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Joséphine Jobert on her Death in Paradise future, the challenges on set and her favourite detective

The actress recently returned to the BBC show for its tenth series

After waving goodbye to the island of Saint Marie in 2019, Joséphine Jobert made her triumphant return as Detective Sergeant Florence Cassell in January for the tenth anniversary of Death in Paradise – much to the delight of fans.

The French actress, who grew up surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the showbiz industry, always had her sights set on performing, but it's not always been smooth sailing.

MORE: Death in Paradise star Josephine Jobert reveals moment she panicked during series ten filming

In an exclusive photoshoot and interview with HELLO!, the 35-year-old actress spoke about how a knockback in her early career affected her, and why acting came "naturally." Joséphine also reveals whether her reprisal as DS Cassell could be permanent, and why her next move could be for Hollywood...

 

Congratulations on your return as Florence in Death in Paradise for series ten. How was it to be back on the show? Was it what you expected?

"It didn't really feel any different because it's a family - the crew and everybody on the island. I wasn't expecting it at all. When I left in series eight, I thought, 'Okay, I'm done. I've done my job. It's the final goodbye, good luck, everybody!' I loved it. But when I received the call, I was very surprised.

"They asked me if I'd like to come back for the whole series. They said there was no pressure, to take my time. At first, I wasn't sure about going back to do it, just because I'd left, I'd said goodbye, so there was no reason for me to come back. But then I thought, I love the show and I have to do it, especially for the tenth anniversary. I was really happy.

"Just to see the people I know again, and to see Florence again, because I missed her. And I didn't know what happened to her after she left, after she had lost her fiancé. So I was happy to know what happened."

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Did it make you want to return as Florence permanently? And is that something that could be on the cards?

"I can't tell you right now, that's quite secret. Maybe, maybe not!"

MORE: Death in Paradise's future confirmed after tenth anniversary series

What were your reasons for leaving at the end of series eight?

"You know, I had all my time on the show with my five years. We were in Guadeloupe for five months. It's great, but it's quite long, and being away from everything and friends and family, I was struggling a bit. I thought I gave everything I could to Florence and I did everything I could to tell her story. And as an actor you think, 'Okay, I want to move on and I want to do new things.' That's the reason why, it was nothing dramatic. Nothing went wrong with the show, it was just a personal decision to move on."

Working in Guadeloupe must be incredible. What are some of your highlights?

"The people we work with are just great and they're like family now. And, on the weekends, we go hiking, scuba diving, we see waterfalls, dolphins!"

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You mentioned being away from family and friends for long periods of time. Is there anything else that was quite challenging?

"The first year working in English [was a challenge] for sure, as that was my first time ever. It's always been a dream for me and I was so, so happy about that. But learning lines in French, I can learn line after line one day before, no problem. But in English, it was a real challenge for me.

"So the first year I had a vocal coach, she used to record lines and send lines to me so I could repeat and know how to pronounce the words. After one or two years I thought I didn't need that anymore and my English had improved. So now on set if I have a doubt about a word, I just ask my other actors and directors. Sometimes I think I'm saying it right but then people start laughing and I'm like, 'What's wrong?' and they say, 'That's not how you say it!'"

MORE: Death in Paradise teases major change to show in future series

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"At first, I thought, 'Oh no, I don't want to talk, I don't want to make mistakes and sound silly or anything.' But it's not my first language, so it's okay to make mistakes and that's how I'm going to learn.

"It was difficult for me also because in Guadeloupe, there are people who speak English and people who speak French. TV is in French, when I talk to my family and friends, it's in French and so my brain was constantly switching between French and English, so it was very, very hard for me. I think the best way is to be in a country where everybody speaks the same language. That's the best way to learn."

You spoke before about your close bond with Kris Marshall on the show after working together when you first joined. How does working with Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker compare?

"I worked with Ralf and Ardal [O'Hanlon] and they're all very different. There's a different energy with different people and different backgrounds. I like it because I get to learn every single time I work with another actor, even with guest actors. Kris is very special to me because I started with him, he was the first and he helped me a lot. Anytime I was struggling or doubting, he would be there for me and say 'No worries, no stress', so obviously he has a special place in my heart. Ardal is the sweetest. He's adorable, so sweet and calm, and respectful – he's like a dad! I felt like I was more like a little mum to him, I wanted to take care of him and make sure that he was fine and had everything he needed. 

"Ralf is something else, he's another energy, he's a bit younger, a bit crazier! And I remember, I think it was when we were in quarantine and I was watching TV and I saw series nine of Death in Paradise, and I saw his character and I thought, 'Oh my god, it's totally different from anything we've had before!' And I really, really liked it. I liked the way he was playing it and everything about his character. I was so happy to work with him."

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The whole cast seems to have a really lovely bond and that really shines through on the show. Do you think that's one of the reasons why it's so popular?

"Yeah! We have a good time. It's not easy every day, because working with people every single day, from six in the morning to six in the evening, it can be quite long. So, we have ups and downs, it's normal we're human beings. But I've made very, very good friends, especially this year in series ten, I met amazing people. And we had so many great moments together. For example, Tobi [Bakare], he's like a little brother to me. I love him so much, he's the best. He's so, so happy every day and makes everybody laugh on set, he brings a good energy. We got to know each other a bit more every day, because we had time to talk in between takes and to share things. So that made the whole experience even better."

MORE: Death in Paradise star Josephine Jobert reveals whether she is staying after season ten

There has been a bit of talk recently about a female actor taking on the role of the detective. What are your thoughts on this?

"I mean, I'm a feminist! So I think it could be a good idea... But I don't know. The show is based on an English detective on this Caribbean island, so I think it would change the whole thing. You know, I'm going to compare it to James Bond (and I think Ralf would be very happy about that!), but you hear of James Bond being a girl and you think, 'No, James Bond is James Bond.' And I think it's the same with Death in Paradise, that's the way the show is.

"When Sara [Martins] came back, we were joking that we should have a special episode together, where we investigate together, that would be great. But for the whole show, I don't know. Just create another show where the detective is a woman."

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Speaking of Bond, your cousin Eva Green was in Casino Royale. Could you see yourself as a Bond girl?

"Yes, I'd love it! It's so funny, and I'm not making this up, I receive so many messages from people and fans who say to me, 'You should be the next Bond girl.' It's something that happens pretty often. And I screenshot every single message. I have to keep them just in case I meet the casting director and I can say 'Look at this!'"

Is there anyone's career that really inspires you?

"My model was Angelina Jolie when I was younger, just because she was so rock and roll and amazingly beautiful. And I think she hasn't really played that many roles where we could see that she's a very, very good actress, but actually, she is. She is amazing. I mean, in Tomb Raider she's playing Lara Croft and very intense, but her other movies [that I've watched], I thought 'Wow!'

"It's everything about her, the fact that she has adopted children, her charity work, she helps people around the world. I love her, I love everything about her. She scares me a little bit but she impresses me."

Have you ever been starstruck by anyone you've met?

"Not really, I think because my whole family is in this industry. I do it and I love my job, but I always take a step back. I see the person before the star. We're all human beings."

You get to travel a lot for work especially with Death in Paradise – where is paradise to you?

"That's a question I've been asking myself for years now. I live in Paris but that's obviously not where I want to live for the rest of my life. I wanted to move to LA before lockdown, but knowing I wouldn't spend my life there. South of France is where I'd like to live and have kids because it's such an amazing place. The best place I've ever been is Japan, two or three years ago, it's insane. The food, the people, it's so peaceful."

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Was there anything you could see yourself doing besides acting? Did you ever have a plan B when you were first starting out?

"That's a good question. I wanted to be a model when I was younger, I was clearly not made for this. I remember my mum said, 'Okay, why not?' She took me to a modelling agency and the woman there was a bit rude. She said that I wasn't photogenic and I would never be able to be onstage. I mean, saying this to teenagers? My mum was shocked but she said to me a few years ago, that she would like to find that person again and come back and say, 'Be careful what you say to young teenagers, because my daughter is an actress, and she's on screen.' You can destroy someone, you have to be very careful with the words you choose.

"And then I wanted to be a singer, but I'm not a singer! Acting was pretty natural to me, because, I have a cousin and mum, stepdad, everybody's in the industry either in front of the camera or behind. For me, that's the way life has always been."

MORE: Death in Paradise star Ardal O'Hanlon reveals real reason he left show

What words of advice would you give to those just starting out in the industry?

"First of all, do it for good reason, not for fame, not for followers, not for money. I receive a lot of messages saying, 'Oh my god, I'd love to be a star, I want to be famous.' Wrong. I have to stop you right there. It's about passion. We are telling stories. When we were younger at school, we would say 'I'm going to play the witch and you're going to be the fairy,' and we're going to be creating stories, I think we do the same as adults - we create worlds and characters. So you have to be very passionate about this, because it's very difficult. It's a hard job and this industry can be very cruel.

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"You can do a very good audition, but they see so many people and you may not quite fit the story of the character or the vision someone has. You're always doubting, 'Am I good enough?' It's very difficult, but you have to be passionate and take lessons. Because sometimes people think it's easy. It's very technical. You know, you have to follow marks on the floor, and the cameras, and you have to learn the lines, and then on set, the director will tell you, 'Okay, can you change everything?' So you have to be able to adapt very quickly. It's a hard job, but it can be just the most beautiful job.

"And you don't have to take yourself very seriously. Because I've met a lot of people who think actors are so important. Well, we are [in a way] because, I can see in Paris there's no more theatres, we can't go to the movies, but art and culture help people in life, yes. But we don't save lives. People in hospitals, fireman, they save lives. We're playing and we're having fun. So just chill and relax."

You recently moved house. How's your new place in Paris?

"I bought my new apartment at the very beginning of 2020 and I had to make some renovations. It was just before lockdown and the renovations were [so close] to finishing, it was two weeks from being done but then we went into lockdown. And then I had to leave for Guadeloupe, so I didn't have time to decorate. So now I'm back but I'm struggling. I'm spending hours on the internet to find the right cushion and the right colours, and I think 'Oh, my God, how do people do this?' It gives me anxiety! But it feels good to be home, to have my own apartment."

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What's your daily routine at the moment?

"It depends on my mood! If I feel very active, I would try to wake up really early, I like to exercise in the morning. So what I would do is a quick skincare routine, get dressed, eat something healthy, go to the gym and train, go back home and shower and then work on my to do list, or just go to my appointments or anything I have to do during the day. If I feel lazy, like I do during these times, I don't feel like doing anything, I would wake up a bit later.

"But I like to get prepared before eating anything, like getting dressed and having a shower, do my makeup and then eat. But even with exercising, I'm struggling and I'm usually addicted. I haven't trained for ten days and this is so not me. But, you know, it's winter. January, February are the worst months of the year. There's the curfew, the lockdown, and COVID.
On social media, I was thinking about talking to people, and just telling them the truth that I'm like them and I'm struggling to be motivated, and that it's okay. You don't have to feel guilty about it. It's normal."

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It's been a very different year, these past few months. How's it been in general for you?

"I want to say it's been okay. We're living in a crazy world right now but I try to stay positive. That's the way I am, always positive in any situation. Last year, during the first quarantine, I had a great time, I'm always a bit ashamed to say it. But I mean, I stayed home, I wasn't alone, and I just enjoyed every single minute and tried not to worry too much.

"And then we had a chance to leave for Guadalupe and work. So I can't really complain. I feel blessed and very, very lucky. And right now in France, there's a curfew at six, but there's no lockdown yet. But everything's closed and everything's pretty sad, but I try to just stay happy. We're not in the worst position right now, we're so very lucky and life goes on and we're alive and we're in good health and that's what matters at the end."

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What lessons would you say you've learnt from the past year?

"Something I already knew, but that life is so precious, and we need to enjoy every single minute. Because we take everything for granted. But everything can stop any minute or any second. Life is too short. And we are very lucky to be free, to live in a free country, and to enjoy life and suddenly when everything is taken away from you, you realise that. Just enjoy life every single minute. It is something I used to do, but I want to do it more right now."

What's next for you?

"Maybe series 11 of Death in Paradise, we'll see! If it happens, it happens. I'm just going to live day by day and try and see my family and friends as much as we are allowed to. I'm writing something with my mother, a movie blockbuster – we're dreaming big! So we're going to keep writing together and we'll see."

Photographer: Michael Roses

MUA & Hair: Laura Merle

Location: Studio Valmy Paris

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