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SYDNEY (Reuters) - French model-actor Gilles Marini has built his career by dressing up, so he is stunned that his major break has come from stripping down and appearing naked, completely naked, in the hit movie "Sex and the City."
Marini bares all, ever so fleetingly for a full frontal shot, as a Casanova living next door to actress Kim Cattrall's Samantha in the big screen version of the HBO TV series about the careers, love lives, and wardrobes of four New York women.
Marini, 32, who relocated to the United States about a decade ago from France to pursue modeling and acting, said he has been inundated with emails and job offers since the movie opened in May and he was branded Hollywood's newest eye candy.
"This is the part that has put me on the map. For me, this is like winning the jackpot," Marini told Reuters in a phone interview from New York where he was receiving Bravo cable TV's "Best Rear Award."
"I just was not expecting this at all. I have never done so much press in my life or received so many emails. It's just gone wild and I am very happy about it."
Marini's good looks and toned physique caught the eye of millions of women who flocked to see the romantic comedy that defied mixed reviews and beat box office expectations with nearly $200 million in global ticket sales.
Since the world premiere in London four weeks ago, Marini said he had received over 17,000 hits on his MySpace page and job offers have been rolling in but he is taking his time before deciding on his next move.
To handle the attention, Marini has taken on a publicist who is getting word out on the relatively unknown star.
Marini, who has a Greek mother and Italian father, has worked as a model for years, most notably as a runway model for Georgio Armani in Milan.
He said he took some acting classes and appeared in small roles in a couple of TV shows, but nothing major had come up until he attended a casting call for "Sex and the City," got a callback, and was offered the part.
Marini, who has been married for 10 years and has a 9-year-old son George and one-year-old daughter Juliana, said he had no hesitation in stripping for the movie.
"The people around me were very professional so why should I be nervous?" he said, adding that Europeans were much more relaxed about nudity in films than Americans.
Marini said he takes care to keep in shape, eating few foods high in carbohydrates and working out at least 40 minutes a day.
"I don't eat bad stuff too much but I have my glass of wine as I am French and it would be insulting not to," he said.
Being dubbed eye candy does not concern Marini -- nor, he says, will it go to his head.
"Maybe people will see me as the naked guy for a bit but as soon as someone gives me a chance to do something else I can prove I can do that," he said.
"I am not 18 years-old with this smacking me in the face so that I lose control of what I am. It is a blessing. I am very humbled and touched by all the attention. It is wonderful for my life, for my family and for my future."