Unrecognizable ! Face devoured by a thick beard, gaze drowned in the vapors of alcohol, Grégory Fitoussi is not immediately identifiable in Peaky Blinders. However, it is he who gives the reply to Cillian Murphy in the first episode of the sixth season of the series that Netflix programs from June 10. The actor shares the poster there with two compatriots: the singer and actress Laura Presgurvic, discovered in 2003 in the musical Gone with the wind, and the actor Assaad Bouab, revealed by the series Ten percent.
If these three French performers are found in the credits of this successful soap opera, written by Steven Knight and directed by Anthony Byrne, it is because its plot begins on the island of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. The story transports viewers to 1933. The end of Prohibition in the United States was not immune to organized crime. The Shelby family sends Tommy to North America to explore the opportunities presented by the relaxation of American liquor laws. Eager to develop his activities across the Atlantic, the member of the clan makes a stopover on the French island. Which isn’t going to happen without a few quirks… We won’t say more.
For ten years, Grégory Fitoussi has regularly positioned himself on the roles of Frenchies and multiplies the test shots to which the British agency Hamilton Hodell invites him into the catalog from which he has slipped. This prestigious company brings together half a dozen impresarios who represent, in addition to Anjelica Huston, Tilda Swinton or Hugh Laurie, the French Camille Cottin and Marina Hands as well as the Scottish Freya Mavor.
The boy who grew up between Bourg-la-Reine and Anthony (91) is not immediately destined for the seventh art. Although a film buff, he first began a university career as a “cultural mediator” at Censier-Daubenton University. “But in 1995, I was caught cheating on an exam and temporarily kicked out of college,” he says. The boy takes advantage of these months of forced inactivity by helping his father in the markets of Île-de-France where the latter sells clothes. He then passed tests to do extras and began in 1996 with a shoot that would put him in the spotlight, that of the video clip signed Didier Le Pêcheur of the tube by Florent Pagny and Zazie: “Les Meilleurs Ennemis”.
“It’s a role that stuck with me a bit at first. Objectively, I don’t shine there with my quality of acting, but it’s still on this set that I thought it was fun to slip into someone else’s shoes. And it is thanks to this experience that I said to myself that I had to work with a professional to learn the ropes,” he confides with disarming frankness.
The actor left the series in 2002 when it was doing very well. On a whim, he decided to go back to school and forced himself, at 26, to take Jack Waltzer’s lessons. This professor from the Actor’s studio regularly offers internships in Paris. The American, who prides himself on having trained Al Pacino, gives self-confidence to this Frenchman who doubts his ability to embrace a career as an actor despite his young first-class physique.
Grégory then found his marks on the Canal series, Engrenages, where he became the charismatic deputy prosecutor and then lawyer, Pierre Clément, for 40 episodes. A prestigious series that he leaves, again, in full success, without hope of return. But his gaze already extends beyond our borders.
In 2013, the French actor opposite Brad Pitt on the blockbuster World War Z, by Marc Foster. “It’s on these kinds of multi-hundred-million-dollar projects that you understand what the big studio machine is,” he breathes. In 2015, he continued with a series in the form of a thriller against a backdrop of espionage and terrorism (American Odyssey) and then he played the bad guys in four episodes of a series in the fantasy genre (Beowulf). We will find him, in 2019, in front of the camera of Gurinder Chadha for the six episodes of Beecham House. A historical saga taking place in India and which is a hit in the United States, on PBS.
“For five years, I have only taken roles that really amuse me, justifies Grégory Fitoussi. It does not matter the number of replicas. I choose appearances that give me the opportunity to broaden my palette, rub shoulders with talents I admire and work with people I respect. His role in Peaky Blinders may be short, but it has given him a lot, he says.
Coming out of confinement, a bulimia for roles led him to shoot in the next film by Yan Gozlan (director of Black Box with Pierre Niney) but also a biopic on General Charette (in Vaincre ou Die, by Paul Mignot). Currently appearing in the Pilote series (on OCS), where he is a military remote commander of combat drones, he will soon be found in the credits of a Swedish series (Hamilton), taken from the literary saga of the same name .
In a few months, it will be on Amazon Prime with La Jeune Fille et la nuit, based on the book by Guillaume Musso. But also one of the first roles in the Valkyries series on TF1. A new detective drama in which he portrays a German cop seeking to shed light on serial murders that occurred near a military base near the Black Forest, across the Rhine. He plays there with Hélène de Fougerolle, Tchéky Karyo, Thierry Godard and Laëtitia Eïdo who leads, like him, a dual French and international career. Which boasts of his humor and modesty. “Despite all his successes, he remained very humble and it’s a pleasure to work with him”, confides the actress who continues, herself, the roles outside of France.
If Grégory Fitoussi thus keeps a cool head, it is because an experience served as a lesson to him. “Four years ago, I shot in a big American production, with director Lee Tamahori [who signed the James Bond, Die Another Day, Editor’s note]. I played the role of François I opposite Adrien Brody who played King Charles V. This movie, called Emperor, was never released, for reasons that escape me! »
To put the ideas in place, the actor multiplies the trips between the shootings. He has just returned from Costa Rica where he surfed for several weeks. “There’s nothing like a sliding session to clear your head,” swears this great sportsman who gave up free flight after a big scare two years ago. “My parachute wouldn’t open,” he recalls. His next project? A short film that he dreams of making with his brother – Mikaël Fitoussi who plays one of the recurring characters in the AlexHugo series, alongside Samuel Le Bihan – and where the two boys will tell the story of their father on the markets. Its title is already found: Le Beau Jacquot. All that remains is to complete the financing.