What attracted you in this project?
Omar Sy : The story of Chocolate affected me. To be born a slave, to escape and to become an artist, it is an incredible course. I imagine the amount of courage and work he needed to get where he was. I also found interesting his success and downfall story. Chocolate made laugh with stereotypes about black people. When society evolved, began to consider them a little bit better, it did not want to laugh at that anymore. It was a good thing for the victims of racism, and a bad for him, because he sank into oblivion. Chocolate was an artist. I wanted that his story, his work and his talent are recognized. To finish, the period films with roles for black actors are rather rare.
Behind the figure of clown Chocolate, there is a man : Rafaël Padilla. How do you see him?
Omar Sy : Like a big kid who needs levity. To be born son of slave, and to have been a slave, that must have been hard for him. Without being a slave, you do not always feel that you are free. So, when it is factual as it was the case for Chocolate, I wonder how you can grow up, bloom. However, he got there. It is the sign of great strength. He found freedom in acting, laughing, pleasure. Besides, he should have to make a place. Once he was on top, maybe he wondered if he was in the right place. His moments of glory must have been the most painful to live for him. I imagine a life like roller-coaster : wonderful times followed by episodes of loneliness. According to me, if he eventually became a homeless, this may also because, unconsciously, he wanted it a little.
Among the similarities between your respective routes, like Chocolate, you married to a white woman, and both volunteers for sick children. Isn’t it a little bit disturbing?
Omar Sy : Indeed, for ten years, my wife is in charge of an association for sick children, and I visit hospitals to amuse them. So yes … When I found out that it was also the case for Marie and Chocolate, I sent shivers down my spine. That is also one of the reasons why this story particularly affects me. I was not born a slave. I am free, considered as a man on equal terms with another one. It is an enormous difference with Chocolat‘s life course. But, I can imagine what was going on in his head. Moreover, trying to understand him, I understood things in my character.
Extract Interview : Gaumont Presse