LOUIS GAR­REL an idol is born

a born wor­rier torn be­tween self–doubt and ex­cess.

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - FRONT PAGE - In­ter­view by SAB­RINA CHAM­P­ENOIS

—He rocks up well over half an hour late. You could see him while he was still some way off, with that shock of dark hair. He’s on his mo­bile, so I go over to tap him on the shoul­der, just to re­mind him of my ex­is­tence, you un­der­stand, which he has clearly for­got­ten. Louis Gar­rel nods, and says, “I’ll be right with you.” But then he shocks me rigid by coolly pick­ing up his con­ver­sa­tion again. And off he goes into a sort of St Vi­tus dance. On the boule­vard across the way from the Lux­em­bourg Gar­dens, in front of the café he him­self chose, in the ’hood where he grew up, he strides up and down, cir­cles parked cars, a tree, ham­mers home his clearly very an­i­mated points with much wav­ing of arms, ner­vously run­ning his fin­gers through his hair. It’s like some­thing from a film by François Truf­faut. Not sur­pris­ing when you think that Truf­faut’s male lead, Jean–Pierre Léaud, is Gar­rel’s god­fa­ther. That’s all very well, but does twin­kle­toes know that time’s ar­row is speed­ing on, and that we don’t nec­es­sar­ily have all day to wait to hear what he has to say? A lead–in about a brat spoiled by good looks and suc­cess be­gins in­sid­i­ously to take shape"…

That op­tion is a good fit for the role we want to talk about. Louis Gar­rel is ter­rific in Ber­trand Bonello’s Yves Saint Lau­rent, where he por­trays dandy Jac­ques de Bascher with a kind of high–volt­age li­cen­tious­ness. De Bascher was a lover of the sul­try cou­turier. And also, it is whis­pered, of Karl Lager­feld, although the man him­self says not. Chanel’s Iron Duke nev­er­the­less gave a de­scrip­tion ("in an in­ter­view for Elle in 2008") that couldn’t be closer to the truth than Gar­rel’s de Bascher: “As a young man, Jac­ques de Bascher was the devil in­car­nate with the looks of Greta Garbo. His idea of chic was ab­so­lute. He dressed bet­ter than any­body, and be­fore every­body else… He was also im­pos­si­ble, un­bear­able. Per­fec­tion it­self.” Im­pos­si­ble, un­bear­able, cast in the mould of can­ni­bal Han­ni­bal, leav­ing only scorched earth be­hind him, Louis Gar­rel could fit that pro­file very well, with his arty celeb fam­ily tree ("he’s the son of film–maker Philippe Gar­rel and ac­tress&/&di­rec­tor Brigitte Sy, and grand­son of the ac­tor Mau­rice Gar­rel"), the stamp of ap­proval from the Paris Con­ser­va­toire, and a fil­mog­ra­phy in which he comes across as the very model of a Saint– Ger­main–des–Prés lead­ing man, never less than By­ronic, cul­ti­vated, fever­ish, em­phatic, wrapped up in him­self, simultaneously fas­ci­nat­ing and in­fu­ri­at­ing.

There is no doubt that Louis Gar­rel is a looker. In a very spe­cial way, to boot, which only mag­ni­fies the ef­fect. He’s no tousle–headed Lit­tle Lord Fauntleroy, though. More Greek god, with that pow­er­ful, straight nose. There’s some­thing of Anna Magnani about him, with those eyes — by turns soft, pierc­ing, and opaque. Thin­nish lips set in a per­ma­nent half– smile. Topped of course by those cel­e­brated dark curls that round off the pic­ture of the per­fect Latin lover, but in a sort of dis­or­dered, Cu­bist sense. Christophe Honoré who has reg­u­larly signed him for the past decade (" Ma mère, Dans Paris, Les Chan­sons d’amour, La Belle Per­sonne, Non ma fille tu n’iras pas danser, Les Bien–Aimés

"), sketches his pro­file for us: “He’s what you might call a Mediter­ranean English­man, a strange mix of irony and sen­su­al­ity. Judg­ing by his dry wit, you would ex­pect him to be a skinny red–head. In­stead, he’s rounded, and dark–haired. There’s some­thing anoma­lous about him — you find it with all in­ter­est­ing ac­tors.” Gar­rel doesn’t project that physique off–stage — at least, he doesn’t seek to come across as an ac­com­plished met­ro­sex­ual or hip­ster. To­day, he’s wear­ing a grey shirt un­der a navy–blue jacket, chi­nos and es­padrilles. Per­fect cam­ou­flage for cy­cling around Paris ("he voted Green at the last Euro­pean elec­tions"), and not in the least the smoul­der­ing face of Valentino’s Uomo fra­grance. Ex­cept for his younger sis­ter, the ac­tress Es­ther Gar­rel, who stops to say hello when she catches sight of him, no one seems to be notic­ing one of the most talked–about French ac­tors of the day. Louis Gar­rel also knows how to fade into the back­ground. That too.

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