Tahar Rahim: a major talent of French cinema

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PRESS AGENT: AGENCE CONTACT PARIS

Tahar Rahim is a French actor of Algerian origin. He is living a golden moment in his artistic career. He was recently nominated by the international press for a Golden Globe for his role in “The Mauritian”, a true story taken from the book “Guantanámo Diary”. He played in the movie with Jodie Foster. So he told us the emotion of being on set with an Oscar & Golden Globe winner. The film will be soon released also in Italy. On Netflix, he is at the top with “The Serpent”, a miniseries that talks about the daring adventures of Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer who operated in the ’70s in the golden triangle of drugs and crossroads of hippies.

His transformation to put himself in the shoes of the character is amazing and outstanding. 

How do you feel about being nominated for the Golden Globe as the best actor for “The Mauritian”, a movie with Jodie Foster?

Well, I am over the moon, it is incredible. If you are an actor of my generation and you grew up with her movies, it is almost a dream. I have vivid memories from when I went to the cinema to watch “Contact” or “The silence of the lambs”. She is a legend. I don’t deny that I was almost scared the first time I was in front of her. However, Jodie can make you feel so at ease and relaxed that you almost forget who she is. 



“The Mauritian” has not come out in Italy yet. Why do you suggest watching this movie? 

It is a very important story that needs to be told because it talks about freedom, harsh laws, and humanity. It is the story of a man imprisoned in Guantanámo Bay for 14 long years without even a charge against him. Mohamedou Ould Slah had been through a living hell in jail. When he got out of prison, he wanted to forgive everyone: that means achieving a level of forgiveness that goes beyond any imagination, a real demonstration of a pure and beautiful soul. 



How did you learn English? It is impeccable and without a French accent. 

The truth? I had to work very hard. I have always loved English since I was a child, but when they offered me the role of Ali Soufan in “The Looming Tower”, I knew I had to interpret an American citizen, so I knew I should make no mistakes, even small ones that would not convince the producers or the public. 

So, I practiced with a coach for four hours a day for three months. When I started shooting in New York, I requested a coach on set to be always 100% sure. Even now I have two lessons per week. 

Oliver Stone dedicated a post on Instagram to you and he pointed the finger at the Academy Awards for mentioning not even a category of your movie for the Oscars, meaning that probably it would not have been good publicity for the USA. 

Honestly, when I was told it, I could not believe that Mr. Stone had done a post about me and the movie. Of course, we can’t say that American cinema is not able to criticize its society, this is Oliver Stone’s vision. I am just finding out how things go in the USA. 

Did you already know the story of “The Serpent” before playing the lead role of the Netflix miniseries? It was not very well-known in Italy, probably because it is French. 

I knew it but not because it is French, none of my friends remembered it. But since I have two elder brothers, I found the book about the story of Charles Sobhraj in the bedroom and I was fascinated by the synopsis. I was 16 years old and I already wanted to be an actor. But at that time, I could not understand the real horror behind that man, yet I imagined playing that role. When I discovered that Benicio Del Toro was about to start the film shooting in 2001, I was disappointed, but then they did not do it anymore. Exactly 20 years later, I got an email from my agent saying that I would play the role of a serial killer and then I realized it was him. Life is incredible. It’s almost as if fate gave me this role. 



Do you think when cinemas reopen in France, people will buy tickets like before or will stay true to the streaming? 

There will be a good season since we are getting closer to summer and probably people want to stay outside, but if I can say it, we humans tend to forget things. When this is over, we will just want to go back to normal life, like going to the cinema. 

Curated by Francesca Romana Riggio

The undeniable force of Griffin Matthews

Griffin Matthews is a writer, director, activist, and actor. The actor of “Dear White People” has emerged as one of the most sought after multi-hyphenate talents today. Coming off of a breakout year in 2019 with performances in “Dear White People” (Netflix) and “Ballers” (HBO), he has proven that he is an undeniable force, captivating audiences through his scene-stealing performances.

This year, Griffin can be seen starring in HBO Max’s highly anticipated drama series “The Flight Attendant,” opposite Kaley Cuoco. The series follows Cassie (Cuoco), a flight attendant who wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and with no idea of what happened. Griffin shines as Shane Evans, Cassie’s flight attendant “work friend” who also carries his own set of secrets. Their friendship is put to the test when Cassie’s life begins to unravel and everyone’s truths start spilling out.



Here you are some questions we asked to Matthews Griffin and about his career , to know more about his talent. Enjoy our interview!


How did you discover your passion for writing, directing, acting? 

I’ve been performing since I was a child. In my living room. For my parents. For my brothers. I have never not been performing. It’s part of my DNA. Acting became a real lifelong pursuit when I had to decide what I wanted to study in college. I got into Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious School of Drama to study musical theater. It was in that environment where I really became passionate about storytelling, not only as an actor, but also as a singer, dancer, writer, director. I realized that I could do much more than I had ever dreamed!



How did your career change your life?

Working in this business means that your life is constantly morphing. Always changing. We do not have 9-5 jobs. We work odd hours. Travel to new places. Worry about stability and money. Fight to keep our relationships intact. This career costs a lot. BUT it allows me to constantly grow and learn and get better. Better as a performer and human.

What was the most challenging achievement of your career?

I think the most challenging achievement has been staying patient and hopeful. I’m 38 years old. It’s taken me so long to breakout in this industry. I’m really proud to have stuck it out. To have waited patiently. To have gone to all the auditions. To have survived all of the rejection. Obviously, I have much more to achieve in this industry, but I’m really proud of “The Flight Attendant.” I feel so lucky to be a part of this show!



As a black gay man, have you had any struggles in getting the roles you played?

My main struggle has been proving to the world and this industry that I can be more than the “silly gay best friend.” Sometimes the roles are so underwritten or are so cliché. They lack specificity. They lack humanity. They lack depth.  So every time I get the chance to tackle a role, I do everything in my power to bring authenticity to him. To use my own life experiences. To be vulnerable and intelligent and nuanced. My goal is always for the viewing audience to see something new; to change the way they think about us. To realize that we can be more onscreen and off.

How was working with stars like Kaley Cuoco as her work friend in “The Flight Attendant?”

I’ve loved every minute of working with Kaley. We formed a genuine friendship while filming this show. We just clicked. From the moment that we met at my final audition and all the way through filming—we had instant chemistry. She’s hilarious! In real life. She doesn’t take herself too seriously. We spent most of our time together just cracking each other up and I think that really shows up in our performances on “The Flight Attendant.”

How was it filming part of the series in Rome?  

I loved Rome more than I can express. It is a magical, romantic city. The culture, the food, the Italian hospitality, the fashion, the historic sites. I was so blown away! On my days off, I would spend hours alone just walking the streets, stopping in shops and cafes. Talking to strangers. I felt so at home there. I have officially claimed Italy as my second home.

How important has it been for you, on a personal level, playing a black gay men in “Dear White People “ and why?  

Playing D’Unte on the third season of “Dear White People” changed my life and career. That character allowed me to be big on screen. I couldn’t shrink when I stepped on set. I had to take risks. Say controversial things. Wear risqué clothes. D’Unte never apologized for being loud, queer, and excellent. He taught me to be loud, queer, and excellent onscreen and off.

What has been the most powerful lesson in your experience…

Trust my instincts. When I trust my own intuition, I find that I can live with the consequences both good or bad. And when I deny my instincts, I have regrets.  I’m trying to have far less regrets in my life.

The new Italian Wave: Ludovico Tersigni

Ludovico Tersigni is among the most talented actors who belong to a new Italian generation that is having great success, especially thanks to Netflix. His success is due to his participation in two of the most loved and followed series, not only by teenagers, such as Skam Italia and Summertime. Very shy and not inclined to social media, we met him in Rome, where, exclusively for MANINTOWN, he dressed as a dandy, the protagonist of a Roman night in the 30’s in this special service you will discover here.  



How was your passion for cinema born?

The passion for theatre and music (I love playing the guitar) was born first while the one for cinema came later. I started when I was in primary school with my first performances and then I kept on cultivating this passion at an amateur level in middle and high school.

When did you tell yourself “I want to be an actor”?

I haven’t said it yet! It was a very smooth thing and I tried to seize all the opportunities. I made my first movie, Arance e Martello (Oranges and Hammer), with Diego Bianchi and that audition was my chance. I was selected to play a role and then the movies went to Venice, where I met Vittorio Pistoia, who asked me if I wanted to be part of his agency to give it a try, and I accepted, even if I still had to graduate.

Nobody has seen my degree since but, on the other hand, I did many things, many auditions and I kept on playing very formative roles in the following years. It has been a difficult journey, for example the movie called “Slam. Tutto per una ragazza” with Andrea Modaioli. I needed to train because the protagonist was a skater and I had to reach a good level in a very short time. It’s a risky sport that can cause many injuries. Therefore, performing with the idea that I shouldn’t hurt myself has been a great challenge.



You love challenges…

Not only in the cinema, but also in sports, such as climbing, where risk is more controlled; you know your level when you approach a wall and you know you are safe.  

According to you, why did Skam Italia have an incredible success?

Skam Italia is the loyal portrait of today’s reality. The success is due to this loyalty. The producers, directors and actors don’t want to provide a model, but an idea of ​​what high school is for us today. In addition, they want to underline the complex issues that everyone has to face in the age of the constitution of our personality, memories that will stay with us forever. In my opinion, this is the strongest point of Skam: its non-belligerence towards young people. It is a declaration of alliance, “we are by your side”. It is also a question: “we believe that these things exist, have they ever happened to you?”. The best thing is that they answer, empathize, and talk about them. Moreover, the series has been able to involve different generations.



In the series, your character evolves and grows. How much of you is there in Giovanni, your character?

In Giovanni there is perhaps a part of me that I have left aside. Nobody would like to grow up. As Caparezza says: “I have a project in my mind, to be a teenager forever”. Giovanni is like the sum of the experiences that I had in high school and that remained unexpressed.

Did you watch the other version of Skam?

Yes, but after season 1. I watched the first episode before starting to shoot and something of Skam France and it was interesting to see different interpretations and themes in each country. I think that Skam is one of the best projects I have ever participated in.  



Did Summertime arrive after Skam? How did you experience it?

It’s definitely an entertaining series and its goal is to be more welcoming, aiming at a wider audience. On a social level, Skam is a mine because it opens up spaces. On the other hand, Summertime welcomes and they cannot be compared.

According to you, why are we experiencing a wave of teen-genre TV series?

I think that it’s due to the age of the audience that today it is very young. For example, when I was in middle school, I used to go to the cinema with my friends at the weekend. It was a habit and we used to fight even over the choice of the movie. It’s a completely different method of use. I am sorry to see that young people are very “addicted” to screens; if there were more balance, they probably would choose to do other activities too.



Today the youngs are also very linked to social media. You are a slightly different example…

Time management is very delicate. You risk spending one or two hours in front of your mobile and then you haven’t done anything. You saw some of your friends’ photos and what they did in their IG stories, you “joined” their lives, but in a virtual way. Therefore, my question is: are we still able to stay together in real time, to go out, organize, leave and do things in order to meet? Or is talking on the phone enough to have that relationship? This is why I am trying to invest my time also in other things that are not only virtual.



What passions do you cultivate in your free time?

In the last few years, I had a manual crisis; I realized I wasn’t able to do many things by hand and I started a journey that touched many fields, from restoration (I attended a luthier academy) to creating an acoustic guitar. I realized how manual work helps to free the mind because concentration makes you forget what you are thinking about and, therefore, thoughts clear up. Doing something by hand, focusing on something and then seeing the work finished is not just a great satisfaction, but it’s also a sort of therapy. Now, I am attending a clay sculpture course and I have recently finished my first Venus and I am also building a very difficult horse bust. It takes me a lot of time, but my teacher is happy.



What projects do you have for this summer 2020?

We are working on the second season of Summertime and we are leaving all together for Ravenna soon. In the new series, there will be interesting developments and growth in the characters, who met last year… stay tuned!



Manintown x Gucci

Photography: Manuel Scrima @manuelscrima

Video: Marlon Rueberg @marlonrueberg

Camera operator: Jacopo Lupinella @jacopolupinellaph

Talent: Ludovico Tersigni @ludovicotersigni

Art Direction & Styling: Giorgia Cantarini @giorgiacantarini

Styling Assistant: Giorgia Musci @mushiland

Grooming: Francesca Bova @francesca_bova_

Location: Hotel Valadier – Roma  @hotel.valadier

Production: Manintown @manintownofficial

Theme SHIFT#4 BY XU & TIM ROWE from BLUESHIFT

Special thanks: Sonia Rondini e Lapalumbo comunicazione

Special Thanks: Sonia Rondini @sonia_rondini

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