Ben Attal, from the kitchen to the sets: “I always dreamed of being an actor, but I was ashamed to admit it”

The day before the first day of filming for Les Rois de la piste, a film by Thierry Klifa, in theaters on March 13, Ben Attal was not feeling very well. He still remembers it. “I have to get up at 5 a.m. to go to Cherbourg. To help me get off my two packs of cigarettes a day, my wife put a wire in my ear to block the receptors or whatever. But, without nicotine, I have crazy insomnia. In the middle of the night, I beg her to cut the damn wire with a razor! » He barely sleeps, takes the train. ” I want to cry. I think of the first scene. It’s stressful, I have to play the woman of my life with an actress I’ve never met! And then, I arrive on set, everyone is an angel, life becomes pleasant…”

So goes Ben Attal, 26 years old, anxious and sentimental, tattoos here and there, a little on edge at having swapped the ashtrays full of Marlboro butts on his bedside table for a reasonable anti-smoking patch under his sweater. The rest of the filming of Les Rois de la piste, a tender heist comedy, went smoothly, confronting him with a sparkling cast who make up his on-screen gangster family: Fanny Ardant at her best, Mathieu Kassovitz with graceful neurasthenia , Nicolas Duvauchelle more queer than ever… “Actors who make you forget that you are working, who allow you to indulge in camaraderie,” greets Attal, an instinctive actor.

“Ben combines real depth of play and the remains of a kid who waits for us to frame him, to protect him, to scold him,” notes Thierry Klifa, who offered him the role after being seized, in 2022, by her appearance in A young girl who is doing well, by Sandrine Kiberlain. “Protect yourself, put some distance,” said the filmmaker to the one he directed in the role of a vengeful and seething son. “There is necessarily something of us that filters into a character,” recognizes Ben Attal. Even Christian Bale had to put some of him in American Psycho . » So there, an angry twenty-something caught in a tormented relationship with his father… “Yeah, yeah, it leaked! », he laughs modestly.

“The sexiest job in the world”

Crown prince of the Attal-Gainsbourg-Birkin dynasty, publicized among the French for decades, Ben Attal calls himself “very family” . With the phrasing of “Yvan” and the veiled grain of “Charlotte”, as he refers to his parents, he delicately evokes this paternal grandfather who transmitted to him the reflex of morning prayer, wearing tefillin; praises large tables and festive Shabbats. And lets us guess his taste for the home when he proudly says “my wife”, to slip in an anecdote about his wife, a consultant in the luxury sector, who accompanies him to the café where we meet him.

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