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Sébastien Chabal As The CurrencyFairy

January 10, 2014

There has been a huge amount of attention given to CurrencyFair’s new video starring the toughest man in world sport, Sébastien Chabal.

CurrencyFair’s Adam Davidson gives us an inside look into the making of this TV ad.

But first, let’s take a look at what’s been causing such a stir . . .

Now, over to Adam . . .

On Thursday 28th November in a trendy borrowed flat in North London I had the pleasure of working with the formidable French Rugby international Sebastien Chabal as the lead talent in the new CurrencyFair TV ad.

Now I’ve worked with taller (Dragon Peter Jones,) wider (Nick Frost,) cooler (Julian Barrett,) funnier (Omid Djalili) and wiser (Arthur Smith,) but nobody bigger. When I say big I mean Sebastien Chabal filled the set and the building the set was in. He was able to fill the set because he has presence, in spades. His presence comes from the fact that, at 6ft 4, he’s nearly as tall as Peter Jones, he’s nearly as wide as Nick Frost, and perhaps more surprisingly he’s nearly as cool as Julien Barrett, nearly as funny as Omid Djalili and nearly as wise as Arthur Smith. And on top of that he’s also a down to earth, hardworking, tolerant gentleman.

Let me give you some examples.

Chabal The CurrencyFairy I arrived on set at 9am to hear that Sebastien had been there an hour already and was helping the sparkies and riggers lift some of the lights and scaffolding. ‘Let me help you with that’ he’d apparently insisted in his heavy French accent.  Some people referred to him on set by his Christian name, others by his surname and some by his character’s name and it seemed to matter to him which, not a jot.

The storyline required him to deliver one line while spinning a laptop on one finger. Now, while he’s a big guy and he had a little help from a device that kept the laptop from slipping off his finger he was still carrying the weight of the laptop on his extended arm for twenty or more takes before politely asking for a rest. As with all shoots there are many things that can render a seemingly good take unusable (light, focus, frame, sound,) and Sebastien did not show the slightest hint of unhappiness or frustration when asked to repeat a line time and time again. There was however one occasion when after the brief silence that follows a take during which everyone on set waits to hear the director’s opinion, Sebastien beat him to the punch and asserted ‘that WAS good.’

He was right and we moved on.

A number of us tried, in the name of politeness, a little French on set which on each and every occasion, presumably because of the awfulness of our pronunciations, made Sebastien laugh out loud in a deep and room shaking way.

Because of his fierce reputation there were occasions when we asked Sebastien for a fierce look and he delivered to aplomb, but only after being given a moment or two to dig deep and find that look from within him. Then immediately afterwards his face and demeanour returned to the incredibly friendly and affable man he is. On completing the final line, when most actors, professional or otherwise, are generally finding it difficult to hide their waning enthusiasm for the day, Sebastien made it clear that he had a genuine appetite for more had it been required. It wasn’t but he did very tolerantly spend some extra time signing autographs for those of us who requested them.

I must also mention the two excellent supporting actors Wim and Justine. The director Paul, assistant director Francesco, producer Jules, DOP Dan, and everyone from Enter and Crossfire including Michelle, Ed and Dave.

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