Marie Dompnier is the star of the hit French drama Witnesses. We were lucky enough to catch up with her on a gloomy Parisian afternoon to talk murder, theatre and everything in between.
Witnesses marks your first major role in a TV show. How did you feel taking on such a responsibility?
Well, I was very happy for sure! I first met Herve Hadmar during a masterclass at the beginning of the creation of Witnesses and I think that I corresponded to the picture he had of Sandra in his mind, so I was very lucky! I come from a modern drama background and I have been working for a long time in theatre, so before Witnesses I had little experience in movies or TV. When I found myself on the set though, I really felt I was in the right place. I had to work hard, but it was so joyful that it was easy! Theatre and television are very similar, you just have to adapt to being in front of a camera instead of an audience. It`s still being an actress! The two worlds are very complimentary of each other, and I love having the opportunity to do both!
What was your favourite thing about making the show?
I`m going to be selfish, but what I loved was working on being Sandra! Working with Hadmar and the cast was wonderful, but I really had a chance to work on the character, which as an actress was very interesting. She`s a paradox; she`s very fragile inside, but at the same time she wants to control everything. On the outside she`s a control freak, but on the inside she`s very anxious and afraid. She hides a lot of things. That was very interesting to play.
What makes Witnesses stand out from other detective dramas?
When something is a success, you don`t know why it`s a success; if you knew that we would have the recipe! I guess what is important is that we created a very unique atmosphere, something that people were really intrigued about. We had an immensely talented writer/director (Hadmar) with a very singular way of directing. He really makes his own universe, so it`s not like any other TV show that you could see. Along with that, we had a great cast and a very special and unique location. The setting is the real DNA of the show; the terrible weather and the provincial feel means it`s totally different from the usual big budget series.
When the show was being made, did you expect it to be such a phenomenal success?
No! Of course not! I mean, in France, Thierry Lhermitte is a very famous actor, so we were expecting a lot of people would watch it. Well, we hoped that anyway! But, as we said, it was my first major role in a show, so I had no idea how the audience would react, and it was really amazing to receive such a positive response. It was like a fairytale come true! I was very happy that my work was loved by both the public and the professionals. I just try my best to do a good job, and when you are praised for that, it`s the best response you can hope for! Things have really changed for me, but I can still go and buy my baguette without too many people noticing me!
What does the future hold for you?
This summer I shot a TV movie; we finished shooting in August. It`s for a French TV channel with some very famous actors. It`s an adaptation of The Man Who Walked Through Walls by Marcel Ayme. That was so much fun. And then, this autumn I`m onstage in Paris in a contemporary play. So that`s it for now! Witnesses has opened up a lot of new auditions for me, but only God knows really!
Witnesses is out on Blu-Ray and DVD from October 5th