Dujardin is riding high at home
EmptyPARIS -- "He's so French," was the logline attributed to Michel Hazanavicius' James Bond a la francaise, "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies." Appropriately, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, alias OSS 117, alias real-life actor Jean Dujardin, couldn't be more French.
"I have a nice history with the French public. I feel very good in my country. I feel very French. I have a very French name. I don't have this vanity yet to go to Hollywood," he says. "I'm under the impression that there are still a lot of things to do here in France."
After a successful run on Gallic television, Dujardin rose quickly to big-screen stardom in his native country with a starring role in surfing comedy-turned-national-blockbuster "Brice de Nice," then brought his self-effacing humor to "OSS 117," which scored at the boxoffice with more than 2.2 million admissions and scored Dujardin a best actor nod at last year's Cesar Awards.
"I'm really lucky. For a lot of TV actors, the transition to film is hard, but that wasn't the case for me," he says. "The passage was very quick. If I am where I am now, it's thanks to television. It educated me for years."
The actor has recently been trading comedy for combat with roles in action movies including "Counter Investigation," released in the territory last March, and upcoming big-budget crime drama "Cash," alongside Jean Reno.
"That's why I do this job -- to play very different roles, to diversify, to entertain and to try new things. It's out of the question that I lock myself into one genre," he explains.
Dujardin will be back on the big screen this fall with "99 Francs," based on the best-selling novel by prolific French author Frederic Beigbeder, a darkly funny satirical attack on modern consumerist society through the eyes of a cynical ad executive who keeps getting promoted as he does everything he can to get fired. The book sold more than 400,000 copies when it was published in 2000 and has become a pop culture sensation in France.
Having read the book only after he read the script for the film adaptation, Dujardin confesses: "I thought the book was very, very good, but I prefer the lightness of the film. It's a satirical comedy, which is very rare in France even though you see it a lot with Anglo-Saxon films."
The movie, directed by Jan Koenen, the filmmaker behind "Dobermann" and "Blueberry," and produced by Alain Goldman's Legende Entreprises, hits French theaters Sept. 26.
Dujardin will start shooting the sequel to "OSS 117" next January and already has signed on for Hugo Gelin's comedy "Le Mytho" and French Western "Lucky Luke" from "Brice de Nice" director James Huth.
All of these character changes, however, don't seem to phase the actor. "It's a completely schizophrenic line of work," he says.