He performed in a theater for the first time as an 11-year-old boy. Ten years later he became known as the youngest actor accepted in the respectable Comédie-Française. Pierre Niney is only 27, has a history of success and a perspective of holding an important place in the french cinema.
He caught our eye in 2013 in a comedy film “It Boy”, which was a tremendous success seen by 1.5 million viewers in France alone. The role of Balthazar, a student who falls for a 20 years older fashion magazine editor, turned out to be the first pretext to get in touch with the world of fashion and show business.
“Just like Balthazar, I was really far from the world of fashion before we started shooting this film. I think it worked pretty well on my character. When Balthazar, out of love for Alice accompanies her to evening events and photo shoots, he feels completely lost. I knew this feeling very well,” says the actor.
As it turns out, just one year later, the actor will become immersed in the world of high fashion in preparations for role of Yves Saint Laurent in the biographical film about the designer’s life. It is hardly surprising that producers and director chose such a young actor for this extremely difficult and demanding part. Pierre is the spitting image of the master. Pierre Bergé, a close friend of Saint Laurent’s, was so moved and embarrassed when he saw the actor that he just greeted him saying “Hello Yves”.
Born: Boulogne-Billancourt, France
Awards: César Award: Best Actor
Nominations: César Award: Most Promising Actor
Debut: French miniseries “La dame d'Izieu”, (2007)
“Romantics Anonymous” 2010,
“The Snows of Kilimanjaro” 2011,
“It Boy” 2013,
“Yves Saint Laurent” 2014,
“A Perfect Man” 2015,
For the fashion icon legend to become alive on the set, Niney learnt tailoring, for instance how to hold fabric and control its quality. An integral part of the designer’s personality was his constant sketching. Audrey Secnazi, who has sketched for Saint Laurent for 15 years, taught the actor the characteristic style of YSL.
“The preparations were intensive and detailed, they lasted five months. I read and saw everything about him. I had a stylist, tailor, drawing trainer and a sports coach at my disposal, as well as access to extensive documentation of the Pierre Bergé’s Foundation—Yves Saint Laurent. I am very alert to people who I would call supernatural, who can see what others cannot. Yves Saint Laurent was that kind of person. He read the outside world in an extremely smart and sensitive way,” says the actor.
Thanks to the Foundation, all garments shown in the film are original creations designed by Saint Laurent. Dresses were delivered from special coolers where they are stored. They were carried by restorers wearing white uniforms and gloves.
“When the dresses were on the set, we were not allowed to do anything—eat or smoke—we barely even moved. I didn't expect to be really touched and moved by a dress,” he admitted.
The fact that he was able to really walk in Saint Laurent’s shoes finds confirmation in the César Award won in 2015 and an anecdote. The orphaned Yves Saint Laurent’s French bulldog named Moujik IV (a Russian peasant) came to Niney on the set and sat by his feet, like it used to when YSL was alive.
"Engagingly polite and well-mannered, he does not expose himself to public view very often, hiding behind timidity."
The actor is undoubtedly not only very talented, but also distanced and funny. He directed for the French TV a miniseries of skits “Casting(s)” mocking the show business and actors, in which he appears along with his colleagues from the CSNAD acting school. This is where he met his partner, Australian actress Natacha Andrews, who may be seen for instance in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy “Magic in the Moonlight” next to Colin Firth and Emma Stone.
Another film featuring Niney, shot one year after “Yves Saint Laurent”, has a characteristic title—“A Perfect Man”. This proper thriller tells the story of a struggling author who gains fame, prestige, money and fiancé by using a deceit. His luck doesn’t last for long, the lie becomes a burden, and the situation gets so complicated that his life turns into nightmare. Pierre Niney as Mathieu Vasseur once more proves himself perfectly, this time in the role of a man hiding dark secrets. A similar psychological portrait may be found in Niney’s last role in the film “Frantz” by François Ozon. This nostalgic and tasteful story, shot in black and white, is set in post-war Germany. The Frantz’s widow discovers that a mysterious man is visiting her fiancé’s tomb—Adrien, who turns out to be a Frenchman, friend of Frantz’s. This is the beginning of a story full of emotional exhilarations and game changers.
In France Niney is very popular and well-liked. Supposedly he never refuses to give out autographs or take pictures with his fans. He’s very active on Twitter, where he posts photographs from the set. He likes basketball, watches the NY Knicks games, and has a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Niney is also engagingly polite and well-mannered, doesn’t show himself very often, hiding behind his shy nature. His career has just begun, but the critics have already named him “the golden child and the hope for the French cinema”. Let’s add something to that – an incredibly handsome hope.