Where you’ve seen him: At 25, the French actor Niney has only had a few film roles, including in the romantic comedy “It Boy.”
Where he is now: His big break is playing the title character in “Yves Saint Laurent,” about the late fashion icon.
Where he’s going: It was announced he’ll be in “The Odyssey,” based on a book by Jean-Michel Cousteau.
On his history with Yves Saint Laurent: “I have no history with that guy. I knew the silhouette, the glasses, the empire and the idea of perfection in his work. But nothing more.”
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On his history with fashion: “I don’t have a specific passion for fashion. Jalil didn’t either. I liked that the director was not fascinated by fashion. He told me he wanted to do a movie about destiny and legend and for it to be bigger than life. It was about a man chasing his dreams and a couple living together. How do you live with a genius? It wasn’t about fashion. If it had been I wouldn’t have done the movie.
On the positive message of his life: “He was a desperate and hurt person. But in the worst moments of desperation he always managed to create new things from that pain.”
On preparing for the role: “I worked with five different coaches. One was for the drawing part, because Jalil [Lespert, the director] wanted me to draw for real in the movie. I worked with a girl who worked for him for 15 years near the end of his life. Then I worked with a physical trainer to make a proper evolution of the body. And with a stylist. I had to learn about how a fashion house runs, how to make a dress, the codes and vocabulary, so I could feel comfortable and confident on the set. I also listened to at least 2 or 3 hours of him speaking every day.”
On his drawing: “It’s better. It’s not really good, but it’s better. When I was shooting the movie over a year ago, I was really good. And now I’ve lost it a bit.”
On playing a character who starts off shy and becomes very extroverted as he gets into drugs: “There’s a shyness to him. But at the same time when he’s with his closest friends and [his partner] Pierre Berge, he was doing impressions, he was a funny guy.”
On Berge visiting the set: “He came just once. He was in tears during the scene he watched, because we had the real dresses. I can’t imagine what was happening in his head. It must have been like ghosts.”
On shooting inside Saint Laurent and Berge’s home in Marrakesh: “Pierre still lives there. And he still has Yves Saint Laurent’s desk. Same thing in Paris. His last dog who’s still alive is there. He came in and lied down on my feet. And the guy who takes care of the dog said he hadn’t done that since Yves’ death. There was a physical memory of the people.”
On (hopefully) doing some American films: “I love this language. It’s really playful for an actor — the musicality of it and the culture of cinema and movies I grew up with.”
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge