PARIS (Reuters) - His suave Clark Gable looks have made him an international heartthrob, while his role as silent movie icon George Valentin in French film “The Artist” has earned him a best actor Oscar nomination.
But French actor Jean Dujardin, 39, remains resolutely modest about his success, attributing his stellar rise more to chance than to ambition, or perhaps to the endearing talents of his co-star Uggie, the acrobatic dog.
“Maybe it’s a feelgood movie, a love story, a simple story, and maybe there is a cute dog. Everybody loves a cute dog,” he told Reuters TV in an interview.
The throwback black and white film “The Artist” won 10 Oscar nominations on Tuesday, including best picture, supporting actress for Berenice Bejo, and director for Michel Hazanavicius.
It has also won three Golden Globes, a Producers Guild Award, and 12 nominations for Britain’s BAFTA awards.
For Dujardin, already a household name in his native France, the rise to international prominence has come as something of a surprise, and he admits he feels like an excited child.
Sporting a three-day beard and black t-shirt, in contrast to his smooth alter-ego Valentin, he plays down the prospect of a Hollywood career, however, saying it seems like a distant possibility.
“I don’t necessarily plan to have a career in Hollywood, because you can never imagine what your career will be,” he said.
“A career comes like that, it is a series of accidents. But it is nothing but accidental, happy or unhappy, in my case more happy than anything, but we will see what happens.”
Dujardin originally rose to fame at home as a comic actor, achieving popularity for his 2005 spoof surfer movie, “Brice de Nice” in which he played a dead-beat surfer obsessed with Patrick Swayze’s character Bodhi in “Point Break”.
Before that he starred alongside real-life partner Alexandra Lamy in the long-running television series “A Guy and a Girl”, and later appeared as Hubert Bonisseur de Bath, codename OSS 117, in the French Bond-movie parodies of the same name.
In “The Artist” he plays Valentin, a handsome Gable-like film star who refuses to accept the death of the silent movie. The film follows the demise of his career, and at the same time his burgeoning romance with co-star Berenice Bejo, also delighted with her Oscar nomination.
“I feel amazing, it is just incredible to be nominated for 10 nominations, and I am very proud the movie got the nominations,” Bejo told Reuters TV.
Dujardin faces stiff competition from Hollywood A-listers Brad Pitt and George Clooney for the best actor Oscar. “The Artist” will compete for best film against “Hugo”, “The Descendants”, “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life,” “War Horse,” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”
The Oscars will be handed out in Hollywood on February 26.
(Reporting By Sarah Barden; Writing By Vicky Buffery; Editing by Jill Serjeant)
This version corrects title, character of Swayze movie in 10th paragraph