meet breakout french actor phenix brossard

The 24-year-old stealing hearts in new coming-of-age drama 'Departure'.

by Colin Crummy
20 May 2016, 2:50pm

In Departure, the beguiling directorial debut of British director Andrew Steggall, an English teenager's lost summer in the south of France becomes charged with sexual energy when he falls in with a wild Parisian boy.

Elliot - played by Alex Lawther, best known for his turn as the young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game - is in the French village idyll with his mother [Juliet Stevenson], packing up their holiday home there for the last time as divorce proceedings loom. In the midst of this familial turmoil, the poetic Elliot befriends Clément - played by Phénix Brossard - a strikingly handsome city boy staying with his aunt in the country while his mother is dying of cancer.

Over an elegant two hours, the boys get drunk, swim, laugh and eventually head into more adult territory in a delicately wrought examination of burgeoning sexuality and desire. Lawther impresses as the young English man abroad, crippled by his feelings and yet foolhardy and/or horny enough to follow through on them. But Brossard is his equal as the object of Elliot's affections, expertly handling the mixed up world of adolescent affections and the advances of the English boy's mother. i-D caught up with 24-year-old Phénix on the phone in Paris to discuss the film, his character, and why you can't find him on Instagram.

Your character in Departure, Clément, is a mysterious figure. What can you tell us about him?
Clément is a bit of a wild, young man. During the summer, he is living with his aunt because his mother is dying of cancer in his home city of Paris. He meets Elliott and he's this wild man who wants to prove himself and who is really curious about the family which has arrived in the south of France.

Elliot fancies Clément, but what's in it for him?
Clément is fascinated by Elliot in some ways. He is looking for someone to make him forget his mother and I think he finds that in Elliot who is a real poet, and is funny and cute. They are both going through a hard time. It is different thing for them both but it's the same, it's about becoming a man.

How did you get on with the British cast?
I learned a lot from Alex and Juliet. It was the first time I worked with English actors. It was really interesting to see how they built all the stuff behind the characters. Alex is a great actor so it was really good. French actors are more nonchalant - not all French actors - but ones I've met are like that. Alex and Juliet were the most involved actors I've worked with.

How did you get into acting?
I was street cast by a writer and director Géraldine Bajard who was making her first movie, La Lisière [The Edge] in 2010. She saw me in the street and asked me if I wanted to do a casting with her. I was a bit afraid but said yes. I passed the casting. My work as an actor is all because of her.

You're also in a band.
Yes, it's a rock/new wave band called Outkeen, I'm the drummer and the singer. It's good to have another activity you can do by yourself, outside of acting. We are a simple band; it takes time to sing and drum together but I trained myself. The name is really nothing! We searched for words in English - I don't know, because we were a bit young - and we found 'out' and 'keen' as in 'keen on you'. It means nothing in English. We sing one song in French but all the rest in English.

Who are your musical influences?
Devo and all these bands from the 80s, all that rock n roll. But it's not the kind of stuff we do but it's an influence.

What's next for you?
I'm going tonight to Dublin to shoot a pilot for an American series. It's an MGM production for Hulu, a series set on prehistoric Earth. It's called Dawn and follows a tribe of Neanderthals as they struggle to survive after coming into contact with a family of Homo Sapiens. I have the part of the young guy of the Neanderthals.

I couldn't find you on social media. Do you use Instagram?
Instagram yes, but I forgot my ID. I need to make a new one!

Departure is in cinemas from Friday 20th May 2016


Text Colin Crummy

film interviews
phénix brossard