Romain Duris, Homme of the Hour

5.23.2014

By R. Kurt Osenlund

The French actor stars in two must-see art-house films that cement his cool quotient

Photograph by Robin Holland

“Cool” is a word that’s often on Romain Duris’s lips. He uses it to describe his all-time favorite Brooklyn restaurant (the now closed Dressler, opened by the late Colin Devlin) and when discussing his kinship with Audrey Tautou, his costar in both the new film Chinese Puzzle, from director Cédric Klapisch, and July’s Mood Indigo, an adaptation of a Boris Vian novel by the visionary Michel Gondry. In films like 2005’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped and 2012’s Populaire, Duris has shown an effortlessness as both actor and sex symbol, cementing the notion that he, too, epitomizes his go-to adjective. And perhaps his back-to-back, must-see arthouse flicks stand as further proof that if there’s anything cool this summer, it’s the ubiquity of the French.

The Joy of “Pianocktails”
“Boris Vian loved to play with words, so, for him, when you play the piano, you have a cocktail as an accompaniment — a pianocktail. I think it’s a great idea. But I don’t have a favorite cocktail. I love wine and champagne, but for the French, the idea of cocktails and cocktail bars is fairly new.”

On His Rapport with Audrey Tautou
“I’m actually not very close to her, but there’s no rule for chemistry. Sometimes you think it’s easier when you know somebody, but then when you don’t, the mystery could be good for a love story.”

On Playing a Trans Woman
“[In François Ozon’s upcoming The New Girlfriend], my character is the girlfriend of a close friend. I love the story. It’s a comedy, but it’s very emotional. I did a lot of research — I did what I learned in theater, striving to feel, inside, how it could be to be another sex.Itwasanewwayof being and breathing. It’s different from anything I’ve done before.”

Face Value
“I was in painting school when I was 20, and at the time there were a lot of casting directors walking around Paris, looking for special faces. Maybe I had a special face. When first asked to do an audition, I said no. I was young and wanted to be free. I did go, and gained confidence, but I don’t think it was until about five years later that I started to think this could be my real job.”

Chinese Puzzle opens in select cinemas May 23. Watch the trailer below:

Tags: Movies
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