Virgin Tonic: Eiffel, the crazy story around the film with Romain Duris

Eiffel, with Romain Duris and Emma Makey (seen in Sex Education), hits theaters today. But, do you know the story around the film? Sit down, it’s worth the detour.

This morning, Ginger talks to us about Caroline Bongrand. She is a writer and has published a dozen books and the latest is entitled “Eiffel et moi” (Editions Amphora). In 1997, at the age of 29, she left to study cinema in Los Angeles. The idea? She wants to become a screenwriter. Caroline gets an appointment with a producer… She makes him several pitches… But she can’t convince… A little upset, and on a bluff she answers him that she has something else but that it is too much tall, too good-looking and too expensive for him and that she’s not sure she wanted to tell him this story. however, he does not let her go: Caroline will end up bluffing by inventing a story: “Gustave Eiffel built his tower for a woman he loved madly and whose first name began with an A. You noticed that the Eiffel Tower has the shape of an A? It’s such a beautiful love story. No one has ever told it ”

Eiffel is released on October 13

It won’t take long for the producer to be excited about the idea: in 1998, she signed with this producer and a few months later they went to Paramount: There, it’s an absolute fairy tale: barely entered, the the director tells him that they are going to make the film, that Liam Neeson will be Gustave Eiffel… Except that the project falls apart… the reason? The producer was in fact the ex of the boss at Paramount …

In 1999, Caroline returned to Paris and summarized all her notes in a book which came out at the beginning of 2000. One day, she went on France Inter and on leaving an assistant told her “Bertrand de Labbey (director of the first artistic agency in Europe) called, he left a phone number, he must be called immediately ”. She then finds herself in her agency, Artmedia, and is told that Gérard Depardieu has listened to the program, he wants to play Eiffel. He spoke about it to Isabelle Adjani, who loved it, she wants to play Adrienne, she spoke to Luc Besson who wants to make the film. In two hours, they had completely assembled the project. Another problem, Luc Besson wants to make this film but by putting only his name. Caroline disagrees. Once again, the project fell through. For 15 years several renowned directors have been working on this project. But they give up one after the other.

In 2013, Giannina Facio, Ridley Scott’s wife, called Caroline to tell her that Ridley wanted to make her next film. Caroline replies that she does not yet have the rights, that she will collect them from a producer. It’s a clear stop: Ridley only works on new projects, which have not yet been seen by others …

In 2017, Vanessa Van Zuylen (she notably produced “Un homme à la mesure” with Jean Dujardin), who contacted her. Vanessa imagines Martin Bourboulon at the realization. However, it sets a condition for making the film: a very great screenwriter must adapt and modernize the screenplay. Thomas Bidegain then enters the scene (screenwriter of Jacques Audiard on De rouilles et d’os ou un prophète, among other things…) and good news, things are going well with Caroline. We then enter a period “a little technical for her”.

In 2020, she learns the filming dates from the press. Caroline asks to come on the set, she is told that it is very complicated. Fortunately, we end up allowing him to come (but on a stage without much interest, outside). She goes there and Romain Duris looks at her as if she were an alien, he had never heard her name …

Shortly after, they see each other with the director, Martin Bourboulon, and she understands that she has almost been ousted from the project many times. He tells her that a screenwriter is a thankless job, a painful job. She answers him that it just depends on who we work with…. The story ends in a happy ending, with a finalized project that is released today in the cinema, and its name in the screenplay, it took 23 years to achieve this result.

That says a lot about the difficulty of being a screenwriter today, a profession that is increasingly discredited.

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