France’s Conservatoire-the country’s state-funded, highly competitive theater school-is known for preparing students for classical performance, not for turns as shady cognac salesmen trying to con the New Jersey mob. But next month, the French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade-one of the Conservatoire’s most famous alums, who starred in Queen Margot and Nelly and Mr. Arnaud-will make an appearance as a spirit-hawking malfaiteur in the fourth episode of The Sopranos.
“This might modify my image a little,” Mr. Anglade said the other day on the phone from Paris. “Not that I want to reject the image I have of intellectual actor, or actor on auteur projects. But I’d say it’s a change.”
Mr. Anglade had never acted in a television show before or even seen The Sopranos. But “my agent insisted I do it,” he said. “She said the show was really successful in America.”
How successful it was became clear to Mr. Anglade when he came to the area last fall to film his part. “It was right after Sept. 11, so it was hard to get a work visa,” Mr. Anglade said. “I went through the United States Consulate in Canada, and the minute I mentioned The Sopranos it was almost as if I didn’t need to show my passport anymore. It was amazing.”
Though Mr. Anglade had never seen it, The Sopranos has emerged as something of an underground hit in France, a country with a known predisposition toward American subculture, wise-guy movies and all things psychoanalytical (after all, they gave Lacan to the world). Les Sopranos, as it is known there, began airing with subtitles in 1999 on the cable-channel Canal Jimmy, a network with a long tradition of importing acclaimed U.S. television. Then it was picked up by other networks and, sadly, dubbed into French.
“In France, it’s for real TV lovers, for those who are obsessed with getting the best of television,” Mr. Anglade said. “A lot of my friends, a lot of French actors like Gérard Lanvin, were really pretty damn impressed I was cast.”
Despite starring in some pretty violent stuff, like the Quentin Tarantino–produced Killing Zoe or a recent French thriller called Sweat, Mr. Anglade still has the reputation of a dark, brooding Method actor. Early on, he secured himself a place in the French psyche with his part as Zorg, the handyman-cum-writer in the cult hit Betty Blue, and his performance in Nuit d’Eté en Ville as Louis, a gardener who spent much of his time on-screen stark naked. Mr. Anglade’s recent parts have included roles as a wacky psychiatrist (Mortel Transfert), a traveling cellist (Dark Summer) and an earnest, innovative schoolteacher (Le Prof).
Mr. Anglade said he loved his time making The Sopranos, in which he plays a character named Jean-Phillipe Colbert.
“I’m a small-time crook. I try and get [Artie] Bucco”-the restaurateur played by John Ventimiglia-“in a shady cognac deal and want to borrow some money from him,” he said. “But it turns out that James Gandolfini lends the money and, well, he doesn’t get the money back.”
Mr. Anglade said that while filming a fight scene, he accidentally punched Mr. Ventimiglia in the mouth and opened his lip.
“It was nothing aggressive, just a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing,” Mr. Anglade said. “We laughed about it and even took some Polaroids of him with his ice pack on his lip, it was trés sympathique.”
Mr. Anglade found the rest of the crew sympathique, too-he talked French cinema with Mr. Gandolfini, who plays boss Tony Soprano, and got along so well with director Steve Buscemi that they still e-mail and keep in touch.
As for Colbert, Mr. Anglade said that it’s unclear what eventually happens to his character, although the last scene shows him with a hit man.
“You never know-maybe I give the money back, maybe you’ll see me again,” he said. “But I guess it doesn’t look good, right?”
Happy loving couples like to share. They share beds and cars and mortgages. They share clothes and pets and checking accounts.
But the happiest couples of all share something the rest of us wouldn’t in a billion years: an e-mail account.
“Eeeew! It’s like sharing underwear!” said Louise Fuchs, a Manhattan stockbroker and e-mail enthusiast.
We’re with Ms. Fuchs. A joint e-mail account seems like the cyber-equivalent of his-and-her Planet Hollywood windbreakers. It’s a couple’s way of saying: We’re so in love, we don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.
It’s also an amazing statement of trust. Though Internet junkies love to remind us that nothing on the Web is ever truly private, an e-mail account is often a person’s last vestige of supposed privacy. Besides the “LOSE 20 LBS-NOW!!!” spam, it’s a personal sanctum of sent and received thoughts, invitations, flirtations. How many people would open it up to another person?
“I don’t know the kind of people who don’t lust after privacy,” said writer Patricia Volk. “I’d share my dental floss before I’d share my e-dress.”
Happy loving couples don’t see it that way, of course. Take John Simon and Caroline Cox, who are married. Their mutual e-mail address is their firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re joined at the hip,” said Mr. Simon, a songwriter and music producer. “We’re very, very, very couply. We have no secrets from each other.”
He’s not kidding. Mr. Simon and Ms. Cox, an actor and interfaith minister, share a checking account and a cell phone, and they sing in harmony together on their answering machine. Sharing an e-mail account came naturally.
“It’s really enough to have just one,” Ms. Cox said.
Shared e-mail accounts do appear to be largely favored by older couples. Pilates instructor Susannah Lescher, 21 and single, complains that when writing her 40-year-old friend David Leiber, she always feels compelled to tag on a “Hello!” to his wife, with whom he shares an e-mail.
“It’s awkward,” said Ms. Lescher.
But younger couples are sharing e-mail, too. Stephanie Thankappan, 28, cohabits a Brooklyn studio and an e-mail account with her 33-year-old husband Dileep.
“We’re good sharers. I never had a second thought about it. When you’re married, it’s like you’re one person,” said the perky Mrs. Thankappan, who admits to occasionally lending her toothbrush, too.
Happy loving couples do seem to be a bit righteous about their e-mail openness. If it’s till-death-do-us-part, they say, then fork over that password.
“You have to share something or else it’s not a marriage!” said Patricia Pagano, a Manhattan therapist who shares an MSN e-mail account with her husband.
Still, Ms. Pagano acknowledged that couples should know what they’re getting into before getting a joint e-mail account. “You have to know you’re not married to a control freak,” she said. Then there’s Ms. Pagano’s sister-in-law, Michelina Pagano-Parente, who said that the joint e-mail address is confusing because “sometimes I don’t know who I’m writing to, or who is responding.”
Some happy loving couples do seem to realize they’re in the e-mailing minority, and that their shared accounts may be just another indicator of marrieds-out-of-touch. Kevin Baker, a writer who shares an e-mail account with his wife, Ellen Abrams, says the couple’s “personalities have gotten so entwined that we’re now just one of those hideous couples.”
But like marriage, no shared e-mail account is perfect.
“I’ll come in and I’ll ask her if anyone has written to me,” Mr. Baker said. “And she’ll say, ‘I’m not your secretary!'”
-Anna Jane Grossman