Bouli Lanners, a Liège man full of Scotland
In 1965, Philippe Lanners was born in Eiksken, on the Belgium-Netherlands-Germany border triangle. 57 years later, Philippe - nicknamed Bouli by his friends because of his round shape - is a well-known and celebrated Walloon actor and director. And a seasoned Scotland fanatic.
If bagpipes are right up your street at just seven years old, how could the course of your life lead you anywhere but to the land of mud and tartan? Known, among other things, for the two feature films Eldorado (2008) and Les Premiers, les Derniers (The First, the Last (2016)), Bouli Lanners plays the lead role of a robust middle-aged man who has lost his memory after a stroke in Nobody Has to Know (2021). At the same time, he is in the director's chair of this wonderful and moving love story with, if anything, a few thriller-like plot twists. Of course, the film was shot on location there, on Lewis, the northernmost island of the Outer Hebrides. ‘We didn't even have to get Michelin out in the car to get our bearings,’ he jokes dryly, pointing to the map of Scotland tattooed on his forearm.
Hardly a picture of self-confidence
Just like his character, Bouli is endearingly bashful in real life. It's safe to say that he doesn't exactly shine with self-confidence and daring, and not just in love. The man with the broad shoulders and bushy beard – quite wrongly, as it happens – always thought he fell short, whether as a father, guitarist or, say, swimmer. But since he had to undergo surgery for his heart arrhythmia in 2015, the paralysing fear he had felt before has turned into a kind of joyful zest for life.
On peaks and troughs
From his father he inherited his riotous nature, from his mother the melancholy one. His tender-hearted maternal grandmother gave him the name of the houseboat and painter's studio, Rosa d'Artois, which he moved into when he began studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Liège. For before cinematography, he was stirred by the Impressionists as an 11-year-old. After that, he went through all sorts of phases: beer, the ‘sod it all’ feeling, artificial pleasures, Charles Bukowski, highs like a humour TV show and lows like being a handyman. Until he finally washed up at his refuge, Scotland. The circle is complete.
His search for spirituality continues, but he has found balance. He constantly hovers between light-heartedness and seriousness, between pub and church, father and mother, the actor on the run and the melancholy director, sun and rain, or like between the problems and the humour of his beloved hometown Liège.
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