France Castel: a contagious smile

August 22, 2017








You’re in good shape, and your laugh and presence both shine with happiness. Where does all that energy come from?
I think it comes from living in the here and now. I practice self-care every day. I go for a walk, I eat well (too much, but well!). I meditate for at least an hour a day. It helps to mentally clear out the cobwebs and lets me access a lot more energy.

You seem to enjoy life, especially the precious moments with your grandchildren. What kind of grandmother are you?
My grandchildren are great! I grandparent much the same way as I parented, but I’m more balanced. I’m more open; I’m not the kind of grandmother who will make her grandkids knit with her. We get out and do fun things. For me, it’s easy to act their age. I wish I could be there more often, but that’s a downside to having so much energy: I’m still working!

If you were a grandma with hearing loss, would you be embarrassed to wear hearing aids so you could understand your grandchildren?
Anything I can do to hear better! I think it’s really important to raise awareness. Some people are always going “Huh? What?” They’re always second-guessing what they heard and it changes the way they act. I know people around me with hearing loss, some of them actors, and you can tell something’s off but they don’t want to talk about it…

Hearing aids aren’t what they were. You can barely see them now. Why should we limit ourselves? Isn’t the same thing as wearing glasses? If you don’t see well, you put on a pair of glasses.
If you don’t hear well, you can put on these small, sophisticated hearing aids. We wear them when we’re singing. But for now, I still hear really well!

You were a singer before you started acting. How music has changed your life?
I’ve never really stopped singing. I’ve had small projects with Blues du toaster and Les blues me font pu. I used to sing a lot on stage, especially in musical comedies. I was almost exclusively a singer at first. When I sang in the chorus, I had to read music and scores. I sang on many albums: Jaune by Ferland, I was a backup singer for Diane Dufresne… Music is really my heart and soul. I grew up around music. My father played piano, organ, and even harp. It’s funny, I don’t listen to as much music now, but I used to listen to so much. Lots of different styles, too, everything from classical to Elvis Presley to Ella Fitzgerald!

You’ve had an interesting career path, going between TV and movies. What do you like about acting?
It depends on the moment, on my personal life and on the roles. I feel most involved when I get to act and sing at the same time. It’s like everything syncs up. Some songs might have no effect on me, while some roles make me feel alive. It all depends! A solid combination of acting and singing really works well for me. And I love the listening and sharing aspect of acting. I like being able to share a message and make people feel something.

You’ve hosted many TV shows, such as Pour le plaisir with Michel Barrette. That show was important for you, wasn’t it?
That show came at the right time. I was 64-65 years when we started, I felt it was good timing for me. I had hosted some more practical, serious shows (Deux filles le matin). I saw people who would come and really enjoy the show, and I realized how important it is to make people laugh and share my energy in a simple, fundamental way. I miss that, and I miss the rapport I had with Michel.

Finally, what advice do you have for young people who want to enter your field?
For young people, I’d recommend doing a bit of soul-searching, making sure you understand who you are and what you want to be. It’s also important to figure out whether you want this for yourself, or if you’re doing it for someone else or out of fear of falling behind. Ask yourself: “What story do I have to tell?” From there, it’s all about work, determination, discipline and fun! Yes, it’s a serious career, but it’s not open heart surgery! You need to cool your ego a bit and save it for your acting.

Thank you for this nice interview, Mrs. Castel!