Kad Merad is a Franco-Algerian actor, comedian, director and screenwriter. It was his duet with Olivier Baroux that allowed him to be adopted by the public. Discovered on the radio then on TV and in the cinema with the films The chorists (2004) by Gerard Jugnot, Welcome to the Ch’tis (2008) by Dany Boon, he even won the César for best supporting role for I’m fine, don’t worry by Philippe Lioret, in 2007. This Wednesday, September 14, Kad Merad will be showing in the film by honorary citizen by Mohammad Hamidi.
franceinfo: You are Franco-Algerian and that is really the heart of the subject of honorary citizen.
Kad Merad: So, I cannot say that I am Franco-Algerian, because I gave nothing to Algeria. Me, I was born there, and I left when I was two years old. I love this country. I loved going there on vacation, but I gave nothing to this country. To say that you are Algerian, you still have to have done something about it. I built things in France, I paid taxes in France. I am a Frenchman who is of Algerian origin through my father. On the other hand, if tomorrow I did something in Algeria, I could take Algerian nationality, as a native of Algeria. But it’s not that simple. You still deserve Algerian nationality.
When you look closely, you’ve always had a somewhat rock’n’roll career…
I’m not even far from being punk sometimes even because I’ve done a lot of music and I still do. It is true that it defines me well.
I like the idea of being a bit like rock, a bit free in fact.
Free, you are through this film, honorary citizen. It’s true that there is still a sounding board with your story. We see the image of the father appearing. What did he give you?
Lots of respect to anyone. Unfortunately, he left not so long ago. It’s always a bit painful for me to talk about it. But hey, I’m going to have to talk about it, especially with this film, of course. He didn’t see it and that’s a first pain, all the same. I told him: I am going to tell the story of an Algerian of origin who will return home after all these years. My father could have lived this story, in fact, and he could have been this Samir Amin who was offered to be an honorary citizen and come back like that to this little village. So he was born in Tlemcen. In fact, he passed on his story to me. He passed on to me and my brothers and sisters a lot of roustes, donuts too. It was hard, but I did not reproduce! I did the opposite! No, he transmitted to me a real authority, a form of politeness and at the same time, he transmitted to me, I hope, I believe, a sense of humor.
In this film, there is also a tribute paid to literature, to the strength of words, to the power of words, to the importance of freedom of expression. That’s also what it’s about. It’s true that school wasn’t your thing at all, but I feel like it was the words through the theater that made you the man you are today.
But completely. I finally had the chance to be able to appreciate the words of Molière, Racine, Victor Hugo thanks to the theater.
The boards are therefore a founding element of this course.
Completely. But first I did a lot of scenes.
Cinema is almost a coincidence of life.
Then you did indeed follow up with this Caesar.
Yes. The chorists take me to I’m fine, don’t worry and at the same time, I wrote my first film with Olivier: Who killed Pamela Rose?
Welcome to the Ch’tis obviously going to be a tidal wave for you. In your new film, we talk about a famous writer who returns to his native village, who is a little jaded by the system, by success too. How did you manage your success?
Now, looking back, I tell myself that it was not necessarily the best thing that could have happened to me. I took advantage of it professionally, financially. A bulimia of work, a tsunami of work, I couldn’t take it anymore and at the same time, I loved it. I grew up with a father who went to work every morning and came home every evening. Me, I didn’t want to stop, I wanted to work. I like this. That too, my father passed on to me this notion of merit and work, so it didn’t necessarily do all the good around me. And above all, it puts you in a category. Me, I would like to be the promising actor and I have become essential. So of course there are the critics. You can be attacked very quickly because you made 20 million admissions. You will always be this actor who is perhaps spoiled, perhaps spoiled too quickly. Fortunately, I started at 40, so I didn’t have any psychological or moral problems. I never suffered from depression, but on the other hand I felt a lot of jealousy, not from the public, but a lot from the profession.
This film is a film of hope.
I have the impression, yes.
It is a positive outlook on life.
It’s totally you! It’s totally me. He is the one who has hope but has no solution. It’s nice to see artists express themselves, take offense, but what are we actually doing? We have the floor, but I would like us to accompany this word with action. And I admit that I did a lot of politics on Canal+ for seasons and sometimes I would like to be this character that Philippe Rickwaert was in dark baron. I would like to be this man, that is to say, to be able to go beyond my words.
Kad Merad, president!
Listen… Don’t talk to Emmanuel Macron about it…