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From locksmith to limelight: Dujardin, star of 'The Artist,' adored in France

Jean Dujardin, who has already won a Golden Globe for his role in 'The Artist' and is nominated for an Oscar, has endeared himself – particularly his eyebrows – to the French.

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“He’s just a regular guy,” says Remi, a young financier who works near the Arc de Triomphe. “He doesn’t care about the show-biz world or the paparazzi and all that. The public has seen him grow and we can identify with him. He is one of us.”

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Dujardin made a rare-for-France crossover from TV to film. His ability to reprise and mimic the foibles and quirks of the average French guy earned him a place in the public’s heart. Some of his characters are modeled on friends he met in Army barracks when he served in the military.

He starred in an unusual TV series, “A Guy, a Girl” – some 500 micro-sketches of seven minutes each – that garnered attention in the late 1990s. The two characters, Loulou (guy) and Chouchou (girl), often compete or are mean but in the end stay together, seen as a parody of relationships with a French touch.

Dujardin and "A Guy, a Girl" lead actress Alexandra Lamy became a real life couple, sending buzz about them into the French stratosphere. They are now “Jeanlexandra,” a transatlantic equivalent of “Brangelina” (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie).

“We have been lucky to be able to watch the love grow between Jean Dujardin and Alexandra Lamy over the years,” said Ms. Bertholts, the legal secretary. “It's like watching friends of yours get together after years of friendship.”

In 2005, Dujardin broke through in film, playing a clueless sun-bleached surf bum in the film “Brice de Nice.” His character, after whom the movie is named, sees himself as a character in the film Point Break, but never quite gets that there are no big waves on France’s calm Mediterranean coast.

Dujardin also spoofs James Bond spy films, conjuring a cross between Peter Sellers's character Inspector Clouseau and Mike Meyers's Austin Powers in “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies” and “OSS 117: Lost in Rio.”

“It’s quite funny that a man who produced a film like Brice de Nice could actually win an Oscar – I mean it’s really far from anything you could call ‘major cinema,’” said a French student out for a stroll in Paris.

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