Jean Dujardin wins best actor Oscar for 'The Artist'

Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:24am EST
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By Tim Reid

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jean Dujardin won the best actor Oscar on Sunday for silent film "The Artist," becoming the first Frenchman to win the coveted accolade and beating out Hollywood frontrunners George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Dujardin was largely unknown outside of France until "The Artist" became the toast of film festivals and started racking up awards last year for his moving, virtually silent portrayal of a dashing actor struggling with Hollywood's transition from silent to talking pictures.

Clearly overwhelmed at his win a beaming Dujardin took to the stage punching the air.

"I love your country," he declared with his thick French accent.

"The Artist" is set in 1927 Hollywood. Dujardin referred to the first Academy Awards in 1929, which honored films from 1927 and 1928.

"It's funny because in 1929 it was...Douglas Fairbanks who hosted the first Oscar ceremony," Dujardin said. "It cost $5 and it lasted 15 minutes. Times have changed."

He ended his acceptance speech shouting in his native French "Oh Putain! Genial! Merci! Formidable! Merci beaucoup!" ("Bloody Hell! Brilliant! Thanks! Fantastic! Thank you very much!") followed by: "I love you!"

He was also asked if he might make more "talkies" in the United States. He said he would like to, but that he probably would not because he is French.   Continued...

French actor Jean Dujardin accepts the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the film "The Artist" at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 26, 2012.  REUTERS/Gary Hershorn