Théo Curin, ex-vice-disabled world champion, plays Sam in the TF1 TV movie “Handigang”. A first role alongside former presenter Alessandra Sublet. For Allociné he entrusts his new acting career.
Already appearing on the small screen in Plus belle la vie, Théo Curin took his first steps as an actor for the needs of the TV movie Handang, shot for his participation in the France 3 soap, but which arrives only tonight at 9:10 am on TF1. At Allociné’s microphone, he talks about his decision to retire from sports competitions to focus on new areas, such as comedy. What are his future projects? What was his experience on Handang? Answer.
Allociné: We all know you as an athlete. What motivated you to embark on this new acting career?
Theo Curin : Simply because the opportunity presented itself. I started in Vestiaires on France 2, but I embodied my own role. It wasn’t really great cinema because I had to be myself. During the first incarceration I was contacted by a cinema agent and I accepted because it was an opportunity.
Then there was Handang and Plus belle la vie. I accepted because the cinema made me dream and seemed inaccessible to me. I come from the countryside, my parents couldn’t afford to give me acting lessons, and no one around me is an artist. So when I found out that I had to go to castings, I was happy that it became a reality and I discovered a real passion in this profession.
You don’t have to be disabled to convey disability messages, the same goes for the LGBTQ+ cause
What made you want to accept this role?
The opportunity is already extraordinary: it’s primetime on TF1, as the protagonist, it’s unbelievable. While reading the screenplay, even though I don’t want to be the spokesperson for people with disabilities, the subject touched me.
I was touched by Sam’s story. I never had a teenage crisis because at age 13 I left my parents’ house to study sports in Vichy, almost 500 kilometers away. I’ve never done anything stupid, and that’s what I loved about this scenario: the ability to do things I’d never done before. What I like in the cinema is to embody people that I am not.
Finally, this movie is an extension of what you’ve been doing for years with a different format…
That is why I accepted the project. This film is about difference, we talk about disabilities, but also about homosexuality, for example. We talk about all the differences and that’s the message I’ve been trying to get across for years. And then you don’t have to be disabled to send messages about disabilities, same for the LGBTQ+ cause… as long as you’re motivated!
The best is when we get together! This is really the message I want to get across and this film is an example of that. It is, of course, based on the adolescence of a person with a disability, but it is also about homosexuality, which is a very important subtlety. Vincent (played by Arthur Legrand) suffers more from his homosexuality than, for example, from cystic fibrosis.
It was also the opportunity to kiss a man for the first time in my life. [rires]† For the record, this scene was shot on the second day of shooting. I didn’t know Arthur yet, it was very funny, this series connected us.
I want to break free from my swimming image
You don’t swim in the TV movie, it may surprise your fans…
The nice thing about the TV movie is that it tells the story of Sam and not that of Theo. I want to break free from my swimming image. If it’s offered to me for a sequel after that, I’ll do it. But it was important to set up the scene in a different way.
How do you identify with Sam?
In just wanting to make things happen and also in daring. Sam, like me, dares to break the codes, say what he thinks, respond to teachers or be independent. The first thing I wanted when I left the hospital was to be independent. I couldn’t bear to have my family members help me because I knew I could do it alone, even if it took training. Sam can’t stand being helped less and less by his mother.
Was it complicated to expose yourself like that?
Not a moment! As long as the people around you are nice, that’s it. The filming may seem impressive, but the people who took part in this project knew it was not just any TV movie.
Did you understand the fight scene?
No. At first reading, I didn’t like this series that much because I was inactive. I was just pushing someone at one point. So I told Stéphanie Pillonca (the director of the TV movie) that I wanted to fight too and she said “Ok”. She brought a stuntman and crew who wrote choreographies for me.
This is one of the scenes where Stephanie least watched the combo because she was afraid something would happen to us.
We worked on it all morning, I will remember it all my life. It seems to me that this is one of the scenes where Stephanie watched the combo the least because she was afraid something would happen to us.
Finally, it’s a very strong scene because it can happen in real life. The strength of Stéphanie is that she knows how to gauge things. Before the battle, we went for something new that had never been seen before.
Did you recognize yourself in this merger-mother-son relationship?
Yeah, and that’s what I liked about Stephanie because she added scenes that I suggested to her. I found that a contact scene between the two characters was missing because my parents helped me a lot when I was young, for example with my prostheses. When we were filming with Alessandra Sublet, I really envisioned a mother. During the scenes where she helped me, it was simple and easy, of course. Despite the fact that there were several cameras around us, it was very natural.
Have you ever had the same problems as your character during your training or elsewhere?
Not really in terms of accessibility, because I was able to walk very fast again with my prostheses. On the other hand, I have friends in wheelchairs and I can clearly see the difficulties they have in Paris or in other cities in France. The problem that bothered me in the beginning, but not anymore, was the gaze of others. Why did everyone look at me like I was an alien overnight?
One day I understood that the gaze of others was human. I sometimes look at others. For example, if I run into someone with blue hair on the street today, I’ll look at him, not because I’m judging him, but because I’m not used to it. And when people on the street look at me, it’s the same, there’s no specific judgment. When I understood that, I just started living again.
How did you feel on your return to high school for this shoot?
Honestly, it was fun. In addition, there were real students who did the extras. It made me laugh going back to high school even though I hated it at the time. In fact, I think I’d rather go to high school for fictional purposes.
We are talking more and more about people with disabilities…
Are we talking enough about the inclusion of people with disabilities in France?
We are talking about it more and more. I am very positive about it.
Several months ago you crossed Lake Titicaca, today you are the main character in a TV movie. What’s next?
There’s my next sporting challenge, the “Santa Fe-Coronda” race that takes place in Argentina [57 km à faire à la nage]† I would also like to get other roles, and I am also passionate about television. I would like to have my own TV show someday and be able to do both: comedy and animation.
You have declared that you will stop the sports competitions. Are you planning to fully focus on your acting career?
No, because I keep challenging myself every now and then. I decided to stop competing because I was dealing with classification problems, but it is true that I now have time for other requests, going to castings, shooting a movie or a series, coming up with television projects. It’s easier now.
When I added all that up, I didn’t have a minute to myself. I’m 22 years old, I don’t want to exhaust myself and have no taste for everything that happened in my thirties. It is important to find a balance. Today I am very satisfied, I like the diversity of my life. For a month I was promoting my book, now I’m on Handang and I’m also training. I am also currently writing a short film with a friend, which will be shot this summer and I will be acting in it.
My dream is to get a role that doesn’t require me to be disabled and my second dream would be a movie with even more stunts even if I am playing a disabled person.
Finally, what would be the perfect role for you, the one you dream of playing?
Frankly, I think there are a billion roles I would be interested in. Little anecdote, I once had a discussion with a producer, I said it was not normal for the disabled characters of the film to be played by able-bodied people. And this producer told me something very interesting and true in my opinion. He told me that was also an actor’s job, to embody things and people that we are not necessarily. Being an actor is knowing how to play comedy, sadness, euphoria… but it’s also playing blind, in a wheelchair, paralyzed… Then I thought to myself… If we see things from this angle, so that means that you can also see me playing a valid or at least a normal role.
One of my dreams is to go on a casting for a rather tall man with curly hair and that’s it. Obviously my handicap will show, but I don’t care, and the director must be in the same frame of mind. After that, I have to make sure I have the qualities to play the part. And conversely, I also like to embody the role of a person with a disability as we did with Handang, because it allows us to add even more truth.
So my dream is to get a role that doesn’t require me to be disabled, and my second dream would be a movie with even more stunts even if I’m playing a disabled person. The day we shot the stunt for the movie was my favorite part of the shoot, I had never done that in my life and I loved it.