A feeling of “discomfort”, an “unhealthy” atmosphere, an “abuse of power”… In a survey published Tuesday April 9 by Franceinfo, around ten French actresses denounce forced kisses and “inappropriate” gestures by director Philippe Lioret (Miss; I’m fine, don’t worry; Welcome) during and outside castings.

Several actresses talk in particular about the tests they carried out, in the summer of 2010, for the film All our desires (2011). Hélène Seuzaret says that after several professional meetings, Philippe Lioret made a new appointment for her for a working session, on a Saturday, while the production offices were closed and the casting team was off. The director chose to have him play an intimate scene, between a woman and her husband. “Once outside, as we return to our respective vehicles, he tries to kiss me on the mouth,” remembers Hélène Seuzaret. “He allows himself, because I am waiting for this role, to steal a kiss,” she believes.

Christine (an assumed first name), also cast for a role in All our desires, reports a similar scene to Franceinfo. At the end of a dinner that she describes as a “trap”, the actress explains that as she is about to enter her car, Philippe Lioret grabs her and kisses her, by surprise, on the mouth – an act that constitutes sexual assault. “He probably wanted to know (…) if I was ready for that to get a role. I was used for this purpose of being able to consume myself. (…) There was nothing artistic about it,” says Christine. Nathalie (an assumed first name), who participated in one of Philippe Lioret’s first films, also says she was subjected to a forced kiss in the 1990s.

Questioned by Franceinfo about these testimonies, the director defends himself by assuring that he “never had the feeling of trying to abuse anyone in his entire life”.

“A feeling of omnipotence”

In addition to these forced kisses, other actresses denounce “inappropriate” behavior on the part of Philippe Lioret. Still for the film All our desires, Elodie Frenck remembers being cast in “a scene of kissing and mutual attraction” which she had to replay several times: “He started to be very insistent. He put his mouth on my neck, he was short of breath, I was very uncomfortable. (…) It was more and more unpleasant. He wanted to touch me more to make it more real. » Actress Amandine Dewasmes had to play the same intimate scene with the director who, in her words, “abused his power”.

“He abused his status as actor director, adds actress Emilie Deville: Instead of [staying behind the camera], he plays your husband and he plays your child, he touches your hips, his face is on your sex… There is something very unhealthy. »

According to the casting director of All Our Desires, Philippe Lioret seemed at the time “in a feeling of omnipotence” and “believed he was entitled to anything”. “After the success of Welcome, he decided to become his own producer. He was alone in charge. There was no longer any outside perspective, any counterweight, any counter-power,” she explains.

Contacted by Franceinfo, Philippe Lioret’s lawyer, Solange Doumic, declared: “In the casting of All our desires, he chose a scene of tenderness because it is crucial. Today, if actresses feel offended, Philippe Lioret is deeply sorry. He obviously didn’t realize it at all. »

But it is not only the tender scene, performed with the director, which posed a problem for the actresses: some actresses claim that, during casting, Philippe Lioret would have asked them to “show their breasts”, while the script of All Our Desires does not include any nudity scenes. In the images of the tests that Franceinfo was able to view, the casting assistant actually lowers the bras of certain actresses. Philippe Lioret assures, through the voice of his lawyer, that he does not remember this.

To date, no complaint has been filed against the director. The actresses, however, hope that their speeches will help “clean up the profession”. “You don’t have to demean yourself to get a role. Don’t accept things that seem inappropriate, unhealthy, perverse to you,” summarizes Hélène Seuzaret for actresses.