Axel Auriant is the young and bright sensation of the French acting. After playing over 500 plays at the theater (and he's only 23 years old) and gaining the role of Lucas Lallemant in Skam France, Axel doesn't stop. Not even during a pandemic.
He told us how a broken heart lead him into acting after he almost quit for pursuing his passion of playing the drums professionally (which eventually never stopped, in fact he played for French pianist and composer Joyce Johnathan but also Nicoletta, the Swiss-French singer and actor), and how he landed roles in the upcoming movie "Slalom" but also "Les Mains Vides" and how he started using is audience to address problems affecting our society, how people can speak up if they see something wrong.
How did you start acting?
I was in a theater company when I was a child, we did one play then I don't know why but I stopped. I started being passionate about music, I wanted to become a drummer and make music for people. I wanted to be a professional drummer, I used to play 4 hours a day. Here in France, we have high schools specific for people who want to do music, you study normal subjects in the morning and then you practice, it was so cool and that is what I did. Soon after that, I fell in love with a girl, it was my first love story with this girl. Unfortunately we broke up and I was so sad, it was painful that's when in school I was studying drama for my exam. I had the occasion to play some parts of the play for the exam in front of my class, and that's how I discovered acting. I was feeling so bad and acting gave me the feeling of expressing my emotions and my sadness in the character I was going to play. It was amazing even if it was just a class. It was love at first sight with the theater. It was a way for me to forget about my day and live and feel the character.
So, what do you prefer the most: the music or the acting?
The acting. I like the feeling and the emotions you put into your performances, acting is the same but words can help. I love being someone else. Put the mask on and live with someone else within yourself because you are the one playing that character.
This pandemic was hard on everyone in the world, was it the same for you since you're an artist and you've always been busy?
To be honest, I am really lucky because I have never stopped to play and to work since the lockdown, I was always on set. I did a few movies since that. Last month, I was on the theater, I had the occasion to play in front of people. It was a bit strange to be back on stage and to see people in the audience. I was so happy to do it. I have never had the impression of being on a lockdown. I will also start shooting a new movie in 3 days. The only thing I miss about my life before the pandemic is to leave set or theater and go for a drink with my colleagues or friends. That's how we used to detach from our characters and to go back to our real life. It was a way to distract from the strong feelings you put on stage. I can't wait to go back to our normal life though.
Fast forward to Skam France, you're part of a production, a concept which is so huge and great and thank you for doing it. How did you prepare for it?
I auditioned for the role of Lucas Lallemant. It was 2 of us. I wanted it so bad that I told them I would pay whatever expenses I had to pay for it. I wanted them to know that I was ready for it. When Skam came out, there wasn't a lot of tv-series about problems young kids face every single day. Skam is real, it made us feel and show what youth is in real life, that's why the series had a big success in Norway and then the rest of the world. I am so happy I had the opportunity to play Lucas and I knew it was going to be a huge thing for me. I live with Lucas, and I always will. At the beginning of shooting season 3, we promised ourselves we'd give our 1000% and that's how I lost myself within the character. I was crying so much and I didn't know if it was Axel or Lucas, it was amazing to see. I built the character and the relationship between Lucas and Elliot with Maxence.
It was one of the biggest experiences I had. We know, with Maxence that we are really lucky to put this story into the screen and to live it for us but also for the audience. We didn't want to create a sexual story, we wanted to show the universality of love, because it doesn't matter if you love a girl or a boy. Feelings are universal and as long as there's love, who cares about the rest? Elliot and Lucas had a beautiful love story but they had a lot of problems, there is thousands of stories like this and I hope we helped at least one person by sharing ours in Skam. I am sure I will die with Lucas in my heart.
How long did it take for season 3 to be filmed?
We filmed it in Paris in one month, two months because we did season 4 right after. I must say though, our director David [Hourrègue] was amazing. I can't thank him enough.
"Slalom" is coming out next week instead, another deep topic you're part of ...
Yes! The movie is about a girl who has essentially training to be a future athlete and the relationship with his coach Fred, an ex-champion. It's a representation of power, the amazing thing with this movie. The director [Charlène Favier] gave us the freedom of express our parts how we wanted. There's high and deep scenes with no dialogues in this movie. The underline of this movie is to spread awareness of the abuse of power, how sometimes it's complicated to talk and you can become a victim. In France we have this problem, I am so angry about it. The justice protects men which sometimes happen to be assholes and it's not fair, but it happens all over the world, we are still paying the price our past generations left us but I hope and I believe it will change, it's a slow process.
The world is full of people who are meant to guide other people for example politicians, teachers, coaches to make whoever they are guiding passionate and in full control of what they are doing. Even if you are a parent, you have the power and what you do with that power is important.
It's like Maxence and I, today, we have the power of talking to our large audience. I didn't realise how big my social media following is until the BLM movement started. I learnt I can use my platform to educate whoever doesn't know what is good and what is bad.
It's true, things are slowly changing and we all have a part in this ...
It's essential to speak up if we see that something bad or wrong is being said or done. We are the change. Slalom in this case, has had the power of educate and that's why it's really important to me. I am glad I did it with a great cast: Jérémie Renier, Noée Abita, ...
What's next for you?
I have just finished shooting something which is going to be out in November for France 2 (French channel), it's a story about a man who's successful when he's young because he played Romeo and Julliet who eventually becomes an alcoholic and one day this girl asks him to help her because she has an audition about Romeo and Julliet. Two strong but broken characters but they build themselves together again. I start shooting "Les Mains Vides" in three days and here I am the main character, Jacques, a young student in Paris who during the occupation of the Second World War belongs to a team of people resisting Hitler's occupation. It's a big project and I'm very happy about it.
“Slalom” is out now.
Words by: Sal F.