Hyphenate Canet loving his many hats


PARIS -- French actor-writer-director Guillaume Canet's second directorial effort, "Tell No One," has scored him a cinematic hat trick at this weekend's Cesar awards with nominations for best director, film and adapted screenplay among the film's nine mentions. Not bad for someone who wanted to be a jockey.

The slightly built Canet briefly followed a professional career as horse rider until a bad fall forced him to give up. So he pursued an acting career, landing roles in hit comedies such as "Narco" and dramas including "Hell" and last year's foreign-language Oscar nominee, "Merry Christmas."

"I really like to change so as to not be stuck in one kind of film," he said at a recent film promotion event in a plush Paris hotel.

Canet has come a long way from his sun-tanning days in Danny Boyle's "The Beach," in which he played the jilted Gallic boyfriend.

His helming debut, "Mon Idole" (My Idol), a dark satire on the ruthlessness of show business, earned him a Cesar nomination for best first film in 2003.

When Michael Apted's U.S. adaptation of Harlan Coben's crime novel "Tell No One" fell through, Canet fought for the rights and brought the adventures of a grief-stricken widower searching for his wife from New York to Paris.

"It was the first time I read something that I was (excited enough) to shoot. The story was so unbelievable on paper, that this woman who was supposed to be dead is perhaps alive. It wasn't only a thriller, it was also a love story," he says.

Despite being a runaway hit at the French boxoffice since its Nov. 1 release, with almost 3 million tickets sold to date, "Tell No One" has yet to find a U.S. distributor, though interest in the remake rights is strong. "Even if the remake is done, I would love for people in America to see my film first because I've worked very hard on it. The film is traveling all over the world, so why not in the States?" Canet asks.

Next up for him are acting gigs in Guillaume Nicloux's thriller "La Cle" (The Key), Jacques Maillot's "Les Liens du Sang" (Blood Ties) and Claude Berri's comedy "Ensemble, C'est Tout" (Together, That's All) with Audrey Tautou.

Don't expect Canet to hop on a plane to Hollywood any time soon, though. "As a director, I'd love to do something there, but I'm a little bit scared of having 15 producers behind me telling me exactly what film I have to make," he says. "The most important thing is to make a movie that is right for me, not for a lot of other people. I'd have to find someone who really trusts me."