Jean Dujardin wins Best Actor for ‘The Artist’

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - The world should plan on hearing a lot more from Jean Dujardin, the handsome and expressive actor whose portrayal of a silent film star has won him acting’s top honor.

The actor, dubbed a French George Clooney, beat out the real Clooney on Sunday night for the best actor Oscar, capping a run of accolades heaped on him and “The Artist” in recent months.

“I love your country,” the first Frenchman to win an acting Oscar said as he accepted the award.

He looked out on the audience packed with Hollywood’s top stars and declared: “So many of you here tonight have inspired me.”

Dujardin singled out the first Oscar host, silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks, as helping make his remarkable success possible.

He then invoked his “Artist” character, saying George Valentin would have screamed exclamations at the win. Dujardin shouted them in French, which he translated backstage for reporters who were wondering if one of the words he used was the French equivalent of the F-bomb.

“It’s amazing, it’s incredible, it’s unbelievable. Thank you,” he explained before his translator stepped in and clarified the question.

Smiling, he said, “Yeah. I’m sorry.”

While no French actor has won an Oscar, several French actresses have, including Claudette Colbert, Juliette Binoche and Marion Cotillard.

In “The Artist,” Dujardin portrays a silent film superstar who falls from grace as talking pictures are introduced and he is upstaged by a beautiful starlet he once aided. Audiences virtually never hear from him in the film. In real life, Dujardin has relied on an English interpreter at times as he scooped up Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and other awards.

Dujardin was beat out Friday for an acting honor at the Cesar awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars.

Throughout the process he has remained humble, self-deprecating and genuinely appreciative of his newfound stardom. And he downplayed any plans to try to make it big in America.

“I’m not American actor. I’m a French actor. (I’ll) continue in France,” Dujardin said.

His translator explained a bit further.

“If he can make another silent movie in America, he’d like to.” The remark drew laughs.

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