BEING LARGO I wanted to do Largo Winch because I'm very close to his character in many ways. Largo has problems with his roots; he doesn't know where he's from. I have problems with my roots. I was born in Germany to Israeli parents. My grandparents came from Russia and Yemen. I came to live in France when I was nine years old. But I felt German because I had spent all my life in Germany. After a few years I spoke French like any French guy and started forgetting German. But I wasn't French because I had an Israeli culture. And then I went to a kind of American school but I wasn't American because I was Israeli. So, what am I? I just don't know.
Largo is an adolescent trapped in a man's body. He's a rebel; at least at the beginning of the movie. I used to be the biggest rebel on the planet. Still am. I have a problem with getting in line. Doing conventional stuff; I hate that. I have a love of adventure. The relationship Largo has with his dad, the fact that he's in such need of love from his dad and he feels he didn't really get it - that's what makes him tell him his father, 'F**k you, I don't want to be your heir. Find yourself somebody else.' But that's not what he's saying. What he is saying is, 'Why don't you love me?' I know that feeling. The need to be loved.
DIRECT ACTION There aren't that many directors who really see things. If you are doing a scene different ways but you just change little things; I can respect a director who sees the difference. Jerome [Salle, the director of Largo Winch] would see little changes immediately. That means he's smart. He would never ask me to do the obvious.
GETTING PHYSICAL The physical aspect of the movie was not the most challenging [thing] for me. The five months of working out was hard work. I had to do a lot of weightlifting, which I don't do generally. But hard work doesn't mean challenging. The challenging part was to make a good Largo, as an actor. Getting the scenes right; that was hard.
I get excited [when doing sex scenes]; just the way you get excited when you make love to a woman. You don't actually get to have real sex; it's just this little thing that we do to pretend. But yes, I'm lucky.
The [fight scenes] were fun to shoot. I love action. In real life I'm a helicopter pilot; I do skydiving, paragliding, extreme skiing. This movie was like having a wonderful cake and the action scenes were the cherries on the top. People ask me about the scene when I jumped 27 metres off a cliff. Well, you know, you just go one metre then gravity does the rest. It's easy; it's just how you deal with it in your head. I have jumped 4,300 metres from a plane, so 27 metres is not that far.
NOT BEING LARGO I'm not worried about getting typecast as Largo. I had a leading part in a sitcom 15 years ago and I was identified with that. I know it's my job to do everything I can to avoid typecasting; I would not do Largo 27 times without playing in something like a Shakespeare play in between.
I did six years of stand-up comedy. I got famous in France doing stand-up comedy. I had a bit that got me famous; I would say I was half Jewish and half Arab, that my parents met on a battlefield. I would say if I honoured both my parents' religions I could never eat and would only be able to drink two glasses of water when the sun comes down on Wednesday. Stuff like that; all in 2? minutes.
ON LOCATION I love [Hong Kong] but I couldn't live here, it's way too polluted. My overall impression is that it's a pretty young city. And I was impressed by the mix of modern and old traditional culture. I kept seeing so many details and thinking, 'Why don't we have this in Paris?' You have all these skyscrapers and every two years there's a new one. And at the same time you walk towards the east a little and after 25 minutes you find yourself in a lousy stinky market where they sell animals and whatever. It's just very alive.
We stayed in the Grand Hyatt [where some of the film was shot] for the whole movie. It was great. I could get from my bed to the place where I was shooting in 45 seconds.
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER? I won that [title] this year [aged 35] at the Etoiles d'Or [French awards] and it tells me a lot about the people who gave it to me. Most people don't know s**t about acting. I'm not a better actor in Largo than I was in Crime Insiders, my previous movie. I was happy to get the award but I couldn't help thinking about all the other actors who do their job passionately and who haven't been noticed yet.
The main problem with [being] an actor is you depend solely on the desire of somebody else to give you work. If that desire does not exist, then you could be the best actor on the planet and not work. There are two ways of dealing with that: one is to just wait and pray to get noticed; the other is to try and create the desire in other people. That's why I became a stand-up comedian, to give myself work. To make people want me.