The Goat Life transcends language, speaks to everyone: Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis on Prithviraj Sukumaran film - Hindustan Times

The Goat Life transcends language, speaks to everyone: Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis on Prithviraj Sukumaran film

Mar 27, 2024 10:40 AM IST

Jimmy Jean-Louis exclusive interview: The The Goat Life actor talks about why he chose a Malayalam film as his first Indian project, and much more.

This is Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis’ first Indian movie and interestingly, he has chosen a Malayalam film to debut here. Jimmy, who lives in France, will be seen in Prithviraj Sukumaran’s The Goat Life (Aadujeevitham) as Ibrahim Khadiri, the local who helps Najeeb, the Malayali immigrant worker, during his journey in Saudi Arabia. Also read | Prithviraj Sukumaran exclusive interview: We wanted either Hans Zimmer or AR Rahman for The Goat Life

Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis will be seen with Prithviraj Sukumaran in The Goat Life.
Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis will be seen with Prithviraj Sukumaran in The Goat Life.

In this quick tete-a-tete with Hindustan Times, Jimmy talks about why he chose to do director Blessy’s The Goat Life, working with Prithviraj Sukumaran and the challenges he faced.

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Why did you choose to do this particular Indian film which is very different? Were you aware that Indian cinema was more than Bollywood?

You know from where I stood, every single Indian movie was a Bollywood movie! When this project came to me, I didn't know what it was about and I had a few questions. I was sent the script and then I researched a little bit about who was behind the movie. I realized that it was like a top star in his region and even nationally. And then, of course, the story of Najeeb itself was quite amazing and to also know that he was still alive. I wanted to do it straight away! There was also another factor that was extremely appealing - to go and shoot in Wadi Rum (Jordan) and in Timimoun in the Sahara Desert – it was an unbelievable experience. Of course, the journey for me on this film was not long like how it was for director Blessy or Prithviraj – it was just a few months.

What did you find most challenging in terms of the role and the film itself?

There’s one aspect which maybe one should really speak too much about but it’s the fact that it’s such a different culture (Indian cinema) and I couldn’t really understand what was going on. Most of the time things were not as clear - like it wasn’t scripted on paper as to what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, next week. It was very fluid and that was actually quite challenging. But at the same time, I knew how to distance myself and to accept that different way of filmmaking or conducting business. It was quite demanding because we faced sandstorms and that’s not easy to shoot in. Physically too, I have to carry Prithviraj in the film and it’s doable but a little tough in that environment. I had to learn to speak Arabic too.

You’d have worked with other international actors from. What do you think about Prithviraj as an actor?

Because I’ve worked in several markets (France, US) with all kinds of actors, you know, at this point, you know, I treat an actor as an actor. It's like, what do you do when they say action? That's really where you truly see an actor and not all the noise around them. I was definitely impressed by his commitment and how professional he was. He lost 31 kgs for this role and it’s not like he needed to do this because Prithviraj was already on top of his game. So, for an actor to do that, that says a lot about him. And for him to shoot for years in the desert, in the worst conditions, straight away, you know, that you’re dealing with someone that is not just your normal typical actor who’s doing the job to be seen or to be famous. The film industry is a very competitive business and India is a competitive place because of the number of actors around. If anyone finds their way to the top, it's because there are qualities that help you go in there. I saw him as a top actor, the same way that I would look at Harrison Ford or Bradley Cooper - just similar actors from a different region.

Do you want to see The Goat Life dubbed in French and released?

I think it should be dubbed or subtitled in all languages because I think it is a movie that speaks to everybody. If you are human, then you will love this movie. Visually speaking, sometimes you don't even need the language to understand what is going on. It is very easy to understand and get that emotional connect. With the strength of distribution this movie has, I think it should really be seen by as many markets as possible in as many languages as possible.

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