WEIRDLAND: Genuine Smiles: Jean Dujardin and Gene Kelly

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Genuine Smiles: Jean Dujardin and Gene Kelly

"Jean Dujardin is on a roll. After pocketing the Palm d'Or for Best Actor in Cannes last May for his turn in 'The Artist', the 39 year-old actor has been scooping up awards and nominations for it ever since: a shiny Golden Globe, the best actor award at the Screen Actor's Guild ceremony on Sunday night and last week, an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Jean Dujardin with Natalie Portman at the SAG Awards

"Jean's career is a fairy tale," says his long-time friend, the actor Gilles Lellouche. "He went from popular TV shows to 'best actor' in Cannes with no theatrical experience, no conservatory ... there's only talent."

Jean Dujardin in W Magazine, February 2012

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in Vanity Fair’s Hollywood Portfolio

Born in 1972 in a middle-class Paris suburb, Dujardin first studied drawing and apprenticed as a locksmith to support himself. "I don't believe for one second that I have a career in the US," he says with a shrug. "I'm French and I like to work with French actors." "As a kid I wanted to become a comics illustrator," he says. Source:

"Funny how it took two French guys to pull off the most romantic homage to 1920s Hollywood. It helps, of course, that 'The Artist' — Michel Hazanavicius's audacious black-and-white film—is silent.

The star, you see, can barely speak English. So what Jean Dujardin accomplishes with such blinding charisma has everything to do with his physical presence—half Gene Kelly's joyful athleticism, half Douglas Fairbanks Jr.'s man's-man swooniness. And boy, can he rock full-dress tails.

Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)

A big fan of American films, the 39-year-old actor had seen 'Singin' in the Rain' multiple times before landing the part of George Valentin, a silent-screen star undone by the talkies. "I learned to tap-dance for 'The Artist', he says. "I love dancing in general, and making girls dance. My generation doesn't do it enough."

With all the American love coming his way for The Artist, any chance he'd move here? "Oh, no," he says. "I am too Parisian. And I think the French would be angry if I left. I hope they would be angry." Source:

"Playing 1920s screen star Charles Valentin, Dujardin is a vain, oblivious, grandstanding ninny. He also happens to be utterly charming. Not an easy stretch, but that smile bridges the gap.

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist" (2011) directed by Michel Hazanavicius

The smile also sets the film's tone. To be overly sincere would deflate the film's lovely fluff, but falling into irony would be a huge mistake. Sometimes it's a smile of pure animal joy at some silent-film bit of derring-do. Sometimes it's sheepish, sometimes it's a wink, sometimes it's a come-hither question. Even when the film falls into its gloomy third act, with 'A Star is Born' drunkenness and 'Sunset Boulevard' repining, that smile keeps popping up in spite of itself, surprised by life's rich pageant.

Now, it should be pointed out that Dujardin's other bits -- the non-smiling parts -- are pretty swell. He looks sharp in a dinner jacket. He has a face that is both classically chiselled and goofy.

(And isn't that what women want? He's handsome, and he'll make you laugh.) But Dujardin's star power is concentrated in his smile. What makes it a real movie star smile, though, is the fact that it's both big and intimate. I kept thinking he was smiling right at me, just me, and I suspect everyone else in the audience was having exactly the same thought". Source:

"Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face" -Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) directed by Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen

"Most people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles. Fake smiles can be performed at will, because the brain signals that create them come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract.

Genuine smiles are generated by the unconscious brain, so are automatic. When people feel pleasure, signals pass through the part of the brain that processes emotion. Lines around the eyes do sometimes appear in intense fake smiles, and the cheeks may bunch up. But there are a few key signs that distinguish these smiles from real ones.

For example, when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold - the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid - moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.

Scientists distinguish between genuine and fake smiles by using a coding system called the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), which was devised by Professor Paul Ekman of the University of California and Dr Wallace V. Friesen of the University of Kentucky. Source:


Anonymous said...

Love both.

Kendra said...

both are wonderful, but if I'd have to choose, I prefer Gene Kelly, a dance genius and more clasically attractive!