Isabelle Adjani to Star in Louvre Thriller ‘Belphégor’ From ‘The King’s Favorite’ Director Josée Dayan

·3-min read

Isabelle Adjani is re-teaming with “The King’s Favorite” director Josée Dayan on the six-part mystery thriller “Belphégor.”

The acclaimed actress stars as the enigmatic 16th-century noblewoman and courtier Diane de Poitiers in “The King’s Favorite,” which premiered at the Unifrance Rendez-Vous on Monday.

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The €7.6 million ($7.5 million), four-part series, produced by Dayan’s Passion Films and sold internationally by France TV Distribution, examines de Poitiers’ complicated relationship with the young French king, Henry II (played by Hugo Becker), that lasted more than two decades. The large ensemble cast also includes Samuel Labarthe, Virginie Ledoyen and Gérard Depardieu.

Adjani next stars in an action-comedy helmed by Mélanie Laurent, which is set to go into production next week, Adjani told Variety.

Adjani is also set to star in a TV thriller alongside Benjamin Biolay likewise to be directed by Dayan later this year and described as in the style of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Diabolique.”

She is then set to follow that up with “Belphégor,” written by Maxime Chattam and based on the 1927 novel by French writer Arthur Bernède about a mysterious phantom sighted in the Louvre and a young man’s investigation into the strange goings-on at the famed Paris museum.

The story was adapted as a 1927 silent movie serial by Henri Desfontaines and again as the 1965 French TV series “Belphegor, or Phantom of the Louvre.”

Dayan also hopes to land John Malkovich for her new version, which will be shot in black and white.

On working with Dayan in “The King’s Favorite,” Adjani said what particularly attracted her to the role of de Poitiers was “the fact that she’s such a mystery to the whole world, that everybody knows her, but no one knows anything about her, except for a few facts, that she was Henry II’s mistress and that she was in the environment of [Henry’s father] Francis I.

“I love the idea of getting to be part of this discovery of a character who was really alive but whom everyone has everything to discover about, like I did for ‘Camille Claudel’ – no one knew the sculptress that she was, that she was Rodin’s mistress. I was really happy to do this and this was my first concern and to do it with Josée Dayan. She was so eager to enter this part of the Renaissance.”

For Dayan, bringing de Poitiers to life was a passion project that she had to make and it had to be with Adjani. “It was her complete personality,” she stressed, describing de Poitiers as an “intriguing, political woman” whose charm, intellect and hunger for power made her an influential force in France’s royal court. She was also “a feminist pioneer.”

Dayan’s lavish production has drawn praise for its cinematic style.

“There’s cinema in this miniseries,” Adjani said. “For me it’s more like a film in two parts than a miniseries.”

Indeed, Adjani said there was little difference in working on ‘The King’s Favorite’ than on her other big-screen historical dramas, “except that we didn’t have enough time, not enough money and it was all about making that not visible. If there was a challenge for Josée Dayan, this is it. We didn’t go for 10 takes; we had like one or two, maybe three. But we just felt completely united and ready to go for it. There was no wasted time.”

“There was an amazing desire and energy with everyone,” Dayan added. Working efficiently within your budget is not enough, however, she said, stressing that cast and crew have to be dedicated to the project and to one another. “There was an amazing energy that carried the whole film.”

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