Michaël Youn in “Fugueuse”: “I do not believe in the myth of the happy prostitute”

Dark roles suit him like a glove. After The red bracelets, the day I burned my heart or more recently A French affair, Michaël Youn proves to those who still doubted that he can take on dramatic roles. In Runaway, the shock series of TF1, the troublemaker of the small screen slips into the skin of Stéphane, a father who realizes that his 16-year-old daughter is prostituting herself out of love for her boyfriend, a rapper who manipulates her. A role that deeply touched the actor.

Runaway is a strong fiction about teenage prostitution. What attracted you to the project?

I was completely taken in by the scenario. And I thought to myself that it was a necessary subject. I did not suspect the extent of teenage prostitution, which affects 10,000 young people in France today. And it is also getting worse because of social networks which make it easier to recruit. I fully projected myself into this story, because I am a father.

As the fiction shows, prostitution affects young people from all walks of life …

Yes and it is important to specify it, because one might think that it mainly concerns poor families or families with alcohol problems, violence or lack of communication. But in more middle-class families, many young boys and girls do not necessarily realize that they are being manipulated by malicious people. It is not an epiphenomenon, but something very serious.

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I don’t think you can flourish by selling your body to people who are also in real sexual misery– Michael Youn

You explained that you had been in contact with escorts on social networks. What surprised you the most?

After the fiction was broadcast, I was in contact with young girls, on social networks, who wrote to me and told me why they did this job. What is quite paradoxical is that they were touched that we are doing a series on this subject, but they also felt that it did not concern them. They explained that they were happy and take responsibility for what they were doing.

They don’t realize the gravity of their actions?

No. I think it’s denial. I don’t believe in the myth of the prostitute or the happy prostitute. This image has been conveyed in a few films like Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts doesn’t seem to be that miserable. But I don’t think you can flourish by selling your body to people who are also in real sexual misery.

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What advice would you give parents to be more vigilant?

I think the most important is dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. And it’s not just talking with your children, but also listening to what their real aspirations are. What Stéphane (his character, editor’s note) has not seen is his daughter’s desire for freedom, this desire for fulfillment to become a woman and no longer a young girl, obviously with sexuality.

Surprisingly, drama costs me less than comedy– Michael Youn

Raising children is complex, isn’t it?

As Freud said, with children we can do whatever we want to educate them well, in any case, we will do it badly.

Do you think that as a parent, we are more afraid for a girl or a boy?

I believe there is no sexism in worrying. I don’t know if it’s due to my female entourage, but I’ve always found the girls to be a bit more serious and responsible. I know when I was a teenager I did a lot of silly things and I was probably considered a bad date! Afterwards, the world changes quickly and the girls assume sexually earlier and earlier …

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You are a chameleon actor, in which register are you the most comfortable?

Over time, I have come to realize, surprisingly, that drama costs me less than comedy because I’m in someone’s universe and bear less responsibility if it doesn’t work out. Comedy requires so much energy and so much rigor, it’s more complicated.

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