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Dead ringer: Similarities with character drew actor to lead role on ‘Balthazar’

Tomer Sisley as Raphaël Balthazar in the Acorn TV series “Balthazar.” (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

Roles in TV and film vary from project to project.

Tomer Sisley is always looking for the next one that will challenge him.

Enter the role of Raphaël Balthazar in the Acorn TV series “Balthazar.”

This role was actually written with Sisley in mind.

“When the writers started working on the script, they wanted to know who the character really was,” the Israeli-French actor says. “We adapted it pretty much to me. The whole idea of them doing that came from me when I told them, ‘Listen, guys, if you want me to play that part, let’s make it so I can bring something to that part. Something that resembles me, so it makes sense to me.”

The third season of “Balthazar” is streaming on Acorn TV.

The series follows Balthazar, the most gifted forensic pathologist of his generation, who knows how to make the dead speak.

He imagines the ghosts of the deceased people he has seen, asking them questions about how they would have died, their private lives, or what they should do.

Hélène de Fougerolles as Hélène Bach and Tomer Sisley as Raphaël Balthazar in the series “Balthazar.” (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

He becomes the teammate of police commander Hélène Bach, played by Hélène de Fougerolles.

Both face the most complex murder investigations while he secretly tries to solve the murder of a person close to him.

The French series drew in 7.1 million viewers for the season finale. It airs with English subtitles.

As Balthazar helps solve Paris’ most disturbing and complex crimes, there’s one case that continues to haunt him – the murder of his wife, Lise, played by Pauline Cheviller, over a decade ago.

Yannig Samot as Delgado in a scene from “Balthazar.” (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

After the tragic consequences of his investigation into Lise’s death, Balthazar leaves everything to go around the world by boat, much to the chagrin of his colleagues: police commander Hélène Bach, her lieutenant Jérôme Delgado, played by Yannig Samot, and his associates Eddy, played by Côme Levin and Fatim, played by Philypa Phoenix.

Without any news on his whereabouts for six months, Balthazar’s name suddenly appears as a witness on a murder investigation file for a body that floated ashore on a small, remote Breton island.

Hélène travels there to see what trouble the charming coroner has gotten himself into again and try to take him back to Paris.

The relationship between Hélène and Balthazar is also strengthening, while the ongoing investigation into Lise’s death takes a bloody and unexpected turn.

“We wanted to tell a story with a little bit of comedy in it,” Sisley says in an interview from France. “Part of this series is telling the story of this guy that is burning the candle at both ends. He takes risks, and sometimes people don’t like the risks he takes. With this part, I feel like this is a role that has been the closest to what my life is like. It’s about how I react to the situations.”

Sisley says there are some differences between him and Balthazar.

A scene from the series “Balthazar.” (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

“The whole part of having dead people speaking to me doesn’t exist,” he says. “I’m a little crazy, but not quite at the level of Balthazar. With each episode, I get to challenge myself because I don’t know where he will be. He has many sides to himself. There’s the Balthazar that is the coroner and the professor and teacher. He passes on his knowledge. He’s approachable. Then there’s the Balthazar when he’s with the captain and he acts childish and knows how to push her buttons. Then there’s the Balthazar who is home alone and facing his demons. He breaks down and allows himself to cry.”

Sisley says the season has plenty of twists and turns and Balthazar evolves more.

He’s now filming the next season of the series in Paris.

“The series doesn’t go anywhere you expect it to go,” Sisley says.

Sisley is looking forward to getting back onto more projects as the world opens up.

A few years ago, he was in New Mexico filming the Netflix series “Messiah.”

He was in the state for months for the project.

“I miss it so much and the sky is beautiful,” he says. “The color, the lightning. I have never seen lightning shows like the ones in New Mexico. It’s really special.”

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