If the conspiracies and betrayals on show in French political thriller ‘Spin’ seem a little… far-fetched, its star Gregory Fitoussi assures me it’s by no means as dramatic as what occurs in the real-life corridors of power.
“Unfortunately, even if the writers try to go as far as they can with the fiction, I think we still fall short of the reality,” he says with a grin.
“I think the reality is far more disturbing. And I think it’s getting worse and worse, because the amount of communication makes us feel informed, but it’s not true.
“People think they can inform themselves, but I think they’re wrong. We’re not sure of our sources, whether we can rely on them or not.”
‘Spin’, seen by some as a very French answer to ‘Borgen’ and ‘House of Cards’, explores the intense rivalry between two spin doctors, master and pupil turned competitors for the ear of the nation’s leader.
Gregory, who already has a very respectable and devoted fanbase since his suave appearance in the first series of ‘Mr Selfridge’ as well as French crime drama ‘Spiral’, plays the ruthless Ludovic, whose ambition pushes him to turn on his former mentor Simon Kapita (Bruno Wolkowitch).
“He’s a very special guy,” says Gregory fondly. “If I have one thing in common with him, I’d like to put myself in a higher place like him, I have ambitions, but I wouldn’t use the same ways as him.
“This guy doesn’t have feelings, he doesn’t know how to love anyone except himself. He’s a narcissist, but he’s smart and knows his own strengths. I admire his tirelessness, but that’s it.”
Even if Ludo does go to extremes in his pursuit of influence, Gregory says he still doesn’t compare to the real characters he encountered during his research.
“I met someone who was doing this job for real, and the guy I met was so self-confident and arrogant, he had his shirt open, and he was talking like he was king of the world, even with me when he didn’t have to.
“He told me, ‘We do exactly what we want to do, we make them say this, do that’ and this kind of power must be overwhelming, even if they don’t realise it. Because it is a real power.”
Why are we so hungry for political drama these days? Gregory believes it comes on the back of more and more information, via social media, hundreds of news outlets, but still the nagging feeling that we’re only being told half the real story…
“People are really interested in what happens when the camera turns off and how those people talk to each other, how they hide things from other people,” is his take on this burgeoning popularity. He recently played a spin doctor in a film about his country’s former leader, Nicolas Sarkozy.
“Nowadays, there are those conspiracies about everything, as soon as anything happens in the world. There are those who think everything is fake and constructed, it’s a very serious problem, it’s one of the main reasons people want to see it on drama, they want to see what’s going on for real, they’re saying ‘stop lying to us, we know there’s something on going behind the scenes.’
The one thing we’ve seen over and over again, both in drama and in real life, is that there is hardly any public figure who does not fail in the face of such scrutiny. Do we expect too much of our political leaders?
“They are humans,” says Gregory, with a suitably Gallic shrug. “I don’t want to excuse them for their mistakes, but we have no idea how hard it is, what they’re doing, and even if we have corruptions with people who reach for it, there are some of them who have ideals and really want to make things better for people, but it must be really difficult to stick to your ideals. And as soon as they make one mistake, we all know – one word that is not good, it becomes a big thing.”
So does Gregory forgive these errant leaders? “No, because they decided to do that job, and it is a crucial thing they have to get right,” he adds.
“As soon as they make that decision to live that life, they have to be people we can trust and rely on. They have to be an example, and I don’t see one who is an example.”
'Spin' is on More 4, Fridays at 9pm, with catch-up at All4.com/WalterPresents