Close-up: An Interview with Rabah Nait Oufella

Prestridge² spoke to French actor Rabah Nait Oufella about body horror, rap music and his violent sex scene in Raw.

Q: You starred as Adrien in Raw – one of the best films of 2017. How was your experience working on the film?

A: THE shoot was enriching. I learnt a lot because the atmosphere on the set was good. Being abroad, away from my family and friends, allowed me to be immersed in the film more than if I had to go home every night.

When I was told that I was going to spend two months with new people getting to know and work with them I thought it would be either terrific or horrible. Fortunately, it was a terrific experience.

Q: What was it like working with Julia Ducournau? What kind of director is she?

A: JULIA is a woman who knows where she wants to go. She is a hard worker who leaves nothing to chance. Each scene was worked on and practiced ahead.

With my co-workers, we did a lot of reading and testing before and during the shoot to be as effective as possible at the time of the action.

Q: On that note, you also worked closely with Ella Rumpf and Garance Marillier. Can you talk about working with these two actors?

A: I FIRST met Garance Marillier during the casting and we realized we were neighbours – we live in the same street. When Julia confirmed I had the role of Adrien we started to work together with Garance in the district. Sometimes she invited me to her home to work on scenes or watch movies that Julia wanted us to see before filming.

Then we met Ella Rumpf during a reading. As we were already comfortable with each other it did not take long for Ella to make her mark on the team.

Garance Marillier and Rabah Nait Oufella in Raw

Q: Your character has a rather violent sexual experience with Marillier’s character. Was that a difficult scene to film?

A: THIS scene was no more difficult than any other. I think the difficulty was more in the staging and what was choreographed for this scene.

Before the shooting, we learnt by heart the movements to be done, the approach of the camera, the dangers during the ‘stunts’ and falls from the bed. When it was time for action, we were immediately on track thanks to this work which was carried out beforehand.

Q: Your character is also the victim of a nasty piece of body horror. Are you squeamish about blood and gore? Do you enjoy the horror genre?

A: I AM not a fearful person – and I appreciate all kinds of films, especially when the genre is new to me.

Before Julia gave me the opportunity, I had never had the chance to participate in a ‘horror genre’ film. The most important thing for me today is to discover, be curious and go out of my comfort zone.

I think that we can find good and bad things in all kinds of movies. The goals is always to do it with heart and follow your instinct.

Q: How did you get into acting? Can you tell us about your background?

A: I WAS 14 when offered my first casting. It was in my secondary school 10 years ago. I tried my luck and it worked out.

We shot the movie “The Class” directed by Laurent Cantet which won a lot of prizes including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The cinema then became my passion. I passed more and more castings until this passion eventually became my job.

Q: You have several rap music videos on YouTube from a few years ago . Do you still make music?

A: RAP was my first passion – I did it before I shot my first film. I think that recording songs in the studio and shooting clips helped me to be comfortable in front of the camera – the rap was a bit like my conservatoire.

Today I keep only good memories of this experience, but I do not see myself making a career of it.

Q: We are coming to the end of 2017. Do you have a favourite film or films of the year?

A: I LOVED “Lion” by Garth Davis. I was touched by “BPM” (Beats per Minute) by Robin Campillo. In the genre film I think of “Get Out” by Jordan Peel and the performance of James McAvoy in “Split”.

Q: What are your ambitions for the future? Is there anyone you aspire to?

A: MY first ambition is happiness. I just wish to continue enjoying film as much as I have so far, to meet beautiful people, and to be on beautiful projects. This all matters more to me than being bankable or fashionable. If I had a wish for the future it would be to act in a foreign language.

Q: Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

A: A SOCIAL comedy “Les Affames” by Lea Fredeval with Louane Emera in the main role.

And also a first feature film by Basile Doganis called “Meltem” that I took a lot of pleasure from shooting and which I am proud to be part of. I am really looking forward to audiences discovering it.

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