Blandine Bellavoir in “A French Affair”: “Playing Christine Villemin completely messed me up”

There are roles that mark more than others. In A French affair, Blandine Bellavoir slipped into the skin of Christine Villemin, the mother of little Grégory whose assassination hit the headlines in 1984. The actress seen in More beautiful life, Maison Close and The little murders of Agatha Christie delivers a powerful interpretation of this broken mother who was even indicted and imprisoned in 1985 for the murder of her son, before being totally exonerated in 1993.

What prompted you to accept the role of Christine Villemin?

I was won over by the factual and incisive writing of the series. The fact that it is a choral fiction also appealed to me, because I find that it allows the spectator to make his own opinion. The subject is also treated with respect, delicacy and modesty. A French affair is not there to take sides.

Did you not hesitate, given the subject?

It is true that I took time to think, because it is a very delicate subject. I admit that I didn’t realize how much of a responsibility it was to get into this series. I did not know the case very well, since I am of the age when Grégory disappeared. But this case is one of the first media outbursts in France, people have gone mad. Fiction denounces above all the madness of men.

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Is making a fiction taking a step back?

Yes. Even if it is anchored in its time, the series has something timeless in the themes that it deals with such as the media frenzy, the power of the media, the failures of justice. It’s fascinating to show that when egos are placed above intelligences it does damage.

Christine Villemin was the victim of an incredible relentlessness. We have the feeling that women are always judged more severely, right?

I completely agree. A woman, on principle, is wrong. There is still a lot of work to be done, and I find that there is great hypocrisy on the subject in France. We are in a very conservative country. Christine Villemin is a true character of tragedy. This fiction really made me grow up. She pushed me to ask myself questions and position myself even stronger in places where I feel attacked.

It’s a message of extraordinary hope and resilience– Blandine Bellavoir

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Christine and Jean-Marie Villemin have always remained united, despite adversity …

Yes, I discovered a love story that I did not suspect at all. They have stood united for better and for worse. These are ordinary people who have had the worst nightmares, and they are still searching for the truth. Today they are still together and they have had other children. It’s nice to think that in the end, it’s love that wins. It is a message of extraordinary hope and resilience.

Did you want to meet Christine Villemin?

No, I didn’t want to meet the couple, I didn’t see the point of disturbing them. I’m just a performer on a fictional project, I wasn’t trying to mimicry. And then I already had enough material, more than 3000 articles were written! But it is true that I had a feeling of responsibility, it was necessary to be up to it.

The emotions we play inevitably mark the person we are
– Blandine Bellavoir

Does a role like this leave traces?

Yes, especially since I had just had a child and I was in the middle of postpartum. This role completely upset me in my femininity, my motherhood and my way of perceiving the job I did. I understood that it was not such a common profession. The emotions that we play inevitably mark the person we are.

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You are making a postpartum documentary. Why ?

It is a very taboo subject even though it is a reality that affects many women. I myself had a difficult postpartum period, a real storm, I felt very lonely. I did not understand what was happening to me. But we live in a country where we do not talk about our emotions and where going to see a shrink is considered shameful. But we must not forget that the second cause of death for young mothers is suicide. With this documentary, I want to bring my stone to the building.

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