Before diving into the world of Lupine, Netflix’s Biggest International Hit of the Year, viewers may not have known much, if anything, about Arsene Lupin. The fictional gentleman thief, imagined by author Maurice Leblanc in the early 20th century, serves as the inspiration for French actor Omar Sy’s chameleon character, Assane Diop. But while Lupine was a new character to many audiences around the world, the Parisian backdrop to Assane’s incredible heists was much more recognizable.
For Lupine Set designer Françoise Dupertuis, portraying contemporary Paris, with just enough tried-and-tested landmarks thrown into the mix, was essential not only to create a compelling setting for Assane’s exploits but to understand his origins and his determined quest for justice.
As viewers prepare for the long-awaited second half of Season 1, premiering on Netflix June 11, we spoke to Dupertuis about the balance between old and new Paris, the intricacies of filming at the Louvre, and of the importance of contrasts in bringing director George Kay Lupine to live.
There are so many possibilities to portray Paris on screen. There’s the fantasy that audiences are used to seeing and expecting, and then there’s a more realistic version. How did you approach the challenge of getting that balance right?
We needed to establish a clear visual direction that would move away from what everyone already knows. I’m not originally from Paris. I discovered this city when I was 20 years old and I remember the wonder I had when I arrived. I wanted to capture this curiosity for the many facets of the city in the show. But it was also important to remember that this is a series about Paris through the lens of two characters, the first being Assane Diop, who represents a diverse young generation from immigrant families, and the other, [Hubert] Pellegrini, which symbolizes a certain traditional France. And [in the show,] one has more means than the other.
Generational and social contrasts were to manifest themselves in the filming locations. On the one hand, we wanted to show classic and chic Paris – Pelligrini lives around Parc Monceau – and on the other, the greater Paris region and its suburbs like Montreuil where Assane grew up. We shot at the Montreuil Conservatory, next to the city of Croix de Chavaux. Inner Paris is the middle ground, both the historic Paris that tourists love, like the Louvre, Châtelet, and the everyday Paris that locals know, so we’ve included places like the Square du Temple and the Flea Market. Our aim was to provide an angle on the city that would feel free to both foreigners and Parisians alike, and which would highlight how Assane works the city, as if it were his own character, to achieve his goals. .