Dear readers, our series of interviews with Khmers around the world is back on track. With 2024 ushering in a new beginning, we bring you a fresh breath of air by introducing you to the talents of the new generation throughout the month of January.
French-Khmer stuntman KEVIN KE leads the way, and it's with a light-hearted enthusiasm that he talks to Cambodge Mag about his family, sporting and professional background.
You were born in the Paris region and raised in a complete dual culture. Your grandmother spent a lot of time with you, so tell us about that anecdote when you started kindergarten?
My grandmother only spoke to me in Khmer... so I didn't speak any French, and on my first day at school... I didn't understand a thing; the teacher had to learn a few Cambodian terms to communicate with me.
In your home, Khmer culture is omnipresent. To what extent?
Mainly to pay tribute to ancestors and respect for elders, but also how to place elements and food for ceremonies.
You stayed in the same area until CE2, when you moved to Bagneux. What are your memories of your middle and high school years?
Being in an environment where diversity was part of everyday life, I have nothing but good memories, as discrimination had no place.
But then something clicked in high school. Your interest in your roots, previously shared only within the family, changed direction. Why did this happen? And how?
I discovered other Khmers by chance (via TV show Une famille en or) and for the first time, I stepped outside my family circle.
What followed was a succession of wonderful encounters with Franco-Khmers, whom I now consider my other family.
During this period, you met someone who led you to discover and practice stand-up comedy. Can you briefly describe these moments?
As chance would have it, my high school supervisor in 2014 saw potential in me, and introduced me to this new milieu by placing me with him at the Casino de Paris!
During this period, you also tried your hand at a number of different sports. What are they and why did you choose them?
I took up MMA with my best friend Jordan, then kickboxing - a sport which, however, was much less to my liking. I'd leave that discipline to learn Muay Thai, a sport that completely enchanted me! After that, I discovered KUN KHMER and realized that our martial arts were quite similar!
On the family side, you ask your parents more questions about Srok Khmer. Are there any facts that stand out for you?
The facts about my parents' flight in 1975 are becoming more and more interesting to me, and I'm curious about every little detail. In particular, I realized that there was a permanent and voluntary silence from my parents on the subject.
In 2007, I decided to go on a trip. Tell us all about it!
I went to Cambodia for the first time with my mother, who was returning for the first time since her exodus, but only as a holiday.
What were the special places or moments of this trip?
When I arrived, I had a feeling of well-being, and speaking fluent Khmer, I had adapted almost completely after two weeks. I would particularly appreciate the natural places and landscapes.
Then you'll continue your studies by choosing a BTS in audiovisual. Why did you make this choice?
My attraction to post-production, and in particular video editing, comes from the fact that I like playing roles. That way I could easily create my own projects, being in front of the camera when shooting and editing afterwards.
When Covid arrived, you began a period of reflection. Can you describe it for us?
Having missed out on a number of interesting proposals, and with my job as a video editor - and my stand-up activity - both taking up a lot of my time, I decided to call it a day. I would then devote myself solely to castings.
Then one day your mom gave you a special painting, which would eventually become the driving force behind your current life. Tell us about it!
My mother gave me a picture that said MAKE YOUR DREAMS HAPPEN. Then we watched an action movie together... and it was instantly obvious to me: stunts were made for me!
"So I decided to combine my two passions and make it my profession: martial arts and cinema".
Since then, you've been evolving in the world of stunts. Tell us about your beginnings
My training is still facilitated by my constant practice of martial arts. But a lot of people don't realize that the impacts are real, which requires real physical and muscular endurance... And I'm discovering that I really enjoy acting out the theatrical reactions to all these stunts!
What have been your most memorable roles?
⁃ LARGO WINCH 3
⁃ Other roles including an American series currently being filmed, so this will remain confidential for the time being.
⁃ Otherwise... I like all my roles where I play the villain!
What are your current or future projects?
I'm currently working as a fight choreographer on two pilot series and a few short films.Although I still consider myself a neophyte, it's a role I really enjoy and one in which I'd like to train more and more. We've also set up a stunt team called LOS CASCADOS with Sébastien Dugast, made up of around ten people.
I'm also writing a feature film called KHON (which we'll probably talk about again in the future), which deals with general family problems, not typically Asian ones.
What would you like to see happen on this subject?
MY WISH IS TO GET ASIANS OUT OF THE CARICATURED ROLES THEY'RE USUALLY GIVEN.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have contributed in any way to my sporting, professional or other career.
Interview by Chantha R. (Françoise Framboise)