THE PASSENGER | Raphaëlle Agogué on her role as French TV’S toughest female detective…
“CHÂTELET’S RUDE, TOUGH AND STRONG, WEARING A PAIR OF PANTS AND A GUN ”
Apsychological thriller that’s likely to have you hooked from its opening scene, French series The Passenger features the grisly work of a serial killer who borrows from Greek mythology. Based on a novel by Gallic author Jean-christophe Grangé, the latest foreign language TV drama from Walter Presents begins with the discovery of a dead man wearing a bull’s head at the Gare de Bordeaux-saint-jean.
Captain Anaïs Châtelet, who leads the investigation, has shades of Spiral’s no-nonsense Parisian detective Laure Berthaud. “Châtelet’s rude, tough and strong. She’s wearing a pair of pants and a gun,” says Raphaëlle Agogué, regarding her character in The Passenger, a show that she describes as “ambitious”.
French viewers were gripped as much by the series’ elaborate crimes as its unlikely lead duo of Châtelet and forensic psychiatrist Mathias Freire (Jean-hugues Anglade from Braquo). “It’s a very unusual pairing – even the physical aspect of it, because I’m quite tall,” Agogué tells Crime Scene. “I like the confrontation between the two.”
She compares her tough but troubled cop to Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) in Homeland. “In the first two episodes, my character is not very nice, she’s doesn’t really smile, she’s not very friendly” says Agogué. “She has very deep psychological troubles – she really has to see a therapist.”
In one scene, Châtelet shoots a pair of snarling dogs in an abandoned warehouse taken over by drug addicts. “The channel thought it was a bit too much,” says Agogué. “They tried to cut it, but the director said we have to keep it because it says something about the character of Anaïs and why she could have such anger.”
In addition to dead dogs, there’s also a deceased bull, which was destined for the fighting arena. Châtelet expresses her contempt for the breeder and southern France’s cruel tradition of bullfighting or tauromachie.
“For my character, we can see how it would be hard to be forced by her father to see that [ as a child],” Agogué says. “I grew up in Nîmes, and during summer there are bullfights. I went to see it when I was 12 or 13 and it was a nightmare – I just cried.”
There’s also a nightmarish quality to The Passenger. As the mythology-based murders continue, both main characters appear to be connected to the investigation.
“The psychological aspect of my character is what is interesting,” says Agogué. “We’ll see how [ her] psychological trouble is linked to the case. She will discover some really dark aspects of her personal life.”
Agogué is “very proud” of The Passenger, which should increase her chances of being cast in an English-language production – she missed out on a role in Skyfall – but will we see a second series?
“I think the channel wants to leave the door open,” she says. “Jean-christophe Grangé said he couldn’t be involved because there is no [ second] book. So my own personal opinion is, probably not.”
The Passenger is available to stream now at walterpresents.com