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French Series Witnesses available in the US: Interview with Marie Dompnier

French Series Witnesses available in the US (more information here)

Interview with Marie Dompnier: “The director had advised me to watch The Killing and Homeland for inspiration”

The French TV Show by Marc Herpoux and Hervé Hadmar, Witnesses (Les Témoins) starring  Thierry Lhermitte is currently available on iTunes (first episode free), Amazon and Netflix in the United States (with English subtitles). These 6-part French drama series have had a huge success in France and have already been critically acclaimed in the US (see the NY Times review).

Marie Dompnier who plays Sandra the lead detective answers to a few questions for Frenchculture.org:

1.       Your background was mostly in theater before being cast for Witnesses, for which you received an award for your performance. How did you prepare ? Were you inspired by other shows or actors? 

I prepared like crazy working on the script. I met with a woman police detective and got a chance to spend a day observing her work. Hervé Hadmar the director had advised me to watch The Killing and Homeland for inspiration. Claire Danes was clearly a big inspiration and I think she’s hugely talented.


2.       The New York Times said that you have “an especially rich role”. Your character Sandra is a complex woman in a masculine environment. How would you define her? Why does she have to wear heels all the time?

Sandra is a character that’s frightened to death by the fact that things end and people die. To counter her fear she wants to control everything which is obviously impossible. It was very interesting for me to play this character and the paradox she has of being very anxious and never showing it to anyone. As for the heels that’s really a sign for her to prove that you can be a cop but also being a woman.


3.       Little by little Sandra’s relationship with Paul , the former police chief (French star Thierry Lhermitte) changes. What was it like to work with a star like Thierry Lhermite? What was it like to shoot in the beautiful but cold landscapes of the North of France?

It was an amazing experience to work with Thierry as he’s a real gentleman and certainly not behaving like a movie star and we got to really work together which is great. The landscapes of the North were very inspiring as they are real DNA of the series. But wearing heels was not so great as my feet were cold every single day !


4.       Witnesses has been very successful in France and has been sold all over the world. What makes it so successful?

I don’t know but this is really awesome. I guess Herve Hadmar really created a very unique atmosphere that people were very intrigued about. Herve is also an immensly talented director.


5.       More and more French TV shows are available in the US.  Police dramas (The SpiralBraquo, and now Witnesses) but also other genres (The ReturnedA French VillageMaison Close) are available on US platforms or TV.  Do you think there is a revival of the French TV shows?

There is certainly a great trend indeed. Tv broadcasters trust authors more and more and give them the keys to create their own universes and bring them to the audience.


6.       What are your next projects? Will there be a season 2 of Witnesses?

I’m a shooting a tv movie this Summer for [the French TV channel] Arte with Denis Podalydes which is an adaptation of Le Passe Murailles the famous novel from Marcel Aymé. And I’ll be in a new theater play this Fall in Paris. As for WITNESSES season 2 is currently being written by Herve Hadmar and Marc Herpoux and I hope it will be as exciting as season 1 !