In this file photo French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis (right) and French film director Samuel Benchetrit pose during a photocall for the film « Cette musique ne joue pour personne” (This music is played for nobody) during the 14th Francophone Angouleme film festival in Angouleme, western France. –AFP

She’s been in front of cameras since she was a little girl, but Vanessa Paradis admits that treading the boards for the first time yesterday is a “perilous” undertaking. Speaking to AFP ahead of the opening night of “Maman” at the Edouard VII theatre in Paris, the singer and actress said she had been “inhabited” by the script, written by her husband Samuel Benchetrit, who also directs the play. “In several weeks, in several months, I will relax, but for now, it’s all I’m thinking about,” she said.

The 48-year-old has been in the limelight for decades: A teen pop idol, appearances in some 20 films, a high-profile relationship with Johnny Depp. But theatre is finally introducing Paradis to stage-fright. “I already had a lot of admiration for theatre actors, but now that I’ve tried it, I admire them even more,” she told AFP. “It’s very perilous trying to do justice to the story while projecting your voice loudly.”

‘Exciting, but dangerous’
It took the right project to come along for Paradis to take the plunge, saying she was “a little afraid of the theatre”. “You have to give a lot to theatre, rehearsing for several weeks and if it goes well, you’re playing for several months… you can’t do anything else.” Paradis says she has definitely caught the bug, though, describing theatre work as “exciting, but dangerous”. In “Maman”, she plays Jeanne, married for 25 years-something she admits, with a chuckle, would be “a challenge”. Paradis managed 14 years with Depp, with whom she has two children.

She married Benchetrit in 2018. They have already worked together on a movie, “Love Songs for Tough Guys”, that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Paradis came to fame very early, appearing on a TV talent show at just eight years old, and then scoring a huge hit at 14 with “Joe le Taxi”. She says she would love to return to songwriting, but that the play makes it impossible. “I’m not able. It’s such a heavy piece-you have to have time, but also the will.” – AFP