Minneapolis has its own French connection to the movie "The Family" opening Friday. Robert de Niro stars as a former New York mafioso who's been relocated with his family to a small town in Normandy, France, after ratting out his boss. In one scene, he complains about brown water coming through his pipes to the town mayor -- played by Dominique Serrand, co-founder of the former Theatre de la Jeune Lune and now co-artistic director of another local theater group, The Moving Company. Serrand is only on screen a short while, but makes the most of it.
Watch the scene here:
Reached by phone today in North Carolina, where he is directing "The Tempest," Serrand, a native of France, said he was visiting family in Paris when he got a call from a casting agent to audition. "I had no idea what it was for, just that they needed someone who could speak good English," he said.
“I was of course pretty impressed to be seated across the table, from [De Niro],” he said. “He had extreme concentration. We didn’t talk between takes but chatted afterward and he’s very pleasant.”
And after all those takes, how are his fingers? “The drawer was locked in such a way that it couldn’t really close on them,” he said. “It’s an old theater trick.”
As for "The Family" not including very many lines spoken in the French language despite being set almost entirely in Normandy, he said, "they were trying to make an American film. Even in France, that sells better."