Jean Dujardin: “The cinema can be a bit like alcohol, a bad friend”

During a masterclass given, by videoconference, at the Lausanne Art School, the Oscar-winning actor in 2012, returned without pretense to the happy and unhappy moments of his career as a man and an artist.

This interview could have been called the confessions of OSS 117. Since his Oscar in 2012 for his impeccable interpretation in The Artist, Jean Dujardin has become in the hearts of the French, but also in the eyes of the critics, the number one French actor.

In an open-ended interview, given by videoconference in the form of a masterclass to students of the Cantonal School of the Arts in Lausanne during the 7th annual meeting dedicated to cinema, Jean Dujardin confided to his interlocutor the professor and director Lionel Baier the secrets of his acrobatic career. His working methods, his way of understanding his roles, his tribulations, happy or unhappy, in the world of the seventh art, but also his childhood and adolescence, the actor did not wish to elude anything. To the delight of its many admirers.

To see also – Non Stop People – Jean Dujardin: his humorous reaction to the reopening of the terraces

A Stakhanovist who likes to work in a team

As is often the case with great actors, Jean Dujardin, in the guise of a dilettante, takes the roles entrusted to him very seriously. An attitude that allows him to evacuate the doubts that assail him before starting to shoot. “I am a former dunce or rather a real anguish. I need “shield ”, to work on a lot of things in order to be able to invent and free myself. My script becomes my bedside book.

But for the actor, this approach is only a first step. His job is above all a collective art. “I am also dependent on the partners with whom I will work. I anticipate everything. At least I’m trying, because you can never do it totally. Afterwards, for some roles, you have to jump in completely. Take The deer, by Quentin Dupieux, a completely crazy film where a guy leaves everything to buy a jacket! I said yes in ten seconds. For this project, there was no pressure so we could try a lot of things. ”

Passionate about his job, Jean Dujardin also knows his addictive nature, which according to him can act like a drug. He admits sometimes wanting to break away from it. “I am a spectator of films, I like to watch them, he testifies. But we must maintain a certain distance. Cinema can be a bit like alcohol, a bad friend. I find that we are more creative by staying away from him. The idea is still to last, I don’t want to eat everything immediately. I am not a workaholic. A project speaks to me either immediately or not at all. It’s pretty chemical.

The free and imposed figures of Claude Lelouch

The art of directing is a passion for Jean Dujardin in the same way. he believes in the empathic virtues that unite filmmakers and their performers: “A good director fundamentally loves his actors. The more we love you, the better it will go. It is essential to gain the confidence of your soldiers. He must lend his story and we, as actors, must embody the roles and therefore transmit the emotions. We must help him to carry out his work.“His collaborations with Claude Lelouch, a director particularly close to his actors marked him:”It’s extraordinary to play with Lelouch. He sets you free. It has two texts, a free figure and an imposed figure. We feel that he is laughing, we can also hear him behind the camera. It transcends us. We feel that we could have talent and that he will keep the best. We can therefore go on improvisations of 15 minutes without any problem with him. For “One plus one”, Claude put me on the plane, and he started his film … on the plane! Arrived in India, after more than 20 hours of flight, I was all bloated and tired. We go out and he tells me to call my wife to tell her that I have arrived. To do what? Film me!

Brice from Nice a two-way character

a blonde wig, a yellow T-shirt, black pants, a surfboard, an air con »… Beyond this unpleasant and reductive description of the anti-hero of Brice from Nice, Jean Dujardin sees in this character much more than a failed surfer stupidly waiting for a Mediterranean wave that will never come. Better he sees his cinematographic double: “When I was in school I was always told I was a good-for-nothing. Either you believe it and you sink, or you get low and you get out of it. I experienced real loneliness. I also experienced the humiliation, we find it in “Brice de Nice”. If the character spends his life making breakages, humiliating others, it is because he is a big unhappy child. It is also to expose the cruelty that I experienced at school. Brice is also a person in a closed circuit: he looks for a wave where there is none.

Tragedy and comedy: two sides of the same art

Serious or crazy roles, all of this is the same for Jean Dujardin. And these two facets of the acting profession seems to please him just as much: “I never wanted to choose. I quickly made some very serious films after “A Guy and a Girl”. I have no problem linking “The Artist” and “Brice de Nice”. I don’t want to be bored. This is what I said to myself when I wrote “Brice de Nice”. At the time I did not represent anything. And think back to the story: if it’s a flop, it’s still very embarrassing! And then I make 4.5 million entries. Obviously, I was a piece of shit for the Parisian intelligentsia.

Make a biopic on his childhood

If he has to go behind the camera one day, Jean dujardin will do so to tell about his childhood. These years spent on the benches of the communal, where dunces among the dunces, already he became the first of the class only when he made his friends scream with laughter by aping the teacher: “If I have to make a film, it will tell something about me, my early childhood no doubt, when I was in fifth grade. I approached it with Brice but not head on. It is a very heavy subject for me. It’s very hard humiliation, it’s something that drives me crazy. Seeing someone get humiliated can drive me nuts. This is something that I have sweated very hard. And replacing crying with laughter is a magnificent weapon. This is what saved me in class: I was bad but I imitated the teacher well.

The entire confession-masterclass of Jean Dujardin in front of the Lausanne School of the Arts


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