Auberge espagnole, L' : Director's Statement

The idea for L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE came to me about 10 years ago. My sister was attending the "Erasmus" exchange program in Barcelona, and when I went to visit her for a week, I found her sharing an apartment with five other roommates, every single one of whom was from a different country. When I saw how funny and rich this situation was dramatically, it inspired me to make a movie out of it.

At the time I had been working for two years on the script for a heist movie. Everything was set to go when production had to be delayed four months. I decided to see if I could make another movie while I was waiting, figuring that if I could write a project in two weeks, it would be possible. I sat at my desk and 12 days later finished L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE.

Along with Bruno Levy, the producer, and Romain Duris, the actor who I always wanted to play Xavier (we had already worked together four times), I traveled around Europe looking for the cast. We went to Copenhagen, Rome, London, Berlin and Barcelona, meeting about 20 actors in each location. For each character, I wrote a little "rehearsal scene," and as we went along, these auditions became new scenes in the film. Throughout the process, I was rewriting the script and reinventing the characters based on ideas that the actors inspired in me.

Indeed, the plot of the film seemed to arise out of the people I met. Usually I work, like most writers, in the opposite way: creating characters and then seeking out actors to embody them. But, in this case, it seemed important to do it the other way around. For one thing, I didn't want to make caricatures of any European culture. So, for example, instead of writing "the perfect Italian character," I met Federico D'Anna, who I found to be very Italian in his own individually unique way, and he became "the Italian character" in the movie.

Barcelona also affected the script, because as I searched the city for locations, many scenes came into my imagination just by discovering a very special place. The script was consciously constructed like a melting pot made up of dreams, memories, images, environments and stories told to me by Erasmus students. This "jam" became L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE.

I think the tone of the movie expresses the confusion of that time when you are 25 years old and you're not really sure what you want to do with your life, who to fall in love with, if you should be going to college or learning about life in some other way. That time is often a mess, in a sense, and with Xavier, I tried to express this messiness in a light and comic way.

It seemed that as I made the movie, I learned, along with Xavier, that following the most unconscious desires and mixed-up impulses is a good way to grow up and experience life with freedom. In the end, it became a movie not only about youth and travel and diversity but about finding that freedom.

-- CÚdric Klapisch

Author : Fox Searchlight Pictures