By ALI NADERZAD History was made in Cannes tonight as Johnny Hallyday and the rest of the cast of Johnny To’s “Revenge” went up the red carpet for the premiere of their film in the massive Lumiere Theatre (it sits 2,200). In “Revenge” Hallyday plays a French chef who comes to Macau to solve and avenge his family’s murder. What’s extraordinary about tonight’s red carpet premiere is the fact that Hallyday is by far France’s biggest star. He can sell the Stade de France anytime he wants but even he confessed to being a little humbled by the unusually high turnout on the croisette. What adds to the legend-in-the-making aspect of this evening is the fact that it has been twenty-five years since Hallyday came to the Cannes Festival, to support “Detective” (J-L Godard) in which he had a lead part.
Tonight’s premiere is the first major one of this 62nd Cannes Festival. While he isn’t known outside of France, the citizens of this country revere Hallyday more than anyone else. He has been singing and acting in cinema for the last fifty years. His first credited role dates back to 1955.
Also in attendance in tonight’s star-studded event was Quentin Tarantino, who kept shunning a fest reporter asking him rapid-fire questions about whether he knew who Johnny Hallyday. Tarantino who looked clearly frustrated said “stop asking me all these questions” several times, but then shook the reporter’s hand and smiled. The always elegant Kristin Scott Thomas also came to the premiere, as well as Ronit Elkabetz accompanying France’s minister of culture and one of France’s best-known comedians Kad Merad, who appeared most notably in the blockbuster “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis.” And of course, as befits protocol the entire jury of this year’s selection attended the premiere, ie., Isabelle Huppert, president, and the remaining members of the jury.
As Hallyday and the cast of “Revenge” walked up the stairs, fest prez Gilles Jacob did what he often does when the moment is extraordinary: he took out his little digital point-and-shoot and started snapping pictures of Hallyday and his wife Letitia. I wonder who was more awestruck. Jacob or Hallyday?