As season 2 of “I promise you” continues tonight on TF1, Narcisse Mame tells us all about these new episodes, the evolution of Mathis, the arrival of Rose in the series, and her relationships with her playing partners .
AlloCiné: If we go back to the very beginning of the adventure I promise you, what did you like about the project and about the character of Mathis when you took the tests?
Mame Narcissus : Basically it was not acquired for me. I hesitated for a long time before making my decision, in the sense that I find that series adaptations are not always successful. And This is Us is an institution in the United States, it’s a huge success and it’s very rooted in American culture. I had a lot of fears at that level, but I quickly met the producer and the directors who reassured me.
And on reading the first scripts for season 1, I said “banco” because there was this intelligence to make this adaptation something very French, which is also very rooted in our own culture, whether either at the level of the references or the music. Even if the project comes from the United States, when you watch I promise you, you are really looking at a French series with French characters.
You mention This Is Us, the original series from which I promise you is adapted. Did you see her before we started filming? Where have you caught up with her since?
No, I refused to see her, because I don’t want to be influenced in any way by the character and the American comedian. Once the adventure is over, I think I’ll watch This Is Us to see how the actors have interpreted the different characters, but for now I prefer not to know anything about the American version.
From the first episode, we feel an obvious chemistry between your partners and you. We believe in this Gallo family. It immediately stuck between Marilou Berry, Guillaume Labbé, and you?
In fact, Guillaume and I already knew each other because we had worked together on Trauma. It’s funny, by the way, because once the filming of Trauma was finished, we talked about each other’s projects with my partners, and I told Guillaume that I was going to shoot in The Eddy, Damien’s next series. Chazel. And he teased me a “big project”, adding that he couldn’t tell me more.
And a year later, when I’m hesitating and discussing the series with the directors, Guillaume calls me and says “I’m telling you, the big series I was talking about is Je promise then join me in the adventure”. And there, of course, that gave me one more reason to go for it.
As for the meeting with Marilou, it was a real no-brainer right away. I had only heard good things about her and we really got along as if we had known each other for years. It works super well and it shows on the screen. When there is an alchemy between actors and actresses, there is something quite real that shows through on the screen, that does not lie.
The couple you form on screen with Léonie Simaga also works very well. How did you work on the Mathis-Agnès relationship?
There is this kind of discrepancy that works well in their relationship, it’s true. We feel that the “roles” are reversed. It is she who keeps the house, and he who is more feverish. It’s a fair balance actually. This is Mathis in all his characterization. Because he had this fragility, he was adopted, and he had trouble finding his place, he could only end up with a woman who had more confidence than him.
And what is interesting is that in season 2 we notice stronger, more intense arguments, because on Agnès’ side there is a form of weariness with this husband who is too unstable and who has difficulty in managing their emotions. And at the same time there is a form of affirmation in Mathis who no longer wants to suffer and who wants to go through with what he has decided to do. It’s really confrontational, I really like the way their relationship is evolving.
Marilou Berry co-directed the twelve episodes of season 2. Is it disturbing at the start to be directed by your playing partner?
No, I did not take the news with concern, on the contrary. I found it interesting to have his point of view. Especially since we didn’t have so many sequences together in this second season. She was more behind the camera when it came to my scenes. And what was positive is that she knew the characters like the back of her hand. And she really succeeded in her work as a director. We all sent messages after the broadcast of the first two episodes, she can be proud of her.
Season 1 ended with a very strong moment for Mathis, who had a kind of burn-out, depression following everything that the meeting with his biological father had been able to upset or wake up in him, and decided to change his life and to quit her job and become a foster family. When season 2 begins, young Rose enters his life. What can you say about how this plot will evolve?
It’s interesting because it’s Mathis in all his glory. In season 1, we saw a character very involved in his work for so many years, very rigid, very obtuse. He hasn’t really lost this obtuse side, but in season 2 we will realize that he experienced the death of his father in a very brutal way and that he has the feeling of not having taken advantage of his father enough. . So he says to himself “In my turn, I want to take time for my family, and I want to offer another child what I had myself when I was younger”.
Mathis’ reflection will therefore start from there. We see that at the start Agnès does not really agree. She would like him to take the time to think, but Mathis rushes, he goes. He thinks that his experience will allow him to manage the situation very simply. But very quickly he realizes that things are not at all how he imagined. Because he has a kid in front of him who is hurt inside. And it goes quickly to the clash. So he will have to let go of his rigid side to go into more down to earth relationships. But even if they have trouble getting along at first, Mathis and Rose will end up finding each other and will form very strong, very intense bonds.
How was the collaboration with Sandy Afiuni, the interpreter of Rose, who joined the I promise you family this season?
Sandy is a cream. She was very involved, and since she didn’t have a lot of experience, she was very attentive and very intelligent in the way she approached things. When she didn’t know, she didn’t hesitate to ask, to take advice from Guillaume, Marilou, Léonie, or me.
And on several occasions I said to him “Listen, you are doing things very well, trust yourself more, it is you who will give the true color to this character”. And when we see the first episodes we realize that she really transformed the essay.
It is also the season that explains the circumstances of Paul’s death and partly explains why things are so tense between Mathis and Michaël. Are it precisely the wounds and flaws of your characters that are the most interesting to play?
Sure. As I like to say, you never heal from your childhood wounds, and that’s what this series reveals. And that’s why viewers like I promise you. When we have experienced traumas during childhood, they follow us throughout our lives.
We may have a good career as a footballer, a good job as a trader, children, or be accomplished, we realize that in front we act as if everything was fine, but that once all alone these kinds of injuries resurface and are very complicated to manage. This is what is super interesting in the series.
It’s the first time you’ve played a character in so many episodes and seasons. What do you remember from this experience so far?
There are bound to be very strong affinities and links that are created because we are all in the same boat. And it works, so we congratulate each other, we encourage each other, we wonder how we are going to do to transform the test the following season. There is a real solidarity on this shoot and within the team, it’s very interesting to experience.
And, fortunately, we work with easy-going people, and I think that’s very important on a long series like this. Because if there is not this agreement behind, it seems very difficult to me to consider continuing on so many episodes and so many seasons. But on I promise you, everything is going well, with everyone. When we meet again a year later to resume filming, it’s as if we had parted ways the day before.
Isn’t it too frustrating not to share any scenes with Camille Lou and Hugo Becker?
Yes, of course. We work on the same series, we give the same energy, while we evolve in two different worlds. And we hardly see each other, except during certain previews. And the only times I had to go to La Rochelle to shoot flashback scenes, we immediately wanted to stay together, we didn’t want to be separated, but I had to get back to Paris to shoot the rest of my sequences.
So there is this kind of frustration, but what’s great is that when you watch the series you let yourself be totally taken by the sequences that take place in the past. We discover them at the same time as the viewers and we see the work that is done by all the actors, including those who play us younger. There is a real common tone between the two “periods” of the series, and that’s beautiful.
Precisely, were you able to meet Mahamadou Yaffa and Dembo Camilo, the actors who play Mathis as a child and teenager? Did you talk a bit with them?
Not really. With Mahamadou, who plays Mathis as a child, we ran into each other quickly at the production office, because I had asked to meet him during the casting to sympathize and create a bond. And Dembo, no, I’ve never met him, but we send each other messages, we chat on Instagram.
I am delighted with the work they are doing because, even without having worked together on the character, when I see them playing Mathis as a child or teenager, I see the same character that Mathis has when he is an adult. There is real intelligence in the writing.
This is Us having had six seasons, one can assume that I promise you will last that long if the success continues. Is it a bit distressing to see yourself committed for the long term like that or, on the contrary, is it a rather comfortable situation for an actor, especially with such a rich role?
Inevitably, when it works, we want it to continue. But you shouldn’t overdo the season either. You shouldn’t want to shoot up to seven or eight seasons in France because it works, especially if you don’t have much to tell. It’s a real balance to find. When you end a season on a good note, you obviously want to meet again the following year. But we have to keep this chemistry that we have created between us and continue to have quality scenarios.
Do you have other projects to come while waiting for a possible season 3 of I promise you?
I’m on a first role that should materialize soon, but I’m not allowed to talk about it. And I’m also going to work on the Ouija series for France 2. We’ll start reading in a few days and we’ll be filming in early March. I loved the script, I met the director, and I find that compared to what France 2 is used to doing, it’s really off the beaten track.