On the initiative of the Compagnie du Caméléon theatre company, French actor Pierre Richard came to Tahiti this past October for several performances of his play, Pierre Richard III. This big star of French cinema and popular comedies discovered our islands during his stay. He tells us about his crush.
What are your impressions?
Pierre Richard: To come to Tahiti has been a longtime dream of mine. I have traveled a lot and I can’t explain why I waited so long to come here. Better late than never and now, my dream has come true. My best friend, a director, came here two years ago. He told me that I absolutely must come and whatever it takes, that I must go… to the Marquesas. However, I did come here to work and I am not on vacation. I am performing in Tahiti! So as far as going to the Marquesas, I will have to come back…
What did Tahiti evoke for you?
The same as for most people: Paul Gauguin, Jacques Brel, The Bounty, lagoons, the ocean, marine life, scuba diving…things that I have seen in photos. I knew there were all these things but I was still surprised by the beauty of the area, especially Tahiti. I was told to not stay here so that I could have time to quickly visit other islands, but I love this magnificent place. We did the tour of the island. We went to the peninsula, which is stunning and wild. You are truly in Eden from all angles. In Moorea, I swam with whales for the first time in my life. Dolphins came to play in the wake of our boat. I dove into the middle of a school of wild rays. The marine life is exceptional. The plant life is just as extraordinary with lush vegetation and flowers and delicious scents everywhere. Here, you find things you cannot find anywhere else. Especially difficult to find anywhere else and to this extent is the kindness and welcome. I expected popa’a (Europeans) to recognize me, but not Polynesians. However, this was not the case and I was gently approached everywhere I went. I was surprised by such a warm welcome, such kindness and cheerfulness.
Did these differences make an impression on you?
Yes, and at all costs, you must guard and protect this culture. I hope that Polynesians will know how to hold on to it and will manage to do so. I told you, I travel frequently and I noticed that in many countries, cultures have been lost such as with some American Indians and Inuit of the Great North. Here, you can feel the strong connection Polynesians have to their history and traditions. They are proud of it. However, I think I know that at one time, a lot was done to try and take it all from them. Perhaps they resisted Western colonialism better than others.
You are renowned for being sensitive to protecting the environment. Does this seem even more pertinent here?
Of course. There are so many resources here. Importantly, I think of the protection of whales which is a subject very dear to me. They come here to rest in your waters and I hope that when they return to Antarctica, they don’t cross paths with Japanese or Norwegian whaling ships. Here there are in a sanctuary and I noticed that people take care to not disturb the whales even if they really want to get close to them.
Now that you are here, do you have a better understanding of our how our islands inspired great artists and creators even though they are but tiny archipelagoes at the other end of the world?
But this is precisely why they are so attractive. On an island, there are no frontiers. The only one that exists is the sea. There is nothing like it to make your dreams come true. Without a doubt, Paul Gauguin came here to escape the emasculating elements of French society during his time. He came here to find great independence of spirit, which is reflected in his painting. On the other hand, I understand how one can be so inspired to paint or write because here, we live in a multicolored garden.
Do you plan on coming back to Tahiti?
Yes, that is all I can think about lately! I would like to come back to discover other islands that I have heard so much about, such as Rangiroa, Fakarava and of course, the Marquesas.