Lawrence Arcouette, always proud of the “Duplessis Orphans”

Lawrence Arcouette, toujours fier des «Orphelins de Duplessis»

It is always with an immense happiness that Lawrence Arcouette reviews of the series The case of the Duplessis orphans, which summarizes in 1997 this sad slice of the past of Quebec, through the fictional story of the abandonment of three young boys, and that HERE ARTV rebroadcasts this Sunday.

For the one who, at 11 years of age, lent his features to the attaching Julien Leconte – a-teens dropped into an orphanage that would later become a psychiatric institute – the experience, although seemingly traumatic to the screen, was not synonymous with that of play and fun.

Lawrence Arcouette lent its traits to the young Julien in the series “The Duplessis orphans” in 1997.


The work in four one-hour episodes written by Jacques Savoy and Pierre-Olivier was inspired by the writings of the deceased author Bruno Roy, himself a former orphan of the Duplessis. Lawrence and her fellow actors Joël Drapeau-Dalpé, and Xavier Morin-Lefort had been informed by the context, that’s recreating the production, but the team was careful to preserve the innocence of the children on the plateau.

Filmed in the confusion, the scenes of brutality involving in particular the harshness of the educator Donatien Legault (Julien Poulin), were recorded in a wing of a disused hospital Louis-H. Lafontaine.

“We had a “nanny,” recalls Lawrence Arcouette a voice happy in the interview. For 35 days, we were all young, about to turn in the dorms or in the halls of waiting, to have as much fun. We had kept a corner of the court for us to play hockey cosom.”

Portrait of the actor Lawrence Arcouette.
Courtesy personal Collection

“The director, Johanne Prégent, was super sweet and nice with us. She took the time. It was a different time of the shooting; it was not running at the pace of District 31! It was only three or four scenes per day. There was a concern that we wouldn’t burn.”

“And, with Julien Poulin, it was a joke. It would be necessary to reduce it. Even in the scenes where he boxait with us and we hit strong, he was very, very sweet and concerned in his approach. He always wanted to know if it was correct. It was really late with us, and do not seek to show us what to do and how to do it, even if he was the “leader” on the screen, in the end,” says Lawrence, who is said to have remained friends with his old playing partners of “Orphans…”.


The ex-child star revived today with a certain anonymity, but her pretty face of a child reminds you probably of memories. The small Lawrence Arcouette was first appearing in the series René Lévesque, Denis Bouchard, in 1994. The toddler had been, frankly, amazed to find herself in period costume, in an Old Montreal transformed by the spitting of the snow cannons and antique cars parked everywhere.

Had followed a first speaking role in 4 and a half…and another one in Emergency, where he played the role of Sébastien Gagnon, a patient who was undergoing a heart transplant in the hands of the surgeon and Michèle Imbeault (Marina Orsini).

But The Duplessis orphans has truly acted as a catalyst for the boy’s career, which was then chained to the roles in Virginia, Bouscotte, run for your lives!, Tag, Ramdam, O’ and the film The collector, among others. It was even co-produced american Captive, with Marie-Josée Croze and Richard Grieco.

Over the years, Lawrence, now aged in his mid-thirties, has quietly branched off into photography and directing. He is also currently a pilot project designed for television.

His performance in The case of the Duplessis orphans had been noticed to such an extent that he had been nominated in the annual Gemini awards. It then became, at the time, the youngest finalist at the celebration, in the category performance by an actor in a series.

“I was very excited to have received the appointment and to be invited to this “party”there,” says Lawrence. It was the time of Benoît Brière and “Cher Olivier”, that all the world encensait. We knew that it was him who would be the price, but it was something to be nominated with these people!”

The Duplessis orphans burst Sunday, from 12 h to 16 h, ICI ARTV.

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