'Artist' Star Jean Dujardin Under Fire in France for Provocative Movie Ads

The Players Poster - P 2012

Billboard ads for "The Players," his latest film as writer, director and actor, have been censured.

PARIS -- Hollywood’s newest heartthrob Jean Dujardin isn’t feeling the love in his home country of France, with the actor-director under attack for provocative ads for his upcoming movie The Players. The ads show Dujardin and co-writer, director and actor Gilles Lellouche in compromising positions that many argue degrade women.

The Artist star has ruffled feathers in Gaul due to billboards placed around Paris depicting Dujardin holding a woman’s legs in the air underneath a tag line that reads, “I’m going to a meeting.” Another ad reads, “It’s going to cut out. I’m entering a tunnel” above a photo of Lellouche as a woman appears to be performing fellatio.

The Players is a series of sketches from directors including Dujardin, Lellouche, Fred Cavaye, Eric Lartigau, Emmanuelle Bercot, Alexandre Courtes and Michel Hazanavicius all centering around the theme of male infidelity.

Dujardin and Lellouche are featured on the cover of popular movie magazine Premiere wearing black blazers, shirts and ties and no pants with their hands placed over their private parts.

On Wednesday evening, Studio Cine Live’s editor Fabrice Leclerc tweeted: “The campaign for the film The Players with #JeanDujardin will be taken down due to complaints.”

Any decision to take down the ads must be approved by the ARPP, France’s authority for the professional regulation of advertising. Head of the ARPP Stephane Martin told French newspaper Le Parisien that the complaints had just arrived so his committee hasn’t met to assess the situation but said that: “We already feel that this campaign is against the rules … even if it relates to the subject of the film, a comedy about adultery.” He added: “As a preventative measure, we’ve already counseled JC Decaux, who are in charge of the billboards, to take them down.”

The French media has questioned whether the scandalous and arguably misogynistic nature of the ads will hurt the actor’s Oscar chances. “All that’s missing is Jean Dujardin being deprived of his Oscar because on this side of the Atlantic, he’s trampled the politically correct America,” French newspaper Le Point wrote. 

This isn’t the first time in recent years that ads for French films have been censured. Billboards for Serge Gainsbourg biopic Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life were taken down after complaints that they depicted the hero smoking a cigarette, which is no longer allowed in public places in France. Posters in Marseille for Underworld also were removed when the head of transportation in the city complained that the ads would perpetuate violence since Kate Beckinsale was carrying two guns in her hands.

Mars Distribution will release The Players in French theaters on Feb. 29.