Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
He’s probably the most French of all American actors: John Malkovich is back home, back to France. He’s directing a play on the stage of the charming Théâtre de l’Atelier. Guess which one? The Dangerous Liaisons, of course.
Photo: © AFP, François Guillot
Here he is, back where it all started: on the stage of a theatre. But this time, John Malkovich is not an actor. More than two decades after he played the mean Vicomte de Valmont in Stephan Frears film Dangerous Liaisons, Malkovich is directing an adaption of the 18th century novel of Choderlos de Laclos by Christopher Hampton. The première is scheduled for tomorrow night, Thursday 12th of January. And it’s only then that we’ll tell you if some of his cold, intellectual aura has rubbed off on the production.
During the weeks of rehearsal, Malkovich rented an entire house in the 10th arrondissement so that his family could join him. From there he could walk to the theatre in Montmartre. He somehow became a Parisian during those weeks.
Until a couple of years ago, Malkovich lived with his family in Bonnieux, a lovely village in South of France. But a tax war with the French government made him leave in 2003. He then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and still seems to regret the move.
When you ask him, if he misses France, he rolls his eyes at the idiocy of the question – of course he does. When living in Bonnieux, he loved going to the market, he loved cooking, gardening. “I had so many fantastic years there. I couldn’t always be there because I’m on the road eight or nine months a year anyway, but I loved it.”
And Paris? Well, Malkovich is what you can call a gentleman farmer. He prefers the countryside to the city. But still, Paris is a source of inspiration: “I recognize everything that doesn’t exist anywhere else: like how the people walk in the street, their reactions, the architecture to which I’m really receptive.”
You might wonder which are his favourite places in Paris? Since the 1980’s, Malkovich has been fond of Hôtel Raphaël, the legendary hotel close to the Arc de Triomphe. He had three favoured rooms: the connecting 608 and 609 because you can see the Eiffel Tower when laying in bed; and the 511, a romantic triplex with a roof top terrace from which you can see Sacre Coeur and tout Paris.
As Malkovich is what they call a bon vivant here in France, he loves eating and enjoys the enormous choice of good restaurants in Paris. His best addresses? He recently celebrated his 58th birthday at Davé, a fashion canteen close to the Palais Royal. But guess what he loves more than anything? La choucroute, sauer kraut. So give it a try at Brasserie Bofinger. You might just run into John Malkovich.