From sharing the screen with Hollywood’s biggest names to nabbing awards at prestigious film festivals, Yann Bean’s journey in the industry is one of talent and determination.
Yann Bean, a versatile actor with French and American roots, has been making waves in the film and television industry. His impressive career has included appearances alongside renowned figures such as Natalie Portman, Ralph Fiennes, Berenice Bejo and Mel Gibson to name a few. Beyond the screen, Bean’s distinctive voice has featured in both national and international TV advertisements.
Currently, you can catch him on the big screen in “Hawaii,” directed by Melissa Drigeard, and on Amazon in “On The Line,” directed by Romuald Boulanger. However, it’s Bean’s breakthrough role in “Tondex 2000,” directed by Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, that’s received widespread acclaim.
At the renowned Discover Film Festival, held in partnership with outdoor apparel brand Craghoppers, “Tondex 2000” achieved remarkable success. The film secured the coveted Craghoppers Grand Prize in addition to the Audience Award. Notably, Yann Bean’s outstanding acting performance earned him the prestigious title of Best Actor, solidifying his status as a rising star in the entertainment industry.
DAMAN: Hi Yann, thank you for sitting down with us. You’re currently travelling across California and then heading back to France where you live most of the year. How has your trip been so far?
Yann Bean: Thanks so much for having me. The trip has been great. I’m getting to reconnect with some friends and family. I went to Sequoia—probably my favorite national park—and I’m gearing up for some hikes in Yosemite. I just found out that “Tondex 2000,” the film I coproduced, won best international short at the Cordillera International Film Festival in Reno Tahoe so that’s very exciting.
DA: “Tondex 2000,” which was directed by Jean-Baptiste Leonetti and in which you star opposite Emilie Caen, has had a lot of success so far. You won the Audience Award, the Canal+ award and the jury’s special mention at this year’s famed Clermont Ferrand International Film Festival. Can you tell us more about it?
YB: It was an amazing experience. I knew Clermont Ferrand was considered the biggest short film festival in the world, but only once I arrived there did I truly understand the magnitude of the event. The city basically becomes a gigantic movie theatre for nine days. Over 120 thousand people show up every year. If you’ve never been, you should really go.
Having our film in the official selection and then winning all those awards made it extra special. I think it took us all a few weeks to actually realize what had happened and what it meant for the film.
DA: What did it mean for the film?
YB: Winning the Audience Award was probably the most gratifying. Knowing the film we had worked so hard on had touched so many people was priceless. Just like Jean Baptiste said in his award speech: “Who do we make movies for, if not for the audience.”
Winning the Canal+ grand prix meant something else. Something very tangible. It meant that they were going to buy our film and air it on their channel.
This was your first time producing. How did this movie come to fruition?
YB: JB—Jean-Baptiste—and I have been friends for many years. We both were at a time where we wanted to work on something meaningful without having anyone lurking over our shoulders and dictating what we should or shouldn’t do. We knew it would have to be self-produced. What started out as a fun five-minute short film idea turned into “Tondex 2000,” a 28-minute short film.
DA: We’ve seen you over the years in supporting roles opposite big Hollywood stars but this is your first time as a lead actor. How did you get there?
YB: I guess I’ve slowly worked my way up from co-stars to guest stars to supporting roles. However, it was very difficult getting seen for the parts that I really wanted to play. It still is. [Laughs]
I always believed that if I was given the opportunity, I could play these parts and hold my own. My friend JB must have felt the same when he wrote “Tondex 2000” with me in mind. But no one wanted to produce this film with me as the lead. I was not known enough nor did anyone think I could play such a part. I put my money where my mouth is and jumped on board as coproducer.
DA: Seeing you right now, you look absolutely nothing like the main character in “Tondex 2000.” Sylvain is a former legionnaire. Did you go through any specific training for that role?
YB: Yes, absolutely. It was of the upmost importance to JB and me that this character be believable. So, I trained with a real-life legionnaire and I followed a strict diet and workout in order to look and move the way we felt would suit the character and the story the best. I had just finished working on “Hawaii” where I’d put on 13 pounds of muscle to play a U.S. lifeguard, but Sylvain needed to be thin and much more cut. By the time filming had started I’d actually dropped 17 pounds.
DA: Will we be seeing more character work in the future?
YB: I sure hope so. That’s what I love the most. I hope I get to work with more wonderful directors that are willing to work hand in hand with me, trust me and allow me to create characters.
DA: How long have you been acting?
YB: I guess it all started, at least consciously, when my mom took me to see “The Bald Soprano” at a neighborhood theatre when I was 12 years old. I knew right then and there I wanted to be an actor. I joined an amateur theatre company and then attended performing arts high school.
DA: That was still while living in France?
YB: Yes, that’s correct. My mother is French and my father American. I grew up in France and spent summers in Ohio. I then moved to New York City when I was 17 and joined the William Esper Studio. After doing the summer intensive I got accepted in the two-year program. Training under Bill [Esper] was life-changing.
DA: What’s the best experience of your career?
YB: Working on “Tondex 2000.” It was a dream come true. Having that part written for me, working with a director I trusted and respected and getting to craft a wonderful complex character—it doesn’t get better than that. At least for me. I knew going into this, it was going to be special. As a matter of fact, when filming was over, I knew that if for some reason I never got to work again—isn’t that every artist’s greatest fear? —I could be at peace.
DA: Well, you don’t have to worry too much about that. We hear you’re already gearing up for another film with Jean-Baptiste?
YB: That’s correct. DramaKing, our production company, will be producing our next short film with Canal+. I will be starring opposite Pascale Arbillot. I cannot wait.
DA: Who else would you love to work with?
YB: Director-wise, I’d love to work with the Safdie Brothers, Kathryn Bigelow, David Cronnenberg, Jane Campion, Steve McQueen, Ben Affleck, Cedric Klappish. Acting wise, Viggo Mortensen, Kate Blanchett, Mads Mikkelsen.
DA: What do you do when you’re not acting?
YB: I spend as much time as possible in the water. Either bodysurfing, surfing or kiteboarding. I draw a lot, mainly charcoal. I also do photography. I used to shoot for Interview magazine as well as DA MAN.
DA: That’s right, you were in Bali the first time back in 2008 for a shoot with Shareefa Danish. How was that?
YB: It was absolutely amazing and Shareefa was wonderful to work with. I actually just went back to Indonesia this past spring. I spent a lot of time in Uluwatu and then I also went to the south of Lombok. The surf and the food there were phenomenal. It was during Ramadan and some local surf shop owners invited me to break the fast with them multiple times. I already knew the hospitality in Indonesia was amazing from when I visited back in 2008; this was the icing on the cake.
DA: If you could be anything else but an actor, what would you be?
YB: Well, I don’t know if this counts because I’m already doing it, but I do a lot of voice over work. I’ve worked on video games, dubbed French cartoons into English and vice versa. You can hear me right now in the latest Hermès Parfums Jardins ads. I also love coaching artists in person or online, from getting them ready for an audition to helping guide their career.
DA: What’s the best acting advice you’ve ever received from someone in the business?
YB: Everything Bill Esper taught me. If only one: “Just listen.”
DA: Best acting advice you received from a non-actor?
YB: “There can be no plan B.” Thank you, Leo.
DA: If you could produce and act in a production of your choice, what would it be?
YB: A theatre adaptation of “Tondex 2000”. I miss theatre.
STYLING KIMBERLY GOODNIGHT
Grooming Vaitea Borrelli
Production Ian Phillips/ Media Playground PR
Actor Yann Bean
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