Karl E. Landler is a comedian who became successful thanks to SyFy’s science-fiction series : Metal Hurlant and TF1’s family series A Great Family and Profiling. He was also Jason Statham’s stunt double in The Transporter and a Director for Duo and Sitting Duck, two short films available on Youtube. And all this led him to a first role in an American film.
In Christmas in Paris, directed by Justin D. Gryck, Karl plays Lucas, a rich French entrepreneur who will fall in love with Robin, a young American, ex-model and artistic director of the company Fortuna, with only one dream: return to Paris.
Meeting with Karl E. Landler, star of the movie: Christmas in Paris.
It is your first big role, How did you become the star of the movie Christmas in Paris ?
I did the casting in Los Angeles. My managers told me about a casting there. I did not know what it was, except it was a Christmas movie. At this point, I did not know if Lucas was the main role or a guest. I wasn’t too confident, but I went through the auditions. It was a Monday. On Wednesday, I received an answer from the producers who seemed interested. But I still did not know the place I would have in this production ! My managers then told me this was the main role. As you could expect, I was thrilled. However, « to be interested » does not necessarily mean that one has the role. But the next day, I got the role of Lucas, on Friday we signed the contracts and on Monday I was on the plane to Canada for filming. It went super-fast. The filming lasted 6 weeks. But the real surprise is that it was M6 who suggested me to the producers of the film. And it’s a channel I have never worked with! I was so proud that they thought of me for the producers. It’s very flattering.
Is that a way for M6 to try and see, and maybe offer you another role in one of their future productions ?
Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe when they will start producing – because I don’t know if they produce, they mainly co-produce and delegate to other productions.
What’s the link between Harlequin Film and M6 ? Did M6 simply buy the rights for the movie ?
M6 does not physically produces the movies, but they buy the movie before it is shot. In short, they buy the concept, invest in it. It’s a kind of pre-purchase. That’s how the film is financed: several pre-purchases from different countries, and certainly a financial model pre-exists within their countries as we have in France.
Let’s get back to the casting, was it in front of the director ? The producers ?
I did it at home! It’s something common here in Los Angeles. They send you a scene and you record yourself. I find it more enjoyable as a way of proceeding. You can be original, go against the odds, make a real proposal. When you are in a room facing the casting director, he/she imposes things to you. But when the casting director enjoys his job, you know you’re going to enjoy yourself, he/she will really help you and let you free. However this is unfortunately not always the case. Sometimes, they are less attentive, tired of their day and it can be a lot more frightening, stressing and not enjoyable. In my case, it was more of a « hit-or-miss », nevertheless you can make a strong and personal submition.
Part of the film takes place in Paris. We can see Notre-Dame. However, I heard that the burning of the Cathedral took place during the shooting of the film. So you relocated the filming in Lyon, am I right ?
Absolutely. It was planned to shoot in Paris, for the glamorous side emanating from the capital in romantic movies and shoot in mythical places like Notre-Dame and the quays of the Seine, etc… Unfortunately, the fire ravaged our beautiful monument. The film crew has turned to Lyon, which is quite close to Paris on some aspects.
Filming in Lyon might lose a bit of « Paris’ magic ». Being forced to change the environment, being in a city less romantic than Paris, etc… Did that make it more difficult for you when you had to shoot the scenes together?
No, we really didn’t feel the changing. We hope to be good enough comedians so that the public does not see that we have « Lyonnese emotions » and not « Parisian emotions » ! But some scenes were still shot in Paris, especially on the Quays of the Seine. However, we would not move to Lyon only for a day of shooting and we decided to make several plans there, in different places. In itself, it did not bother us more than that. It’s a pity not to have been able to turn on the Notre-Dame square of course, the disaster took place 2-3 days before, but it was not this bad for us, as an actor to shoot somewhere else.
How did you feel when Notre-Dame burnt ?
I was a bit shocked. I spend a lot of my time in Paris, I love to walk there and I always saw it, even from a distance. When we live in Paris, we often walk by, we take a selfie on the forecourt, we bring friends to see when they come to visit Paris, these create memories. Now we only wonder how they will rebuild it, how it will reborn from its ashes. I did not have the opportunity to see the extent of the damage in person, nor even how the reconstruction was going since we went back to Canada very quickly and after, I returned to L.A.
As you live in the US, how did they feel about this tragedy ?
It is quite famous so, everyone who had the chance to visit it posted photos they had taken on social medias, shared their memories of Notre Dame with a touching word. It was very touching. When such a tragedy happens, there is a great surge of solidarity, people are getting closer by sharing their memories, even from the other side of the world.
Aside from being cautious regarding your English, what were the other difficulties you might have encountered on the set ?
The challenge was to keep being attentive to my partners, because they are great professionals. We also needed to trust each other. But what is really nice is that no one tried to outshine the others, everyone respected our private space. Regarding this, everything was just fine. However the real challenge was the cold. There were blizzards. You wake up at -11°C, snow was flying everywhere, it was a real nightmare. And when you have to arrive on set at 6 in the morning in a suit you know it’s going to be tough! You have to get out of the limousine, walk in the snow, then see the beautiful Robin and you have to make your most beautiful smile while the only thing you have in mind is that you’re cold! Pro tip: I put warmers in my shoes, my lower back and my stomach ! We had to say our part but I was teeth-chattering anyway. So, you clench your teeth until you hear « action ». And when you hear « cut » your teeth are chattering again, people on the set cover you with a kind of coat – for the time they change the camera lens and other the technical things. It was a good challenge.
At the beginning of the film, we can see you waver in the snow. Was it in the script ?
Honestly, It was improvisation. I was wearing very smooth shoes and I was having fun scaring the director, who was already afraid that I would hurt myself. He did not know that I had been a full-time stuntman before devoting myself 100% to comedy, I took the opportunity to offer him and the crew some frights (laughs) ! They didn’t keep the craziest one though, I had made a funnier one. But, I’m glad they kept one and probably the other one was a bit out from the movie…
Rebecca Dalton’s character, Robin, who is your character’s girlfriend, wants to live in Paris. What are the places you would recommend to someone coming in Paris for the first time ?
The places in Paris that I frequent a lot are located in the 9ème arrondissement, between Opera and the Moulin Rouge. I love being here. There are cheap little breweries and very trendy bars where you can eat new cooking mixed with the flavors of the world. Quiet places where you can come and work on your laptop. No need for specific addresses, there are enough options in this district. I like to walk around the Grand Boulevard as well. I love walking in Paris. I am very curious and I like to discover new small streets, etc… And above all, do not be afraid of working-class neighborhoods, that’s where a lot of cool things or events happen. Finally, a sandwich I love is « Chez Grégoire », every product is fresh and it’s delightful.
For the people who didn’t see Christmas in Paris, which will be airing on Teva on December 22 (in France), is there every ingredient in that film which makes a good Christmas movie ?
Yes, I think we kept the same codes. I did not see every single Christmas movie as we produce 100 a year (laughs), but we kept these codes of the end of the year, this light tone, this feeling of hope. t’s a very formatted thing, you’re not going to have any complications, a complex plot, it’s hopeful. People want to see happy-ending Christmas movies, they do not want to cry (apart from emotion). Christmas in Paris was not there to revolutionize the genre but to give the viewer (which we imagine with his hot chocolate and cookies in front of the television at this time of the year) a great time. There are surprises, of course, poignant moments, but the overall scheme of the film is the same as the others. We will not put zombies in it, you see (laugh). Honestly, I’m glad there were surprises. People who have already seen it have loved this too and it has also allowed them to travel (in a way) to Paris. And then, Paris, city of lights, is considered to be the most romantic city in the world, so we did not change the codes. We had no reason to mess things up. Die Hard did it very well but in an extreme way (laugh). We put tinsels in the tree, he shot bullets on people (laugh) !
Justin D. Gryck directed the movie, he’s used to Christmas Movies. How was he in real life? What kind of director is he ?
We have to talk about Canadians first. They are incredibly nice. It’s one of my best filming memories. Justin is Canadian, he was so sweet and very discreet. He lets you do your job, observes the way you work for the first days and never comes to say : Do this, do that. He allows you to evolve, it’s a way for him to get to know you and see how you proceed in your art, in your acting. Then he uses your assets. Personally, I always try to come with ideas. It seems simple, but if there are things around me, I will use them. If we are in a place where we eat, I will eat during my scene. Some actors do not do it, because they are a bit panicked. So I always try to interact with the set and the « instruments » made available. And as soon as Justin understood how I was working, he would say to me : « Here it is Karl, that’s the space, you have free rein, tell me what you want to do and I will help you ». Basically, if I asked for a waiter to bring me a coffee at some point in the scene, he would find someone to do that. He was very attentive to the actors and actresses and very genuine, he really knew how to use our strengths. We used to shoot 6 to 8 pages of script a day, which is huge, and when a comedian thinks before his staging, Justin is happy and ready to help ! And he’s a pro, he knows the codes of the romantic comedies, the camera angles, etc…
Do you have something to say about your partner Rebecca Dalton ?
She is adorable and funny. We started shooting in France, she was outsourced, but it brought me back to France, so we lived a little adventure from the very beginning where we got closer because we were directly thrown into the « romantic scenes ». When we shot in Paris and Lyon, there was a lot of improvisation, that’s where you communicate the most with your partner. There are also the laughs, due to improvisation, which makes it easier to get closer, to get over the fact that « we do not know each other » and, from a professional point of view, we better understand the way the other acts. But what I will remember from the set is definitely our laughs! In particular, all the scenes in a car. I’ll keep a good memory of our moments together. There is nothing else to say, she’s just adorable.
What is your most beautiful Christmas memory ?
It would be a recurrent one: The Christmas morning where you wake up and quickly run to open your presents. I shared these moments with my sister, and my mother, who was happy to see us after working all the year for this moment. My fondest memory comes from the fact that I do not have bad memories of Christmas time. I had a relatively normal childhood, my Christmas was nice, not transcendent, but very unified. Which is the most important in the end.
What is your favorite Christmas movie ?
I would say Die Hard. I’m a man of action after all! When I discovered this film, I was a teenager, I did not know Bruce Willis, I did not know that I was going to be an actor, and then I saw this guy running everywhere and from one scene to another he gets shot at! I was thinking to myself « This guy won’t stop running ! ». I was blown away from the beginning to the end of the film by this guy who gallops, launches hilarious jokes all the time and finishes exhausted and covered in blood. I saw it during the holidays and it quickly became my favorite Christmas movie. But Bridget Jones holds a dear place in my heart too. I like this story from a heroine point of view, and despite being a guy I really enjoyed it.
Buy Christmas In Paris’s DVD on Amazon, here.
Traduction : Trystan Doré