King Cantona to become lord of the stage in wife's play
During his time at Manchester United, Eric Cantona regularly entertained 80,000 at Old Trafford.
Now he hopes to complete his journey from footballer to thespian with his stage debut in front of an audience of 400.
On Monday night, he will appear in a play directed by his acclaimed actress wife in a performance that is already being billed as France's "theatrical event of 2010".
Until now, Cantona has been confined to TV and film roles, most recently in his critically acclaimed performance in Ken Loach's 'Looking for Eric'.
He will perform in the flesh in 'Face au Paradis' (Faced with Paradise), a contemporary play with just two actors that has become the talk of Paris.
Cantona's piercing gaze and bushy eyebrows have been staring out from magazines and television chat shows for weeks, often next to the refined features of his wife, Rachida Brakni, a film star and classical actress with the respected Comedie Francaise. The couple met on a film set in 2003, and she insisted on directing him in his first play at the illustrious Marigny Theatre on the Champs Elysees.
"Those expecting me to clown about are mistaken," he told 'Le Monde'.
Judging by the plot, that is an understatement. It is about a man and woman trapped in the ruins of a collapsed supermarket. The sole survivors cannot see each other but reveal their innermost thoughts in a non-stop dialogue.
Cantona said that he relished the prospect of once again performing to a live audience and that 400 people held no fears for him.
"I know where I'm going," he said. "My aim as a child was to play my part in front of 80,000 people and I did it. If one doesn't put oneself in danger, one doesn't know oneself."
As the words suggest, Cantona has not lost his penchant for philosophy.
In fact, the French have discovered, the man famous for speaking of "seagulls and trawlers" has become a contemporary Renaissance man. A painter since playing for Auxerre in the 1980s, he is also a serious collector, recently splashing out on contemporary French artists. He reads poetry and literature, from Ezra Pound to Oscar Wilde. Last month he released 'Her, Him, and the Others', a book of his photography. The proceeds will go to the homeless. (© Daily Telegraph, London)