines himself as a presidential candidate in In placecomedy series of six episodes available from this Friday on Netflix.
In line with servant of the people by Volodymyr Zelensky, In place plunges Stéphane Blé (Zadi), an educator from Bobigny, into the presidential campaign. Playing the candid in a world of which he does not have the codes, he is chaperoned by a gray eminence without faith or law (Eric Judor).
As in simply blackwhere he plays his own role, Zadi embodies in In place a character inspired by his life, a loser driven by an impossible project that no one believes in. “It’s a bit of the story of my life”, confirms to BFMTV this self-taught director, who started by self-financing amateur films.
“I hope young people will watch”
With In place, Zadi wants to “deconstruct the limits” that black people impose on themselves. “When you’re black in France, you know unconsciously that there will never be a black president. We don’t even dream of it. Maybe over time that will change. This series is made to open the imaginary. It is an ode to the accomplishment of each one.”
Chaining a success in the cinema with a series of streaming follows a similar logic: to push the limits: “I want to go where I feel it”, he explains. “I felt Netflix was the right place for a series on this subject to be accessible to younger people. Netflix is a good popular vehicle.”
“I hope young people will watch,” he adds. “The message is that we belong everywhere, that we are at home [en France]. It is important that it be heard by young people. And not only by young people growing up in the housing estates. Also by young country people and young workers. I want us to stop limiting ourselves.”
“No Limit on No Joke”
This fear of limits remains all the more surprising since Zadi does not ask himself any of them: in vitro fertilization, rural malaise, disability… the comedian tackles all the subjects in In place. The first episode ends with Marianne dirty whore, a parody of the clips of La Mafia K’1 Fry “where it said swear words at top speed”.
“Making a light comedy, detached from reality, I can’t do it. What I prefer is to talk about our society, to have fun with things that are a bit borderline. Making works is my way of engage. Comedy is a weapon and you have to use it to say what you want to say. I want to move my country forward.”
He was careful that Corinne Douanier (Marina Foïs), a parody of EELV deputy Sandrine Rousseau, was not ridiculous. “Changing the angle of raising young boys in society, harmful male dominance… I agree! I can’t fuck around with anyone I agree with.”
“I don’t put any limits on any joke because I trust people’s intelligence,” he says. “Afterwards I avoid hurting people. If I know there is something that is hurtful or embarrassing, I remove it.”
“Netflix is a box”
He himself was careful not to appear on screen in a favorable light. If the first episodes suggest that he will prove to be a political genius, the more the series progresses, the more his character becomes bewildered and beside his pumps. “He sinks into an environment that is not his own and whose codes he does not master”, specifies Zadi.
As in simply black, his character is armed with “good intentions” but shown with “nuance”. “He did bullshit, he has borderline relatives. That’s what makes him real,” insists Zadi. “Just because you have a commendable fight doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole on other matters.”
Even though boundaries are meant to be pushed, it’s often hard to push them too far. Marianne, dirty whore sparked “a lot of debate” at Netflix, notes Zadi: “He was much rawer than that. We removed things and John Waxx [co-réalisateur de Tout simplement noir, NDLR] told me I had done well.”
He was more free simply blackhe assures: “It was for the cinema. There was no canvas, no standards. Netflix is a box. You have to correspond to a box, people must not zap. They wanted it to be a popular, fast-paced comedy. simply blackI was not asked anything for the rhythm.”
“It’s part of the game”
Since his César for best male hope in 2021, the opportunities have multiplied. “I have a little more credit now,” says the actor. He is currently in Bordeaux where he is touring with Vincent Macaigne Why are you smilinga comedy “about a homeless man who wants to get by and pretends to be a migrant.”
Then he will continue with dog trial, a comedy by and with Laetitia Dosch about the trial of a dog sentenced to death after repeatedly biting human beings. And he will be in love phewthe new film by Gilles Lellouche after the success of Large bath.
“Those who can’t please me, it’s going to be boring for them,” laughs Zadi. “Even Bob Marley had detractors. It’s not me, JP Zadi, who won’t have any. That’s life. It’s part of the game.”
“A film that is daring”
Zadi is also writing his second film, which he hopes to shoot later this year. Entitled The Wretched of the Earth (a title inspired by a book by Franz Fanon, a major figure in anti-colonialism), he collaborates with screenwriter Hélène Bararuzunza. Director Alice Diop, whose film Saint-Omer campaigns for the Oscars, participates too.
“It’s going to be amazing,” he enthuses. “It’s a daring film. People will wonder how we dared to go that far. I’m on page 60 out of 110 of the script.” At the same time, he devoted himself to writing season 2 ofIn placewhose validation is subject to the hearings of the first.
And if the series is canceled, it will not be a drama for the comedian, who is teeming with ideas. “I made my first film at 37-38 years old. By the time I had these accesses, there are a lot of things that have matured in my head. I have a lot of ideas.”