The hit French supernatural series The Returned is available to stream on the Arrow TV Amazon channel now! To celebrate this epic reprise, we spoke to Anne Cosigny, who plays Claire Séguret – one of the many characters who experience a life-changing event that disrupts everything they believe to be true.
For those of you yet to embark on your journey into The Returned, it tells the story of when deceased relatives come back to life as if nothing happened, several years after their deaths. The residents of a rural mountain town are left to deal with the unnatural consequences of this bizarre Second Coming.
And if this isn’t enough to tantalise you, check out what this celebrity fan thinks in his Twitter testimonial:
“Watching THE RETURNED. Scary and sexy. Fun to see a foreign TV show that hasn't been Americanized. That kid Victor's giving me nightmares.”
– Stephen King
What made you take on the role of Claire?
“It was from the first scene with my daughter, Camille. She had an accident and should actually be dead – but she suddenly comes back home, saying she’s sorry she’s late and hopes I’m not upset! My character must realise Camille is alive and it’s an impossible scene to act. That’s why I wanted to be part of The Returned. I don’t know how I did it in the end – but I’m very proud of what I accomplished. It was one of the best scenes of my life."
How do you think the second season compares to the first?
“I loved the first season, but I like the second season more. The connection between the writer/creator and the audience was perfect – like a miracle! For me, The Returned is like an ‘author’s series’ in that nobody would watch it or be interested in it because it wasn’t commercial enough for a big audience – it was too good!"
Were you surprised about the show's international success?
“Definitely - it was a huge global hit even though it was not made to be attractive, which is why in particular the creator, Fabrice Gobert, was so surprised by its success. I think it’s because The Returned wasn’t intentionally made for an international audience. Especially in the second season – it’s rough and it’s hard to love the characters. The image is grey and, for me, it’s not appealing to always see Claire and her daughters in that house – especially with that lighting! Ultimately, the quality and the purity of the writer’s influence is stronger."
Where has the show had the biggest impact do you think?
“I remember the success of the show in the UK – British people have good taste!”
What do you think of the US remake?
“I only saw the first scene – the one I mentioned earlier – and I thought it was really funny. They did it exactly the way we filmed it. The actress is also like me – well, she’s a bit younger, but she looks a little like me! The set looks like our set too. Everything is a copy – but a bad copy, I think! [LAUGHS] The reason for this is that they wanted to make it more ‘American’ – everything had more rhythm and no silence. It was an action move, which loses the deep quality of the storytelling – it should be done slowly.”
The Returned was mostly shot in Annecy, which includes the mountain scenes and Barrage de Tignes Dam – adding a haunting backdrop to ironically entice the audience. How did you find the experience of filming there?
“Annecy is a really wonderful city. But, in the series, there are no scenes where you see this beauty! [LAUGHS] Fans should come to Annecy to see everything we didn’t show in The Returned! The location in the second season is closer to Paris. In fact, the village with all the houses that look identical is the hometown of one of the show’s writers. You can also walk around the mountains, which I did recently with my husband and my children. The mountains are really amazing.”
What was it like working with Yara Pilartz (the actress who plays Anne's 'returned' daughter, Camille)?
“It was so easy to play with Yara because when I’m acting in a scene, I believe she is really a dead ‘returned girl’! [LAUGHS] I would love to work with her again because of her special talent – she’s a very very good actress. I had to work with my coach a lot beforehand but when I got on set with Yara, she helped me too. And working with Jenna Thiam [who plays Camille’s older twin, Lena] – Jenna and Yara were like my daughters. I have two sons in real life – but I have two daughters in my other ‘Returned’ life. Plus, my on-screen husband, Jérôme – Frédéric Pierrot – has played my husband 4 or 5 times, I’m not sure! We are very close too. I love them all like a real family.”
How have you found working with the series' director, Fabrice Gobert?
“It’s actually quite moving to speak about it. Fabrice is one of the best filmmakers. I love working with him and I have a lot of respect for him. Fabrice is really a genius – when he’s on set he plays with time like a magician. You feel like you have all the time to film a scene! If something happens on the set or if there is a problem – he freezes everything. Then he has another idea and, again, you have all your time to work on it. He has a lot of control and I think it’s a huge quality for a director to have. He also has a way of directing actors with an infinity of love and respect. We trust him 100% and if I had a wish, it would be to work with him again. His first movie – Simon Werner a Disapru… [Lights Out] – it’s a story about a young man who disappears from school and all his friends are looking for him. In the film, the time has no beginning and no end. It’s funny because in real life, at work, he has this same capacity!"
Do you still work with Fabrice?
“I messaged Fabrice a few days ago to congratulate him on winning a prize for another series. He replied to say he was happy and that it was a great success – but not as great as The Returned, and I replied that I’m happy it was not as strong as The Returned! Fabrice said it will be difficult to get that same feeling for The Returned in any other project for the rest of his life. I agree and I think all the actors respond in the same way too.”
Does this mean there will be a third season of The Returned… eventually?
“Unfortunately, I think no. But if I were the producer, I wouldn’t have left the story like this!”
What was it like working on At Eternity’s Gate, alongside Mads Mikkelsen and Willem Dafoe?
"I was in At Eternity’s Gate for about 4 seconds – but I was very proud to be a part of this movie; it’s a masterpiece. My son has a bigger part in it than I do! [Vladimir Cosginy plays Doctor Felix Ray] He speaks perfect English – not like his mother. He has two huge scenes with Willem Dafoe and he’s really amazing!”
And what was it like working opposite Isabelle Huppert in Elle?
“Isabelle Huppert. Yes, she’s an international star but, to me, she’s like a cousin. I’ve known her a long time and she’s part of my family in a way. I was impressed to be in a film directed by Paul Verhoeven – very very impressed! But I was afraid every day, for every second! I was nervous, like stage fright!”
Anne can be seen in the upcoming thriller Madre, reunited with Frédéric Pierrot once again. The actress is also appearing in a BBC TV series called Trigonometry.
© 2019 by Antony Smith. All rights reserved.