Cedric Klapisch

Source: Credit: Jérôme Plon

Cedric Klapisch

It would have been impossible to imagine 20 years ago,” says acclaimed French writer-director Cedric Klapisch of showrunning a TV series based on his feature trilogy that began with Pot Luck in 2002, and was followed by Russian Dolls in 2005 and Chinese Puzzle in 2013.

“When I made Pot Luck I never thought I’d make a sequel,” he says. “I never imagined it would become the work of a lifetime.”

Greek Salad is an eight-episode spin-off produced by Klapisch and Bruno Levy’s Ce Qui Me Meut for Amazon France.

Pot Luck starred a then-unknown Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris, Kelly Reilly and Cécile De France. While Duris, Reilly and De France return for small roles in the series, Greek Salad zooms in on their children and a fresh generation of young twentysomethings trying to make sense of their lives. They are living in Athens all squatting together in a crowded apartment building.

During the shoot in the Greek capital in 2022, the ensemble cast of newcomers led by Aliocha Schneider, Megan Northam, Aggy K. Adams, Amir Baylly and Fotinì Peluso – all lived in the same Athens building for six months just like their characters.

To achieve the right tone, Klapisch brought five young screenwriters, aged between 26 and 30, on to the project –  Agnès Hurstel, Paul Madillo, Thomas Colineau, Eugène Riousse and Charlotte de Givry – and created a US-style writers’ room.

“It was fundamental that I work with people from a different generation than me,” he says. “I worked for more than two years with them and it was so interesting to see just how differently they see the world. I hadn’t realised how much I’d aged until I saw just how much their way of thinking is so disparate.

“The idea of what constitutes success isn’t the same for today’s generation,” he continues. “They want to build a more positive world that isn’t in opposition to their own values. In the ‘80s and ’90s, success meant money. Today, people are conscious of the fact that money can’t buy happiness so to be successful in life means to succeed at having a good quality of life.”

From features to series

It was Six Feet Under in the early 2000s that inspired Klapisch to work in TV. He made his first foray into series with Call My Agent! in 2015, helping to launch the series with renowned French talent agent and the show’s creator Dominique Besnehard, alongside showrunner Fanny Herrero, producing via Ce Qui Me Meut. Klapisch was artistic director for the show’s first season and split directing duties with longtime professional collaborator, director and real-life wife Lola Doillon and with writer-director Antoine Garceau.

'Greek Salad'

Source: Jerome Plon

‘Greek Salad’

For Greek Salad, he once again joined forces with Doillon and Garceau. The pair led the writing room and split directing duties with Klapisch among the eight episodes.

The production shot in Athens in the winter and spring of early 2022. Klapisch brought over around 20 French crew members, but the onsite crew was “mostly Greek” and the Franco-Greek technical teams combined with the potpourri of cast members from across the globe turned the set into its own “pot luck,” as Klapisch says with a grin.

But the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the production’s Covid-safe protocols caused havoc with scheduling as various cast and crew tested positive, rarely at the same time. “It was very, very complicated,” Klapisch explains. “Out of our team of around 200 people between Paris and Athens, 100 of them got Covid.”

The director also juggled production with shooting his feature Rise (En Corps) about a classical dancer who returns after a tough injury and career setback. 

“I didn’t mean for them to happen together,” he explains. “We sent the story arcs [of Greek Salad] to Amazon and, because of Covid delays, we didn’t have any answers for around a year so I said, ‘Okay I’ll go make a feature while I’m waiting.’”

Just as he kicked off pre-production on Rise, “Amazon gave us the green light so I had to juggle the two at the same time,” he explains.

When Klapisch left to work on his feature Rise, Doillon took over heading up the writers’ room. Garceau came on a bit later. They all worked on the casting together, and as they did for Call My Agent!, and the trio worked side by side in each stage of pre-production. “It was a truly collaborative effort,” Klapisch enthuses.

After location scouting in Greece in the fall of 2021, Klapisch shot Rise from December of 2021 for around nine weeks in Paris then headed to Athens.

The balancing act proved to be successful. Rise went on to sell 1.3 million tickets during its theatrical run in France via Studiocanal and was nominated for 10 César awards.

Coming next

Klapisch is now writing his next feature, his first period film set around 1875. “I’ve never done a period piece so that’s what entices me about it,” he said. Klapisch is writing he script with his frequent co-writer Santiago Amigorena. The two notably worked together on Rise and 2017’s Ce Qui Nous Lit (Back to Burgundy).

If there is a second series of Greek Salad, the production will hit the road again.

“What is great about this series is that even the choice of the city where it takes place is reflective of a generation,” says Klapisch. “Had I made this series 15 years ago, I would have chosen Berlin. Today, it’s Athens. It’s impossible to say which city would be the right place to set it in in 10 years from now.”