Malkovich revisits French classic ‘Dangerous Liaisons

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Malkovich revisits French classic ‘Dangerous Liaisons


More than two decades after John Malkovich starred in “Dangerous Liaisons” as the film’s arch seducer, the American actor is revisiting the classic French work, this time directing a stage version in Paris.

For Malkovich, the novel, by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos published in 1782, highlights the centuries-old struggle between men and women.

“I’m not saying war between men and women, but the struggle between them. I don’t think that’s changed since the time of Choderlos de Laclos,” Malkovich said during a recent interview about the play at the Le theatre de l’Atelier. “Deep emotions are often violent, and emotions, I think, are more or less the same,” he said in fluent French, having lived in France for several years before quitting the country over a tax dispute.

It is the struggle of the sexes that Malkovich has put at the heart of what he calls a timeless work.

The play is British playwright Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of the epistolary novel with a new French translation by Fanette Barraya.

The actors were picked at an audition of 300 young hopefuls for the roles of the main characters who are aged between 15 and 30.

Malkovich’s staging is stripped down with minimalist sets in contrast to the elaborate splendor of the Hollywood movie. The cast wear 18th-century garb but communicate with each other via mobile phones. “It’s just a method,” Malkovich said.

As a director, he says the key tension remains between the Vicomte of Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, who were first lovers and then rivals.

Malkovich, now 58, played the role of Valmont in the 1988 film by Stephen Frears, starring alongside Glenn Close as the Marquise.

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