Meeting with the interpreter of Niels Cartier and Benjamin Rocher, director of this second opus.
Eight years after the first part, Antigang: The next generation lands on Disney+ this Friday. Under the direction of Benjamin Rock, who already signed the 2015 film, Alban Lenoir is back in the shoes of Niels Cartier. The cop with unconventional methods quit the force after his wife was killed in an intervention. Now a driving school instructor, the ex-cop has lost his passion, and must manage the strong temper of his 14-year-old daughter (played by Cassiopée Mayance). But when the gang of robbers responsible for the death of his wife reappears, he intends to get revenge… In this sequel, we find part of the original cast (Stefi Celma, Jean-Toussaint Bernard, Oumar Diaw, Sebastien Lalanne, Jean Reno) but also newcomers (Sofia Essaïdi, Adrien Ménielle, Barbara Elizabeth Bühl…).
FIRST: The first anti-gang was released in 2015. Wasn’t it too difficult to assemble a good part of the team of the first film eight years later?
Benjamin Rock: In terms of diaries, it’s always a bit complicated, but everyone was super happy to be able to play together again. In 2015, it was a real meeting for part of the cast: Stefi (Celma), Jean-Toussaint (Bernard), Jean (Reno), Sebastien (Lalanne)… We were just looking forward to put that back, and see the evolution of these characters. What very quickly took shape was that the film was going to be centered on the character of Alban, and on the energy he already released in the first, that is to say the “mad dog” side. , funny, very daredevil, fast, and in action. But as our desires as viewers and creators have evolved, it has also become a film about the father-daughter relationship, about the alliance between work and family.
Alban, lately we see you mainly in action films, but you also come from comedy. anti-gang It’s a bit of a mix of the two…
Alban Lenoir: It’s a perfect mix for total artistic development. It combines everything I love: being in comedy, getting emotional, and following up with an action scene, all in the same film. It was quite enjoyable as filming.
BR: Yes, in this film we go from one emotion to another, without them becoming defused. These mixes are not always easy to obtain. It really depends on the performers. And in France, we are lucky: we have Alban Lenoir (Alban laughs). No but it’s true! He knows how to manage several emotions, and ensure in pure action with always a good rigor of interpretation.
In this opus we still have a lot of fighting scenes. Alban, have you done all your stunts?
AL: Yes, it seems to me that I did 100% no?
BR: Yes, there were even some that weren’t planned (laughs)
AL: Ah yes, I got myself a good prison. There was a moment of hesitation where everyone wondered if I was going to get up, but everything is fine.
BR: He is an actor of great generosity, even when it is not planned he does stunts! More seriously, the interest of having an actor who does his own stunts is to be able to do close-ups and have his expressions and his reactions to the image in the middle of a fight.
In France, the preparation of a muscular stage takes how long?
AL: There really isn’t a rule. We are still in a restricted economy so we don’t have two weeks to shoot a scene, as can be the case in the United States. But of course, we try as much as possible to prepare the choreography in advance, to storyboard. Sometimes when we arrive on the set we realize that it doesn’t look like what we had imagined, so we have to adapt and improvise certain things…
BR: On the shoot, you have to go very quickly so it’s in our interest to be well prepared. It can go from half a day to two days. For example, the scene in the Decathlon is in two parts. There are several camera moves, more props, more characters… It takes more time.
AL: Benjamin has truly achieved an incredible challenge in managing to complete this film in such a short time.
Do you have a favorite action scene?
BR: I am very sensitive to the scene with Ricci and Boulez (played by Stéfi Celma and Jean-Toussaint Bernard) in the corridor of the hospital, because it tells a lot about the couple they form. I have a certain affection for the action scenes of the film in general, not for a certain physical prowess, but because it tells a lot about the characters. There’s another one that makes me laugh every time, it’s the one where Alban fights against the character played by Sergej Onopko. He arrives assured and then he ends up losing his baseball bat, and his means too.
AL: Me in the Decathlon I had a great time. It was very enjoyable to shoot in this place, it seems to me that it has never been seen. There were a lot of objects in this setting, we wanted to use them all. We had to limit ourselves in the staging ideas because of the lack of time.
Alban, I read that you wanted to be Van Damme when you were little. Are there other film figures that have made you dream?
AL: In contrast there was Jim Carrey, notably with the release ofAce Ventura. Anyway, the 90s were kind of the blessed years. There was the release of Seven also, it was really an incredible decade, I am very nostalgic.
BR: Oh boomers…
For AKA on Netflix, Alban worked a lot on his physique for the character of Adam. you turned anti-gang right after: didn’t this weight gain “pose a problem” for the character of Niels Cartier, who is supposed to have hung up for years?
BR: I had met Alban when he was filming AKA to talk to him about my film. I saw it, and I thought ‘ok, it’s a huge monster’, it was quite impressive. But he immediately reassured me: ‘don’t worry, I’ll be ready, I’ll have the physique I need’. As he knows very well what he is doing, I gave him blind faith and indeed he was ready.
AL: I still had to be in good physical condition for what was required on anti-gang. We chained the action scenes in a short period of time. And it rises crescendo in the film, since my character takes control of his body and his faculties. In fact, I especially needed a lot of support on the direction. I was coming out of this very gloomy shoot, and there I had to arrive all sunny. In the first days, it was complicated to find Niels. Luckily Benjamin was there to tell me ‘well, that’s good, but that’s not it at all’.
BR: They are really two different propositions. When I watched AKA, I really had a hard time recognizing him, yet I know him well. But hey, I didn’t have to intervene much, the “brat kid” side quickly returned.