Fu'ad Ait Aattou
A model/actor who was 'discovered' in a cafe by director Catherine Breillat, who cast him in her film 'The Last Mistress'.
Fu'ad Ait Aattou's Renaissance looks belie a serious actor unsure of his future, writes Philippa Hawker.
THERE are two versions of the discovery of Fu'ad Ait Aattou.
One comes from French director Catherine Breillat, when she talks about searching for a young actor to play the lead in her new film, An Old Mistress. She needed someone who represented an ideal of male beauty, someone who looked like a Renaissance painting. And, at the moment when she despaired of ever finding him, she says, she saw a young man in a crowded cafe, and knew immediately that he was the one.
The other is from Ait Aattou himself, the young man in the cafe. His memory of the encounter is a little more low-key: in his version, he makes the first move, and there's no sense, at that meeting, of discovery or revelation. "I approached her," he says, "I told her I liked Romance" — her controversial 1999 exploration of female desire — "and I said to her, may I give you my number, and three months later, she called me."
Either way, despite the fact that he was cast in the lead role in his film debut, it's not a tale of overnight success. "I grew up in the north of France," he says, "and I came to Paris almost 10 years ago, to be an actor. I went to acting school for three years. I went to lots of auditions, but nothing happened."
Modelling work helped him move from a five-metre-square room with no hot water to something more comfortable, but did nothing for his acting ambitions.
When Breillat called, she brought him in for a reading, and it didn't go well. "I did a scene from La Maman et la Putain" — Jean Eustache's devastating 1973 exploration of male-female relationships — "it's one she does for all her movies, when I'm begging a girl not to leave me. And she didn't like it. She told me to try again, two weeks later, with a scene from An Old Mistress, and this time" — he says with a smile, the relief still palpable — "she liked it".
He was cast on his 25th birthday. "Maybe you won't believe me, but it's true. I told myself, I have until 25 for my dream to come true, or I was going to go home to the north of France."
Having to play Ryno de Marigny, an impoverished but elegant young man of the early 19th century, he immersed himself in the period, reading novels and listening to music, trying to understand what lay behind the cult of the dandy, thinking about his character's psychology.
Ryno is a man caught between the world to which he aspires, represented by the young aristocrat to whom he is engaged, and the life he has lived: above all, his consuming bond with his mistress, the fiercely independent Vellini (played with assertive intensity by Asia Argento).
Ait Aattou is serious, thoughtful and considered, whether he's talking about the nature of love, the character he plays, the state of the French film industry.
He thought that, after An Old Mistress, he would get further offers, that his career was finally launched.
Maybe his modelling is being held against him, he says: he thinks that in France, more than other countries, he's not going to be considered "a real actor" because of it.
He speaks good English: perhaps his future lies elsewhere, he says. Maybe America, maybe Australia, he suggests. "But I don't have connections," he adds, a little wistfully. "It took me 10 years to get my first part. I don't want to wait another 10."
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Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for starting this thread!
His face is just beyond. I don't think I've seen a more perfect face. I don't even tend to go for pretty boys but his face is too appealing, too sensual - its like you can't ignore it when its on screen or in pictures.
Ooh I have more pictures of him but here is one for the moment.
Image Credit | Screencapped by Me
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