Liaison is now streaming exclusively on Apple TV+ and ahead of its premiere, we were recently able to sit down with the show's star Vincent Cassel (Jason Bourne; Ocean's Twelve) and get some additional insight into the exciting spy action thriller series.
Cassel portrays a spy named Gabriel, who is forced to reunite with his former lover Alison (Eva Green), and work with her to stop a dangerous group of international cyber-terrorists who are threatening the UK, while simultaneously confronting their tumultuous past and the destructive end to their relationship.
In our lengthy chat, we discuss crafting a realistic spy story, how his work on Jason Bourne informed this role, developing absolutely electric chemistry with Eva Green (Casino Royale; Dark Shadows), and a whole lot more.
Watch the full video interview below and please remember to SUBSCRIBE to my channel!
ROHAN: Compared to movies like Mission: Impossible and Jason Bourne, which are highlighted by their epic action, this new series has a very real depiction of spies and their work life. Was that something that appealed to you when signing on for the project?
VINCENT: Thank you very much. That's the whole point, really, and even just from an actor point-of-view, that's what I wanted to come across with. I wanted the thing to be gritty and real and, these guys, people who are doing that kind of job, the one I'm doing in the movie - mercenaries, to say the word are people that have been able to watch from behind the curtain. And of course, their vision of the world is dark and pessimistic and cynical. So, I guess to counterbalance that, you need to have a bit of a sense of humor, and a bit of casualness, and so, I've tried to make a character that would portray these kind of paradoxes.
ROHAN: It's rare that we see the lead hero get beat up as much as you get beat up in this series. When you're stepping into the role of Gabriel, what was your viewpoint on his mindset?
VINCENT: I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be lonely. Because that's how they live. This guy is more or less my age, and I guess at some point of your life, you realize that if that's all you've done in your life, you need to have somebody. And when you have this kind of life, you cannot have anybody in your life, because otherwise you put them in danger. So, it's a turning point for him. He wants to have a new life, but he's just not capable of that.
ROHAN: Your character is also very withholding and has this very intense history with Eva Green's character Alison, who you're sharing a secret with. What kind of challenge does that present when you're acting in a series like this but also have to have this withholding characteristic?
VINCENT: I never really thought about it as a six-episode series. I worked on it like it was one big movie, and so the way they cut it is out of my hand. So, I don't think about that while I'm shooting, you know, I just have the arch of the character. I think the main arch of the whole series is actually that impossible passion between the two of them, you know, and it's the way they discover each other, and sometimes they let it go and then, they turn their back on each other. It's all about, as you said, the unsaid.
ROHAN: Your chemistry with Eva Green is electric, was that something where you two arrived on set Day One and immediately hit it off? Or was that something you guys worked on together prior to shooting?
VINCENT: No, we've never really talked about it, because I mean with some people, you don't really have to talk and I was so curious, and I wanted to work with her so much. She was one of the main reasons why I accepted the show, to be honest. When people are interested in one another, there is electricity, you know, when there is curiosity and the pleasure to work together and to be on set together. Things are happening. She's very instinctive. I am like that too, as an actor. So, by the time we got on set, we were ready to rumble.
ROHAN: There's a lot of action in the show, was there any one sequence that stood out to you?
VINCENT: Well, on an action level, what was challenging is that I didn't want to be the type of spy that we normally see. I wanted to be more realistic than that. So, for example, what we decided is that I would do the choreography of my own fights, and so I cut everything to make it drier, more efficient, more discreet, maybe not as visual, but with more effectiveness.
ROHAN: I loved the last Jason Bourne movie and you were awesome as The Asset, and especially in that fight scene with Matt Damon. Did you use that Asset character as a potential reference point for Gabriel? Like maybe you didn't want to be like that or maybe you wanted to imagine him as a younger Gabriel?
VINCENT: It's exactly what you said. That's exactly what I didn't want to do. I really enjoyed working on Jason Bourne, and that was a type of movie that was - it's a really Hollywood movie, and the fight never ends and everything, but that's the opposite here. I mean, when the action takes over the story, to me, there is a problem. I mean, this is less my kind of thing. There, I think the action is something on the perimeter, you know, it's not the most important thing. So, we just do it fast, and we move to the next thing, like these guys do.
ROHAN: This show mixes a bunch of different genres, from action to romance to drama and even a bit of comedy - is there a particular element of the show that appeals to you more than the other?
VINCENT: Well, the most pleasurable thing really is to act more than to fight, and to run around, and I mean, the visual stuff, I know will look good at the end. So, it's important to do them properly, but the most interesting thing is really when you enter a scene with somebody you really respect, and you don't know how it's gonna work out. So, for that matter, I mean, everything I had to do with Eva was super interesting, because I could feel the tension, I could feel that it was always subtle, and it was impossible. It was impermissible. And I mean, that's the thrill of being an actor, I think, more than the action thing.
ROHAN: You mentioned it earlier, but did it help knowing that the show was a six-episode series versus a movie since you had more time to develop your character?
VINCENT: Well, the thing is that you can see when you read the thing that it's already developed in the script, so you can see that there's things that wouldn't fit in a two hour movie, but once again, when you're shooting - first of all, you don't shoot in order, as we know, so you come and it's all about the present really. The job of an actor is to be in the present, mostly, I mean, there are people who say no, but I mean, it's two scenes ago, you know, there's a continuity person for that. You have to make the shot, even more than the sequence. You have to make the shot work. If the shot works, whatever happens before and after, it doesn't matter as much.
Vincent Cassel and Eva Green star as agents—and former lovers—who must work together to combat international cyberattacks threatening the UK while also confronting the buried secrets of their destructive relationship.