It smells of bouillabaisse and nostalgia this Tuesday in the Old Port of Marseille. On the occasion of a new premium of More beautiful life, former characters who made the heyday of the series return to the Mistral to celebrate the glorious years of the Vincent Scotto high school. This reunion evening is an opportunity for Dounia Coesens, who officially left the series in 2014, to see her playing partners of yesteryear such as Aurélie Vaneck and Ambroise Michel. “It allowed me to find old friends, especially when you know that the end is approaching and you think that this may be the last time I can shoot with them”, testifies the actress to 20 Minutes.
We saw you again two years ago for a short story. Does it still have a small effect to come back to the Mistral?
Yes, I grew up there, I really like this team and even if I made the choice to leave, I am very happy to come and say hello from time to time, to find my friends and colleagues, and to share those moments with them.
Did the decision to come back require careful consideration?
No in the sense that I asked myself questions about the plot and when I found out that Ambroise and Aurélie were coming back, and that it was a story of transfer with young people, I thought it was great. It allowed me to discover new actors and especially to find old friends, especially when you know that the end is approaching and you think that this may be the last time I can shoot with them. Didn’t take long to respond!
We were already talking about the end of the series during filming. Did it affect the mood?
There was obviously a negative impact for those who are there all the time, but it also brought positives, in the sense that we didn’t know if we were going to meet again later. When I come to Marseille, I go say hello to the troupe and there, we say to ourselves that when we go down, we don’t know if we will find this troupe spirit so we make the most of it. There was a nostalgic side to the shoot, of course, and you had to take advantage of every minute because you don’t know what tomorrow holds.
Is there any question of you going back there before the big farewells?
I don’t know, we’re waiting to see. I think that More beautiful would like to make an end, or maybe another bonus, with the old ones and that we all meet again. For the moment, nothing is said and nothing is signed. If I am offered to say a last goodbye, I will be there with pleasure.
Why does the character of Johanna return to Marseille in the prime?
Johanna pretends that she is coming back just to show that she has succeeded and that all is well in her life. She needs to show herself because her journey has been complicated, but what is interesting with this character is that we discover that she is also there to see those she loves in the end. But initially, she hides it.
How often do you hear about More beautiful life in the street ?
Oh, quite often! It’s funny because when I left, after a year or two, I noticed that people recognized me less. And then there was the containment, the spread of More beautiful life stopped and people went to watch the first seasons on Amazon so there was a resurgence! I said to myself “but what is going on? (laughs). We are often told about it with kindness, it’s part of us, we grew up in it so we are as attached to our characters as people can be.
You played there for ten years. What was the most defining moment of this decade?
That’s when the audiences began to rise, rise, rise… We had made a chalk board with the audience shares, we kept it on a set for years. That’s when we were about fifteen actors at the base, it hadn’t worked for six months and suddenly it started to take hold. It was the recognition of the work, of the fact that we had been fighting for months for this series. We didn’t know if we were going to continue or not and all of our work paid off. It was incredible, the ratings were so high that we didn’t realize the impact it had. And every day, we went on the set to defend things because that’s it too More beautiful life, a series that defends societal things. To receive so many letters from people saying that she helped them in life was pure happiness. It gave us strength to go on set every day.
Today you are the star of another series, The doc and the vetwhich is currently filming…
Yes, we are filming in Auvergne! Everything is going very well, I love this very rich character with his benevolent and provocative side. It’s a series that works and we hope that it will appeal and speak to people. There are no murders but medicine, we talk about the real problems of farmers, of the youth who desert the villages. For me, it’s a little closer to More beautiful life because we are in a village square with a neighborhood, recurring characters, issues of everyday life. Initially, that was it More beautiful life. We are very happy that you like it, we hope there will be more.