16 Exclusive Interview: Frédéric Bourdin-'The Imposter'.

Anyone yet to see “The Imposter” you should as it really is one of the best docs around.

After watching it I read that the central character, Frédéric Bourdin, was unhappy with the way he had been portrayed. I also felt that some aspects of the film might’ve been unfair. Rather then simply letting it go, I decided to try and get in contact with him.

Once again Twitter proved its worth and the following day I had the man himself on the phone from France:

Thank you for doing this I guess I saw the film and I thought it was an amazing story. However I wondered how accurate it was and therefore I wanted to hear from the man himself. I guess I never thought I’d ever be able to speak to you. But here we are. Have you seen the film?

Yes I did. I saw it about a week ago maybe less. Actually it was exactly last Tuesday, Tuesday last week.

What are you reactions having seen it?

I like that I get to speak and they actually say what I was looking for and let me actually explain myself and that’s the good part. The bad part is that they made me wider or bigger then what I am. They magnified me, which I will never be happy with. I don’t like people to think I am some kind of super freak.

How long was the filming process, as they seemed to use a lot of moments where you are smiling at the camera or looking quite amused by the story. Is this what you mean by magnified?

They spoke to me for two days, hours and hours a lot of time…what I am saying is that sometimes those faces were just put in the middle of the movie. When I actually did it I didn’t react to other people, when they spoke to me they spoke to no one else so actually its very misleading that I make those faces in the middle of the movie or at different times.

Why did you agree to help with the film?

Because I believe in the good faith of people. It’s like you asking me for an interview…you are a student and I’m helping because you spoke to me nicely and I am that kind of person. I don’t feel like I’m Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise or some kind of super actor.

I agreed to speak to them and to work with them because they sounded honest. They said they wanted to understand what happened, and they wanted me to explain it to them. That’s why I agreed to it. Because I really believed that they were honest.

Something that’s not really talked about in the film is what motivated you to take on over five hundred identities.

You know the real thing was, I was from a horrific family. My grandfather is a racist and wanted my mother to abort because she conceived me with an Algerian man and he couldn’t accept that. I grew up with my grandmother and I had an Uncle in the house who wasn’t very nice to me. There was a sort of paedophile next door and I felt like I was just a little kid abused in every kind of possible way so I was I ashamed of who I was, I didn’t want to be who I was. I wanted to be a normal person, like the ones you see on TV, a normal kid with a family who loved me and a mum and dad.
The only way for me to actually get that was to create the person I wanted to be. So I invented names, I chose a young age and a different nationality because people don’t like Arabs. So I wanted to be someone that actually could be loved and I found it in most people around the world, every day of my life for years. So- yes- it was a lot over five hundred characters that I took on.

You say you’ve been all over the world pretending to be the person you wanted to be. Do you look back at it as something that was fun?

Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it wasn’t. You never knew. It was like any kind of job- you get good days and bad days. Sometimes you feel like you have a really good job…if you get a good result. And sometimes you’re going to feel like you have a shitty day. Most of the time it was not easy but it was necessary.

You’re now married and you have kids. What does your wife (Isabelle) think about your past?

My wife didn’t marry me for who I am. My wife understands why I did the things that I did. She understands that I needed to save myself from the horrific past that I had and that I needed to reinvent myself as the person who could be loved. My wife understood that. Now she’s not saying, “bravo Frederic you took so many identities and you lied to people.” She’s not saying that’s a nice thing I did. But she doesn’t judge me as she understands why I did it.

And do you have a normal job now?

Yes (laughter) I do have a normal job now I am a salesman, I sell things.

I bet you’re good at that…

Well actually not all the time. It’s not that easy. You ask someone who was very good at doing one job to do another job. There’s worse then me.

Going back to the Barclay story, this is now the second film and you’ve done other interviews. They’ve put you in the spotlight. If you could go back, would you have chosen a different person? Do you feel lucky that you chose this particular family?

It’s a very ,very difficult question because the fact is that if I hadn’t done what I did in the States then I would not be married to my wife and would not have my kids. My wife first heard of me because of a French show that I was doing there after I was arrested so if I didn’t do it all the same again then my wife would never have known of me. I can’t say that I would not have done it again I have to say that I would.

You would do it again?

Yes, I would do it better! (laughs)

Have the family or Charlie Parker tried to contact you since the film came out?

(Laughs) No, we had an argument on YouTube. When they made the first movie ‘The Chameleon”  we had an argument, we exchanged insults under the video of the trailer of the movie.

And what about Charlie Parker?

Who are you saying? I don’t know that man! (laughs) You read my comments- you know what I think of him. He has no legitimacy inside that story. He hasn’t done a thing to deserve to be in that story.

The only thing that actually got me arrested is not Charlie Parker, it’s the FBI, the fingerprints, the DNA, the grand jury not Charlie Parker. I mean he took an opportunity. He is a very old man and it’s the only thing he can hold on to. But he hasn’t discovered a thing. Not one.

Do you feel you were given quite a harsh prison sentence?

No I don’t. I was charged for perjury and lying to an FBI agent and lying under oath to obtain a US passport and I broke the rules. I made those people look like idiots. I deserved the time they gave me. I deserved it and I’m thankful for it as it gave me experience of life that I didn’t have before. It made me a great deal of Mexican friends and it was a very important experience in my life and if I didn’t have this experience maybe I would be nothing today. Maybe I would be dead today. I needed that. 

I suppose the final big question is do you feel any remorse towards the Barclay family?

(He sighs) I feel remorse for Cody, the son of Carey. I feel remorse for Chantelle, the daughter of Carey. I feel remorse for the brother of Nicholas. I feel remorse for innocent people like Bryan. But I don’t feel remorse towards Carey and Beverly, the sister and mother of Nicholas because I didn’t lie to them. They already knew everything.

I didn’t lie to them because they already knew their son was dead. If the FBI kept them for two or three days inside a closed cell and put some pressure on them, they would find Nicholas…I’m convinced of that…I know that. And that is what I am so sorry about.

The only remorse I had was not collaborating earlier with Nancy Fisher and the FBI and the Police Department and not helping them to get to know where Nicholas’s body is. I am sure I could’ve helped them and I really hoped that with the documentary they will do something about it.  The only thing there is to do, before Beverly dies, is to put her in some closed space with two agents in her face and put pressure on her for two or three days and I guarantee a result.


I hope you enjoyed my interview. From a personal point of view I thought Frederic seemed like a really nice guy and when he talked about his past I started to understand why he did what he did. Not out of craziness but more sadness about his upbringing.  He also gave an interesting perspective on the making of the film and in particular the inflation of the role of Parker (who is an amazing, if not slightly mad character). I’m glad he was honest with me and said he would do it all again. It seems that this is a result of his new found enjoyment of life -  finally as Frédéric Bourdin.

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