Oscars 2012: ‘The Artist’ cast/crew ‘broke the room’ celebrating

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A couple dozen members of the cast and crew of ‘The Artist’ gathered in a suite at Paris’ Hotel Raphael on Tuesday to celebrate the 10 Oscar nominations the silent black-and-white film collected, including best picture, lead actor (Jean Dujardin), supporting actress (Bérénice Bejo), director and original screenplay (Michel Hazanavicius).
‘We broke the room,’ said Dujardin. ‘We tore it apart. We hugged each other, kissed each other, screamed. It’s very moving. It’s extraordinary.’

‘It was like watching your team winning the Super Bowl,’ Hazanavicius said. ‘Ahhhhhh! Everybody yelling. The first name that came was Bérénice’s name. Everybody yelled and it was crazy.’


FULL COVERAGE: The Oscar nominees

Hazanavicius, Dujardin and Bejo have been on a long promotional march on behalf of the defiantly old-fashioned, France-produced melodrama, beginning with its premiere at the Cannes International Film Festival last May. The filmmakers said they hope the nominations will boost ‘The Artist’s’ box-office prospects in the U.S., where it has so far grossed just $12 million.

‘I hope that some people who could be a little bit afraid of black-and-white silent stuff, maybe they can trust and see the movie now,’ Hazanavicius said. ‘The Oscar nomination is not like Cannes. People know that movies in Cannes, the only parameters are artistic. The good thing about the Oscars is usually the nominated movies are also about audiences. Hollywood cares about audiences. It’s a good balance between art and industry.’

‘The Artist,’ which tells the story of a silent-film star who struggles to adapt to the arrival of talkies, was also nominated for Oscars for art direction (Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould), cinematography (Guillaume Schiffman), costume design (Mark Bridges), film editing (Anne-Sophie Bion and Hazanavicius) and original score (Ludovic Bource).

‘This has never happened in France before,’ said the film’s sole producer, Thomas Langmann, the son of French producer Claude Berri. ‘I wish my father could have seen this. He would have really loved the movie and the risk. We never dared to imagine such a warm welcome as we had today.’

For Bejo, who had her second baby with Hazanavicus in the middle of the movie’s promotional push, the Oscar nomination was the culmination of a long journey.

‘It’s nice to be home, to enjoy real life,’ Bejo said. ‘Just to be in your home with diapers and milk. They feel so real, because what’s happening to us right now feels so unreal.’

One key member of ‘The Artist’ creative team skipped the Paris celebration: Uggie, the film’s Jack Russell terrier star, stayed in the U.S. for a promotional opportunity. ‘We miss him,’ Hazanavicius said. ‘We watched him on the ‘Today’ show.’

The following video is from the Envelope Directors Roundtable. Here, directors George Clooney (‘The Ides of March’), Stephen Daldry (‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’), Michel Hazanavicius (‘The Artist’), Alexander Payne (‘The Descendants’) and Martin Scorsese (‘Hugo’) talk to The Times’ John Horn about how they decide which movies to bring to life.

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— Rebecca Keegan