‘Brothers & Sisters’: Gilles Marini reveals Luc Laurent’s true agenda

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As Sarah Walker’s smoldering new French lover, Luc Laurent, Gilles Marini has singlehandedly injected some serious spice into Season 4 of ‘Brothers & Sisters.’ His appeal goes beyond his good looks -- viewers are as charmed by Luc’s sweet and humble nature as they are with his dimples. More important, Luc presents a solid love interest for Sarah, a working mom and divorcée who is in desperate need of romance.

Fan response after Marini’s first episodes has been so positive that the 33-year-old French actor, who first gained fame as Samantha’s lusty neighbor in the ‘Sex and the City’ movie and as a runner-up on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ has been asked to appear on four additional episodes after his initial five. Starting on Nov. 18, Marini also will appear on two episodes of ‘Nip/Tuck,’ where he’ll play guest-star Vanessa Redgrave’s sinister husband. The devoted husband and father of two spoke recently about Luc’s true intentions, his chemistry with costar Rachel Griffiths and how he feels about being a sex symbol.

How did you come upon this role on ‘Brothers & Sisters’?

While I was doing ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ I got a meeting with the people from ‘Brothers & Sisters.’ They talked to me for two hours and said they wanted to write a role for me. You don’t really think too much -- you’re going to be on that show. The opportunity is humongous. It was also great for me to show that, no matter what comes my way, I will be recognized as an actor. I knew it would be something amazing just because of the group I’d work with.


Had you watched the show before getting offered the part?

Yes, and every time I watch it, my daughter is around. Then my son comes around because he doesn’t hear any noise other than the TV. It’s the only show we watch at home where everybody shuts up. Every time Rob Lowe is on TV, my daughter stares at him. During the episode when he had a heart attack, she was crying and she was only 2 years old. I was telling the story to Ken Olin before I knew who he was. He thought it was so awesome, and next thing you know, he says, ‘Let’s go have this meeting.’ I didn’t know I was talking to him!
You are certainly surrounded by tremendous actors. Describe that first day on the set.

There was the table read at first. I was completely unnerved. I was sweating. I looked around, and there was Rob Lowe, Sally Field. I thought, ‘I’m going to faint here.’ It was honestly very tough for me. But they were all so sweet. They made me understand that it’s a big family there, on and off the camera. On the first day of shooting, I thought, I can really do this for a couple of seasons for sure.

Luc and Sarah’s connection is the key to making them believable as a couple. How did you establish chemistry with Rachel Griffiths?

With Rachel, what’s not to like? We have a lot of similarities: We’re married with kids, and we have this life that we can go home to at night. On and off camera, Rachel Griffiths is a very powerful woman. She’s beautiful inside and out. I love powerful women. It’s something I’m attracted to. The chemistry is good because of the love and respect I have for her off-screen.

Has Rachel given you any pointers so far?

She’s helped me so much. She puts so much emotion and attention to the show. Her husband is a painter, and my character is a painter, so she brings her real-life experiences to the set. She helps a lot with the lines. I’m always listening whenever she has something to say about a scene. I give her all my trust because she really wants everyone to shine. It’s why she stands out every time. When people talk about Sally Field and how much of the ‘real deal’ she is, that’s what it’s also like working with Rachel.

Aside from Rachel Griffiths’ help, how did you prepare for the role of Luc Laurent?

I went online and studied different painters. A lot of artists are so out of whack. They’ve had very bad relationships, so I tried to bring some of that into the character. He’s had bad luck in his love life. Sarah has her work and doesn’t really need anything from a man. To see this lady that’s so different from what he sees in his culture, I think that was a reason that he would fall in love in with her. I’m really trying to push that this character is in love. People think he’s too good to be true, but when a man is in love, he’ll do drastic stuff.

People are dying to know whether Luc has an agenda.

As we speak today, Luc Laurent has no agenda. He’s madly in love with Sarah, and he doesn’t need anything from the Walkers. I think they need more from him than he needs from them. He just loves her. I hope it will be one of the love stories that people will remember.

Do you share any similarities with your character?

We both love women. I love women for what they are; they’re so precious to me. Every woman is a temple. I think it’s so much more complicated to be a woman, and I love when a woman really respects herself. When my daughter is older, I’m going to make sure to explain that it’s so important.

What challenges will Luc and Sarah face?

I think the challenge between them will be the whole work process. She wants him to have a plan, but she doesn’t even know really who he is yet. She’ll push him to get a job, but she doesn’t know if he even needs a job. It’s interesting to see the conflicts between men and women nowadays, especially when it comes to an artist talking to a CEO. We have problems on my fifth episode. Maybe you’ll agree with her; maybe you’ll agree with him. Or maybe you’ll agree with both, and you can’t wait to see them together again.

Tell me about your upcoming role in ‘Nip/Tuck.’

I’m playing the husband of Vanessa Redgrave’s character. I’m a bad guy. I’d rather play a murderer than play the kind of character I play on ‘Nip/Tuck.’ When I told Anthony LaPaglia, who’s a good friend I play soccer with, about it, he said, ‘Finally, someone had the guts to portray a monster without the face of a monster.’ He was so excited that I was playing this character. Even my wife is worried about the response of the fans. It’s ‘Nip/Tuck’! It’s got to be wild and outrageous. It’s a million miles away from the guy on ‘Sex and the City.’

Speaking of your role in ‘Sex and the City,’ are you ever worried about being typecast as a sex symbol?

You know what, maybe when I’m 73 years old, I won’t have to worry about being a sex symbol anymore. If I have to do a big romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston or Jennifer Garner because people think I’m sexy, then I would just be proud of what people want me to be. I can’t say, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t want to be a sex symbol.’ I am what I am.

I never used any physicality to get anywhere. My mom would have kicked my ass. You look the way you look, but just make sure you’re super smart. If you’re a good-looking guy who thinks people owe you something because you’re good-looking, trust me, doors will slam in your face. That was a great lesson in life.

-- Enid Portuguez