Here’s something I don’t get to say very often: I just interviewed two silent film stars. The Artist has been a hit at festivals like Cannes and Toronto. It is a silent film in the style of classic silent comedies. Jean DuJardin plays a silent actor dealing with the rise of talking pictures. Berenice Bejo is the lovely starlet who gives him another chance. I caught them both on the L.A. leg of their press tour.
CraveOnline: Do you hope this catches on and that Hollywood makes a lot more silent movies?
Jean DuJardin: I don't think so.
Berenice Bejo: I'm the most famous silent movie actress in the world and I want to keep that for me. So I hope there’s not going to be any other silent movie.
What other stars would you like to see work as silent actors?
DuJardin: Jim Carrey.
Jean, you do have one line at the end of the movie.
DuJardin: Yes, “With pleasure.”
How carefully did you prepare that line?
DuJardin: Five months. With pleasure, with pleasure, with pleasure, with pleasure.
That is the only time we hear the character speak. Was it important how that would sound?
DuJardin: It's important for the energy, for the rebirth of the character. More than the sentence itself, it's that that has to come through. “With pleasure” is “Thank you. I'm alive again. Thank you all.” It's a thank you to the audience.
How many takes did you do?
DuJardin: About five.
Did they keep the set quiet during takes, even though they weren’t recording sound?
Bejo: It was noisy. They were quiet, but we could hear the crew sometimes working or [director] Michel [Hazanavicius] talking during the take. He'd put music on the set as a surprise to us.
DuJardin: He played music from Vertigo, Sunset Boulevard.
Was that a new distraction for you, since it’s normally quiet on set?
Bejo: Yeah, I loved it. I felt there was more freedom. There was not the moment of “Silent please,” and you're like, “Okay, it's going to be me. I have to say that. I have to remember everything,” and then it doesn't come out of your mouth. So, this was like, okay, let’s just “Action,” and we were shooting actually. The music, it's very special. It gives you emotions very quickly. So, if Michel suddenly had the right song at the right moment we just let the music talk.
A lot of Americans will see you for the first time in this film. What other movies should new fans of yours go see?
Bejo: OSS 117.
DuJardin: For me OSS and maybe Little White Lies, typical French movies with typical French actors and French direction.