Cassel in 2011
23 November 1966
(m. 1999; separated 2013)
|Relatives||Mathias Crochon (brother)
CÃ©cile Cassel (half-sister)
I think American audiences like gangster movies. You know, it's part of the culture.
French men can be very tough too, you know… Real bad boys move in silence, as we know, so you don't have to be loud and muscular to be scary, actually.
Actually, I never work in movies for money. I'm glad when I get well-paid, but it's not always the case – trust me.
When you see violence in movies in general, it's very quick and painless, which isn't what it's like.
If I have to pretend to be anything else than French, then I know it's work for me. It's not that it scares me, but it's work. I cannot just pop up on the set and say 'Okay, today I'm Italian!'
People ask me where I live most of the time, and it's kind of complicated for me to answer, because I'm not really sure. It's somewhere in between London, Rome, Paris, and Rio.
Every movie, especially when you get involved… takes something out of you. You learn something, but you give something to the movie. And after the movie, if the experience has been intense and a true experience, you're a little different afterward.
I didn't have many girlfriends in my youth. I was an active young man, jumping from one girl to the next, but never with anyone for more than three or four months.
I used to be more self-conscious about style because when you're younger, you want to exist, you want to show everything you do.
When eventually I started to act a bit more, I realised that circus school had taught me something that a lot of actors my age didn't have: physicality. They didn't know how to move. Acting is not all about talking. There is something animalistic about it.
French people are never happy with what they have. They're always complaining. They're happy when they're complaining.
I still wear my trousers baggy as I did in my teens. But in a different way. I've loved trainers since my youth – limited edition, vintage, whatever. You could recognise people and judge their character through their trainers. I'm a Nike man.
There is this idea that it's very different from the French point of view to work in America blah, blah, blah. But I think it's different from one person to the other, not from one country to the other.
When you appear on the screen, often enough you become sexy, even if you look like an elephant.
Since I was a child, I have had this feeling that the most important work I'd do would be with my family.
I feel like the so-called bad guys are never totally bad. I guess it's the closest thing I can do to reality: people act nice but nobody really is nice. We all have to balance that with something dark.
'Brotherhood of the Wolf' is a very important movie because it represents something new. The director Christophe Gans came up with the idea of taking a French legend and making it some kind of really strange, almost Chinese action movie. The result is something that I haven't seen anywhere before.
I have a tendency to think that when you portray baddies in movies, they come out more human than good guys.
Working with David Cronenberg or Darren Aronofsky or even Steven Soderbergh isn't really like a typical Hollywood movie. These are true artists, and have a certain amount of freedom when they work, and they're more like independent filmmakers making their way through big studios.
I have a physical background. It's not like I'm a kung fu master, but my real training was dance school, and through that, I move to this thing called Capruera that I used in 'Ocean's 12.' I can pretend that I can do a lot of things, but then, I don't really master anything.
Instead of playing heroes and righteous people, I'd rather portray characters with problems of conscience who have to lie, to betray, and then have to cope with that. They feel more true to me.
I'm moving to Rio permanently with my family. It's one of the places left in the world where people still live with a big charge of poetry on a daily basis. I feel we've kind of lost that here in Europe.
Soderbergh is a very respectable director that manages to have an incredible amount of freedom in a system that doesn't allow anybody to be free as he is on a set. And he will jump from 'Solaris' to 'Ocean's Twelve' and 'Thirteen.'
I love to act. And between action and cuts, when you work for somebody great, it's wonderful, and I still love it. The moment where you create, that instant is still magic to me. But, all the rest, I get bored with it – all the waiting, and the fact that you have to make appearances, that you have to share your life.
I always compare human beings to animals. It's a nice way to figure out who they are.
I'm an actor, that's what I do every day. Dressing up is part of my job. But whatever you wear you should always be yourself: never go totally with the fashion but use what there is available to be an individual.
All good actors are actresses. The more like a woman they are, the better they act, because a man's salvation is his femininity. Women have stronger sensibilities than men, which allows them to go a bit deeper when they are on and off the stage.
Female influence came from my grandmother and my aunt. They would sing Corsican love songs while cleaning the house and dress all in black and say melodramatic things like: 'I want to die.'
My problem is I can't show any of my movies to my daughters. It's tough. 'Beauty and the Beast'… they liked it. But that's the only one, really. Otherwise, they've always been dark or violent.
As a younger actor, I had delusions. I would dream of Scorsese and De Niro; I would meet people, and it would be like this, and it would change moviemaking in France, and Paris would become the center of the world.
I was thinking of going to London drama schools or to New York, because France didn't accommodate the things I wanted to do in film.
I know that what I see in every religious person is not something I want to teach my kids.
I'm really proud of 'Oceans 12.' Of course, you do an 'Oceans' movie, you get known all over the world. It's an incredibly powerful medium: It's a Hollywood-identified blockbuster.
I guess I look strange a bit. Strange but confident. I'm not like a model or anything. I always compare this to wearing a hat. You can wear the strangest hat, but if you think it's cool, then you'll look cool.
I was a dancer, and my father was a dancer, so I really grew up in that environment.
I work everywhere. If there is a nice adventure in South Korea, for example, why not? Russia, Brazil, whatever. I'm ready for almost anything.
People pretend to be nice; people pretend to be smooth and polite and everything, but this is only an appearance because the way we're built as human beings is only in paradox and contradictions.
I think people have a misinterpretation of Method acting, because Method acting is a wonderful thing. The thing is, if you take it too seriously, it's like religion. You start to think it's the truth. But it's not the truth. It's just a way to get somewhere.
I was much more interested by clothes when I was younger. I'm about being discreet. What they call the French touch, whatever that means. Low profile and somehow elegant without being flashy.
I wear a lot of wigs as Jacques Mesrine. He'd wear multiple wigs and take them off one at a time to rob three banks in one hour.
Hollywood, for me, is the studios. It's a way to produce. It's a different way to make movies, and I never took part in that.
I don't think France is a racist country, I really don't, but we do still have many problems with our immigrant past, and there's a shame that goes with that, that works both ways, in the host and in the post-immigrant generation.
As an actor, I think you should always disappear a little. I act in order to lose myself.
My father is best known for his light comedies, and I'm best known for crazy bad guys with short tempers.
The first important movie that I did, I shaved my head for the movie. When the hair grew back, I had white hair for the first time in my life.
Acting is such a feminine process: you have to become the desire of others. I'm OK with this, and so is Gerard Depardieu. In many ways, he's very feminine.
I love French style from the Thirties and Forties. French movie stars like Jean Gabin and Yves Montand had so much natural, effortless style.
I feel to look for perfection is a very dangerous path. More than that, it's dangerous because it doesn't exist. You can aim for it, but you already know you won't get there because it doesn't exist. Plus, I definitely think the flaws, little cracks, and accidents are a lot more interesting.
I'm producing more, but I think to direct, one has to have a burning desire, and that's not me. I'd rather do something else.
Many times, I have heard people saying that they don't like to work with their wife or husband, but to me, it is a plus. To work with somebody you love makes filming faster, more fun.
I spent a lot of time in boarding school. This is something I will never do to my kids. I think if you're having kids, then you have to take care of them; otherwise, what's the point? There are many things that parents say are good for the kids, but the truth is they say that because it is good for the parents.
From my point of view, I'm a totally normal person! Really! I have a family. I have kids. I have a house… I don't have a dog.
I'm more attracted to the bad guys. Why? Because in real life, I don't know any good guys. I know okay guys. I know polite guys. I know people who can control themselves.
I've always loved the idea of changing myself, wearing costumes and disguises. It takes you back to being a kid, to dressing up.
I spent a whole year in New York without going back to France. And I always came back because my mother was living in New York since I was 13. So I went to summer camps, hang out at the Roxy, go to class for ballet, so I always had part of my life in New York.
I'm actually beginning to believe that there is something in common among all of my characters. I'm not sure what it is exactly. But I guess that something is me.
I ran away from three different boarding schools before joining a circus school, and eventually I became an actor. The only thing I learned at boarding school was never to send my child to one.
People look up to Jacques Mesrine as if he were a Robin Hood, stealing from the rich, but he never gave anything back to anybody.
Cronenberg's a lot of fun, and that a lot of people don't know watching his movies. He doesn't take himself seriously. He's still reinventing himself.
I come from an acting family, my father was an actor, and I had to fight my way and just create my own identity.
The idea of telling a story in reverse destabilises your ordinary moral reactions. That's one of the points of art – to challenge your preconceptions.
I don't really shop any more. I only do it when I have to. I think it is very overrated.
The minute your parents die, you stop fighting them. I realized the more I changed my face for films, the more I looked like him. I always liked to disguise myself because I was trying to run away from his image. But all that is not worth it.
What came out of 'Ocean's Twelve' is actually great because you do one 'Ocean's Twelve,' and you're more known around the world than if you did 20 years in the French cinema industry.
Cinema is entertainment, and people go to the movies because they want to feel good and forget about everything.
I think it's much harder to have a long dialogue scene than an action scene. An action scene is long, but it's not really hard. It's kind of boring, really. It looks good at the end, but to shoot it, it's not the most exciting thing.
I did direct two short movies. I learned many things, and one of the things I learned was that I am not a director. It has to be visceral, and it's not for me. I feel much more comfortable acting.
I always had the sense of being in the spotlight, being on stage, being looked at.
The relationship I have to everyday life is very European. We have a different relationship with religion, with faith, with nudity, with sex, with food.
And now I have a big house, nice clothes and I travel in first class and I love it, so maybe it's time to enjoy being a star.
The few times in my life where I had four or five movies in a row, it was a nightmare. I felt trapped. I felt like my life was planned for a year and a half or two years, and it was terrible. Most of the time, everything collapsed.
My character in 'La Haine,' he's not bad; he's unhappy, and usually, people are like that. Most of us are angry.
In Italy, it is difficult to see a film in the original language because the voice actors here are a mafia.
I trained as a dancer when I was much younger, for a large amount of time, like 6 or 7 years. Not to be a ballet dancer, actually, but I thought it was a complement for an actor. I thought that actors should know how to move, should know how to juggle, should know how to do acrobatics.
What I think I'm perceived as in France is, like, I'm this leading man always doing strange movies because most of the movies I did, like 'Irreversible' or 'Brotherhood of the Wolf' and a bunch of others, and even in France, they always come out as a particular movie, not like the typical French kind of movies that people know most of the time.