Bertrand, Dexter and me



François Cluzet played one of the principal roles in ‘Round Midnight (1986), Bertrand Tavernier's great soliloquy to jazz, illuminated by the presence of saxophonist Dexter Gordon. The actor reminisces.


"Bertrand was a passionate man, a lover of the cinema, a great filmmaker. I know how lucky I was for him to entrust me with this role, a role of a fan but also of a man moved by the music of a composer. I know that Jean Cosmos had often spoken to him about me. I don't remember the first time I met Bertrand, but I can recall very well the first time I met Dexter Gordon. We were in New York, and when he opened the door, I had to look up - he was two metres tall. And then Dexter spoke a lot and his wife looked at me, saying, ‘François, do you understand what he said?’ Now I'm panicking - how should I answer? I said ‘No’, to which she replied, ‘Oh you know, even his friends don't understand him’. I was right to be truthful! Before the shoot, Bertrand had lent me some records, but I already knew the trumpet player Éric Le Lann, who is in the film. On the set, Bertrand was very happy to have brought together these jazz heavyweights, and since he didn’t want to let them down, he was very focused on what he expected from each of them, and very pleased with the surprises the musicians gave him. The movie was something of a lovefest; Bertrand's affection for jazz, his knowledge of it and then him directing this project that was so close to his heart. What luck, too, to work with Alexandre Trauner and his decors in the Épinay studios! Thanks to the film, Dexter and I became friends, by simply enacting the situations a friendship was born, like the one between Bud Powell and the Frenchman Francis Paudras, who had inspired the film. Bertrand and I never saw each other again. A few years ago, I sent him a message, saying more or less: I don't know if it is success, or just the time that has passed, but now I know who is great, and who is not. Perhaps I was too young to understand how difficult it was to make this film. I think my letter made him happy.”



Autour de Minuit, 1986


Interview by A. F.




’Round Midnight by Bertrand Tavernier (1986, 2h13)
Pathé Bellecour Wed13 7pm | Villa Lumière Sun17 6:45pm


Categories: Lecture Zen