Between answering questions, Alain Delon scours the room full of reporters. His famous eyes narrow and stop on a young lady in the back, wearing a peasant shirt and resting against the wall.
"Are you a journalist?"
"I’m an actress."
"I could tell."
Alain Delon is a special guest at this year’s TIFF. He doesn’t smile too often, but he doesn’t need to. Although the room temperature is fine, he’s removed his jacket as soon as he enters the room. He’s left wearing a white shirt, with the first two buttons undone. He flirts with the cameras, because that is the character the audience years for. When someone asks why he hasn’t done any comedies, he blames the people. They’re the ones who flock to the cinema, to see him being seductive, rough, and indifferent. “The audience wanted to see me in a certain type of movie. The people wanted me to die at the end. If I didn’t give them that, I wouldn’t have been here, now.”
Lately, Delon has been openly supporting the National Front lead by Marine Le Pen. He says that France is a „Caucasian country” and that homosexuality is “unnatural”. Alain Delon is upset at his country, because it is asking of him to be a certain way. And he doesn’t need to please anybody. That’s exactly what the first director he’s ever worked with, Yves Allégret, told him. He took the actor aside, and asked him to speak in his usual manner. And to smile whenever he felt like smiling. From that moment on, it was easy for him to act, because he’s never had to go outside of himself.
When his kind of cinema started fading off, and when his movie friends started dying, he chose his memories, rather than do an update to the contemporary reality. He doesn’t want to act in movies these days, because, aside from Luc Besson and Roman Polansky, he doesn’t like the directors, nor the movies made to “generate money”. He doesn’t go to Cannes, because the festival irks him – it’s all for “publicity, and rather American” and it’s likely that the organizers don’t like him either. Generally, the future appears bleak to him, because France’s current leaders aren’t taking any measures to “stop what’s going on, and what’s being done to us.” He refuses to negotiate his opinions about how the world is going, because Alain Delon doesn’t need an update. He’s been doing whatever he wanted his whole life.
“People around the world love me more than the people in France do. I’ve always seemed to bother my fellow Frenchmen.” He is proud to make this statement. A pride that needs to be constantly nursed, at the ripe old age of 81. For example, he feels more appreciated in Cluj.
Last night, he walked the red carpet among 3,000 people, up to the giant screen where his 1981 movie, For a Cop’s Hide, was to be screened. On stage, he put his hands in the pockets of his jeans, looked at the crowd, and seemed happy to see there were more ladies than men there. He said a few words, then asked the women to stay after the screening was over, because “I’m not gay yet”. And the crowd laughed, because they knew that Alain Delon could never be gay. That would make him too much unlike his character.
He repeats the statement at the press conference, when he’s asked to give a definition of love. “Love is the thing that interests me the most in life. I love women. She is love. I am not gay yet”. A journalist asks him why he insists on making that statement, and Delon invites him to take a seat, because he’s got “no sense of humor”. “Leave me alone! Are you by any chance gay?”, he asks him and smiles for a second.
He also carelessly skips inappropriate or downright stupid questions.
“Do you know Simona Halep?”
“What was the biggest challenge of your career?”
From the very beginning, he kept asking for more and more questions, like a boxer who knows he’s unbeatable and just wants to stir things up: “Did you only come here for the photos?” Sometimes, he just doesn’t answer questions at all, either because he can’t hear the headset or because he’s bored. He feigns attention when a pretty, young reporter from Pro TV, asks him if he knew that Romanians would wear “Alain Delons”, brown coats with fur collars. He says that he found this out when he came to Cluj, but that he doesn’t really know the coat referenced. The reporter offers to show him a photo from her phone and goes over to his chair. When she moves away, he watchfully follows her movements. With his white shirt and two buttons undone, with his grey hair slicked back and broad gestures, while sitting in his chair, he’s a simplified version of young Delon. The one who inspired Romanian fashion during communism.
He receives one question after another, without going over time. At his age, he talks about death without any visible sadness. When someone asks him why he didn’t write his memoir, he says that before he “leaves for good”, he will do this for his children, and for the young ones who didn’t live during his glory days. Before he leaves, he plans on working with a woman director. He died in his movies, so the character he’s playing now also has the freedom to die. Until then, he seems set on getting old on his own terms.
Photography: Nicu Cherciu
Translated from the Romanian by Cristina Costea