Oscars 2021: the French Florian Zeller doubly rewarded

The most performed French author in the world, the playwright triumphs with his first feature film, The Father. He won the prize for the best adapted screenplay. And its main actor, Anthony Hopkins, the coveted one of the best actor.

Appointed six times, The Father, one of the works of the evening where French talents shine, started the evening well by picking up the statuette for the best adaptation ahead of the favorite of the evening Chloé Zhao and her Nomadland.

“It’s such an honor”, underlined the playwright Zeller, live from Paris, where he was presented with his trophy. He thanked his co-author the screenwriter of Dangerous Liaisons Christopher Hampton, before paying tribute to its main actor. “I wrote for Anthony who is the greatest actor in the world. It was not easy for me who am French as you understand it. It seemed impossible to me, but anything is possible. Thank you Anthony for making this dream possible and for giving your father all your energy ”, did he declare.

Adaptation of his play The father, we follow Anthony Hopkins in the role of an old man sinking into dementia. The story was inspired by his grandmother, to whom he was very close and who began to suffer from dementia when he was 15 years old. Before this icon of the 7th art, at the creation at the Hébertot Theater in 2012, Zeller had entrusted the role to the French actor Robert Hirsch who will play it no less than 350 times. It was his success across the Channel, where the press compared him to Harold Pinter and where three of his pieces were sometimes performed in parallel, which allowed Florian Zeller to be known internationally, as far as Asia and America. Latin.

The Father had received an ovation last year at the Sundance Festival, before winning two Baftas in April: that of best adapted screenplay and that of best actor for Anthony Hopkins.

From boards to camera

The French stages were a wonderful destination … but it was when my plays started to be performed in London, sometimes with three plays at the same time, that they were produced in Asia and Latin America.», Says the author who first became known through his novels at the age of 22 (Lovers of anything, The fascination of the worst, Enjoyment …).

The British press even sees him as a successor to Harold Pinter, a “strong reference” for him. “His work speaks directly to the public, with simplicity and power, it takes a lot of British writersSays Christopher Hampton, the eminent screenwriter who translated Zeller’s works into English and co-adapted The Father At the movie theater. At the start in London, a theater was booked “for eight weeks, the producers thinking there would not be so many people. They had to extend for eight weeks because it was sold out. It was a dazzling success», Remembers the Briton.

Fell in love with the theater when Françoise Sagan recommends it to a director, he explains that he wants the spectator to be “engaged with historyOf his pieces.

After The father, the other two parts of the trilogy are also very successful: The mother, created with Catherine Hiegel and performed on Broadway by Isabelle Huppert, then The son (Comédie des Champs-Elysées, 2018), which will also be transposed to the cinema, with a shoot this summer with Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern, and soon edited in Tokyo by Zeller’s other accomplice, the director Ladislas Chollat.

“Surgeon of the soul”

The writer, married to actress Marine Delterme and father of two, has also written a new play due to premiere in May in Israel. But if the British marvel at the “essentially Shakespearean»Of his pen, in France, we do not think less.

He is a child of Molière“, Assures the actor Pierre Arditi to AFP, who had interpreted The truth (2011) and The lie (2015). “When we read his plays, we think it’s easy but it’s much more complex, it’s worthy of a great author“.

He describes it as “young human soul surgeon” and of “first cousin of Yasmina Reza», Whose cult piece Art (1994) continues to be performed around the world. Fabrice Luchini, who performed in 2013 One hour of tranquility, notes a “dichotomy between his fragile and attractive physique and his maturity much greater than his age“.

Other great actors played for him: Catherine Frot (If you died), Daniel Auteuil (Behind the scenes), not to mention great British comedians.

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Oscars 2021: the French Florian Zeller doubly rewarded