When a passionate and successful actor relates: presenting Nathanaël Maïni

NathanaëlFrom an early age – and when I say early, I am referring to the age of sixteenNathanaël Maïni found his way to the theatre; and the sentiment that it holds a certain liberty that is not equal to that of the cinema, has remained with him. His impressions were that of a ‘strange place’, which he continues to experience as an ongoing conviction.

Born in Bastia, the cinema in itself, is not exactly his passion – rather the elaboration of work concerned, the diversity and creation of roles, exchange and comprehension involved within.

My interest in hearing what he had to say, derived from the his ‘cameleon’ capacity I had witnessed with his many roles, that I had had the pleasure of viewing over a certain time, both in cinema and theatre.
Travelling is of course very much part of his routine, which adds a certain instability not unwelcome by any means, as he finds he requires it – experiencing so many emotions throughout his voyages. Nathanaël has recently been to the Cannes film festival for the presentation of ‘Je suis un soldat’ by Laurent Larivière, which will be coming out some time in November. Although this role appears to be somewhat pessimistic, he finds it challenging and rewarding to be able to fit into the multiple personages he is offered; even ‘wicked’ roles interest him he says, with a broad smile.
With over twenty years of theatre, fifteen years of television and now twelve years of cinema, one could easily say his range has certainly evolved with time.
One particular role literally transformed his life, and here I refer to ‘Les Anonymes’ in 2012, directed by Pierre Schoeller – it was from this moment that Nathanaël felt his growing fervour in the cinema, and a sentiment of advancing – Pierre Schoeller being a director that he values immensely.
In Los Angeles, he played in a series ‘Ugly Betty’, and has also been with Morio Matsui (artist) in Japan. (The list is extensive, and can be found at the end of this article).
          To my question whether he himself would like to direct one day, Nathanaël answered possibly so – but, his tendency would be to direct/coach actors instead. He has already bathed in directing with Suzanne Batson in New York, having spent a month with her. In fact, over a four and a half year period, he has been to the US at least twelve times, and obviously speaks English now.
‘Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls ..’ Bergman.
I was curious as to how he rehearsed/studied his roles, many actors having their personal preferences in this area. Nathanaël requires ‘life’ around him in doing so, thus rehearsing in cafés, bars etc., always conscious in leaving space for improvement. A further question on who he would like to personify in theatre or/and cinema, found the following reply: an artist/painter, author or even a woman – which are certainly in his line of reach I believe, due to his (once again) cameleon capacity.
He has certain thoughts on how authors should have a better quality of protection these days, and this deriving from our discussion on the Internet and a certain evolution sensed nowadays. Author rights require more rigidity and supervision, within the massive webs that surround us.
‘The cinema, like the detective story, makes it possible to experience without danger all the excitement, passion and desire which must be repressed in a humanitarian ordering of life ..’ so thought Jung, which led to ask Nathanaël what he thought the cinema should ensure for the public today: ‘receptiveness and open mindedness, a mirror of the world, being critical, funny, intelligent, and showing the different facets of society – it must speak about yesterday, today and remain universal’ – the poetical, and even the political sides also move him.
          I wondered who his favourite actor could be, along with his choice of film – the answers to these questions coming from an actor are always terribly interesting I find. He sees Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon’ as a masterpiece of cinema, even today, and Javier Bardem his choice of actor – certainly two monuments in the film industry, no doubt about that; adding Olivier Gourmet (Belgian), who possesses a notable depth and presence on the screen.
A favourite quote to add perhaps – words that have influenced him, and his choice is one from Valère Novarina ‘To be an actor is not to love being visible – it is to tremendously love disappearing’ – we can easily comprehend the significance of these chosen words, and how they should apply. One of his most ardent desires is to keep the child within him; for if we forget, our senses, commitment, passion, imagination and devotion will automatically dwindle and diminish ..
Of course there are projects in view, of which we will not elaborate on here, and normally so – Nathanaël believes, and is bound to his passion with fresh eagerness and without any boundaries whatsoever. It’s always so gratifying to speak with someone who is stimulated and enthusiastic, and who fully enjoys what he is accomplishing.‘When less than everything has been said about a subject, you can still think on further. The alternative is for the audience to be presented with a final deduction (…) no effort on their part. What can it mean to them when they have not shared with the author the misery and joy of bringing an image into being? ..’ Tarkovsky


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