Rupert Friend as Chéri: Chéri

I do not have a concern to make the character [Cheri] likable. I have a concern to play him truthfully. I believe that if you can discover something of the truth of a person, then you will start to understand, and to understand is to move towards, if not like, then at least an empathy of some kind. Colette wrote a very complicated young man, and I don’t think he was a standard, square-jawed hero—quite the reverse in many ways—and when you start to look at why that might have been: What has kept him a child for so long? Was it Léa’s fault? Could you put it at her feet? Is it his mother’s fault? Is it society’s faulty? Or was he just born that way? It’s more interesting than trying to paint a sympathetic picture every time.

Rupert Friend for cinemablend

Set in 1900s Belle Époque Paris, Chéri tells the story of the affair between an aging retired courtesan, Léa, and a flamboyant young man, Fred, nicknamed “Chéri” (“Dear” or “Darling”).
Although Léa plans on keeping Chéri around for a short while, their affair turns into a six-year ordeal, in which Léa has begun paying for Chéri’s expenses, and Chéri wears Léa’s silk pajamas and pearls. The two believe their affair to be casual, and Léa learns Chéri’s mother, Charlotte, has arranged for Chéri to marry the daughter of another courtesan, a barely eighteen-year-old named Edmée. Although Chéri does not wish to marry Edmée, it is made clear that he has no choice in the matter. Léa kicks him out of her home, but makes Chéri promise to always be gentle and kind with Edmée, and to try to give her a good life. After Chéri agrees, the two part ways. Léa does not attend the wedding, and Chéri and Edmée leave for their honeymoon. It is only after Chéri is on the train to Italy for his honeymoon that both he and Léa realise they are in love with each other. Chéri rapes Edmée and, while taking her virginity, realises that while sex with Edmée is strained and painful, sex with Léa was easy and fun. Léa visits Charlotte one last time before running off on vacation, making up a story in which she is involved in with another suitor, when in fact the only man Léa beds while on vacation is a young bodybuilder whom she has no feelings for and regards as a one-night stand.
Meanwhile, Edmée accuses Chéri of not caring about her, and says all he ever does is think of Léa. While out on the town with a friend, Chéri tries opium and cocaine, and on his way back he notices that Léa’s apartment is no longer empty, and she has returned home. Comforted by the fact that Léa has returned, Chéri runs home to Edmée where he makes love to her properly and kindly, thinking that he can now live in peace with Edmée. He sends Charlotte the next day to inspect Léa’s home, whereupon Léa says she is madly in love with her new “suitor”, and learns (falsely) from Charlotte that Chéri and Edmée are crazily in love and happier than ever. That night, after hearing from Charlotte that Léa is in love with her suitor, Chéri breaks into her home and admits he loves her. The two spend one more night together and plan on running away. In the morning, however, Léa apologizes to Chéri for “ruining him” and making life too easy on him when they first begun their affair. Léa tells Chéri to go back to Edmée, for their age difference would always prevent a true relationship blossoming between them. Tentatively, Chéri leaves. Léa stares into her mirror at her aging face, and the narrator reveals she is angry for being born two decades before Chéri. The narrator also reveals that, after a while, Chéri realises that Léa was the only woman he could ever love, and he commits suicide. (*)

Chéri (2009)
Director: Stephen Frears
Writers: Christopher Hampton, Colette (novels)
Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates, Frances Tomelty, Tom Burke

I didn’t connect with my character at first, largely because he didn’t seem to have a character. As Léa says, one of the weird things about him is that he’s this blank page with no opinions or desires or wants. So it’s very hard to know how you play it, because there’s no character. So the great challenge for me over the time I was preparing it was to unearth that vulnerable little boy who’s hiding behind that little charade you see.

Rupert Friend for femalefirst

I think it was the idea of somebody who has everything they could possibly want, and none of it means a thing. What happens when you’ve got the lot? When you can have any woman you want, when you can have any clothes, any possessions, go anywhere, do anything?
What happens when there are no challenges, when there’s no boundaries and no struggle? What happens is you become almost removed from your own life, which I think we see in Chéri. You become so apathetic, you are heading for some kind of crash. There is nothing to engage you with the fabric of your life, and that’s a terrifying thought.

Rupert Friend for femalefirst

Rupert’s screencaps from Cheri are uploaded to the gallery, and also some BTS photos. And of course, all the interviews of Rupert related to this film are available in the blog. Check them out via this link. You can watch the Featurette of the film via IMDb.

To do with the sex scene with Michelle It was one of the perks of the job, I suppose. She’s an amazingly beautiful woman and a very talented actor, and those two things made it not a chore if that’s a sentence! She was absolutely committed to this story and this project, in a very encouraging way.I didn’t know what to expect with a great legend of cinema and an Oscar-nominated actress. But she was very down-to-earth and very committed to making the best thing that we could. So the atmosphere on set was very playful, very trusting we had lunch together every day, so it was really nice.

Rupert Friend for femalefirst

What’s incredibly unique about their relationship is that it’s a love story, but it’s a very bizarre one. [Cheri’s godmother] Lea, for him, moves from being his mother’s best friend and regular family visitor to a godmother who looks after him as a young boy, probably better than his mother did. And then in one afternoon, she shifts again and becomes an object of desire and then, at the end, a deep, deep love. It’s the only relationship I’ve come across in a film that encompassed every type of male-female relationship at once.

Rupert Friend for chicagotribune


** Cough ** … 🙂 … In case I have not given enough reasons to watch Chéri, here are the first few minutes of the film. A must.

So, I can only say that Rupert did an excellent job as Chéri. His manners, his movements, his voice, everything about him shows us something of his character. And although he said in some interviews that Chéri had no character, desires or wants, and it was difficult to connect with him, I think he was able to give him his own unique character, making him someone unique, different and original. If you have not watched Chéri, I don’t know what are you waiting to do it!! 🙂



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