I TRY TO OUTDO MYSELF EVERYDAY
Workshop with Tahar Rahim
Jacques Audiard's French movie, A Prophet, which won over 30 awards – including the Grand Prix at Cannes 2009 – was screened on the third day of Kustendorf as part of the GREAT ACTING ACHIEVEMENTS programme. A special guest of the festival, the young French actor, Tahar Rahim, held a workshop in the Noam Chomsky amphitheatre after the screening.
A little surprised at the amount of students, journalists, and guests that gathered to listen to him, Rahim answered numerous questions without taking the smile off his face.
Talking about working on the movie A Prophet – the first big movie he acted in – Rahim admitted that it frequently occurred that he was unaware of the cameras or lights, that he felt like a child, and that he only tried to portray the role he was given as best he could. In response to how he managed to provoke the audience to feel fear or pity, Tahar answered:
- The movie me do this because of the cinematography. I had to believe in every situation I played. I had to make him lovable – I needed to love him in order for someone else to love him because he was doing bad things. It's important to live every second, because if you lose one character, you lose the whole movie. The movie is made so that you enjoy the character and the movie helped me do that. The audience loved the movie and the character because he's not totally bad. He is someone who explores life – he's a survivor. If he didn't do what he did, he would have died. It's a question of survival and he's an opportunist who is trying to improve the situation.
Rahim also explained that before the shooting of the movie, he watched a lot of movies that were set in prison, which turned out to not be such a good idea because he subconsciously tried to imitate everything he saw, while his job was actually to be something completely new. He then went on to say that he started watching documentaries about jails to see what it meant to live in a small space. In the end, he walked the streets dressed in his costume and spoke to homeless people, trying to understand this completely different world as best as possible. Rahim also described his work with Audiard:
- Luckily, the director had a plan in his head, but he was also open to suggestions. This was my first movie, so I really tried to outdo myself everyday. If I had to do it again, it would be totally different. We were free, but we had to stay within a directing line. I was often unaware of what I have to do and what I could do. Thankfully, the director offered me some kind of comfort because he knew I was young. It's a question of confidence.
As he won several awards for The Prophet, among which were two Cesar awards (one for best male actor and one for the most perspective actor) and a European film award for best male role, the young actor said that he was very happy that he won them but noted that his life did not change as it does for actors in America when they win an Oscar.
- For my career, the awards I win are not important, but the movies that I do. You cannot know that you will be successful, you can only hope. I tried to be an actor and to be better every time. I love playing different roles and film lets me do this - explained Tahar Rahim.
At the end of the workshop, Rahim announced future collaboration with Asghar Farhadi, whose movie Nader and Simin: A Separation, will be screened on the fourth festival day as part of the CONTEMPORARY TRENDS programme.
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