A strange actor indeed, whose personality is restrained yet constantly strives for powerful and complex roles; a serious man, who in a flash turns to irony and compulsive playfulness, an actor living in doubt, whose main influences - Dustin Hoffman, Patrick Dewaere, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Christopher Walken, Gene Hackman, John Hurt, and of course Jean Gabin – compel him to constantly test his mettle, to unceasingly push himself with the sincerity that makes approaching the universal and the timeless possible.Thierry Frémont has a passion: acting; a talent: taking his roles to the limit, without concessions, giving himself precious little respite for "civilian" life, a private life which he admits is "difficult, given how little time I can dedicate to it." For a few years now audiences have finally been able to get their fill of his acting: the actor is on several fronts (television, cinema, theatre). Critics have nothing but praise.

Frémont is a purist, embracing personal, tough challenges, far from the Parisian it-crowds and the jet-set. His "dance floor" of choice? His Parisian apartment, where his nocturnal activities are those of a militant actor, ever-anxious to perfect and rework the roles that others, perhaps, would have forgotten as soon as they had stepped away from the stage.

« I cannot help reworking my roles at night, it's like a need to be at once all in them and yet to give them what more they could be; it's irresistible… ».

One could see conceit in this, but facts speak for themselves: 2004 Molière for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in the play "Signé Dumas" starring Francis Perrin; 2.5 million viewers for "Espace Détente," in which he acts alongside his friends Bruno Solo and Yvan Le Bolloch; a 2005 Emmy Award for his interpretation of Francis Heaulme in the movie "Murder in Mind;" unanimous critical success for his lead role in Arthur Miller's play "Broken Glass," which he created in Paris and in France. To this, let's not forget to add the release of "The Tiger Brigades," in which he plays a Russian anarchist terrorist (and in which he indeed only ever speaks Russian!) Truly, this man has a lionesque appetite for his craft; always on the prowl, he rushes from role to role, granting himself the luxury to play only what moves or fascinates him. Like a true predator, the thespian stalks his "prey;" he does not fear the wait, and if he sometimes has to pass on proposals, it is to sink his teeth and soul into a more nourishing role.
Time has indeed passed between his first film, "The Cruel Embrace" (for which he received the Jean Gabin Award), and today. His career was promising from the start, with his second film ("Travelling avant", directed by Jean-Charles Tacchella in 1987) earning him a César Award for Most Promising Actor. This in turn begat a decisive encounter with José Giovanni, resulting in his 1982 role in "My Friend the Traitor".
A long initiation journey in the actor’s craft ensued, leading him to play notable roles in the key of the historical ("L'Affaire Dreyfus" by Yves Boisset in 1995, "Unpredictable Nature of the River" by Bernard Giraudeau in 1996), the poetic (Arthur Rimbaud in "L'Homme aux Semelles de Vent" by Marc Rivière in 1995), and the social ("Fortune Express" by Olivier Schatzky in 1991, a role for which he lost 37 pounds). Always on the lookout for affecting projects and characters, he impressed his mark on a generation with his impersonation of Jesus in Bernie Bonvoisin's cult movie “Les Démons de Jésus" (1996). His movie career alone would have satisfied most: a wealth of collaborations ranging from Bertrand Blier's "Merci la Vie" in 1991 to the unexpected 1999 comedy by Gérard Lauzier, "The Son of Français," and even Brian de Palma's cult "Femme Fatale" in 2002... 

But the man cannot confine himself to the Cinema; he even admits being as much in love with the Theater:

"I had dreams to take the stage, to confront an audience, to release an "overflow" in me... This dream was a childhood dream."

And so after a first play ("Carrot Head" in 1982), which confirmed him in his choice, he went through the renowned Cours Florent drama school, where he listened to Francis Huster's advice, taking and passing the competitive examination at the entrance of the French national Drama Academy. He was not even twenty. Concurrently, he followed the training of Jack Waltzer, of the Actors Studio, and honed his skills with the Method advocated by Strasberg on the basis of Stanislavski's "system".

In 1987, he debuted as a professional theater actor in "Les Acteurs de Bonne Foi" (by Marivaux), with a firm resolve to press on:

"I was truly ravenous for the theater, probably much in the way others at my age were ravenous for music or for clubbing..."

Whatever the reason, he did his utmost to leave his mark on the stages of Paris' great theaters, interpreting a dozen plays, ranging from Claudel ("Tete-d'or" in 1988) to Arthur Miller ("Broken Glass", 2005-2006), from Chekhov ("The Cherry Orchard" in 1993) to Buchner ("Danton's Death", staged by the brilliant Klaus Mikael Gruber in 1989 at the Théâtre de Nanterre).

He was also a member of the company which won the 1997 Molière Award for Best Play of the Year with "Kinkali", in Philippe Adrien's production for the Théâtre de la Colline, and pocketed the Molière Award for Best Supporting Actor with "Signé Dumas" in 2004... Though a mystery remains: how could he not be awarded the Molière Award for Best Actor, since it was obvious to anyone with eyes that his role was a lead?
Not all were fooled, however, starting with Roman Polanski who confessed to having been "awed" by his performance (Frémont played the role of Auguste Maquet, Alexandre Dumas' ghostwriter), to the point that in 2006, he offered him the leading role in "Doubt," a play by John Patrick Shanley. The role is that of a catholic priest, a teacher suspected of pedophilia against a 12-year student in the Bronx of the 1960s.
According to the newspaper Le Monde: “Thierry Frémont, as Father Flynn, plays on the edge, but with perfect balance, the role of an ambiguous, charming, and persuasive man." And indeed the production and the actor's creation made a durable impression. A more whimsical play followed, "Thalasso" from Amanda Sthers at the Théâtre Hébertot in 1997, succeeded by Dimitris Dimitriadis' "Le Vertige des Animaux avant l'Abattage" at the Théâtre de l'Odéon (Ateliers Berthier) in 2010. A harrowing performance in the service of a three-hour contemporary play demanded that the actor bare his body and his soul, as if to do penance for the light-heartedness of his previous play. Mission accomplished: the performance was once again unanimously saluted.
Simultaneously, his presence in the cinema and on TV did not falter. Between the year 2000 and today, in 2011, he acted in no less than nineteen feature films and fifteen TV movies! How does he do it?

"I have a need to build, to constantly be in action, to be part of the "movement," so much that I sometimes find myself apprehensive that it will stop. It's compulsive, I know this much... I have an inner bulimia which compels me, almost against my will (he laughs) to dissolve myself into characters and scenarios with a constant appetite, as if I was never satisfied... Even though, when you come right down to it, I also have a fear not to have enough, which probably stems from my (modest) background..."

All in all a "greedy actor", one who never lets himself waste time, nor accept projects unless they move him in a meaningful and honest way; a man forever on the ring of the Seventh Art, probably in the likeness of the sport which he practices with a unique fondness: boxing... Inherited from his father (a boxer who fought in many amateur fights), this sport taught him, in his own words, "courage, looking into someone's eyes, and moving in space", all qualities which serve him as well on the stage as on a movie set!

His vigorous role as a secret agent and hit man in the excellent “State Affairs" (by Eric Valette, 2009) will not contradict this hypothesis. The movie even received, in no small part thanks to him, the award for Best French Thriller at the 2010 Cognac film festival. As Pablo Picasso in "La Femme qui Pleure au Chapeau Rouge" (by Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe), he was transformed by make-up, unrecognizable, having made the painter’s mannerisms his own, as he did when playing Francis Heaulme; even the most skeptical critics were bemused, and he received the Best Actor Award at the prestigious Fiction Festival of La Rochelle in 2010, before the film was broadcast on television.

A physical actor then, alternating between sometimes extremely athletic roles and roles requesting a metamorphosis bordering on the tour de force, with nonetheless - and this is where his talent finds its purest expression - a sensitivity to the characters which makes them difficult to embody, because they are given complex, intricate personalities. This is what Thierry Frémont succeeds in doing with genuine simplicity, with discretion, and far from the media. Because his work is, incontestably, his entire life, his very essence, so much so that for once, he refuses to pretend, or to act.

Portrait by Renaud Santa Maria, journalist and french writer.

Translation by Charlotte Buecheler.