Actor Francois Arnaud chats with us ahead of the premiere of his new show Midnight, Texas.
Francois Arnaud was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec and France. He trained at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique in Montreal. He is perhaps best known for his role as Cesare Borgia in the Showtime drama The Borgias. He snagged the lead role in Midnight Texas, based on a book series by Charlaine Harris, the creator of the HBO show True Blood.
What drew you to this role in Midnight, Texas? Can you tell readers a little bit about who you'll be playing? FRANCOIS ARNAUD: I'm a big fan of ghost stories. And I'm always trying to tackle something I haven't done before. The tone of this show, even on paper, was quite different from what I was reading at the time. It's not a comedy, it goes to really dark places, but there's a wit to the dialogue, a self-awareness of the genre codes that the show is embracing and deconstructing at once. And in the very first scene, I get to be possessed by a jealous husband who is out-of-control, to say the least. My character, Manfred, has incredible potential but doesn't quite realize it. He has led the life of a recluse, and allows himself to be a selfish bastard. He goes to Midnight running away from his problems, but this town will force him to face himself and overcome his own demons.
Midnight, Texas comes from True Blood novelist Charlaine Harris. Were you a fan of the HBO show? FA: I watched a couple episodes of it, thought they were very well-made, but I didn't watch much television then, and haven't really caught up with it.
With your role on the Borgias and Blindspot, you seem to have favored dramas. Would you ever consider comedy at some point? FA: Those two shows were pretty serious, but there's room for a few cheeky jokes in Midnight!
I did an episode of the brilliant show Schitt's Creek last year and had a blast. I'm definitely open to more of that. I have to say, what I'm most interested in right now is blurring the lines of these genres. Finding the comedy in dramatic moments. People share laughs at funerals, it happens! I loved the film Force Majeure, for instance. It makes you incredibly uncomfortable. It's hilariously dark. Or the Argentinian film Wild Tales. I think that's where I could find my comedic footing. No one will hire me for Dumb and Dumber 4, and I'm ok with that.
What was it like working with such talented actors like Jeremy Irons? FA: I was pretty terrified to work with Jeremy Irons. But then, my character always felt like he had to prove himself to him, so I think in a way it worked in my favor. Jeremy is a really interesting presence on set. He is incredibly well prepared, but nothing is set in stone in his head. He'll change it up and keep you on your toes, because he brings something new every take.
Midnight, Texas is all about the supernatural. If you had a supernatural power, what would it be and why? FA: I guess I would like to stop time or slow it down sometimes, to enjoy the moments that pass by me too quickly.
Is Midnight, Texas what you are solely focusing on now or do you have any additional projects on the horizon? FA: I'm shooting this road-movie I'm very excited about right now. It's a first feature and it's about two buddies and it has great comedic moments, even if it's more of a dramedy. Tommy Dewey is the other actor and I only have good things to say about him he’s an incredibly smart, funny and collaborative actor.
I was also in a film called Permission that was at Tribeca and is coming out later this year with Rebecca Hall about the hardships of romance and monogamy in this day and age. And I have this other psychological thriller I shot in French called Origami that should be hitting festivals pretty soon. So I've been keeping myself busy!
Where do you like to eat, drink and/or hang out in LA? FA: I'm more of an East Side kind of guy, even though I've been telling myself I should spend more time by the beach. I just don't really know it there. I love Griffith Park and Elysian Park. The restaurant scene is very exciting right now in LA. I like Jon and Vinny's a lot, and Thai food, although I won't give you any recommendations since those places are crowded enough as it is.