June 20 saw the world premiere of “All Those Things We Never Said”, starring Jean Reno and Alexandra Maria Lara at the 61st Monte-Carlo TV Festival. A StarzPlay/StudioCanal co-production for Canal+ Group and StarzPlay, the series is a bittersweet comedy with soul, based on the best-selling novel by Marc Levy the series is a wryly fun father-daughter adventure story about a second chance and first love. Cleverly playing across two timelines and set in the beautiful European cities of Paris, Bruges, Berlin and Madrid, this original and ambitious, character-driven series is a unique family comedy drama. Produced by Marc Levy, Susanna Lea, Alain Pancrazi and Jean-Baptiste Frey for TCC, Anna Marsh and Françoise Guyonnet for StudioCanal.
Julia has had a difficult relationship with her father. Days before her wedding she receives a call to say her father cannot attend. For once, Julia has to admit he has a really good excuse - he just died. The day after his funeral, a crate arrives enclosing a life-size android, a carbon copy of her father. The android explains that he contains the memory of her father with a battery life of seven days. After that, "Michel" will automatically turn off. He convincingly persuades Julia to embark on a road trip, as father and daughter. The journey becomes a quest to find Julia's first love, Tomas, a journalist who she believes was killed on assignment - but was he?
The popular French actor took part in a press conference during the Festival, revealing details about the series, his work in TV and film, etc. When asked about his absence from television since 2013 and why he has decided to return to the small screen and why in series in Spanish, Reno said that some of the projects were edited more quickly than others, i.e. “Who Killed Sara” so it was a question of editing, adding that he is of Spanish origin (he was born Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez in Casablanca, Morocco, to Spanish parents from Andalucia) but he is French. He learned French when he was 5 years old but he has always been linked to the Spanish world. During covid, his agent told him that he was talking to a production team from Spain and they were writing a character for him so during covid he went to shoot in Galicia and after that Marc Levy (the author of “All Those Things We Never Said”) called him, following months of the telephone not ringing.
Reno was also asked if he would like to receive an android, the character he plays in the series, as a gift – “life has been lived and I don’t want to live it again differently, all of those sorrows I had, no I don’t want to imitate god or this entity”. If he had the chance to say things to his father he never said, Reno commented that when he read the script he thought “did you speak to your daughter and son enough” – they are still visiting him, they are still calling him are still saying ‘I love you’ and I say to them ‘I love you’ – that is the answer – you cannot evaluate the quantity of words, maybe to be there at the right moment that is more the answer than enough words, enough warnings – just be there. As far as the olive tree symbol is concerned, Reno said that the tree is eternal. It is going to stay with him even after death.
As far as movies and TV are concerned in changing one’s life, Reno said that they haven’t changed him but they way he sees the world. People would change him more than movies. He wants movies to be only his work, not his therapy, he prefers real life. “I do not want film to change my life, help me yes, but change it completely – it will be too much”. In terms of inspiration - when you see Javier Bardem, Gerard Depardieu, Robert de Niro working – you look at them and you evolve.
Alexandra Maria Lara
Romanian-German actress Alexandra Maria Lara who plays the daughter of Reno in the series talked to journalists via Zoom since her flights from Berlin to Nice were cancelled. When drawing parallels to her character and asked about why people feel regret about the things they don’t get to say and if she was a regretful person, Lara commented that she was very lucky because she doesn’t have such regrets, her father died three years ago and they had a wonderful and close relationship and she had no question marks, they had such a good communication between each other and that gave her peace. When people don’t have this kind of communication then it is hard and life is short, time goes fast, the dream is to make most of the moments and sometimes we miss to do that and that is what she loved about the story they are telling, that touched her so much – that father and daughter have 6 more days extra time for communication and hopefully for forgiveness.
Lara commented that she is very fond of her home country – Romania – she loves Romania, she loves being Romanian. She was lucky that her parents continued to speak the language at home even though they left the country when she was 4 years old. Her father was a very famous and loved actor in Romania in 1983 when they left and her mother was a professor in French, they wanted to be free so this is why they left for a new country – Germany, they got stuck there and had to learn the language, this experience made them very close to each other. Her father was her teacher at drama school, he always encouraged his students to be themselves.
The actress believes that there is a lot of talent in the region and people see that, giving an example with Cannes where people see the talent from Eastern Europe and where the stories are different. She worked in Romania twice, onc time with Francis Ford Coppola and one time with a German director and she feels very lucky to be in touch with different cultures, she also did a movie with a Polish director, she had wonderful shooting in Italy during the pandemic. These two pandemic years have shows us what is really important to us, the feeling of being together underlines the importance of togetherness. She said that in her opinion human beings don’t like to be in isolation. It was a very strange situation, new for everybody. It is important to show understanding and now people must face the problems in society together. The story of the series is about forgiving and that life is short.
As far as the idea of her consciousness being uploaded to an AI, Lara answered that she is quite old-fashioned in her beliefs and what she loves about life and she believes her descendants will have their memories transported in a more natural way, by telling each other stories, by remembering things passed thru generations, this is the more beautiful way of keeping memories. She is personally scared of the idea of robots and androids.
Susanna Lea – producer and Miguel Courtois – director
The director of the series Miguel Courtois shared details about how the project came about – it is a very simple story – a matter of friendship since he has been friends with Marc Levy for 20 years, before he started writing. They had a TV show together which they enjoyed. Two years ago they had dinner together, as they often do, and he asked why we don’t do another project and Courtois asked but which story should we tell and Levy answered that it was the right time for this particular story. It is wonderful when people trust each other like that. The first job of Courtois was to adapt a book that takes place in the US and Canada and they made some comments and propositions and Levy amended the dialogue, he is very gifted in this.
The project is a coproduction between StarzPlay and StudioCanal and Courtois commented that it was atypical since it happened so fast, StudioCanal committed right away to producing it and as a director I hadn’t had so much leeway, so much freedom as in this project, it was pure happiness. He was very much protected by Marc, Susanna and Anna, the producers, they had the burden on their shoulders. It was very easy, the production was really pleasant.
Producer Susanna Lea said that there weren’t many pitfalls, when you are bringing people from around the world you have to make sure in the beginning that everyone has the same goal and wants to make the same series, with high quality and the team were brilliant and StudioCanal got behind the project immediately and they found incredibly receptive and supportive partners in Starz. “We managed to do the project without one day of stoppage during covid, filming in Germany, Spain, Belgium, France – we adapted to different rules and regulations. We were coming out of confinement, it was one of the first big productions, all still wearing masks and getting tested every day but there was a sense of excitement that we can make this happen”.
Courtois commented that the story of the series is universal. Everybody has parents and sometimes we haven’t said everything that we wanted to. The second plan is that we don’t we all have a crush from our youth and that for some reason we had to renounce it and if we could have a second chance, what will happen. The second chance story is quite universal, there is no need to adapt to any specific culture or country.
As far as the format of the series is concerned – it is 9 half-hour episodes – Lea commented that nowadays one of the great things about platforms is that you choose the duration and the pacing and they needed nine 30 minute episodes to tell the story and that is one of the most liberating things of these platforms.