Romain Duris. Photo: © CANAL+

From tousle-haired student to darling of French cinema, this actor’s fate seemed written in the stars…

The acting profession is a notoriously tough nut to crack. Rarely does one ‘fall’ into it like a happy accident – but then Romain Duris has never exactly been one to follow tradition. In 1994, as a tousle-haired art student with musical aspirations, he was picked off the streets of Paris by a casting director (leaning jauntily, we fancy, perhaps with cigarette in hand and paint under his nails) for Cédric Klapisch’s coming-of-age dramedy Le Péril Jeune. For a green debutant with no formal training, Duris wowed as Tomasi – the angsty, ill-fated nucleus of Le Péril’s motley crew. And his debut performance set him on the road to success. It was also the start of a long and fruitful relationship with Klapisch, which led to some of Duris’s most memorable roles – notably as Xavier in L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment) trilogy.

It was his award-winning turn as a criminal realtor in Jacques Audiard’s De Battre Mon Cœur S’est Arrêté (2005), however, that most consider his breakthrough role. The turning point in an already prolific career, this memorable performance bagged Duris the Best Actor gong at both the Lumières and Globes de Cristal Awards, paving the way for a string of lead roles, wins and nominations.

It’s fair to say Duris has fast become a household name in France. He’s built a reputation for versatility, taking on a mix of roles from the gritty antiheroes of Dobermann (1997) and The Big Picture (2010), to the tragic leads of Paris (2008) and The New Girlfriend (2014) and more whimsical romantic interests in Heartbreaker (2010) and Populaire (2012).

Now creeping into his 40s – dark, chiselled and a little scruffy – Duris carries himself like a seasoned professional. Finally, he is gaining the international recognition he deserves, recently landing major roles in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World and the Sci-Fi flick Dans la Brume. And yet, for all of Duris’s fame and well-earned success, we are charmed still to see flickers of that tousle-haired teen from 24 years ago.

10-Second CV: A screen star’s life in one take

Name: Romain Duris

Born: May 28, 1974 in Paris

Early career: Duris began his young adult life as a regular art student with dreams of becoming a musician, but his life was soon turned upside down when a casting director picked him off the street and invited him to play one of the leading roles in Le Péril Jeune. The rest, as they say, is history.

I know the face… He’s best-known for his recurring role as Xavier Rousseau in the acclaimed coming-of-age flick, The Spanish Apartment, and its sequels Russian Dolls and Chinese Puzzle.

Where will we see him next? Look out for Duris as father-turned-survivalist in Daniel Roby’s Sci-Fi film Dans la Brume alongside Olga Kurylenko.

C’est pas vrai! Despite his fast rise to stardom, he’s never given up his other love: art. An avid draughtsman since childhood (though his art these days is far from PG), he released Pulp, his first collection of drawings, paintings, serigraph and lithograph prints, last year to great fanfare.

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From France Today magazine

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