After eight films, the Quebec director and actor is back in the spotlight by signing his first series, The Night Laurier Gaudreault Woke Up. On the menu, family secrets and neuroses.
A remarkable new entry by a star filmmaker into the world of series. After making eight films in ten years, Xavier Dolan, 33, is directing a five-episode miniseries for Canal+, The night Laurier Gaudreault woke up. By adapting this play by Michel Marc Bouchard (Xavier Dolan had already brought to the screen Tom at the farm, by the same author), the Quebec director tackles a genre he particularly likes: the psychological thriller. The story is that of three brothers who, on the death of their mother, reunite with their sister after years of separation. Heavy family secrets resurface, everyone tries to survive this forced reunion.
In the cast: Xavier Dolan, Anne Dorval (her favorite actress)but also the actors of the initial piece, Julie Le Breton, Patrick Hivon, and Éric Bruneau.
On video, The night Laurier Gaudreault woke upthe teaser
Miss Figaro. – Why did you adapt this piece?
Xavier Dolan. – This play being behind closed doors, I was curious to see what could happen outside the walls. But I also wanted to cross the ages and tell the life of each character. I also wanted to bring out the roles of the mother and that of Laurier Gaudreault, the neighbor of these siblings, who we never see on stage. The series was the ideal support to deploy the psychology of each character over time.
What were your sources of inspiration?
Having a habit of creating by drawing inspiration from visual landmarks (photos, paintings…), I embarked on this new project with series references in mind. For example, Six Feet Under for its cynical atmosphere, but also Mare of Easttownwith Kate Winsletfor acting, or even The Night Ofan HBO series that I love for its aesthetics.
I take refuge in the 1990s, because it was a time when hope existed
You play Elliott, the youngest of the siblings. Why this character?
I saw in Elliott, a 30-something who is battling his addiction to drugs, a way of talking about addiction through a luminous being. Despite the pain of his fight and the darkness of his life, he remains a charismatic character, who breathes hope and joy into the story.
What do you have left of adolescence?
Although it hasn’t always been an easy time, I keep coming back to it. Whether musically, television or cinematographically, I take refuge in the 1990s, because it was a time when there was hope. However, there is less and less hope in today’s world.
The fraternal bonds, the maternal fiber… this series brings together all the themes that are dear to you, and yet you approach them each time from a different angle…
Life, death, siblings, family, coming home… are such vast themes that they can give rise to endless interpretations, from very different angles or genres. It’s actually the characters that give stories their uniqueness. I would find it difficult to confuse all the characters in my films, because their lives, their intentions and their pains are very different.
The unsaid involves a tension that always eventually implodes or explodes
The Night Laurier Gaudreault Woke Upalso addresses the theme of lying. What is your relationship to the truth?
I try to have straight, even frontal relationships with the people who are important to me in life. I think you have to know how to tell things as they are to the people you love, to preserve our ties and find a form of liberation there. The unsaid implies a tension that always eventually implodes or explodes. I believe that we move forward by making mistakes, and that over the years we learn to get closer to a truth.
What did you learn while working on this series?
To date, it has been the most rewarding and exhilarating experience of my life as a director. This series was an opportunity to try to surpass myself by telling this story as well as possible in this television language. I learned a lot technically and artistically. I feel like I listened to the actors more and left more creative space for my teams. In the end, I feel like I made this series to please myself as a viewer.
What is your favorite phase of work as a director?
If I love to write, prepare, think about costumes, sets, identify filming locations, above all I love filming. Some directors flourish more in the more solitary stages, such as editing, but as far as I’m concerned, I like the social life of sets, creating a family, working with them.
Has cinema filled any gaps in your life?
It allowed me to open up, to talk about myself, to understand things about myself and about others. It’s a bit of a cliché to say it, but the cinema had to play the role of therapy. That doesn’t mean I want to do it in a deeper or more intimate way, but a film teaches you to think, to listen, to observe. He pushes to have empathy for all the characters. In that, the cinema perhaps taught me to become a better person. There is always room for improvement, but I have personally evolved thanks to this job.
Despite this, you recently said that you no longer feel the urge to tell stories…
Right now, I no longer want to go through all the steps necessary to complete a project. Everything is too slow, too heavy, too painful. I no longer want to interact with certain people, have to manage certain responsibilities or deal with certain requests. It no longer interests me. The obstacles that I foresee discourage me from wanting to undertake anything.
In this context, what does 2023 have in store for you?
I want solitude and simplicity. I want to rest, to take time for myself in order, perhaps, to find again this urgency to create and this desire that nothing stops and that no obstacle discourages.