Letter by Claudine Ancelot
January 27 2011


 

Dear Linda and dear Frédérique

I discovered and "devoured" the story of Catherine de Montsalvy at the age of 15 years. At that time a major national journal, published the story as a cliff-hanger, and my mother and I waited anxiously every night, to follow the adventures of Catherine, with eagerness drop by drop.
  
Subsequently, I bought the books to reread the story in its continuity. Some scenes were left very much on my mind, when I was called to the casting. Marion Sarraut, without mentioning the name of Juliette, or the title of the novel, she was adapting for television. She just told me the scene I had to learn for the audition. This was the scene where Arnaud visited Catherine in the prison in Orleans. As always amiable, he wished to see her convicted to death, for spying, to get rid of the problem she posed for him: to love the woman he should hate for the death of Michel. And then, I immediately recognized what it was and I cried, "But that is “Catherine”! Needless to say that I had myself so identified with her all alone throughout my reading that I was able to slip into that part and play the scene. ... And I got the part!

At that moment, I had not thought about the millions of fans as you told me, who would see me, day after day on television. I was especially overjoyed at the prospect of living for over a year, the wonderful adventure of filming and meet a whole host of fantastic actors. Only later, during the broadcast, I had become aware, through the mails that I received at the time, the impact of the series.

The shooting was one of the most pleasant moments of my life as an actress, despite the effort involved. We were shooting, in fact, if I remember correctly, about twenty „useful minutes", which is huge compared to the movies, where you shoot something like three or four "useful minutes." One had to learn the text a bit like they do in theatre, to be able to run sequences in their continuity, three cameras to film, being positioned on a same outlet, wide shots and close-ups. Of course, the difference between the theatre, if we were wrong, we could start again, and this required a high concentration, and shoot the scenes at a steady pace.

Fortunately the organization of the filming, reserved us periods of repetition in rooms where the decor was simply indicated by markings on the floor and after two or three weeks, we went on set to shoot, what we had rehearsed and so on ...

I learned a lot during this shooting, directed by Marion Sarraut and being in contact with experienced actors I've met.

When we finished filming in the studio, we started shooting outside and another exciting time came. I was trained by Mario Luracchi, a stunt man and horseman,  who provided the horses for the shooting. I had learned the necessary minimum, thanks to Joëlle, his assistant, to give the impression that I had spent my whole life on horseback ... but it was not so easy, especially at the beginning when my horse Yamado amused itself, "to go backwards" as I had to stay on horse and say my lines! But finally by pretending to be at ease, when Marion screamed “action”, I finally made some progress, especially as the stuntmen were not far away to help us with the horses.

Regarding the difficulties with the weather, I remember a scene in which Jean-François Poron, who played Duke of Burgundy, came to surprise me one summer evening in the garden at Marsannay. ... Previously we had filmed in the studio, the scene was at night, a glowing heat was in my room, and I was looking out of the window, to breathe a little bit of air and decided to go down into the garden, to refresh myself.... With respect to refresh myself, it was successful! The "fitting scene" was filmed in the garden in winter, it snowed and the technicians had to melt snow in the field of the camera. And I found myself in my nightgown to frolic in the garden by -2 °, to play a love scene with Jean-François.... And yet, Marion was really nice, because I learned that in such circumstances, the actors usually suck ice cubes, to avoid the escaping steam from their mouths when they breathe. By the way, have a good look at the scene, there actually is steam! That said, I have endured much harsher conditions for living, and this is truly a memorable and unforgettable precious souvenir. 

I felt very comfortable around my partners , I laughed a lot with Pierre-Marie Escourrou, who has also in real life a sunny nature, as on screen, not to forget to mention many others like Philippe Clay, Stéphane Bouy, Anne Lefebure Virginie Pradal, Gérard Chambre and many others, I can not list them all.

Today, having left the profession as an actress, all these memories come back to me, thanks to you and the magic of the Internet, that allows creating links between people, who have never before been able to contact, or even know that they exist. And I am happy to measure how all my companions and I were able at one point, to make you dream and spend pleasant and entertaining moments. I am waiting like you, impatiently and curiously, that Juliette will write us a sequel...............
 

I embrace both of you
Claudine

  Mistral, Claudine Ancelot and Frédérique

I would like to express my sincerest thank you
to Claudine for having had the kindness and generosity
to answer all my questions about the shooting of
 Catherine, Il suffit d'un amour!

To Frédérique my soulmate,
 memories shared together
 are twice as beautiful
Linda


January 27 2011

Claudine Ancelot's letter translated by Linda Compagnoni


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