Despite its hieratic image, French actors have a sense of humor. It is the unsuspected teaching of the series Call my agent, one of the biggest phenomena of the gala television in recent times, whose first two seasons have just premiered in Cosmo (Movistar +). This comedy is carried out by four agents who represent the great stars of French cinema, invited to interpret themselves at the rate of one per episode.
Although, at the beginning, the most famous interpreters resisted participating in the project, for fear that it would be harmful to their image. "Culturally, in France we are not used to laughing at ourselves," jokes the creator and showrunner of the series, Fanny Herrero, during an interview in Paris. Everything changed with the success of the first season. "The actors understood that they were not at risk. Rather the other way around: participating in the series made them seem closer. For them, it was like getting rid of a load, "says Herrero, great-granddaughter of Galician emigrants, who has since become the most sought-after screenwriter of French television.
Among the participants there are names as well known as Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Adjani, Monica Bellucci, Jean Dujardin, Cécile de France, Julie Gayet or Isabelle Huppert, who accepted to interpret a hilarious version of herself, even more neurotic and multi-employed.
Call my agent, whose first season he supervised the filmmaker Cédric Klapisch (A crazy house), is inspired by the memories and experiences of Dominique Besnehard, which for decades was the most legendary agent of French cinema, with actresses such as Jeanne Moreau, Sophie Marceau, Emmanuelle Béart and Charlotte Gainsbourg in its client portfolio. In 2007 he left everything to advise the socialist Ségolène Royal, with whom he ended up fighting, in his attempt to reach the Elysee. Then he created his own production company, with which he has turned this series into reality. Its original title is Ten percent, the commission that an agent takes when getting a contract for his client.
Besnehard ensures that all the plots are true. The reality is a little more complex, although in all of them there is a residue of accuracy. "We start from things observed by him or by me, by the writers or by the actors. Then we transform and intensify them, because we must not forget that we are doing a comedy, "says Herrero. The series had a long gestation in the French Channel Plus, but the chain ended up discarding it. It was rescued by public television in a less cynical version and more suitable for the whole family, which takes it away from the pure sarcasm that characterized series such as Additional features or Entourage, which also featured actors known as guests.
Smith insisted on opening Call my agent to social issues such as feminism or homosexuality. "I never wanted it to be just a series about a professional environment, but also about the Paris of today," he says. He also worked on the psychology and empathy of the viewer with respect to its protagonists, inspired by mythical series such as Two meters underground or The west wing of the White House. After its premiere in 2015, Call my agent He triumphed immediately, seducing four million spectators each week. "The chain was afraid that the small miseries of the business would not interest anyone. I believe that the spectator always wants to get into places he does not know. It was the uniqueness of the series that led to its success. For once, it was not a series of doctors, lawyers or police, "says Herrero.
The showrunner abandonment Call my agent in November, just before the start of the fourth season, which predicts that it will be the last. "I've been working on the series for almost seven years and I want to tell other stories …", he explains. Catapulted by its success on Netflix, which distributes Call my agent In many countries, Herrero seems to aim high. Her future could direct her to the United States, where she has been signed by the UTA agency, which represents filmmakers like Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers. "It's possible, but it's not my biggest fantasy either. This is my culture and I prefer to write about what I know. My priorities are still France and Europe. In my country, for example, there has been a great renovation in recent years. I see a creative energy that I did not see before, "he says, referring to titles such as Les revenants or Office of infiltrators. Hereinafter, Call my agent adds to that same podium.