August 3, 2021

“Presenting an image of France to the world” far from the postcard

George Kay had already ventured to France, on behalf of Netflix, working on the French version of Criminal (2019-2020), transnational series. “I took great pleasure in working with the French teams”, he remembers. So much so that he did not hesitate when the platform and Gaumont, who produce Lupin, asked him to meet Omar Sy to think about a modern version of Arsène Lupine’s adventures. In one lunch, the British screenwriter, 42 years old today, who had contributed in particular to a few episodes of Killing Eve in 2018 (“A series which also mixes crime and comedy”, he points out), was “Carried away by charm and charisma” d’Omar Sy.

At the beginning of June, George Kay is in Paris (on the computer screen, he shows the exposed beams of his office as proof of residence), where he interrupts for a few moments the development of the suite of exploits of Assane Diop to return to the gestation of the character.

Little acquainted with the work of Maurice Leblanc (the British have with Raffles, a character created by EW Hornung, their own gentleman burglar), George Kay first explored “The space between two images” from France. That of the aristocratic thief, seducer and spiritual that proposed the novels written at the beginning of the XXe century and the one presented by Omar Sy. Making himself a pedestrian of Paris, the screenwriter has surveyed the beautiful neighborhoods where the burglar is rampant, but has also become accustomed to “Take the metro at random, to find the places where Assane grew up”.

“A treasure chest”

Such “A thieving magpie”, he drew on the imposing corpus of the adventures of Arsène Lupine to answer this question, which is asked repeatedly by his main character: “What would Lupine have done?” “, putting contemporary technology at the service of manipulations concocted more than a hundred years ago by a Norman novelist. “It is a treasure chest that is used to build the story of Assane Diop”, which cannot be confused with that of its model. “He is a successful man, who is competent in his profession, but he is also a father who struggles to take on his task, I wanted people to recognize themselves in it, explains George Kay. I didn’t want to make him a seducer who falls for all women. “

For his hero to move in a recognizable France on both sides of the Channel or the Atlantic, the showrunner relied on a team of co-scriptwriters, including François Uzan. They are the ones who explained to him that it was unlikely that in France a sex scandal would bring down a powerful or, more prosaically, told him where the high school students of the beautiful neighborhoods could hang out in the 1990s. The scenario and the dialogues were written in English and translated, as regards the second part, just before the shooting, by one of the producers, Nathan Franck.

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