Director Mia Hansen-Love's evocative and nostalgic movie Eden whips us through the heady and euphoric rise of 'French touch': a Gallic strain of house music that revolutionised clubbing in the country during the 1990s.
The drama is seen through the eyes of DJ Paul, played by actor Felix de Givry. In the second part of our interview with Felix, he discusses working with Mia, electronica legends Daft Punk and the challenges of taking on his first proper film role.
The movie is very authentic in terms of charting the development of French house music from the early 1990s to the late 2000s. How did Mia ensure authenticity?
Mia is very attached to details, even when it comes to stuff that won’t actually be seen on-screen. During the rave at the beginning of the film, we see flyers on the door of the building. The camera was never meant to film them – they weren’t made in order to be filmed. They were made in order for the movie to seem more authentic. When it came to the lights in the clubs, she was looking at which colour lights were using during which period. She made it real, like we were living the moment.
One of those details you mention is how the bouncers in the clubs progress from checking people in with bits of paper to, eventually, iPads.
Yeah! The extras also. I don’t know how many extras there were in the film, maybe 1,500 to 2000. But all the extras were cast for their specific look. For me, this was insane but it’s crazily important if you think about it. When you see nightclubs in movies, it always looks like people are having fun, you know? But we all know that clubs are not perfect places. So they cast people, for instance, who weren’t the greatest dancers. When I was performing in the club scenes, it felt like we were in a real club.
Daft Punk appear in the movie as themselves – without their helmets on! Are they personal heroes of yours?
Absolutely. A lot of people from my generation have been influenced by them, by their albums and music. So yes, I’m a fan. It’s very interesting the way they’re treated in the film. They’re not being treated as rock stars, they’re ordinary guys without their helmets on. They’re human beings.
Taking it back to you, it’s amazing to note that prior to Eden, you’ve only got one other film credit in Mia Hansen-Love’s previous movie, Something in the Air. Was it intimidating to take on this character given the film is two hours long and spans more than 20 years?
It’s funny, I went to the casting, I met Mia and she told me: "You’re going to be Paul." Then I opened the script and I was seeing Paul on every single page. I was like, are you serious? I read the script and realised the story was about Paul. The movie should have been called Paul, not Eden! So I was shocked but the year spent making the movie was important for my confidence, as was the whole process working with Mia and Sven.
I spent so much time with Mia, doing readings and talking about the film. There was a real relationship of trust with Mia that helped ease the pressure I was placing on myself. The real pressure came when we began filming in New York. I was far from home, I didn’t know the other actors and we were shooting 12 hours a day. It was an interesting experience.
American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis has described Eden as one of the most interesting movies he’s seen all year. Does that make you proud of the movie?
Well, the really interesting thing about the film is how well it travels. The fact that I’m talking to an English interviewer about what is essentially a French film and you’re able to get a message from it – that’s incredible to me. There’s a universal touch to the music and if the film can also touch people around the world, then that’s something that makes me very proud, and happy also.