PARIS – Glitz and glam were on the menu as France’s film A-listers gathered for the Cesar Awards' annual nominees lunch at famed Paris restaurant le Fouquets on Saturday. In a Hollywood-like frenzy, dozens of photographers flashed their lenses as this year’s nominees, including Roman Polanski, Lambert Wilson, Gilles Lellouche, Xavier Beauvois and Sara Forestier, responded to questions from the country's top media.
“We didn’t expect this. It’s a quality film with a fascinating story, but we didn’t expect such commercial success,” Of Gods and Men star Wilson said of Beauvois' film which has sold more than 3 million tickets at the French box office. He added: “I expected my own nomination even less. I was surprised that they’d nominate me in a leading role because it’s a real ensemble film.”
Wilson’s co-stars Michael Lonsdale and Olivier Rabourdin were nominated in the best supporting actor category. Wilson also starred in Bertrand Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier, also a popular film among Academy members with seven nominations. “It’s been an intense year filled with very strong, complex and painful emotions. It’s been an incredible year,” Wilson said.
Princess co-star Raphael Personnaz was nominated in the best male newcomer category. “Everything has been improbable since I arrived on the set. It’s a childhood dream,” he said of the success of the film and his own nomination for what will be his first Cesar awards ceremony. He added: “The nomination has given my career a real accelerator. Ever since the screening in Cannes, it’s changed a lot of things for me.”
Personnaz was also recently spotted on the pages of American Vogue in a photo spread with Anne Hathaway shot by Mario Testino.
Lellouche, best supporting actor nominee and star of Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies, was also present at the event. Lellouche recently wrapped shooting Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes sequel. Is he France’s next big stateside movie star? “I have a great scene, but the film doesn’t rest on my shoulders,” he said, adding: “I was thrilled to be able to film with Robert Downey Jr., it’s been a dream of mine for years. And Guy Ritchie? Well, it could be worse.”
Little White Lies is at the top of the Gallic box office with more than 5.3 million tickets sold, yet wasn’t very popular with the Academy this year, having been snubbed in nearly all categories other than best supporting actor for Lellouche and supporting actress for Valerie Bonneton.
The nominees dined on foie gras, seabass and chocolate before the Saturday schmoozefest wrapped at the Champs-Elysees hot spot. The 36th annual Cesar Awards will take place on Feb. 25 in Paris.