Why do you think people related to it so strongly? Everything is touchy in this story, everything is taboo. Disabilities are taboo, handicaps are taboo, and people don't know how to react. There's pity, there's so many emotions, and you're not at ease. With the guys in the projects it's the same. It's strange to make a connection between these two big taboos in our society, but it's a metaphor as well. That's why we were interested in this story. One of the characters is a social handicap, because he has no future, even though he's healthy and has force. The handicap is not visible. The other character has everything, besides the possibility of being able to move. So it's like the yin and the yang, and it's a true story. If it wasn't true, we would have had trouble with getting the details right. The journalists in France went straight to the true characters very quickly wanting to know if it was all true. After they found out, yes, it was, the movie was accepted right away.
I read somewhere that the inspiration for Philippe, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, was very happy with the finished product. What was the most gratifying part of this project? The best part for us, in a selfish way, was before the movie came out. You don't know what will happen, so everything is possible. All the opportunities and risks are there. Before, it's very quiet. After, when the success and the prizes come, and the audience reactions come, it's very noisy. I like both, but before, you're alone with your movie. It's a very intimate place. After the release, everything felt unreal. How can it be possible that the impact was so strong? It's a very strange period.
How does being part of a directing team change your approach to a film, as opposed to working by yourself? It's a part of the subject. We think that together we are stronger, so it's always been our philosophy. We don't like the ego of the job, of cinema. When you are a couple of directors working at the same time, there's no place for ego. If it's success, it's not just because of you, and if it's a failure, it's not only your fault. We began our career with a big actor, Gérard Dépardieu. When he saw Intouchables, he called us and said, "This film could only have been made by two people." There are two points of view for two very different characters, there's no directorial point of view. Working with him [Dépardieu] at the very beginning gave us our chance, and if he hadn't been there, I couldn't have been here sitting with you. We have two points of view that are truly mixed into one.
Do you have a favorite moment in the film? I have many. It's very personal, but for me, when Omar (Sy, who plays Driss) dances for Philippe. On the set, I had very big emotions, because it was a huge sum-up of the movie. Driss, with his macho principles, never dances for a man. The situation itself is so weird, because you don't dance for anyone usually, you dance for yourself. This time, I put my favorite Earth, Wind & Fire song on, and Omar was saying from the start that he wasn't going to prepare anything. The day of the shoot was approaching, and he didn't want to hear the music or think about it, he just wanted to feel it on the spot. We did it in one take, and at the end, we knew it was done. When I see that, I remember the process, and it was so emotional, and so strong. What can we do for someone in that situation, more than do it for him? By that time, the connection between the two guys is so strong.