Apologies to Wack Packer Eric Lynch for the above headline. While former Manchester United icon Eric Cantona acquitted himself nicely in a non-stretchy titular role in Ken Loach’s 2009, “Looking For Eric”, in the forthcoming “Switch” he’ll be tackling something a bit more box office-friendly. Of the Frenchman’s thespian ambitions, “the flamboyant aesthete of Premier League legend is, above all,” writes The Observer’s Julian Coman, “a trier.”
In “Switch”, directed by the up-and-coming French director Frédéric Schoendoerffer, Cantona plays the role of a hard-bitten Paris police inspector investigating a murderous case of mistaken identity. The acting hasn’t got the range and variety that he showed on the pitch. But the “strong silent” type of role seems to suit him, allowing him to display the unmistakable presence that was skillfully exploited by Ken Loach in “Looking for Eric”.
For Cantona, his gradual acceptance as an actor has been a vindication of what amounts to a personal philosophy of permanent revolution. For all his achievements and fame in England, he gives the impression that his ability to leave all that behind is a bigger source of personal pride.
“Some people need to stay at the top,” he says. “They are afraid to re-start from zero because they fear the critics. When you start from zero and you have been famous in another field, it’s very difficult. Beginning something is the same for everybody, everywhere, whether you start at 20 years old or at 40. But I think I have enough humour and enough humility about life. I don’t take life so seriously… I can just play with life.”