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Bouli Lanners, a Belgian single malt

Belgian actor, screenwriter, director and director Bouli Lanners, in Paris, March 11, 2022.

At 7, he wanted to play bagpipes. Born on the border that separates Belgium from Germany and the Netherlands, in Moresnet-Chapelle, little Philippe Lanners – whom his friends nicknamed Bouli because of his round shapes – was convinced of one thing: his grand- mother was Scottish and it had been hidden from her.

At 56, here are almost forty that the actor (formerly discovered at Kervern and Delépine, Dupontel or Benchetrit – more than 60 roles) and director (the very noticed Eldorado, in 2008, The First, the Last, in 2016…) takes the road to the Highlands every year. Finally, before the last confinement, by going there to write and shoot his last (and fifth) feature film: Shadow of a Lie (Nobody Has to Know). The man shows, in the middle of the tattoos that line his forearm, a map of Scotland: “It avoids opening the Michelin map in the car to explain where we are”, he slips, tongue-in-cheek.

In winter in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, the sun rises at 9am, sets at 3pm and when the wind blows the rain falls horizontally. To listen to Bouli Lanners speak with his Liège earthiness of the Hebrides (“Me, I feel good in this country, I never get bored”), as well as the passionate story that he creates there between a Scottish woman supposedly stuck and a Belgian who has come to hide from death there (the threat of a new stroke), we quickly understand that the affair is personal.

Touching modesty

“When my character in the film says, ‘I was too shy to take the first step’, he’s telling the whole story of my life. And if, twenty years ago, my wife [Elisabeth Ancion, sa cheffe costumière, mais aussi metteuse en scène de théâtre] had not, like the heroine, taken the initiative, our love story would never have started. » Behind his square shoulders, his determined manners and his bushy beard of an eternal runaway, Bouli Lanners hides a moving modesty. “A polite way of saying ‘lack of self-confidence’. There are so many things I never felt capable of. To be a good swimmer when I was competing, to be a good guitarist, to be a good father… I would have freaked out all the time. It was too soon, too soon, and then, one day, it was too late, confides the actor, who has never had a child. The cinema was a therapy. It was not the goal, but it is the collateral result. Seeing people cry after seeing a love story that is a bit like yours is disturbing. »

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