Let’s talk about Matthias Schoenaerts.
In my spacious and enduring ‘crush’ kingdom, I have always been unintentionally assembling people from various scenes and backgrounds ranging from sports to music. I admit that many times, I selfishly and shamelessly focus on the appearance and charm of my ‘victims’, and despite the particular type of indulgence that inevitably takes place, there are instances where the potential of my crush reaches such inspiring intellectual and personality levels that make it so easy for the person to take the highest place in my ‘crush’ rank. In the case of Matthias Schoenaerts, it was easy to escape the superficiality of beauty and charm, although to begin with you got to give it to mother nature. See for yourself.
Err..what were we talking about? Talent. That’s right. Although Schoenaerts has a long career in his country, Belgium, and has also participated in many projects in other northwestern European countries, it was his participation in the Belgian film ‘Bullhead’ (Rundskop) in 2011 that put him in the broader European and Hollywood spotlight. There, he embodies Jacky, a cattle farmer addicted to steroids, about to be entangled in an illicit business with a beef trader. His performance as an emotionally traumatized and physically emasculated man that has difficulty coming to grips with a deprived reality is both haunting and moving, as the conflicting image of a brutal man with a shattered spirit unfolds.
Other notable performances since his international breakthrough involve his role as the loyal and patient Gabriel Oak in the adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (2015),the troubled filmmaker Paul de Smedt starring alongside Tilda Swinton in A Bigger Splash (2015) or the fiery and delinquent characters in The Drop (2014), next to Tom Hardy, and Blood Ties (2013).
However, there is one performance that for me is quite distinctive and also my personal favourite (so far). His collaboration with Marion Cotillard and French director Jacques Audiard in Rust and Bone ( De rouille et d’os, 2012) and his performance as Ali give prominence to his artful ability to portray complicated and unsettled men by diving deep into their psyche. Ali is a man abruptly left in charge of his son, unable to cater to his needs who decides to move to the south of France to live with the family of his sister. His brutality and his inability to show love and experience feelings are obvious not only in his relationship with his son but also in the superficiality that he approaches his relations with women and sex. His detachment is masked under the persona of an extroverted and laid-back man and is eventually challenged with his encounter with Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a killer-whale trainer who suffers a life-changing accident. Schoenaerts reads the cracks of the character’s personality masterfully, drives him to his eventual transformation and through his perfect chemistry with Cotillard gives life to a complex character in a remarkable way.
And that’s as far spoiler-free as I can go.
In his interviews, Schoenaerts gives the impression of a passionate man, deeply into his art, knowledgeable, and inspired by life itself and the way it can be genuinely imprinted on his work. His contagious enthusiasm and buoyancy along with his straightforwardness reveal a person that has deconstructed the pretentious celebrity world and lives for the real essence of things. Considering his turbulent family state when he was a child, the complex relation with his bipolar father and the shadow that he could have cast on his son’s career, being the most prominent Belgian actor of all time, Schoenaerts’ humorous and laid back style surprises. So complex as a personality and so stripped-down at the same time, he is definitely going to captivate you. And let’s also not forget how much his piercing blue eyes help in this case (sorry! couldn’t resist fangirling after all!). With many already announced projects, his rich future filming schedule can only make you impatient and keep you on your toes for the characters and stories to come.
P.S. All pictures are hyperlinked to their original source. Just swipe them with your cursor!