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Vincent Cassel: Mercenary is tired of espionage, murder in 'Liaison'

Vincent Cassel and Eva Green star in "Liaison." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
1 of 5 | Vincent Cassel and Eva Green star in "Liaison." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

NEW YORK, March 31 (UPI) -- Westworld, Mesrine and Black Swan actor Vincent Cassel says Gabriel Delage is a mercenary sick of espionage and politics when audiences meet him in the thriller, Liaison.

Wrapping up its first season on Apple TV+ on Friday, the French- and English-language series takes place mainly in the Middle East and co-stars Eva Green, Peter Mullan, Gérard Lanvin, Daniel Francis, Stanislas Merhar, Irène Jacob and Thierry Frémont.

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It was created and written by Virginie Brac, and directed by Stephen Hopkins.

"He's a mercenary, so he is somebody who worked for more or less everybody," Cassel told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

"He has seen behind the curtain the real politics that run the world, so he has become very cynical," the 56-year-old, French actor added.

"He's lonely. He's tired of doing those jobs for such a long time and he's in love with someone who treats him like [expletive]. He's complex. He's human. He's realistic, somehow."

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Although his line of work is dangerous, the lure of big paydays motivate him to take tremendous risks.

"I had the opportunity to meet those guys who are doing these jobs for real," Cassel said. "It starts sometimes because of adventure, mostly because they are very talented and they had the opportunity. It was good money."

But it's also a young man's game.

"When you get around your 50s, which was the case of my character, maybe you want something else because it can be an exciting life for a moment," Cassel said.

"At a certain point, if you kill a few hundred people in your life and you never had a family life, if you have kids you can't just see, you miss seeing them growing, I guess you just want to take a rest."

The people who employ operatives like Gabriel don't care about work-life balance, however.

"Unfortunately, I don't think you can take a rest. If you made that choice earlier on in your life, you can never really stop," Cassel said. "The minute you are not useful anymore, you know too much."

In addition to emotional and psychological challenges, the role of Gabriel also was physically demanding.

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"I run around a lot. I fight. I get kicked. It was kind of physical, but that's not what I remember about the shoot. I remember being involved in incredible scenes with Eva Green," Cassel said.

He described his co-star from Liaison and the upcoming Three Musketeers as "mysterious and elegant," and recalled being a fan of hers for years before finally getting to work with her.

"It's my Eva Green year and if I could do a few movies in a row with her, I wouldn't mind."

Working on Liaison showed Cassel how vulnerable companies and countries can be to cyber attacks and terrorism.

"We don't know half of it, honestly. What the public eye knows is nothing compared to reality. I really believe so," the actor said.

"Maybe it's better like that because, otherwise, people would be totally crazy and depressed, which is already the case on many occasions, but I think it would be worse. Real politics is really dirty."

Cassel said he likes working on projects that are fast-paced and fun to watch, but that also address big, serious issues that reflect reality.

"It is supposed to be cinematic and entertaining, but at the same time, we talk about human relationships and the complexity of it and the fact that you have to live with the remorse of our past errors," the actor said of Liaison.

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"You have this environment and this background of political reality, even though it is in the future. Everything that happens in the series could actually eventually happen.

The show premiered shortly after an enormous real-life earthquake devastated Syria and Turkey, killing tens of thousands of people.

Cassel said he felt a connection to the region because much of the story in Liaison takes place there, but also for a more personal reason -- his adult daughter was in Istanbul at the time.

"I woke up to the news and was calling and trying to understand what was going on, but we know that Turkey is actually in a very critical place in the world and they are not prepared for it, so when [expletive] happens, it is going to be a mess," he said.

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