Matthias Schoenaerts Cast in Phoenix; Starts Filming in Paris, Miami, and Las Vegas in September

Matthias Schoenaerts will transform himself into a French icon! The Cinemaholic has learned that the Belgian actor has joined the cast of the biographical romance film ‘Phoenix.’ The project’s filming is set to commence in September, with shoots scheduled in Paris, Miami, and Las Vegas until December. Jalil Lespert is directing the movie based on his screenplay. Matthias will star alongside Fantine Harduin.

The film explores a short period in the life of the legendary French singer Johnny Hallyday. Set in the mid-1990s, Johnny is in his fifties and at a rather complicated time in his career. He will meet Laeticia, and “things” will start again. It is, above all, a very beautiful love story.

Hallyday, born Jean-Philippe Smet, had a tremendously successful career, spanning over five decades and selling over 110 million records worldwide. Known for his deep, gravelly voice and dynamic stage presence, he became a cultural phenomenon in France. The biographical venture officially came to light with Universal Pictures International confirming the project during the Cannes Film Festival. The makers plan to release the project sometime in 2026.

Matthias, known for his versatility and powerful performances, must have emerged as the right performer to play Hallyday because of his physical resemblance to the rock and roll star and his singing abilities. The actor, who has been working in Hollywood and various European film and television industries since the 1990s, gained international acclaim for his role in the 2011 film ‘Bullhead,’ which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Matthias further showcased his talent in Jacques Audiard’s ‘Rust and Bone’ alongside Marion Cotillard.

Matthias’ other well-known credits include Bruno von Falk in Michelle Williams’ ‘Suite Française,’ Gabriel Oak in Carey Mulligan’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd,’ Hans Axgil in Eddie Redmayne’s ‘The Danish Girl,’ and Ivan Vladimirovich Egorov in Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘Red Sparrow.’ He also appeared as Getwiller in Christian Bale’s ‘Amsterdam’ and Booker/Sebastien le Livre in Charlize Theron’s ‘The Old Guard.’ He played the titular character in Sky Atlantic’s ‘Django’ and Herbert Zubak in HBO’s political satire ‘The Regime.’

The 19-year-old Belgian actress Fantine Harduin was cast as Laeticia Hallyday earlier this year amid significant buzz and speculation in the French media. She is known for portraying Eve Laurent in Austrian auteur Michael Haneke’s 2017 film ‘Happy End.’

Lespert, known for his nuanced storytelling and rich character portrayals, aims to bring a fresh perspective to Hallyday’s legacy. He made his directorial debut with ’24 Bars’ in 2007 before receiving widespread recognition for helming ‘Yves Saint Laurent,’ a biopic of the eponymous legendary fashion designer. Lespert had been working on bringing Hallyday’s life to the screen since the latter’s passing in 2017 due to colon cancer. The French filmmaker also was in a relationship with Laeticia, Hallyday’s widow, from 2020 to 2022 and continues to maintain a warm friendship with her.

The locations chosen for the movie’s filming—Paris, Hallyday’s birthplace, Miami, and Las Vegas—reflect the iconic musician’s global appeal and multifaceted life. Among the various projects slated to film in Miami are the Showtime shows ‘Billions: Miami’ and ‘Dexter: Original Sin.’ On the other hand, Las Vegas recently hosted the shooting of Al Pacino and Vince Vaughn’s ‘Easy’s Waltz.’ The French capital is a significant location of recently released projects such as Netflix’s ‘Under Paris‘ and FX on Hulu’s ‘The Veil.’

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