Interview with Corinne Touzet
by Linda Compagnoni Walther

May 20 2010

photo of Corinne Touzet


Mistral: Bonjour Corinne, what was your first reaction when you learned, that there exists a “Catherine de Montsalvy” website, approved by Juliette Benzoni herself?

Corinne : I was very surprised, because I was completely ignorant of it’s existence. On the other hand, knowing the success of all of Madame Benzoni's literary production, I can imagine that she has numerous fans after all these years.

Mistral : When you were contacted for the role of the young and beautiful “Marianne d’Asselnat, had you already heard of “Marianne, une étoile pour Napoleon”?

Corinne : No, never

: As we know, “Marianne” was your first role under the direction of the ingenious Marion Sarraut. Do you remember what it meant for you, to work in one of her productions?

Corinne : I did not know Marion Sarraut at all, because I knew absolutely no one, as I had just arrived in Paris. I was very young and I had only played on stage so far. I had only one way to find some work, that was to go as often as possible to the SFP (French TV production company), on “rue des Alouettes”, which was at that time, an extraordinary place for anyone, who was dreaming to enter this business. In fact we were all hanging  around there, us - the acting apprentices, to be able to meet potential directors or assistants who could inform us of productions to come.

I had heard about a new project and that auditions were going to be organized, so I went to present myself. The first time, I met the production manager, Catherine Jurquet, who talked to me about the project and then I had an appointment with Marion Sarraut. I had to do many acting trials as many other actresses also, which lasted several weeks. I was not at all conscious of what could happen afterward, until one beautiful day, there were only two actresses left from about sixty, if not even more, who had been contacted. Here, I have to tell to you, that I was much worried and could not believe it at all!

I remember the day when I was chosen, because I found myself on a dais in Henri Spade's office (the producer) in front of Marion Sarraut, Juliette Benzoni and Jean Chatenet to answer their questions, so that they could make their definitive choice. That moment will remain engraved in my memory; I was petrified by Henri Spade, who was very impressive. He has left us last year, and I was very much affected about it. He had taken me under his wings and followed closely my career, during all these years, by leaving me frequently some messages, to tell me his reactions and advices. He used to watch the audience and tell me that he was proud.

When finally, Marion and Henri Spade decided that it would be me, I had the impression to be the happiest woman in the world and I can never thank them enough for their choice. I learnt my trade on “Marianne”, in a sense that I had never seen a camera in my life before, and did not know the scene. Marion loves profoundly the actors, she has an incredible eye and always said when this is or that was not working. She was wonderful during this series, never giving up, and full of energy. At times we were filming real sequence shots, without any break for five minutes, something which is nowadays completely impossible. We had three - sometimes four cameras on wheels, which followed us. It was almost like in theater; the feeling of freedom was extraordinary. Some professionals made fun of this work, but in truth this sensation of freedom was intense, and I wish everyone could experience it at least once. We had only great professionals on the set and Henri Spade had created an admirable tool there. I learnt enormously and I think that this (very long) shooting gave me weapons for all the rest of my career.

Mistral: Can you tell us, what made you decide, to play the bloodthirsty but beautiful Princess Zobeïda, in "Catherine, Il suffit d’un amour", after the audience learned to adore you as the brave and courageous “Marianne”?

Corinne : the role is magnificent, very complex, it was for me a real challenge.

Do you have any special fond memories from acting together with Jean-François Poron (Francis Cranmere), Gérard Chambre (alias Jason Beaufort), Benoît Brionne (alias Napoleon) Philippe Clay (alias Black Fish), Pierre-Marie Escourrou (alias Arnaud de Montsalvy) to mention a few?

Corinne : Many scenes are lying dormant in my memory; it is difficult to make a selection. On the other hand, I have to say that Philippe Clay impressed me enormously; he was very tall and had always a severe look. He impressed me a lot, and in fact we became great mates. During the scenes, we often shared great laughter together (I am very fond of laughing!) With Benoît Brionne, who played Napoleon, we shared equally also frequent laughter, because his role was very hard to play and we had trouble to stay serious. What struck me, is that the audience adored us as a couple, and that is always magic and unexplainable, one can say that we were all happy to play together.

About Pierre-Marie Escourrou, it is much easier for me to talk about him, because I have played very often with him, especially in “Une Femme d’Honneur” from 1994 until 2008. In one scene in “Catherine”, Pierre-Marie had to whip me, and every time we were talking, we could not stop laughing! We were young and to take ourselves seriously at that epoch was not obvious at our age then. That day the crew played us a practical joke: the set was huge and the logistics and the acting direction were on the first floor, so on the set, there was only us, the actors and the cameramen. At the end of the scene they cut the light, we found ourselves in the dark!!

I also had the opportunity to learn fencing with Luc Etienne and André Obadia, two fencing masters, who were so patient and who are still today friends of mine. The riding with Mario Luraschi... what luck I had.

Do you remember the reaction of the public, press and critics, after “Marianne” (which consisted of 60 episodes à 13 min) aired in 1983?

Corinne : Absolutely not! However, what I know is that today people still talk to me about it and I am very much touched by this,  because it was my very first leading role and not to be forgotten, is a sign of affection.

: In your country France, you are adored for your role as “Isabelle Florent” Adjudant-chef in the most successful long running police serie “Une femme d’honneur" – for which you won the TV Award 7 d'Or Night for Best actress. What did this award mean you?

Corinne :
If you have watched the ceremony, you know how moved I was that evening. That explains why still today, when I think of it, I am deeply stirred. This award is and will always remain a very great honor for me. I accepted it as if it was a reward for the last fifteen years which had elapsed, during which I had found the road very long. I was also very happy because my family, as well as Marion, Christian Ferlet (the producer) and Etienne Mougeotte (TF1 manager) were by my side to support me. 

In your long career you acted in many TV productions and successful movies. Is there still a role you wished to play or direct and have never been asked or there was never the right moment for it?

Corinne :
Hundreds fortunately!

Will you reveal our mainly female visitors, who were your “idols” be it actors, singers or personality, you dreamed about as a very young girl?

Corinne :
Oh yes with pleasure! As a teenager, I was a fan of Julien Clerc, Gérard Lenorman and my personal hero was Bruce Springsteen of whom I had all the records and this will amaze you, I listened to and adored Gilbert Bécaud, which was strange at my age, but if I add that I was also fond of Barbara and Edith Piaf, this explains it! Gilbert Bécaud is an immense composer, singer, remarkable show man and his songs marked out my life and continues to do so even today.

At that time, I was also fascinated by American actors (I am still a little bit) such as Robert de Niro, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Nick Nolte, Marlon Brando, and Henry Fonda.  I discovered the Italian cinema with “Cinéma de Minuit” from Channel F3. Actors like Nino Manfredi and Sophia Loren fascinated me by the realism of their acting. Sophia stays for me an unavoidable, beautiful, strong and fragile actress who can disfigure herself and get engaged with such a passion into these roles as Romy Schneider did also. I often think about her, because I say to myself that if she was still here today, she would surprise and move us all with her art!! She is missed terribly. There are many more other actors today, but in my opinion the two greatest ones are Sean Penn and Meryl Streep.

What are your plans in the near future? Can we expect to see you soon in another television production, see you on stage, in a play or direct a new movie?

Corinne : I am on stage since March 12th at the “Théâtre des Variétés” in the play “Personne n’est parfait”, directed by Alain Sachs (with partners, Jean-Luc Reichmann, Berbard Dhéran, Delphine Rivière). We were to play until June 6th but we have prolonged until June 27th. It is a huge success, I am very proud of it. I did not imagine how impressive theater is and we were all scared at first. Now that the stage fright has gone, to play is for me a pure moment of happiness, of sharing and energy all together.

I would love to go on tour, so everyone who can not come to Paris, can see us. I am also expecting the pilot of “Interpol”, a new TV series broadcasted on channel TF1 on May 20th this year. I bought the rights of a play, which I shall probably present in Paris in 2011. This is an adaptation of Ettore Scola's movie called "Une journée particulière " and I am working at the moment on the writing of two projects for television, which I can not tell you more about it today. What is certain, is that I have been caught by the stage virus again and I will not stop now, because it makes me extremely happy and more fulfilled than television.

Mistral: If you had a wish free, which of the fictive characters you played so far, or which personality would you like to be for a day?


Corinne : I cannot choose only one, because there are many fictive characters that I would love to play. I would have loved to do a remake of "Cioccara" or " Riz Amer" and if I could play in Hollywood movies of the 50’s, I would choose any of Capra or Hitchcock movies, all in all, those are for me the most beautiful epoch’s of cinema, the one which made me dream and the will to be a part of this business. About being someone for a day, I am not sure that it would really interest me …



I would like sincerely thank Miss Corinne, for answering my "12 Questions". We are delighted to learn that she cherishes wonderful memories of the filming of "Marianne" and Catherine, Il suffit d'un amour". We wish Corinne all the best for her future career and express again our heartfelt thank-you for spending some time on our website. I feel myself personally very honoured that Corinne signed my creation and waited patiently to pose for a photo with me.

Merci beaucoup Corinne

© by webmistress Mistral 20 May 2010


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