Interview: Marie Dompnier (Witnesses) – 'This season was even darker'

Interview: Marie Dompnier (Witnesses) – 'This season was even darker'

French actress discusses the grisly second season of the police thriller

Witnesses is a particularly grisly police thriller. A French take on the Nordic noir format that features exceptionally gruesome crimes. After a two-year break season two, A Frozen Death, started with a bang as a bus packed with frozen corpses rolled into town in Northern France. Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier) was the detective in charge of solving this horrific crime, her investigation exploring dark and deeply personal territory.

We caught up with Dompnier to find out more...

Without giving too much away what can you tell us about Witnesses: A Frozen Death?
Season two focuses on Catherine [Audrey Fleurot] whose life is full of secrets and mystery. We don't know if Catherine is a goodie or a baddie and neither does she because she's an amnesiac. The big theme of this season is motherhood.

What can you tell us about your character?
At the end of season one Sandra was pregnant, so at the beginning of season two she has two daughters but she's now separated from their father, partly because her professional life was interfering too much with her personal life. The big problem for Sandra is that it's very difficult for her to combine being a mother and a detective, especially now she is living alone. She's very passionate about her job and obsessive by nature, which is tiring for her family but also makes her a first rate cop. She's addicted to the adrenaline of the job.

Did you like the fact that A Frozen Death focussed more on Sandra's private life?
It was a good thing for season two. For example it was interesting to play Sandra falling in love, to show her as more fragile than we saw in season one. When you are not just focused on the case you have an opportunity to play another side of the character.

Jan Hammenecker plays your police partner Justin across bother series. Did you enjoy working with him?
We met on the first season and now he has become a good friend of mine. He's a wonderful actor able to be both focused and subtle. I adore working with him, we have a lot of laughs which was essential because this season was even darker and it was five months of shooting so it's important to get on well.

There was a two-year break between each series, was it hard to get back into character?
I was happy to be back playing Sandra because I knew it would enable me to explore more facets of her. This season had eight episodes whereas season one had six, so you had more time to explore the psychology of the character. It was joyful coming back to her.

Will there be a third season?
If there is a season three, showrunners and directors Hervé [Hadmar] and Marc [Herpoux] would like to use the same characters but five or ten years older and that would be the last season. I think their idea is really great, inspired by [Richard Linklater's] Boyhood [famously shot over 12 years], I think it would be great for the series because it has never been done [on a detective show]. Wait and see.

Witnesses: A Frozen Death (and the Witnesses Season One & Two Boxset) is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Mon 15 Jan from Arrow Films.

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