“We were all working together to make a special movie” Cinémoi meets with the stars of The Artist, one of the most talked about films about town
ean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo are both as sickiningly good looking in the flesh as they are on screen, and when they are as charming and charismatic as their respective characters in The Artist it’s hard to feel anything but utterly inadequate in their presence. Dujardin may have the slick looks of a proper movie star, but he also posseses an impish allure thanks to an imperfect and crooked smile. Thankfully the powers of Holly-wood have yet to erase any sense of his personality behind a vaneer of glossy perfection. And as for Bérénice Bejo, her classic looks and warm character are as inviting as her portrayal of the bubbly rising star Peppy Miller in what is set to be a big contender at the Oscars this coming February. Both actors are very defusing about any possibility of honours perhaps coming their way, “That would be great but we can’t really think about it like that”, but
Interview by Jack Jones
do acknowledge that they had all worked on something very, very special indeed. “The project was so unique that everybody was there because they wanted to. For (supporting cast members) John Goodman and James Cromwell it’s not about the money. There was such unity on set as they were working on a unique project and were very proud.”. As the leads in this all- dancing, razzmatazz look into Hollywood’s era of silent cinema, Dujardin and Bejo had to undertake intense training in order to convince audiences as 1920/1930s performers. When asked was it difficult to learn new skills, Dujardin responds with a resounding “Yes!”, while Bejo expands a little on the the “Five months of training almost every day” they endured “to learn something that you don’t know at all!”. And their truly isn’t a moment where you doubt that all of that hard work wasn’t worth while.
“I was surprised, proud and scared. Because to receive the award from Robert De Niro was brilliant” Even the level of detail each actor undertook for their character is clear to see. Dujardin even references a varietyof screen performers that he looked at for certain mannerisms and styles for his role as star George Valentin. “There were a lot of influences. Douglas Fairbanks because he always played the same role like George Valentin. Gene Kelly for his smile, for his energy. Vittorio Gassman for his movement.”. Not all of these details are obvious in The Artist, but all contribute to the overall atmosphere of authenticity of a film that is about a bygone era. After screening at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year Dujardin was immediately hailed for his performance and awarded the Best Actor Award. An experience he describes with a variety of emotions; “I was surprised, proud and scared. Because to receive the award from Robert De Niro was brilliant.”. His childlikeexcitement is infectious and is an indication of why The Artist has touched so many people. As like its stars, it’s believable, charming,
funny and, above all, honest A silent film about the silent era might seem at first like a bit of a gimmick, yet The Artist isn’t a film that simply mimics silent movies. It’s a film with a heart and soul. “He (director Michel Hazanavicius) knew he was going to do something special”, Bejo says, “but I don’t think we could ever think we would get so much attention and love.”. The experience of making the film clearly still resonates with the two stars as they speak about the unified effort to make the film and how “We were all working together to make a special movie.”. But when prodded again on whether they expect to see themselves handed a certain gold statue, they remain exceedingly modest about the success the film has received. Dujardin is quick to jump in however, “It would be an honour though”, and Bejo quickly concurs, “Yes, it would be amazing.”. The perfect film stars, quick to play down the successes that are surely coming their way, while still showing an undeniable enthusiasm for an experience that has changed all their lives.