French supernatural drama The Returned, which told the story of a mountain town rocked by the return of some of its deceased citizens, was a genuine smash hit for producers Caroline Benjo and Jimmy Desmarais, so it’s easy to understand their excitement about its long overdue return when we sit down with them after a screening of the first episode in Paris.
“We’re happy that you liked it, because there were expectations, you never know what’s going to happen, so it’s good news!” laughs Benjo. “I think we needed this time to just get it as right as possible, and to try to push things and be better than Season One. Fabrice [Cobert, the show’s creator] learned a lot from Season One, and wanted to try to be even better and more daring, and so he took the time he needed.”
The cast and crew’s respect for Gobert is absolute, something that is made very clear. “As a great director, he’s a seeker,” enthuses star Céline Sallette, who plays Julie, the nurse who becomes the guardian of young Returned, Victor. “He’s searching for something, and he has the tools, he has chosen the actors, he’s chosen the team, written the script, he has vision, and yet he is searching. So when it’s time to do it, it’s always with him. The thing about a director is, how does he bring life into his fucking film? Otherwise it’s just dead.”
“It’s hard to explain your success,” demurs Gobert. “We can deal with very complex ideas like grieving and the past with concrete characters that came from the past, and that’s great because it can be spectacular. What was very interesting for us is to talk about what’s inside the characters.”
“I think the success is because it’s very open,” actor Frédéric Pierrot (who plays grieving father Jérôme) tells us. “It’s so open that everyone can project themselves [onto it]. Whether you’re from Australia, Denmark or the States… it’s very French… but it’s bigger than France. I am convinced that it is bigger than us.”
The Returned: Season 2 is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray now. For more news about the biggest TV shows, pick up the latest issue of SciFiNow.