With his angelic face, we would give him (almost) the good god without confession. Willy Cartier slipped into the skin of Nico, a rapper with a poisonous charm that pushes Léa, the heroine of the series Runaway, on TF1, to prostitute himself to help him raise money and finance his first album. A dark role for this young 30-year-old actor who started out in modeling.
Thanks to his long black hair and his mixed origins (he is Breton by his father, Vietnamese and Senegalese by his mother) Willy Cartier quickly established himself as an essential face of haute-couture. The face of Givenchy, the young man, who paraded for Karl Lagerfeld or Jean-Paul Gaultier, has always dreamed of being an actor. After a few small roles on television and in the cinema, he finally enters the light.
How did you come up with the desire to become an actor?
In fact, I come from a family of artists: my father is a former Paris opera dancer turned painter and writer, and my mother is a former dancer. Since I was little, I have dreamed of being an actor. I grew up in not very well frequented districts in Aulnay-sous-Bois and in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. My options were to hang out on the street or stay home watching TV. Suddenly, I was forced to imagine other worlds.
I come from complicated neighborhoods, I was able to observe prostitution very young
Did you start young?
Yes, I started at 12 years old by doing figuration in a Christophe Honoré film, The beautiful person. I remember a kiss scene between Léa Seydoux and Louis Garel, I told myself that it must be crazy to be an actor and to experience things like that! I had a few roles then, but Runaway is my biggest shoot because Nico is really my opposite. I learned a lot on the job.
Did you know the world of underage prostitution?
Yes, although I was not hit directly. As I come from neighborhoods which are very complicated, I was able to observe and discover her very young. Prostitution also exists in the modeling world, but in other forms. I find it really very good that TF1 tackles this sensitive subject from another angle, that of a girl who does not come from a difficult background, but from a wealthy family. It’s even more impactful and it reflects the society in which we live. Today, there are young girls who are fascinated by influencers and who think it’s okay to prostitute yourself for a Chanel bag.
Nico, your character is quite complex after all …
Yes and I find it great to play a young city boy who tries to get out of it, but ends up participating in this horror. In my eyes, Nico was really in love with Léa, but in this very complicated context, love can become secondary. Sometimes you just can’t afford to be in love.
If “Runaway” can also allow parents to communicate more with their children, that will be extraordinary.
Isn’t everyone a victim in their own way?
Yes and I also find it good to show that there is always something behind appearances. The two musicians who push Léa into prostitution are also completely manipulated by the producer.
Is it important that a fiction can upset people?
Yes of course. I, who haven’t watched TV for years, find it great that a fiction warns against all kinds of influencers. Look at the people who come from reality TV, they have become billboards. And when you stray too far from reality, it can go wrong. I also tell myself that if Runaway can also allow parents to communicate more with their children, it will be extraordinary.
Can you be a model and an actor today in France?
I think we can even be more. For my part, I also have my production company, which is called Silver Fish Production. We produce films, short films and 3D animations. At home I also paint. I hope it’s possible in France to be able to do more than one thing in life. I am the proof.
Would you be ready to cut your hair for a role?
(Laughs) But I’m just waiting for that! I keep my hair long because that’s me, and I like to show that I’m different and eccentric. But being able to shave my head for a role would prove my difference even more. And then the hair, it grows back!
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