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Maxime Bouttier: A Hollywood heartthrob is born

Nathalie M. Tomada - The Philippine Star
Maxime Bouttier: A Hollywood heartthrob is born
Indonesian-French actor Maxime Bouttier makes his Hollywood debut alongside industry heavyweights George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the romantic-comedy film Ticket to Paradise. He plays a seaweed farmer with a ‘holistic, almost-spiritual perspective’ to his profession.

MANILA, Philippines — A Hollywood heartthrob is born and his name is Maxime Bouttier. The Indonesian-French actor is a big reason why Julia Roberts and George Clooney end up reuniting despite being a warring divorced duo in the romantic-comedy Ticket to Paradise.

Jakarta-based Maxime plays Gede, a Balinese seaweed farmer who falls in love with Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), the only daughter of exes David (George) and Georgia (Julia), during her vacation in Bali, Indonesia.

Gede has a “holistic, almost-spiritual perspective” on his business which has been handed down from generation to generation. Self-assured and knows what he wants in life, he’s irresistible to Lily who has yet to figure out her next steps after law school. News of their impending marriage then sends Lily’s panic-stricken parents on their first flight to the island-paradise to “save” their daughter from repeating their “mistake” and becoming “miserable” forever. But Gede is a formidable force as well who won’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of love.

According to director Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), finding the “right actor” for Gede was critical because he has to be someone worthy of “Lily completely changing her life for.”

The actor must be deemed a legit rival of David and Georgia for their daughter’s affection. At the same time, he has to be capable of standing toe-to-toe with Hollywood heavyweights as co-stars.

“You also have to buy that he’s a worthy adversary for Lily’s parents when they arrive, yet we also needed someone who wasn’t going to be totally freaked out when it’s George and Julia playing those parents,” explained Parker.

Maxime in traditional pre-wedding scenes with Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Lily.

As soon as Maxime’s audition tape came in, the producers knew he was the one. Indeed, in the film, the 29-year-old goes on a charm offensive, with a screen presence totally capable of sweeping off not just Lily’s, but also the audience’s feet.

Ticket to Paradise starts screening today in cinemas nationwide. Ahead of the premiere, The STAR had an exclusive audio call with the 29-year-old to talk more about his exciting Hollywood debut.

Maxime, who originated from Bali, has been an actor in Indonesia for 10 years now after working as a model. He’s also a musician. “I have been thinking of going into more of a global market one day. But I never thought it was going to be this big for the first get-go. I’m just gonna go with the flow as I always have and see where it takes me. You know, stream away with the river,” he said.

He hopes his participation in the film will open more opportunities for Indonesian and Southeast Asian actors. “I’m just lucky enough to kind of have the first toe in the whole global market thing. Hopefully, this will just be a rising thing, and like, it’s just gonna keep going up and up, and up and running,” he said. He truly believes that like the entertainment powerhouse that is South Korea “we have our own stuff to offer to the world.”

Ticket to Paradise is also a story of sweet second chances, and interestingly, it was a second chance that made Maxime a part of the movie. Below are more excerpts from the one-on-one chat:

What was your first reaction when you got the role of Gede?

“Ol, the director, called me that day. I was playing a video game and actually, I missed the call. I was like, oh my god, is that Ol that called me? So, I called him back, ‘Hi Ol, how are you? I’m so sorry. I didn’t answer you.’ And he goes like, ‘I think I’m gonna be the first one to tell you. You got the part.’ I was just shocked! I was speechless. I didn’t know how to react. I was just like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. Thank you for giving me the part.’

“I was so diplomatic. But as soon as the phone turned off, I called everyone I knew. I cannot believe I got the part. I just cannot. I mean, I was lucky enough to even just have the audition. I was already happy there…”

The film also showcases Indonesian culture.
Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures International

But have you always wanted to make it to Hollywood?

“Yeah, I mean, I’d love to have been going to Hollywood, like more of a global market. I’m also French. I wouldn’t mind having to do a French movie as well. This one, I did all the auditions through Zoom. I was shooting another thing at the time. We were in our fifth month. Suddenly, everybody got the bad news that we had to be in lockdown. I unfortunately got COVID myself when I was doing the second call. So, a lot was happening. We didn’t know if my shot on that one was finishing. I didn’t know if I got the part because I was very sick on the second Zoom meeting.

“So, I called them and I was like, ‘Can I please have a second chance and maybe have another audition?’ because I was very bad here. I felt really sick. Fortunately enough, Ol, he’s such a wonderful person, he said, of course, we’ll give you another call and I had another call. That was it. The rest was history.”

What was the first day on set like (due to COVID restrictions in Indonesia, the film was shot in Australia)?

“The first day on set for me was very tricky. It was the boat scene. I had to get ready for that scene for like three weeks. Because in Australia, you have to have a boat license. You have to have a practical exam, a written exam, everything… the theory exam. I had to do that within two weeks. Luckily enough, I got 97 percent out of 100. So, that was just like, oh my God, thank God.

“On the first day of the shoot, I just remember it was, technically, a nightmare because there were big ships everywhere. Big cameras, waves. And they’re like, okay, it’s a bit windy Max, we gotta be careful. And I have George Clooney and Kaitlyn in front of my boat on my first day and my brain was like, ‘I cannot screw this up.’

“It was overwhelming. But I’ve done so many traveling stuff here in Indonesia that I kind of got used to the pressure of a lot of cars, motorbikes passing by, I mean, in Jakarta. You know, traffic everywhere. So I kind of got used to the whole hustle and bustle.”

What have you learned from acting with George and Julia?

“Meeting George and Julia was also overwhelming. I couldn’t even pronounce my name. I just tripped up on my second name. I have a really complicated second name when I say it in English. So, I said something and I was like, oh my God, I am so sorry. My name is Maxime Bouttier. All in all, it was just an overwhelming experience but they were just a wonderful cast and family that was so open and welcoming.

“I guess, the thing I kind of learned now that I think about it, it’s more when you see the movie. I was like, oh, wow, that came up like that. So, they do have a way to kind of portray on set, when you see them for real. But on screen, it is completely different. They do resonate something different. So, that’s very interesting.

“I’ve seen their movies a lot of times. In real life, I was more of a sponge. I just observed everything and I hope I took it in subconsciously. Usually, this type of thing, it does kind of write stuff in the back of your mind and (you) just kind of use it without you knowing. It’s an interesting portrayal and it’s interesting how they kind of work it out really.”

George and Julia are warring exes who team up to sabotage the planned wedding of their only daughter Lily in the island-paradise of Bali, Indonesia.

How similar are you to Gede (who’s seen as “open-minded but also culturally connected to his customs”)?

“We came from Bali and I do have that cultural awareness of how Gede lives his life, how he’s connected to nature, you know? Because Bali is pretty connected to nature and also culture and family tradition. I was always amidst that tradition. I was there for 17 years (from when) I was a child to when I was a teenager. Although I’m not a seaweed farmer. It was the first time I’ve done anything close to seaweed farming. But yeah, I think the takeaway from Gede, it’s a give-and-take with nature. We sometimes take it for granted that we are a part of the ecosystem and we do stray off from taking care of it.

“But Gede is kind of showing this person from America, Lily, that it is important. If we don’t take care of her, she won’t take care of us, you know Mother Nature. I think that’s the big takeaway from Gede.

“And Balinese culture. There’s so many modern things happening in the world. And Bali is kind of a special area. It’s almost like Thailand, like it’s still very in touch with its roots. They don’t want to lose that because it’s ancestral. It’s something that their great-great-great-great grandparents did. They don’t want to lose that. It’s their legacy.”

HOLLYWOOD

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